As We Collide
Note: This little ficlet is just a sappy little AU, kind of odd-it just starting playing through my head as I was listening to the song As We Collide by The Endless, though this is not a song-fic. I had planned the story to be much longer, much more drawn out, but since I'm never going to continue it, I figured where I left it was as good a place as any to stop.
B'Elanna stood in the hall, her eyes focused on a single word. It was engraved along the small metal plate welded to the door right in front of her. Paris.
Just a few days ago she had accepted-at least she had told herself that she had-the fact that she would never see him again. He had left them, gone off on a Talaxian convoy, and she realized now-with no small amount of guilt-she had seen the act as cowardly when really he had been risking his life to save them all.
Even after learning Tom had been undercover, she had been hurt. In the past she had confided things in him, for reasons she could never understand, that she never had and never would tell anyone else. And when she had tried to reach Tom all this time he had been acting out, he would only lie or just shut down. Even though it had been his orders to hide the truth, the fact that he'd kept it from her had still hurt.
That was a week ago. The message had just arrived today. Set to activate seven days after his departure, as during that time, whatever the result, the crazy plan to uncover the spy would have reached its conclusion. It was a goodbye message. With all the repairs and madness of the last days, he must have forgotten to inform the computer not to send it.
What he believed to be his last words to her wouldn't stop repeating in her head.
…It's ironic-that of all the people on the ship I would leave a message for I'd choose only you. I guess it makes sense though, because I know of all the people I would actually want to say goodbye to, you're the only one that won't show up when I leave. But I couldn't just leave it at that, B'Elanna. However one-sided, you've become my friend, one of the few I have. And I just want to say that I'll miss you. I've kind of always felt a connection to you-something I couldn't explain. Until now, I'd kind of hoped it would become more. But the truth is, I probably won't be coming back. I wish we'd had more time to get to know each other, but I'm not crazy enough to believe you'll even notice when I'm gone…
He had reached over and ended the transmission then. The self-righteous pig, B'Elanna thought angrily. Where did he get off thinking she meant more to him than he did to her? Did he really believe she was so heartless that she wouldn't even bat an eye if he were dead?
She reached over and angrily hit the buzzer on his door, holding it down far longer than was necessary. Tom Paris, she decided, was infuriating. Irrepressible, egotistical, absolutely impossible. And she had a sudden sinking feeling that she wouldn't know what to do without him.
It had taken him telling her she didn't care to realize just how much she did.
She hit the buzzer again, raw emotion clouding everything around her. She wanted him to answer the door already. She needed to see him. She wanted to yell at him for being so stupid, about everything-she wanted to hit him, scream. And most disturbing of all, she wanted to kiss him and tell him she felt that connection he had mentioned too.
Where was he? she wondered, feeling her irrational anger and frustration grow even more out of control. The computer had told her he would be here. She slapped her hand down on the buzzer once more, her expression one of complete determination as she let it blare. She would not move her hand until he opened that door.
Finally the door slid open. Tom stared out at her, bleary-eyed. He had obviously been trying to catch up on all his missed sleep. After being treated by the Doctor for his injuries, he had been going non-stop-working to help repair all the damage left by the traitor, and repair his shattered relationships with seemingly everyone on the crew but her.
"Can I help you?" he asked with a smirk, leaning on the doorway and watching her wearily.
B'Elanna belatedly pulled her hand away from the buzzer, moving away as though it burned.
After registering the troubled look in B'Elanna's eyes, Tom's expression changed. Like someone flipped a switch, the smirk faded away and he was in the hall in front of her, her hands held in his and his blue eyes searching her soul.
"B'Elanna? Hey, what's wrong?"
B'Elanna opened her mouth to speak, to yell-to do all the things she had been wanting to do since she had received his damn message, but all the anger had faded away, and as he stood looking at her so concerned she realized she didn't know what to say.
"What happened?" Tom tried again. "Come on, B'Elanna, you're kind of freaking me out here."
"I-I got your message," she said at last. It shouldn't have been so hard to form such few words, but even that small task seemed to drain all that was left in her.
Tom froze, before moving a hand to his forehead and wincing. "God, I'm sorry about that. You weren't supposed to see that unless I..."
"Unless what?" B'Elanna demanded softly. "Unless you were dead? You thought that was fair, did you? Leaving me alone to deal with that."
"B'Elanna, it wasn't like that. I was leaving on a mission I had very little chance of coming back from-and I couldn't even tell anyone why I was really going. I-I got scared, and I used you to try and make sense of everything that happened. I'm sorry-I should have remembered to delete the message. You never should have had to see it."
"I'm glad I saw it," she said shakily. "I like to know where I stand with a person."
"B'Elanna," Tom said wryly. "I've always been kind of obvious about where you stand with me."
"The hell you have," B'Elanna interrupted, some of her anger flaring up once more. "You give more mixed signals than a failing message beacon, Tom-one minute you're the kindest man I've ever known, helping me through something I would have let no one else help through, and the next, you're off chasing Sue Nicoletti and I don't even exist."
"What is it you want from me?" B'Elanna demanded.
"I don't know," Tom snapped. "I-you're right. I have given out mixed signals, because I can't make sense of things myself. All I know, B'Elanna, is that when I thought I was going to die, the only person I could think of was you."
B'Elanna didn't know what to say to that. She searched his eyes for any sign he wasn't telling the complete truth, that this was just another of his never-fail lines. But she would have known without looking that it wasn't a lie.
The doors behind Tom, now that he had stepped a bit further away from them, had just begun to close. Before they could, without even trying to think about what she was doing, B'Elanna pushed Tom through and followed him in.
He fell backwards onto the ground of his quarters, and looked up at B'Elanna in dazed confusion as his doors shut behind her. "B'Elanna, what are..."
She knelt beside him, meeting his eyes with as much intensity as he'd ever seen. "All my life, I've taken risks. I've done stupid things. Almost gotten myself killed. But I never open up, Paris, just like I don't think you have. Risk the body before the heart, isn't that right? But I'm sick of living my life without feeling that rush everyone around me seems to know. I want to take a chance."
"On what?" he asked quietly, his voice cracking as he tried to figure out what she was planning.
"On you," she whispered, before leaning over and kissing him softly.