TITLE: "Matter of Patience"
AUTHOR: Jean Griffin/RFK
CODE: Torres, Tuvok & P/T
RATING: PG
E-MAIL: june_daley@rocketmail.com
FEEDBACK: It would be nice to receive some. Please, no flames.
SUMMARY: Coda to "Memorial" - B'Elanna and Tuvok discuss the events of that Nakan massacre and its impact upon Tom.
DISCLAIMER: Sigh! All characters and etc. pertaining to Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount, Viacom and . . . well, you know who.

After reading some of the stories and comments about Tom's actions toward B'Elanna in "Memorial", I had to write this story.



"A Matter of Patience" by RFK


"You know where to find me," B'Elanna growled as she turned on her heels and stormed out of Tom's cabin. His whispered apology barely reached her ears.

The petaQ! The insult repeated in her mind over and over again. B'Elanna failed to notice the crewmembers that scattered away from her path as she stalked along Voyager's corridors. Or those who cringed at the sight of her stormy expression.

B'Elanna thought she and Tom had progressed beyond this in their relationship. Pushing the other away in face of a personal crisis. Apparently not in the case of one Thomas Eugene Paris. Just recently, he, Chakotay, Harry Kim and Neelix had returned from a two-week Away mission, visiting other planets in search for dilithium. Upon their return, the quartet began experiencing images of a battle being fought on an alien planet.

Tom's first assault of these memories had come while watching the new television set B'Elanna built for him during his absence. The memories struck poor Neelix in the Mess Hall, during preparation of the next meal. The frightened Talaxian ended up holding young Naomi Wildman hostage. When the memories struck Harry, the Operations officer was working inside one of the Jeffries tubes. B'Elanna had no idea when Chakotay was struck by memories of the battle. She did learn that Tuvok had summoned him to deal with Neelix in the Mess Hall.

When the four travelers had finally compared memories during a meeting with Captain Janeway and the Doctor, all four, according to Neelix, discovered that they basically shared the same memories - participation in a massacre of innocent civilians from a race called the Nakan. The mystery remained on the massacre's location. And now, Voyager had changed course to retrace the Delta Flyer's two-week route.

B'Elanna rushed toward her lover's cabin to comfort him the moment she learned the whole story from Neelix. Only Tom did not want comfort from her or anyone else. Nor did he want to deal with the trauma of the massacre. In true Paris fashion, he rejected B'Elanna's help and pushed her away, leaving the half-Klingon frustrated and angry.

Nearly seventy-two hours later, an exhausted B'Elanna trudged back to her quarters. The past three days had been traumatic. Voyager finally arrived at the scene of the massacre - a planet called Tarakis. It seemed the massacre had taken place some three centuries ago. The Tarakis natives erected a memorial in honor of the Nakan colonists they had massacred. A memorial that projected their memories to passing travelers with a synaptic transmitter. The moment Voyager began to orbit around Tarakis, other crewmembers began to experience the massacre in the same manner as the original Away team - including Captain Janeway. And like Tom, Harry, Neelix and Chakotay, they also experienced post-war trauma and guilt. Had the power cells of the memorial's transmitter not been deteriorating, Voyager's entire crew would have relived the massacre.

B'Elanna learned from Neelix about the debate over the memorial in the Conference Room. The Talaxian wanted to replenish the memorial's power cells in order for it to continue its objective - inform passing strangers about the Nakan massacre. Chakotay, Harry and Tom wanted either the memorial or the power cells destroyed. B'Elanna privately agreed with the latter three. As a former freedom fighter, she understood Neelix's desire to keep the memorial standing. But using a synaptic transmitter to force other innocents to experience the massacre and the guilt did not seem the right way to honor the victims. In the end, Neelix won.

Captain Janeway had agreed to repair the memorial's transmitter. She even ordered the original four affected to make the repairs. Eight hours after Voyager left Tarakis' orbit, many crewmen continued to recover from the ordeal. According to the Doctor, all would be forced to live with the memories of the Nakan massacre for the rest of their lives. Very few took the news well. Even fewer had returned to duty. B'Elanna ended up commanding two shifts in Engineering with a limited staff.

* * * *

No one was more relieved than her when Ensign Vorik took over command after the Beta shift had ended. Upon reaching her quarters, B'Elanna quickly entered and started toward her bedroom. She had an hour to shower and change into fresh clothes for her meditation session with Tuvok. She usually dreaded these sessions. Revealing her innermost thoughts and secrets still did not come easy to her. However, she had to admit that the sessions did help. And after the events surrounding Tarakis, meditation with the Vulcan just might come in handy to quell that inner turmoil that flared after her quarrel with Tom.

An hour later, B'Elanna appeared before Tuvok's quarters, clean and dressed in civilian clothes. She rang the announciator. A deep voice commanded her to enter. Once inside, B'Elanna found the Vulcan seated on the floor, in front of a low table. A small, brass lamp stood on the table. "Lieutenant Torres," Tuvok continued. "You are on time for once." One of his brows cocked upward, a sure sign of surprise for the Vulcan.

B'Elanna automatically smirked at the lieutenant commander. "I wouldn't get too comfortable with this, Tuvok. This moment might be a rare occasion." She glanced around the room. B'Elanna had to admit there was something soothing about Tuvok's quarters. It radiated a temperature slightly warmer than most of the quarters on Voyager. Much similar to her own. She recalled that the Vulcan homeworld possessed temperatures very similar to Q'uonos. Very few furnishings dotted the living room, although B'Elanna did spot a Vulcan artifact or two. But the lush flowers and plants located around the room did add a dash of color.

"So," B'Elanna continued, as she plopped down on the pillow opposite Tuvok. "What do you want to talk about?"

Tuvok's expression remained stoic. "The question is Lieutenant, what do you want to talk about?"

"What makes you think I want to talk?"

As usual, the Vulcan managed to remain patient, despite B'Elanna's obtuse response. Normally, such patience would exacerbate her temper, but not this time. Desperate for even a touch of the Vulcan's serenity after her fight with Tom, even she did not react with typical hostility.

"Lieutenant Torres," Tuvok calmly continued, "the last time you managed to arrive on time for a session was after our encounter with the Equinox. And if I remember correctly, you did a great deal of talking."

B'Elanna flushed. She remembered. Even after the Equinox's destruction, she had been in a rage over the betrayal of the ship's executive officer, Max Burke. Max, who had been her boyfriend at the Academy some ten years ago. It riled her that Max would take advantage of their past relationship for perfidious reasons.

A sigh escaped B'Elanna's mouth. "All right. If you must know, I'm still upset over that war memorial on Tarakis. I think the Captain should have ordered its destruction. Or at least removed that transmitter."

The Vulcan's other brow formed an arch. "Really? I did not realize that memorial had upset you that much. Were you among those affected by it?"

"No!" B'Elanna bit her tongue. She had not meant to sound so harsh. In a softer tone, she continued, "No, I wasn't. A good many in Engineering were."

Silence. Then, "I see."

B'Elanna frowned. "You see what?"

"I see that you are . . . traumatized," again, a brow quirked upward, "by the memorial, despite the fact that you were not personally affected by the synaptic transmitter. Curious."

The tone in Tuvok's voice seemed to hint that someone was lying and it was not he. B'Elanna did not like that. Not at all. Was he accusing her of lying? "What are you trying to say? That I'm lying?" she demanded. B'Elanna could already feel her Klingon ire on the rise.

"I never said such a thing, Lieutenant," Tuvok coolly replied. "I merely stated that your emotions regarding the memorial seemed oddly exaggerated."

"Chalk it up to my Klingon temper."

A slight hint of disapproval crept into the Vulcan's expression. "Really, Lieutenant. I thought we had progressed beyond that stereotype. As I had once stated before, Klingons are not the only ones capable of volatile temperament. And even they believe in controlling one's anger." Tuvok paused momentarily. "Perhaps you are upset over the memorial's affect upon Ensign Paris."

"This has nothing to do with that petaQ!" B'Elanna growled. The moment the words rushed out of her mouth, she regretted them. She had not meant to reveal her problems with the Chief Pilot. Just use the session to soothe the fury within her. B'Elanna sighed. "What I meant to say was . . ."

"Yes?"

B'Elanna peered at the Security Chief. His expression remained the same. Nor did it hint any curiosity over her outburst. Yet, she knew he was curious. Just because Vulcans did not express their emotions did not mean they lacked any. She had learned that lesson a long time ago.

"Nothing. I mean . . ." B'Elanna felt herself becoming tongue-tied. "Tom has nothing to do with my feelings about the memorial."

"I see."

B'Elanna continued, "And as for that petaQ crack," she shrugged her shoulders, "well, we did have a minor disagreement after his return from his Away mission. That's all."

Tuvok nodded. "Of course."

Suspicion again, gripped B'Elanna. She frowned at the Vulcan. "What did you mean by that?"

For the first time that evening, Tuvok sighed. Was his Vulcan stoicism finally eroding? "Lieutenant, you seem to be questioning every response I make, no matter how minor. Perhaps we should end this conversation and concentrate on your meditation." He closed his eyes.

B'Elanna's own eyes narrowed. What the hell was going on? Was this a Vulcan trick to get her to talk about Tom? Or was he no longer interested in learning the meaning behind her outburst? "Is that it?" she demanded. Tuvok's eyes flew open. "I lose my temper and all you want me to do is meditate?"

Tuvok stared directly at the half-Klingon woman. "Is there something else you wish to discuss, Lieutenant Torres?"

"Of course there is! The memorial! My fight with . . ." At that moment, B'Elanna realized she could no longer hold back her troubles any longer. She had to tell someone. It all rushed out of her mouth. Her desire to help Tom, his rejection of her help and the following quarrel. "All I wanted to do was help him and he pushed me away! I thought we were both getting over that. Finally learning to be more open with each other." She sighed. "I guess I should have known better. People never change."

Once again, Tuvok nodded and said, "I see."

The remark irritated B'Elanna. "Is that all you can say? 'I see'?"

Tuvok took a deep breath. "Yes, Lieutenant. Because I see that you expect me to agree with you on this matter regarding your quarrel with Ensign Paris."

B'Elanna could not believe the words she had just heard. "Are you saying that Tom isn't to blame? That I am?"

"This is not about blame, Lieutenant." Tuvok paused. "This is matter about patience."

A snort left B'Elanna's mouth. "Well, that's something I certainly don't have."

"That is obvious." B'Elanna glared at the Vulcan, who continued, "However, in a matter such as this, very few humanoids or other sentient beings have patience."

"What matter? What are you talking about? My wanting to help Tom?"

Tuvok continued, "Lieutenant, I admire your desire to help Ensign Paris. Especially since he is your mate. Despite his volatile nature, he has a habit of keeping his feelings to himself in a manner unsuited for Humans." Tuvok's last remark seemed a far cry from the man who once tried to help Harry Kim recover from an infatuation using Vulcan methods. "Also admirable is your desire for you and Ensign Paris to me more open with one another. Even Vulcans believe in open communication between mates."

"But," B'Elanna interjected.

This time, both of Tuvok's brows formed arches. "Excuse me?"

"There is a but somewhere. Am I right?"

Tuvok nodded. "I'm afraid so. Like I said, it is admirable that you wanted to help Ensign Paris. Be more open with one another. But you must remember that he has just suffered a traumatic experience. It is not easy for anyone to face a trauma they had suffered. Nor is it wise to force that person to deal with it when he or she is not ready."

Tuvok's words shook B'Elanna to the core. She did not know whether to be surprised or angry. Struggling to keep her breathing even, B'Elanna snapped back, "So what you're saying is that our fight was my fault."

"Lieutenant, you seemed to be looking for blame in your quarrel with Ensign Paris," Tuvok calmly responded. "I am not trying to blame you or Mister Paris. What I am trying to say is that you simply made the mistake of trying to force him to face his memories of the Nakan massacre. It is admirable that you only wanted to help him. Only, you were probably a little too impatient in your efforts. Obviously, Mister Paris was not ready to deal with the massacre at the time."

B'Elanna shot back, "He told the Captain about the massacre. Why not me?"

"In regard to the Captain, he had no choice. It was a matter of official duty."

"And I'm just suppose to wait for Tom to talk about his problems when the moment arises?" B'Elanna asked pointedly.

Tuvok replied, "Yes. That is best. Before you can help Ensign Paris, he has to want help. Or be able to face whatever troubles him. I'm curious, Lieutenant. Was this the only occasion he has pushed you away in the past two years or so?"

Memories of that period between the Hirogen takeover of Voyager and Tom's encounters with Steth and that alien body thief flashed through B'Elanna's thoughts. During that time, Tom had kept to himself, ignoring his duties and her, and spending a great deal of time in the Holodeck with his car. It took the theft of his DNA by some nameless alien who had already stolen poor Steth's body, to snap Tom out of his funk. B'Elanna mentioned the episode.

"Yes," Tuvok commented. "I remember that incident. What about his encounter with the Moneans? Did he push you away?"

B'Elanna replied quietly, "No. He was willing to talk about that." Especially, since she had indirectly led him to make an effort to save the Monean Ocean.

"And the incident with the Alice entity?"

Tom had definitely been opened with his feelings on that incident, B'Elanna recalled. The moment the Doctor released him from Sickbay, all of Tom's feelings and regrets came rushing out of him. "He talked about Alice," she admitted. "But if he was able to talk about that, why not about the memorial?"

"Perhaps Mister Paris found the possibility of his participation in a massacre of innocent civilians extremely traumatic," Tuvok continued. Like Caldik Prime, B'Elanna silently added. "What about you? Have you revealed all of your demons to the ensign?"

Guilt washed over B'Elanna as she recalled her depression. She had certainly kept Tom and practically everyone else at arm's length. And an old childhood memory of a camping trip with her father popped into her mind. B'Elanna ruthlessly pushed it away. "No," she finally said with a sigh. "No, I haven't."

"Lieutenant." Tuvok leaned forward. "When Ensign Paris is ready to talk to you about the memorial, he will. As long as you let him know that you're available to listen and help. All you have to do is be a little patient."

Now it was B'Elanna's turn to say the words, "I see." And she did. "You know where to find me." Those last words she had spoken to Tom reverberated in her mind. Had he heard her as she stormed out of his quarters three days ago? B'Elanna hoped so.

"Do you, Lieutenant?"

B'Elanna nodded. "Yes, I do."

Satisfaction gleamed in the Vulcan's dark eyes. "Good. I believe now is an appropriate time to begin meditation." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. B'Elanna stared at him for a moment.

She recalled those weeks that left Tuvok in command of Voyager over three years ago when the Captain and Chakotay were stranded on New Earth. During that period, she, Tom, Harry and the rest of the crew had mistaken his Vulcan stoicism for lack of human nature and judged him unfit to command the ship. Now she realized that Tuvok understood emotions very well and that they had all misunderstood the man. Or failed to give him a chance. It was a mistake B'Elanna swore she would not repeat. Finally at peace with herself, B'Elanna followed Tuvok's example and closed her eyes.

* * * *

The latest Klingon romance novel she had discovered in the computer's database, failed to stir B'Elanna's interest. She sat inside the Mess Hall, nursing a cup of raktajino and ignoring the rest of her breakfast. B'Elanna struggled to keep her eyes on the PADD in her hand. And failed. Anyone observing her would guess that she found the stars beyond the view port interesting. However, her mind was not fixed on the stars, but on Tuvok's revelations during last night's mediation session.

The more she thought about the Vulcan's words, the more she realized he was right. Perhaps she had been a little too impatient in her attempt to help Tom. However, she refused to in self-flagellation over her error. It was a simple mistake. One that many people, including non-Klingons have committed. Including Tom. Nor should she feel guilty for wanting to help Tom. Like Tuvok said, just let him know that she was available if he ever needed . . .

"Mind if I join you?" a soft, masculine voice asked. B'Elanna inhaled. She would recognize that scent anywhere. Tom.

She glanced up at the tall figure that stood before her. B'Elanna nearly cried aloud at the sight of Tom. He looked so exhausted. Worn out. Dark patches shadowed those beautiful, blue eyes. In fact, Tom looked even more tired than he had upon his return from the Away mission. B'Elanna wished she could reach out wipe away the exhaustion from his face. Only, she realized it would take a lot more to help him.

B'Elanna gave her mate a small smile. "Sure. Have a seat." Tom plopped in the chair opposite her. "Not hungry?" She noticed he had arrived with no breakfast tray or cup of coffee in hand.

"I uh . . . Maybe in a few minutes," Tom replied in a somber tone. "First, I want to talk." His eyes cast downward. "More like apologize for what happened three days ago."

"Tom . . ." B'Elanna began.

Before she could finish, the pilot interrupted. "B'Elanna, I am so sorry!" he exclaimed. His eyes radiated regret, shame, sincerity . . . and love. "I'm sorry for pushing you away like that. I couldn't . . . I couldn't deal with the possibility that I might have helped killed innocent civilians. I realize you were only trying to . . ."

"Tom." B'Elanna took hold of her lover's hands. "I understand. Believe me, I do. Maybe I was being just a little too impatient at the time. Pushing you like that. And I didn't realize you needed a moment or two to breath. That you weren't ready to talk."

"Yeah, but I still pushed . . ."

B'Elanna gently covered Tom's lips with her fingers, forcing him to stop talking. "Look, maybe I didn't like being yelled at. And maybe you were pushing me away, but I understand why. You did nothing wrong. Not really. Besides, I know you'll want to talk about any problem once you're ready to talk. I just want you to know that you can come to me once you're ready. Oka
y?"

Tom nodded. "Okay. And B'Elanna?"

"Hmmm?"

"The same goes with me. You can count on me whenever you feel like talking about a problem." Tom grabbed hold of B'Elanna's fingers and planted a small kiss on the tips. She blushed with embarrassment, aware of curious eyes inside the Mess Hall. Yet, she did not bother to remove her hands. That would only hurt Tom. "I'll always be here for you."

Dark brown eyes met blue ones. Intense love flowed between them. B'Elanna smiled tenderly and murmured, "Thanks." Then she broke the magic spell by removing her hands from Tom's grip. "By the way, Flyboy," she continued in her usual gruff manner, "you better get some sleep. You look as if you haven't slept in over a month."

Tom replied, "I feel like it. But I'm okay. All I need is a cup of coffee and I . . ." He yawned. "Okay, maybe I could use a few extra hours of sleep. I wonder if the Captain would relieve me from duty, today."

"The minute she lays eyes upon you, she'll order you back to bed. Maybe you should stop by Sickbay. Get the Doctor's consent, first."

That brilliant smile that B'Elanna knew and loved so well, shone through Tom's tired expression. "Good idea. I'll see you later." He stood up and leaned down to give B'Elanna's ridged forehead a peck. "About 0900 hours?"

"I'll be waiting in my quarters," B'Elanna replied. She returned Tom's smile and watched him walk away.

B'Elanna's smile remained fixed on her face, until she became away of the sly expressions on the faces of the other diners. Her smile disappeared. She growled at anyone in particular, "What are you staring at?" The others hastily looked away. B'Elanna returned her attention to her PADD and sighed. For the first time in weeks, all seemed right with the world.

THE END