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The Lost Cause

Summary: B'Elanna ponders her relationships with two of the men in her life.


Characters: Torres

Codes: Paris/Torres, Torres/Burke

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 25 prompt: “Go forward, do not stray.” Episode addition to Alice.

Rated K+

Max used to tell me I was lucky to have him. That nobody but him would put up with my fits of temper, or the way I used to just take off for days on end when it all got to be too much. He used to joke that only someone as secure in his masculinity as he was would deal with the fact that I could arm-wrestle him without breaking a sweat, or take him to the mat in five seconds flat.

I never found it very funny. Especially because when he said these things it was usually right after I’d aced an exam, or when we were out with friends and I was matching him drink for drink. Or when we were in bed, and he wanted me to let him do things to me that I didn’t want to do.

I can’t believe it took me so long to realise he wasn’t the great guy he claimed to be just for putting up with me. That he was manipulating me, preying on my pathetically low self-esteem. That, not so deep down, he was just plain mean.

Why was I even nice to him when he showed up on the Equinox? What made me think that just because I’ve changed, he might have, too?

Maybe that’s why I was so hard on the captain for wanting to believe in Ransom. Because I was really mad at myself. I made the same mistake, but unlike her, I really should have known better.

It might have taken years of distance, but eventually I was able to see Max for what he really was: a lost cause, and in no way my responsibility.

I wonder if I should have known better about Tom, too.

He says he loves me, that I’m the most important person in his life; that we’re a team and he’ll never abandon me. So how come every time he sets his sights on a new toy – game, sport, holoprogram, shuttlecraft – I get pushed aside?

Am I wasting my time here?

Is he just another lost cause?

Maybe I’m crazy, but my instincts are telling me he’s worth it. That he’s changed, just like I have, and that he’s still changing.

Maybe he’ll always be attracted to new and shiny things. Maybe I wouldn’t love him so much if he lost that bright-eyed enthusiasm, and I just need to accept the fact that I’m going to fade into background noise every time he finds a new hobby.

Maybe that’s the kind of bullshit that sucked me into putting up with Max for as long as I did, and I have every right to demand that Tom put me first.

My mother once gave me a piece of advice that, like everything else she tried to teach me, I discarded like yesterday’s socks as soon as I left home: Go forward; do not stray.

I used to roll my eyes at it – it was usually accompanied by painstiks and some obscure Klingon ritual I was supposed to care about – but like many things she used to say, it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

It’s supposed to signify staying your path, and it’s tied up in commitment and faith and self-respect. I used to think it was just another example of Klingon bullheadedness, but now I can’t help wondering: if I’d had a little more backbone, a little more bullheadedness, would I have stuck it out with Max for so long?

And if I dig deep and find that backbone now, what will it tell me? Cut my losses, stick it out and hope for the best, or demand some changes?

Will it tell me Tom is worth it?

What am I worth?

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