Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events.
Author's Note: Set Earth 2394, approximately 3 months after Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant as established in Endgame's alternate timeline. Primarily a B'Elanna/Chakotay friendship piece, but P/T is naturally involved. This is just the prologue; more to come.
I'll Be Looking at the Moon
"This is crazy! You can't just skip his funeral!"
She swung around, fists clenched and eyes glittering. "Oh, so now it's some Starfleet requirement that I attend a crewmate's funeral?"
"He was more than your crewmate, B'Elanna."
"How would you know?" she choked and wrenched around for the door, slamming her fist into it when it didn't open fast enough.
"You need to go."
She halted, shoulders tight, knuckles white against the doorframe. "Why? To impress the brass? Or maybe just to put on a good show for the newsvids." She turned, her bitterness cutting into him like a knife. But not in a way that made him want to lash out.
He cupped her cheek and got her to look at him.
"No. For you."
Her shoulders slumped as she stepped into him. He held her like he had Miral when she was a newborn, cheek pressed to her hair and hand cradling her head to his chest. If only she would trust him like Miral had… "I know it hurts, Bee."
"No. No, Tom, you don't. You can't—possibly—" Her voice hitched, and he pulled her closer.
"Okay, you're right. I don't understand. I'd have to lose Harry to understand. But…I've lost people, too. People I loved." I got three of them killed, he almost added, but didn't. This wasn't about him. Besides, he'd put that to rest long ago, about as well as anyone could lay something like that aside.
She sighed, and her breath was warm against his chest. He wished she'd let go, stop being so angry at the hurt inside her. Or let the anger out. He'd gladly take a beating, if that's what it took. I'll have to watch her a while, keep her away from the holosuites. At least until she cried.
"I'm sorry. I just…can't—"
"Don't apologize. You knew him for twenty-four years. It's hard."
"I can't do it, Tom."
He set her back so he could see her eyes. So he could know her. "Yes. Yes, you can. We all can. That's why you need to go—to be there for us, so we can be there for you."
"It won't be the same."
"No. It won't."
"We're not a family anymore. We're all broken and…gone."
"B'Elanna—B'Elanna, listen to me. We're not all gone. We're here. Broken, yes. Hurting, yes. But we're not gone, not dead. We're here for each other. We'll get through this."
She bit her lip. Let it out, just let it out!
"I just…I want to go back. It was easier. It was home." Her voice was flat, eyes dull.
Bee, don't do this to me. Not again. Please don't shut yourself off. Not when you need us most.
She stepped into him once more, this time tilting her head to catch his lips. Her touch was desperate, fiery, and she clutched his shirt as if she were drowning in the oceans of Monea. When at last she came up for air, Tom could feel the emptiness echoing inside her.
She looked at him, brown eyes heavier than he'd ever seen them, even when she'd been a pregnant stranger in a bar, brain manipulated to bring all her insecurities to the surface. He looked at those eyes, and knew what she would say.
"I'm sorry, Tom. I just can't."
And then she left.