Disclaimer: Star Trek belongs to Paramount/CBS. No copyright infringement is intended.

Rating: T

Summary: Torres. Paris. Just how did that Day of Honour holoprogram come about? Spans late season 3/early season 4. P/T.

A/N: This story started out as an attempt to give some backstory to the Day of Honour holoprogram and other events of the episode of the same name. Once I started fact-checking, I realised it was going to take a lot more work (and words) than I had originally envisaged to tell the story I wanted to.

My sincere thanks goes to Delwin (whose stories are a treat not to be missed): for research assistance, tons of encouragement, general wisdom, and last but not least, beta-reading.


Precipice

1. November

The holographic combatants had been vanquished for the session. B'Elanna sighed with relief as she saw the gridlines reappear on the holodeck walls. She wouldn't have been too upset if the bat'leth in her hands had dematerialised with the amphitheatre scenery, but Tom had insisted that she replicate herself one of the edged weapons, rather than rely on a disposable, holographic version. It was a ridiculous idea that made no rational sense, but she'd found herself acquiescing. For some reason that both baffled and alarmed her, Tom's opinions had become increasingly important to her over the last few months. Therefore, she had continued to participate in the Klingon martial arts program with him, several times beyond fulfilling the requirements of the stupid bet she had lost. But as far as she'd led him to believe, she was only suffering through the damn program out of a sense of duty.

A few steps away from her, Tom plunked himself down on the floor, a look of exhausted satisfaction on his face. He leant back against the wall, stretching his long legs out in front of him. The workout had clearly pushed him more than it had her, quite possibly due to their different levels of enthusiasm for the activity. His sandy hair was damp, his fair skin flushed and he was breathing heavily. She looked away sharply when he caught her staring.

"I've been meaning to ask you something," Tom said, wiping his brow with his sleeve. "About the Day of Honour."

B'Elanna wasn't sure quite what she'd expected his query to concern, but the Day of Honour wouldn't have been amongst her first guesses. She looked back at him and scowled, before bending down to pick up her water bottle from the ground and dropping the bat'leth with a clang. "Where did you hear about that?"

"I read about it." When she didn't enquire "where?", he smirked and added, "In Women Warriors at the River of Blood."

B'Elanna coughed as some of her water went down the wrong way, remembering the PADD he'd swiped from her in the mess hall a few weeks ago. After their emergency summons to the bridge, the PADD had been forgotten, to be returned to her a few days later by an embarrassed-looking Neelix, who claimed he'd had to browse the contents of the device to determine its owner. "You actually read that?" she asked Tom, her cheeks, to her dismay, warming.

He nodded, his eyes sparkling as he gazed up at her. She should have known Tom Paris would have downloaded himself a copy from the ship's library …

B'Elanna cringed. "All of it?"

"All 150,000 words. It was very … enlightening."

ghuy'cha'! It had been naïve of her to take the book into the mess hall. But, having followed the exploits of Rorg and M'Nea previously (albeit a long time ago), she'd remembered that the first chapter was pretty tame. She wouldn't have read as far as the more lurid sections in public. Of all the people to show an interest in what she'd been reading, it had to have been Tom Paris. And the tone of chapter one had been enough to pique his interest. Her blatant, ill-considered flirting hadn't exactly discouraged him, either. The stupid book must have temporarily turned her brain to mush … "You do realise," she countered, "that certain … aspects tend to be exaggerated in that sort of escapist literature."

Tom chuckled. "I should hope so. There were a few scenes that sent my eyebrows up to my hairline. But," he added suggestively, "I've never actually … you know, with a Klingon."

Neither had she, for that matter. Not that she was going to reveal such details to him. All of the few men she'd been involved with had been human. And, despite Vorik's assertions about Klingons during the arrogant little petaQ's 'marriage proposal', they had all - well, mostly all - come through it unscathed. She was only half-Klingon, after all. Max Burke's dislocated wrist was the sole exception. But that had been his own fault for tripping over his roommate's kit bag. That could have happened with anybody. Max Burke … where was he now?

Seeing that she wasn't going to take the bait, Tom cleared his throat and then grew serious. "But the Day of Honour isn't fictitious. It's a real holiday, right?"

B'Elanna nodded, trying to recall the exact mention of the Day of Honour in the trashy novel. It had only been a throwaway line if she remembered correctly. The 'plot' hadn't really hinged on an in-depth look at Klingon culture.

"Tell me about it," Tom persisted.

"Why don't you just look it up in the cultural database?" she snapped.

"Because I'd rather hear about it from you."

"It's a long time since I've thought about it. I don't remember the exact details."

"Then tell me what you can remember," he repeated patiently, gesturing for B'Elanna to sit beside him.

She did so, sighing, knowing she should be grateful he wasn't interrogating her on some of the more "enlightening" parts of the book. "All right. Well, it's celebrated during the month of nay'Poq. Every Klingon is supposed to examine his or her behaviour over the previous year to see if it's measured up to the required standards." That much was carved so deeply into her memory that B'Elanna could recall it effortlessly.

"Of course, on Kessik Four, we were using the Federation calendar, so the Day of Honour didn't come around at the exact same time each standard year. But my mother made damn sure she knew when it was. There was this special dinner we had to eat. She made enough blood pie that we were eating the leftovers for weeks." At least it had seemed like it. "And after the blood pie we were supposed to eat sanctified targ heart." B'Elanna snorted. "I have no idea how she managed to get hold of that, but she always did. That had to be followed with a glass of mot'loch." The foul taste of the beverage came back to her as she spoke its name. mot'loch made blood wine taste like water in comparison.

She paused to look at Tom, who was listening intently.

"I'm pretty sure that on the homeworld there are other rituals followed, but being the only Klingons on the colony, my mother probably had to curtail some of the more expansive rites." Thank Kahless. "I remember one year, after my father left, she made me go hiking with her as an endurance test. She loaded her pack with weights, just to make it more of a challenge. By the time we got home, she could barely move. But, I don't know what they do on Qo'noS. My mother must have told me, but I didn't really care to know, and I still don't. We actually lived on Qo'noS for a short while, but I guess the time we were there didn't coincide with the holiday." Or the residents of the Klingon monastery that had put them up were such impeccable examples of honourable conduct that they hadn't needed to observe the occasion. "Anyway, when I got to about thirteen, I flat out refused to have anything more to do with the Day of Honour, or any Klingon rituals ever again. My mother didn't speak to me for two weeks after that …" And how long had it been now since they'd last spoken to each other? Nearly eight years?

B'Elanna took another swig of water from her bottle and glanced at Tom, who now seemed lost for something to say. "So there you have it," she muttered, breaking the awkward silence. "The Day of Honour in a nut shell. Not my favourite holiday."

"It sounds better than Kal Rekk, at least," Tom quipped after another pause.

B'Elanna frowned, unable to place the reference.

"The Vulcan day of atonement in silence and solitude," Tom clarified, a small smile forming on his lips.

Surprisingly, she found herself smiling too. "Maybe," she conceded. "But that's not saying much."

The computer chose that moment to remind them that their two hour holodeck slot was up, prohibiting any further questioning for the time being. B'Elanna sprang to her feet and retrieved the discarded bat'leth, simultaneously instructing the computer to recycle her empty drinking bottle. Tom rose a little less hastily, and the sight of B'Elanna brandishing the fearsome weapon as they exited the holodeck, sent Naomi Wildman scurrying behind her mother's legs in the corridor.

The conversation in the turbolift up to deck four was, mercifully, kept to ship's business: chatter on the bridge had been very palaeontology-heavy since the Voth encounter last week; Ken Dalby had been overly aggressive with a plasma torch and had accidentally set off the fire suppression system in Engineering.

B'Elanna bade Tom goodnight outside his quarters, his being a sweaty mess giving her a good excuse to decline his invitation to come in for a raktajino.

Tom was undoubtedly fascinated by her Klingon side, not repelled and certainly not intimidated. But, was he only interested in her because he was interested in Klingons? Or was he interested in Klingons because he was interested in her? She filed the thought away for future reference.

The first thing she did on entering her quarters was to fling the bat'leth under her bed - out of sight, out of mind. But, for the first time, she actually felt guilty about doing so. It might look good hung up on display; Tom would certainly approve. Then again, a sharp blade could be a safety hazard in the event of an artificial gravity failure or if an impact shook it loose. Dying in her bed at the 'hands' of a flying bat'leth wouldn't be a particularly heroic way to go …

But since when did she start caring about a glorious death?

An hour after her head hit the pillow, she was still replaying the conversation in the holodeck in her head, wondering if her dismissal of all things Klingon was still a healthy attitude to maintain. An hour after that, she was debating over whether to pull the bat'leth out from under the bed and at least stow it in the closet. In the end, there seemed only one course of action she could take if she was going to get any sleep. So, she took a deep breath and called out into the darkness.

"Computer, cross-reference the Klingon calendar with standard Federation dates. When is the next Day of Honour?"