Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim to own, any of the following characters, places, or events.
Author's Note: I suppose you could call this a sequel to "Fair Haven," "Spirit Folk," and DianeB's lovely P/T fic "All the Mornings Still to Come" (though it's not essential to understanding this tale, I highly recommend that you read it). All comments on B'Elanna's first visit to Fair Haven are references to that fic, and much thanks to the author for allowing me to continue her story. Set between "Unimatrix Zero, Part II" and "Drive."
This Heart of Mine
I realized a lot of things that I'd been hiding in this heart of mine,
I saw the beauty of a love that's oh so true…
"Horseback riding? Very funny, Tom."
B'Elanna Torres didn't even bother to look up from her console's display, so sure she was of Tom's jest. Tom? On a horse? Ha! That'll be the day. Voyager's history buff helmsman much preferred contraptions such as antique automobiles or pre-warp flight vessels from centuries past. Horses? Ridiculous. If it wasn't loud, fast, or run by an engine, Tom wasn't interested.
Tapping the glowing controls, B'Elanna flicked her eyes to the padd in her hand before nodding and moving on to her next victim. The energy distribution in the warp coils had been fluctuating lately, and she wanted to regulate it before it became a problem… Plug the leak, save the ship, she thought, and ran her finger down the padd's diagnostics display.
Still standing at an abandoned console near Engineering's main entrance, Tom watched B'Elanna sweep across the wide, thrumming room, padd in hand and mask of focus on her face. Blue phantoms, compliments of the plasma waltzing in the warp core, swept across her smooth brown hair and exquisite features. Just the sight of her made his heart beat faster.
As he watched her, Tom found himself wondering if B'Elanna knew just how in control and competent she appeared while at work. She didn't just run Engineering—she owned it. She knew it sleepwalking, fixed its problems as easily as a Q could create them, and still managed to know "her people" well enough to laugh and joke around with them. In between warp core breaches and ship-wide failures, that is. Only Kathryn Janeway in all her Starfleet glory could rival B'Elanna in the ways of command and respect.
Tom smiled faintly, an outward reflection of the pride swelling within his heart. It was here, in the heart of Voyager, that B'Elanna shook off all her doubts and insecurities and became the woman she was born to be.
"Horseback riding? Very funny, Tom."
Voyager's pilot suddenly remembered why he'd come down to Engineering in the first place.
"B'Elanna, I wasn't joking," he called out, attracting the attention of several yellow-clad crewmen. "I mean it. I've got a time picked out and everything. And before you use it as an excuse, I've already cleared it with the Captain. Barring an unforeseen Borg attack or a visit from our weekly ticked-off aliens, you've got the night off. Captain's orders." He raised his voice. "And I can go to the Doctor, if I have to."
That oughtta get her attention.
It certainly drew a snicker from a lieutenant who looked suspiciously like Susan Nicoletti.
Tom finally dislodged himself from his spot by the environmental controls console and made his way to her side.
B'Elanna hoped that her expression looked twice as dubious as her voice sounded. Judging by the look on Tom's face, which she could barely see in her peripheral vision, it would take at least that to convince him to drop this ridiculous notion.
"I would, and I will. That is, if you don't agree to it now. Peaceably. Like any woman in love with her date would."
"First of all, I don't believe you," B'Elanna said, jabbing her finger at a final key, right hand already hovering over the next console. "Second, the Doc would never lie. I'm perfectly healthy, so he'd have no basis for relieving me of duty."
"Well, I don't think he'd ever go so far as lying—you're right on that. But…" though she stared at the screen before her, B'Elanna could swear she saw Tom's eyebrows rising, "…he has been known to exaggerate on occasion."
B'Elanna turned to fix him with a glare, fully looking at him for the first time since he proposed this ridiculous outing. "You wouldn't."
He only looked at her.
"Ohh, I can't believe you!" she growled, whirling back to the console.
"I take it that means you've decided to come with me, then."
Not if I have anything to say about it! B'Elanna thought, furiously stabbing at the keys. Luckily for her, their volume controls weren't touch sensitive, and couldn't protest the abuse. "Why are you bringing me in on this, anyway?" she muttered, refusing to look at him.
"Why do I do anything with you, B'Elanna?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?" she snapped, angry that the tenderness of his tone had punched through her defenses so easily.
Tom groaned and spread his arms, head lolling back to look at the ceiling. "Because I care about you and want to spend time with you, okay? Isn't that what people who love each other do?"
Darn it, there wasn't anything left for her to do at this console. B'Elanna resisted the urge to pound the lacquered surface, and instead turned, flipped her hair back from her face, and leveled her tormentor with her best I-really-don't-have-time-for-this-so-make-it-quick glare. "Fine, Tom. I'll go horseback riding."
A look of surprise and accomplishment flitted across his handsome face at her surrender, but he hid it quickly. Don't get cocky yet, flyboy. In truth, B'Elanna herself was surprised that she'd caved so quickly. Especially considering the activity planned. Horseback riding? She suppressed a shudder. She was sure to make a complete fool of herself.
B'Elanna sighed and planted a hand on her hip. "But why Fair Haven? Why not some other program tailored just for—" she waved her hand in the air, "—trail rides, or whatever they call it when you ride horses?"
"Ah," he said, raising a finger. She resisted the urge to bat it down. "Did you forget? You said you wanted to see Fair Haven in the daytime."
"I was drunk, Tom, and you know it," she said, stomachs churning nervously. The blurred memories of her first and only visit to Tom's Irish town never failed to bring a wave of acute embarrassment. B'Elanna scowled in hopes of hiding any traces of her mortification surrounding that night. "Besides, I thought you said this would be a moonlit ride."
"We'll go in time to see the town, say hello to Michael and some of the others, then get down to the beach by sunset," he said easily.
"Beach?" B'Elanna enunciated disbelievingly.
"It's a seaside town—I thought you knew that."
"All I know, Tom, is that after I woke up the next morning feeling like the Battle of Klach D'Kel Brakt was taking place in my head, I swore I'd never set foot in Fair Haven again."
She opted not to admit that her real reason for avoiding the town was the humiliation that had assaulted her when she'd realized she'd probably made a complete fool of herself in front of Tom, the Captain, and Michael Sullivan. Who just turned out to be Janeway's holographic boyfriend.
Tom folded his arms across his chest and mimed squinting into the distance. "Funny," he began. "I distinctly remember you saying you'd go back to the Vidiian prison camp before you set foot in my quaint little town. And that was before you paid your little visit to Michael's pub."
The words Vidiian prison camp hit her like so many bat'leth blows, and B'Elanna returned her attention to the console. "Well, I obviously wasn't thinking very clearly when I said that, now was I?" Her words were soft; the truth was she couldn't have spoken any louder for fear of her voice cracking.
Tom must have sensed the damage his words inflicted, for his right hand soon found her shoulder. "B'Elanna," he said, his tone gentle enough to make her stomachs attempt synchronized orbit with each other. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have said that."
His other hand moved up to rub her back, but she turned to face him. Even so, she carefully avoided his eyes, instead searching out her next work station. When she'd found it, as well as her composure, she met his gaze.
"No, it's okay, Tom. I'm fine." She was careful to shutter her gaze, keep him from seeing just how painful the memories were to her. "When is this excursion to take place?"
For a moment, staring into his eyes, B'Elanna thought he was going to cancel the whole thing, and something akin to panic welled inside her. But then his blue eyes flickered back to their normal twinkle, his lips quirking into a smile.
"How does Friday at 1900 sound? Holodeck 2. Wear pants and boots and you should be fine. You might want sleeves after sunset, though; it gets a little chilly with the ocean breeze."
Her relief was so palpable that it made her knees tremble. Furious, B'Elanna crushed the emotion, the Klingon in her silently cursing her human weakness.
She nodded and stepped past him to a work station. "I'll be there."
A lot sooner than you think.