By Pari106
Summary: Tom's reaction to learning of B'Elanna's pregnancy - and her choice regarding it. (written in anticipation of the upcoming episode).
Standard Disclaimer: Voyager, etc. etc. belong to Paramount and Viacom...yadda, yadda, yadda...you know the drill. Consider all the necessary characters, etc. officially disclaimed by me.


Just a little something P/T I decided to throw out here while I work on my other story.


Commander Chakotay stood at the entrance to Holodeck 2 and was torn - should he or shouldn't he go in? An in-born sense of propriety and self-preservation told him to do the latter. He was not in a habit of imposing his help upon people - particularly the person in question, the Holodeck's current user - and had always considered that course of action to be the wisest...and the safest. After all, this was Tom Paris he was thinking about. Tom Paris: mate to B'Elanna Torres, and just as Klingon, if not more so, as his girlfriend in a lot of ways - including his lack of appreciation for anyone thrusting their counsel upon him.
However, he was the ship's counselor - unofficially, if nothing else. And his sense of duty - and, okay, just good, old-fashioned curiosity, as well - told him to go in. The voices of duty and curiosity probably weren't the wisest he could listen to - but they spoke loudly. 'And when has any decision I've made involving Thomas Paris been especially wise?' he thought, wryly. Thus decided, he put his command codes to work...and stepped inside as the doors to Holodeck 2 parted for his entrance.
He was surprised at what he saw.
When Harry Kim had come to the Commander asking that he speak to Tom (and not saying why, mind you - no, it couldn't be that easy, now could it?) and Chakotay learned that the mercurial pilot was severely upset, he had pictured finding the younger man engaged in a variety of activities. He could be shooting pool in Sandrine's or working on the new Delta Flyer. And/or he could be getting sloppy drunk on something intoxicating that he really shouldn't have been able to gain access to on Voyager, but somehow always could, being Tom Paris. Or he could be bat'lething his frustrations away with a few nasty holocharacters. Chakotay expected any combination of the above. What he hadn't expected, however, ...was baseball.

Tom Paris was playing baseball. Or, at least, he was playing with a baseball...and a bat.

To be more exact, he was knocking the stuffing out of a baseball, with a baseball bat, which was being fired in his direction by some sort of primitive-looking machine (early 21st century Earth, he'd guess, considering Tom's tastes). Sweat glistened on his brow, dampening his close-shorn blonde locks, and soaking his dark gray T-shirt. They were obviously standing, alone, in what would have been your average baseball stadium, and dirt from the field beneath him flew up as Tom swung the bat with all his might, settling on his blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Chakotay wasn't exactly familiar with the sport, though he knew of it. Still, he couldn't help but be impressed with Tom's swing. The motion looked smooth and natural...and powerful. The bat hit its target with a resounding crack, and the little white and red-stitched ball sailed across the field and out of sight into the bleachers. It was a perfect Touchdown. 'Or is that something else,' Chakotay wondered.
When the Commander had entered he knew Tom had seen him - he was directly in his peripheral field of vision and Tom wasn't a man you could easily sneak up upon. Still, he didn't acknowledge Chakotay's presence right away, but instead followed through with his swing - and the next - without so much as glancing in the other man's direction. Chakotay watched - and waited - until finally Tom lowered his bat and ordered "Computer, freeze program", which disengaged the ball-throwing machine- and then the Commander walked up to where Paris stood next to home base.
Tom didn't look up - just stared down at his shoes, tapping the sides slightly with his bat, dislodging some of the dirt from the soles - until Chakotay had stopped to stand beside him. When he did turn to the Commander he didn't look surprised to see him, and his wry smile was knowing.

He said only one word: "Harry." And Chakotay smiled.

"He thought you might be in the need of a little counseling, and being the ship's counselor..." He let the sentence trail off with a sigh and a grin, preparing for the usual verbal tete-a-tete Paris seemed so fond of dishing out to him. "I don't suppose you'd consider letting me do my job, would you?" But to his surprise, Paris only continued to stare at him...and then slightly nodded, gesturing towards the dugout nearby before heading for it, leaving a somewhat thrown-off-guard Chakotay to follow behind.

When the Commander once again reached Tom's side, the younger man was toweling off and reaching for a bottle of water. When he saw Chakotay's expression, he laughed.

"You don't have to look so thunder-struck, Chakotay," he said, and Chakotay - recovering - raised a brow.

"Let me get this straight - I just asked you if you'd consider actually talking to me...honestly...about your problems. And you haven't cracked a joke or gone for your phaser yet," Chakotay smiled, "Forget the thunder - I think I've been hit by lightning; I'm delusional."

Tom's smile widened, then dimmed, then faded away all in that moment - and when he ventured out of the dugout again, seeming to stare out across the field into nothing, Chakotay followed, sobering at the brief flash of intense pain he'd seen cross Tom's features. Pain; weakness of any kind - wasn't something Paris had ever willingly let the Commander see, and as he waited for Tom to speak again, Chakotay was a bit awed - and disturbed - that he was being allowed to see it now. Had they finally gotten to know one another so well? Or was the situation just really that bad...

He forestalled his speculations as Tom spoke again. "There are things you'd rather forget, aren't there, Chakotay?"

The question was unexpected (as just about anything else this evening) but Chakotay answered it, carefully.

"Yes...I suppose I do. I suppose everyone does."

"I've seen some things..." Tom's words seemed dark to Chakotay, and the Ensign looked haunted as he paused a moment in what he was saying. "I've done things, Chakotay, that I'd be better off if I could forget. Do you understand?"

Chakotay simply nodded. He did understand - all too well.

"Is that what you're trying to do? Forget?"

Tom's sigh was weary as he ran the fingers of both his hands through his hair. "For a while...I guess. Until I can get myself back under control. Until I can come to terms with..." He sighed again and now he really met, for the first time, Chakotay's gaze, his face inscrutable.

"There are a lot of ways to forget, do you know that? They aren't always good ways, but they work. Hell, I've probably tried them all. Not that I'd do any of that now..." Then his words were somewhat lighter. "I bet you thought I'd be in Sandrine's drinking myself silly." Chakotay grinned.

"The thought had occurred to me." And Tom grinned back, briefly.

"Yeah, that's a pretty effective way of forgetting...for a while. Of course, it isn't exactly appropriate for.." and then Tom's words seemed to catch in his throat, the mask seemed to slip, just slightly - and the pain was there again, in his eyes, so sharp and so obvious that it stunned Chakotay to see it. The look in Tom's eyes stilled him as their gazes met again.

"That wouldn't be appropriate...," Tom said,"...for a new father."

Shocked silence ensued, and the mask seemed to slip further. "I'm going to be a daddy, Chakotay. B'Elanna's pregnant." Chakotay didn't know what to say. Through his shock, his first impulse was to offer congratulations - but the anguish on Tom's face made those offers disappear as though they'd never been in his mind. He hadn't really known how Tom felt about the idea of having children, but he'd thought...

But then Tom seemed to have reigned his emotions back in, and he was continuing, kicking at the dirt and turf on which he stood, marring the perfectly maintained field.

"There's a lot about myself I'd like to forget, Chakotay. Things I've done and mistakes I made. There are aspects of my nature I'd like to forget about, too - things about myself that I'd rather not pass on for another generation of Parises to ruin their lives with." And then Tom looked up, and the sudden fury in his eyes almost made Chakotay take a few steps back. Tom's words were loud and passionate. "But I don't have that choice, Chakotay! That's not my decision - and you know what? I wouldn't want it to be if it were!"

Chakotay grappled with a way to respond to the outburst.

"So, B'Elanna's pregnant..," he said, when the ensuing silence had grown awkward - knowing it sounded redundant, but not knowing how else to begin.

"So B'Elanna's pregnant," Tom interjected, sharp, slightly red-rimmed blue eyes meeting dark brown ones, "And she wants the doctor to remove any trace of Klingon DNA from its genetic make-up."

"She wants to..."

"Yes!" Tom said, running his hands through his hair once again in frustration - the slightest hint of a growl in his angry and incredulous voice - a habit picked up long ago from his lover. "She wants to remove every trace of herself - her whole self - from our child. And she wasn't even going to tell me Chakotay!"

Tom's anger suddenly left him - and what remained was a weariness Chakotay was surprised almost pained him to see. Tom sank to the ground and into a sitting position, and his voice was quieter, strained.

"She wasn't even going to tell me."

Totally at a loss, Chakotay sat beside him, and struggled with his shock. He'd known B'Elanna a long time - knew the difficulty she had in accepting her dual heritage; knew the difficulty Tom faced in maintaining a relationship with her as a result. Be he'd had no idea how deeply her feelings went - that she would go so far as to try and alter her child's DNA... Chakotay studied Tom for a moment, amazed as he often was at just how little he'd ever really known about the man. He'd once thought Tom could be responsible for noone - not himself and least of all for any sort of family of his own. However, over the last seven years he'd come to learn there was a totally different side to Tom Paris than the arrogant bad boy who'd loved to court disaster during their days in the Maquis. Tom truly loved B'Elanna Torres - it was obvious to anyone who knew them. And though Chakotay had been skeptical about the relationship at first - and more than a little worried about B'Elanna becoming involved with a man with a reputation like Tom's - he could now honestly envision the couple as having a permanent union...a family with children of their own. He now knew of Tom's commitment to the relationship, after having seen the ardor with which he pursued it - which was no simple feat considering B'Elanna's being just as complex and mercurial as the pilot himself. Secretly, Chakotay had always slightly envied that determination, that fearlessness, that allowed Tom to pursue the woman he loved despite the odds and the possibility of rejection. It was a sort of confidence and put-it-all-on-the-line attitude that Chakotay wished he'd had himself. And he'd always admired - and been slightly in awe of - Tom's determination to get B'Elanna to accept her dual heritage. He wasn't always successful, obviously, but he'd come closer to making B'Elanna feel good - truly good - about herself than anyone else that had ever been in her life. Hell, sometimes Chakotay wondered if B'Elanna's heritage wasn't more important to Tom than it ever would be to her. Most people shied away from the Klingon half of the feisty engineer, but Tom embraced it. He was proud of it - and he'd worked hard to try and instill that same kind of pride in B'Elanna. How must he feel now, seeing the evidence of his failure in doing so...

Chakotay broke off, mid-thought. He knew how Tom felt - at least in part - it was obvious in his posture and the expression on his face.

He felt betrayed - plain and simple.

And with a bitter little smile, Chakotay reckoned there was noone better for Tom to talk to than himself on this matter. After his experience with Seska, the Commander figured he could say a thing or two about being betrayed by the woman you love...or thought you loved, anyhow.

Chakotay completed this musing and then tried to put his personal reaction to this news behind him. After all, he'd come here as the ship's counselor - he should be trying to do some counseling. So what would a ship's counselor - from a totally nonobjective point of view, of course - say at this moment?

"So, I suppose those 'Appreciating the Klingon Culture' holoprograms you fixed up for her didn't work?"

Whatever he should have said...that probably wasn't it, and Chakotay grimaced. But to his surprise, Tom laughed. Genuinely laughed.

"You're really taking this whole, 'ship's counselor' thing to heart, aren't you, Chakotay?" The Commander laughed with him, a little sheepish.

"Well, that's certainly a new approach," Tom said, standing, "And I should know - I've had enough counselors to give you some tips on the subject." Then he turned to the older man and gave him a strong slap on the shoulder. "Why don't we go to Sandrine's after all? I can give you those tips, and you can help me wallow in some self-pity and synthehol?"

Chakotay smiled.

"Why not?"