Nothing to Hold
Summary: What do Harry, Tom and B'Elanna really think about each other?
Characters: Kim, Paris, Torres
Codes: Paris/Torres, Paris/Kim, Torres/Kim, Janeway/Paris
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Paramount. I'm just having a little twisted fun with them.
Notes: Set sometime in Season 4.
Part One | Harry: Damage
I adored him from the moment I saw him.
There I was, the quintessential fresh-faced ensign, green as an Irish meadow on the eve of my first deep space mission, and that damned Ferengi was about to part me from my life savings, not to mention my self-respect. And in swept my saviour, this chiselled hero in Starfleet red; a few choice words and the Ferengi conceded defeat. And I was indebted for life.
Of course, it wasn't long before I discovered my idol's feet of clay; Commander Cavit made sure of that. But by then it was too late. And Tom's defiance, his insouciance and hurt nobility, only cemented my adoration. Harry Kim, supporter of the underdog, champion of lost causes.
Tom Paris, lost cause. Or so I thought. How smug I was; how self-righteous. But you knew that, Tom, didn't you?
Or did you?
There I go again. Doubting myself. It's become quite the habit.
Sometimes I think he's manipulated me from the start. He knew what he'd be walking into from the moment Janeway made her offer. As she strode across the Auckland grass he smelt his meal ticket; he told me that, one night in Sandrine's after one too many synthales. He saw the golden ring and reached for it, as he had done all his life. He laughed, when he told me that. "Always had my eye on the main chance, Harry," he said, and grinned. That brilliant, bitter grin. Damaged, heartless, resilient Tom Paris. That's what he wanted me to see. But I saw more.
I saw the real damage. I saw the tarnished golden boy, the disappointing son, the unloved lover. The man who could have done so much, been so much, if not for the roads he'd taken.
Or maybe that's what he really wanted me to see.
Tom Paris, paradox.
At the beginning I was bursting with good intentions. Poor Tom Paris, saved from prison by the Captain's mercy. Poor Tom Paris, hated by Maquis and Starfleet alike. Poor Tom Paris, stranded on the ship of the damned, on a lifetime's voyage across an unfriendly galaxy amidst an unfriendly crew. Poor doomed, lonely, broken Tom Paris. Who needed a friend more than anyone I'd ever met.
I was so naive.
He has the Captain eating out of his hand. I don't know how; she's a clever woman, but then maybe he tried harder with her. I don't know how; but I suspect. That look she gets when he's around, when she thinks nobody's watching. The way she smiles indulgently at his smartass quips, his twentieth-century slang, his numerous little-boy enthusiasms. The way she's always touching him, as if to mark her property, as if to assure herself he's real. Oh, I suspect, alright. But he's too smart, and she's too cautious, for anything more than suspicion.
And who'd suspect anyway, unless they were as besotted as the Captain is? Unless they were as besotted as I am.
And then there's B'Elanna.
And really, she's just one more reason to hate him. And to love him.
Does she know, I wonder, my guilty little secret? Does she know I wanted her from the day we met in that Ocampa hospital, tired and sick and scared? That beautiful creature, hurting and imprisoned, and yet still fighting with all her dimished strength? She shamed me, that day. There we were, the model Starfleet ensign and the renegade Maquis. Me, with my well-fed self- assurance and my Starfleet survival training practically defeated, sitting on that hospital bed, obedient and waiting for whatever was to happen next. And there she was, roaring into consciousness with flailing fists, screaming pain and anger and injustice. Fighting against an unfair universe, as she had done all her life. Me, dumb and slow and flat-footed, and quicksilver B'Elanna. She saved my life, that day. Does she know I've always wanted her? How could she, when I didn't know myself?
Does she know my other guilty secret?
That I hate him, because he won her. That I love him, because he saved her. That I hate him, because he saved her, when I couldn't.
How could I? I was charmed from the moment of conception. My parents adored me unreservedly. Adults blessed me. Children befriended me. Teachers encouraged me. Girls flirted with me. Harry Kim, genius, athlete, model citizen; everybody's darling. I never had a moment's suffering. Well, I'm making up for it now.
I couldn't save her. I couldn't earn her. But Tom could.
I never failed to live up to expectations, because nobody ever expected more of me than I could give. Tom failed spectacularly. Imagine. Cherished son of Admiral Paris; gifted pilot; playboy. How could he fail to fail? Number one cadet in his Academy year whose piloting error killed three classmates. Kicked out of Starfleet before his career began. Alcoholic drifter, wasting time and latinum in bars and holosuites across the quadrant. Mercenary, captured and imprisoned on his first Maquis mission.
And B'Elanna, who grew up taunted and reviled on Kessik IV, abandoned by her father, tormented by her mother, too wild for Starfleet Academy. Two of life's misfits. They belong together. They found each other. How can I begrudge them that?
I hate myself.
I want her to be happy; I really do. I know she can't be happy with me. Where's the challenge? She's fire, I'm earth; I'd bury her flame. She's fire, Tom's air; he feeds that flame. She's bright, and he's free, and I'm a stolid weight around their necks.
But, God, I wish things were different.
It was so much simpler before Sakari. Back then, she was my friend, and so was he. They didn't like each other much. They tolerated one another for my sake; I was the glue that bound us three together. Or maybe, and more likely, I was just too stupid to see what was right in front of my eyes.
Does he know, does he have any idea, that I want what's his? That I'd give anything for her to look at me the way she looks at him. That I lie awake and torture myself with wondering what might have happened if it had been me on that away mission in the caves, wondering if she'd have stamped her mark on me if he hadn't been there? That I didn't even know I felt this way until it was far too late and I'd already lost, and now I torment myself with wondering if I was ever even in the game, if there was ever a time when B'Elanna cocked her head to one side and looked at me, really looked at me, and wondered ...
But does he know the rest?
That sometimes when I'm lying tangled and sweaty in sheets that wrap themselves around me like a shroud and squeezing shut my eyes to kill the images of her caramel skin and her sharp white teeth and trying to not to wish her scent would perfume my bed and her low growl hum against my throat, that sometimes, dark hair turns to gold and coffee skin to cream and curves to hard male lines and I think about him, and I want him with a sick ferocity and I claw the shroud away and know I won't be sleeping any more that night.
Christ, does he know that?
I'm losing my mind. Day by day on this prison ship, I'm going insane. This life, this half-life, will leave nothing of the Harry Kim that was. The perfect officer who'll never be promoted (oh, and don't get me started on that), the happy-go-lucky boy consumed by hatred and self-disgust, the faithful lover in love with a woman who loves another. Oh, I know, it's divine intervention, the galaxy's colossal joke on a man who desperately needed shaking from his complacency. But there's something to be said for complacency. You don't give a damn about what you don't have.
I'm losing myself.
But not enough; not yet. When I've eroded myself, piece by piece, when I can no longer care, when I no longer love her or hate him or love him; then it will be enough.
But not yet.