Lost and Found
Summary: Tom loses a pip, but finds his self-respect.
Characters: Torres, Kim, Paris, Seven
Codes: Torres & Kim, Paris & Seven
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 21 prompt: “Impressive, truly.” Episode addition to Thirty Days.
“First she overrules my objection to being treated by a Cardassian mass-murderer,” B'Elanna fumes. “Then she demotes Tom for doing something that’s no worse than Chakotay’s done, or Tuvok, and they barely got a slap on the wrist. And now she won’t even let me visit him in the brig! She’s not a captain, she’s a fucking dictator! The power’s gone to her head. It’s impressive, truly.”
“B'Elanna,” Harry hisses, grabbing her by the elbow as he hurries her along the corridor. “You want to end up in the cell next door to Tom’s?”
“At least then I’d get to see him.”
“Okay.” Harry puts his hands on her shoulders, using his touch to calm her rather than hold her in place; she could kick him into next week, anyway. “I know you’re still angry about Crell Moset, but the captain did what she thought was right.”
“And Tom did what he thought was right,” she retorts. “How come he got punished for it?”
“The captain had her reasons.”
“Yeah? Well, that doesn’t work for me. I’m going to see her –”
“B'Elanna!” Harry moves swiftly into her path. “Think about this for a minute, will you? Just think before you do something you regret.”
B'Elanna growls, but Harry’s plea registers with her and she wrestles her anger under control with less difficulty than she might have managed a few years ago.
“Besides,” he reminds her, “it wasn’t so long ago that we stopped her from sacrificing herself for a noble cause. Remember the Void?”
“I remember she tried to stay behind because she thought she deserved to be abandoned there to die,” she mutters.
“And not so long after that, you were flinging yourself around on the holodeck with the safeties off because you thought you deserved to die,” Harry says pointedly. “Maybe you’re not so different, you and the captain.”
B'Elanna absorbs that in silence for a moment.
“I just want to see him,” she admits finally, shoulders slumping.
“I know.” Harry puts an arm around her and she leans into him as he manoeuvres her along the corridor. “Come on. I’ll buy you a pizza.”
“That,” Tom announces to the mess hall at large, “was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.”
Seven of Nine, seated at the next table with a padd in one hand and Nutritional Supplement 101-Theta in the other, glances up with a quirk of her eyebrow. “Your choice of meal contains approximately thirty grams of carbohydrate and thirteen grams of fat per serving, and if I’m not mistaken you’ve eaten four slices.”
“Yeah. But it tastes so good.”
“The human capacity for ingesting food with no nutritional value whatsoever is impressive, truly.”
“Comfort food, Seven.” Tom wipes his mouth with a napkin and swivels his chair to face her. “And believe me, after thirty days’ deprivation I deserve a little indulgence.”
Seven puts down her padd. “Do you resent the disciplinary measures Captain Janeway ordered, Ensign?”
“Lieutenant Torres commented that she felt your punishment was excessive. She informed Commander Chakotay that in her view, demotion or solitary confinement would have been sufficient, not both.”
“The captain did what she believed was right.”
“As did you.”
“Yeah. But I’m not the captain.” Tom reaches up to touch the single pip on his collar. “None of us can begin to imagine the kinds of decisions she might have to make on any given day. It’s our job to ease some of that burden for her, not add to it, so no. I don’t resent her for taking my pip, or for letting me cool my heels in the brig.”
He crumples the napkin and tosses it onto his plate.
“Besides, it gave me time to settle a few things in my mind,” he adds, standing and scooping up the detritus of his meal. “Gotta go, Seven. B'Elanna’s waiting.”
“Good night, Ensign,” she replies.
“If you get tired of that cup of sludge you’re drinking,” he calls on his way out of the mess hall, “I’ve got some replicator rations stored up. Feel free to dial yourself a pizza.”