Summary: Neelix is having trouble reconciling his experience as Tuvix and decides to seek advice from someone who can help.
Characters: Neelix, Torres, Tuvok
Codes: Torres & Neelix, Tuvok & Neelix
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own all rights to the Voyager universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Written for #fictober2018 Day 8 prompt: “I know you do." Episode addition to Tuvix.
“You’re the only person aboard who can really understand,” he tells her earnestly. “Well, there’s Tuvok, obviously, but talking to him is …”
“Hard work?” B’Elanna offers, flashing him a smile as she tries to pry out a fused regulator.
“Well…” He shrugs, leaning against the Jeffries tube wall. “I suppose at least I understand him a little better now.”
“D’you think that cuts both ways?”
“I don’t know,” he admits, surprised. “I suppose I hadn’t really thought about that. I mean, I’m not all solemn and mysterious the way he is. I’m an open book.”
“Pass me that decoupler, would you?”
B’Elanna works at the stubborn piece of equipment for until it slides out, then tosses it onto the grating and sits back on her heels, giving Neelix her full attention.
“I think you undersell yourself,” she tells him. “I know Tuvix was his own person, not just half you and half Tuvok, but having him around made me appreciate you more. And I know I’m not the only one on the crew who feels that way.”
He swallows. “Is that why the captain made the decision to bring us back?”
“You’d have to ask her.” She watches him carefully. “You haven’t spoken to her since you came back, have you?”
“Not really.” He glares at the deck.
“Because you’re angry with her?”
Neelix looks up, shocked. “Why would I be angry?” he asks. “She gave me back my life.”
“And she took Tuvix’s.” B’Elanna wraps her arms around her knees. “You said you remember everything he experienced. You must remember that he didn’t want to die.”
“She had no right!” he bursts out suddenly. “He was a living, breathing person! And she killed him because she wanted her friend back!”
He breaks off, a hand over his horrified mouth.
“I – I didn’t mean that,” he whispers. “Please don’t tell anyone I said that…”
She touches his hand, making him look at her. “I get it,” she tells him softly. “After the Vidiians, I was angry with the Doctor for days. I didn’t want my Klingon half back. Being completely human felt … peaceful. Harmonious. And I didn’t want to lose that feeling.”
“But the Doctor had no choice,” he says. “You would have died.”
“And that would have been my decision, just as Tuvix’s life should have been his,” she responds, then gives him a half-grin. “I never said it was logical.”
Neelix watches her curiously. “Would you have chosen to die?” he asks. “If it meant you could stay that way for a few days?”
“No.” B’Elanna’s answer is immediate. “I want to live. Even if it means I’ll never feel that kind of peace again.”
“I want to live, too,” he mumbles. “Even though it meant he had to die. And I feel so guilty.”
“I know you do, Neelix,” she says, shifting over so that he can feel her shoulder against his, the connection warm and real and anchoring him to the moment. “And I’m glad you’re back.”
He almost drops the stew pot he’s carrying when he exits the galley to find a shape looming in his path.
“Mr Vulcan,” he exclaims, heart rate slowing as his startlement dissipates. He shoves the pot onto the counter. “Are you hungry? I can fix you something…”
“Thank you,” Tuvok answers. “But you need not trouble yourself. I have sufficient replicator rations.”
“Nonsense,” he blusters. “I have some fresh pleeka rind soup in the freezer – I’ll just warm it up for you. Don’t worry, it’s nice and bland, just the way you like it.”
Neelix puts the soup pan on to warm, watching as Tuvok takes his customary table facing the viewport. The Vulcan’s posture is particularly straight today, and he wonders if it indicates the same kind of discomfort he himself has been feeling.
Spooning out two bowls of soup, he carries them to the table and sits down opposite Tuvok.
“Guess I’m a little hungry myself,” he offers in response to Tuvok’s raised eyebrow. “I’ve had a lot of work to do in the kitchen. Tuvix rearranged everything in the strangest way…”
“Tuvix’s system was logical,” Tuvok replies.
“Maybe,” Neelix shrugs. “But I like my system better.”
The Vulcan inclines his head. “If it will enhance your efficiency, then you should restore it.”
“Efficiency,” murmurs Neelix, gazing into his soup. “Is that why she did it? Because it’s more efficient to have two crew members than one?”
Tuvok’s eyebrows furrow. “If you are referring to Captain Janeway’s decision to restore us to our separate physical forms, I do not believe efficiency was a consideration.”
“Then what was it?” he demands. “Was it entirely emotional? She missed her friend, so she killed to get him back? I can’t believe you of all people would condone that.”
Tuvok considers the question.
“I do not believe the captain’s decision was entirely emotional,” he replies eventually, “though as a human, undoubtedly her feelings factored into it. However, her choice could be viewed as ultimately logical.” He folds his hands. “There is a Vulcan axiom which states that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few –”
“Or the one,” Neelix finishes for him. “Yes, I’m aware of it.”
“Your emotional investment should not allow you to assume that the captain made this decision lightly,” Tuvok cautions. “I have known her for many years, and I assure you she did not.”
Neelix frowns at the table.
“Do you regret it?” he asks finally. “Is there anything about being him that you miss?”
“I do not experience regret,” Tuvok answers, “but it was … an interesting experience. One that has given me a greater appreciation of your intelligence, skill and resilience, Mr Neelix.”
“Thanks, Tuvok,” he says softly. “And I miss him, too.”
“I regret that this situation has caused you difficulty.”
Neelix reaches to pat the Vulcan’s hand, stopping just short of it as he remembers how stoically Tuvok forces himself to bear physical contact.
“I know you do,” he says instead.
Sitting back in his chair, he spoons up some pleeka rind soup, thinks how much better it would taste with a healthy dollop of Talaxian spices, and smiles.