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 Two | Tom: Redemption
I don't think he has any idea how much I have to thank him for.
When I think of those first weeks on Voyager, I mostly remember his sweetness. Oh, I remember the rest, of course; the contempt of the Maquis, the disgust of the Starfleet crew, the Captain ... But I was used to that. I wasn't used to Harry.
I don't need anyone to choose my friends for me.
God. Does he know what that did to me, that simple statement? There I was, battered and bruised and prickly and untrusting and it was all my own doing, and this sweet, brave boy reached out and soothed me. Why did he do that? He had no need. Every person on this ship would have welcomed his friendship with wide-open arms, yet he reached out to me. I almost hated him for that.
Because I knew what to expect from the others. The contempt and disgust, the curled lips in the mess hall, the sharp elbows in the corridor. The Captain's price for rescuing me. They were familiar to me and I knew how to deal with them. I had all my defences in place. I was defenceless against his friendship.
He had no price. Oh, I looked for it, believe me. I knew all too well that no good deed is without its hidden demand. I couldn't think what he'd want from me. I had nothing he could want.
I have now.
But in the beginning, it was simple. I rescued him from the Ferengi; he offered his friendship. Simple.
Of course, nothing's ever that simple. I didn't trust him for one minute. Nobody could be that straightforward, that trusting, that ... good. He didn't seem real, at first, and I kept looking for the real Harry Kim, the real reason this shiny-bright kid wanted to hang around with a lying ex- convict and loser like me. I thought maybe Janeway put him up to it, had a quiet word in his ear. "Be nice to him, Harry, he's my personal reclamation project," and like a good little ensign he did as she ordered. She's smarter than that, though. She knew me too well, right from the start; saw something in me I couldn't see in myself. And after a while, I realised Harry did too.
I'll always be grateful for that. He was so uncomplicated, so nice, so damn determined to like me that after a while I began to wonder if maybe I wasn't so unlikeable after all. If maybe I did deserve a second chance. Second chance - who am I kidding; I've had (and fucked up) more chances than I've had hot dinners. Maybe that's why I put my doubts aside, in the end. Because I knew that out here in the arse-end of the galaxy I wouldn't be getting any more chances.
And that's why I'm so pissed off with myself now. Because selfish, self- absorbed, self-obsessed Tom Paris has managed, without even trying this time, to fuck up yet another friendship.
I should have seen it coming, but she bewitched me. Spellbound me with her snapping dark eyes and her lithe little body and her Klingon bad attitude. I didn't realise he loved her, but damn it, I should have.
Would it have stopped me? I honestly don't know.
I don't suppose it matters now, anyway; the damage is done. And in a roundabout way I have Harry to thank for B'Elanna. If he hadn't convinced me I wasn't completely worthless I'd never have had the nerve to fall for her.
Yeah, it's all Harry's fault.
Perhaps it's a trade-off. Life's all about trade, after all. I've always known my own value, what I have to offer, and used and abused it. Never balked at selling myself if that's what it takes; and that's always what it takes. You'd be a fool to think otherwise. And for a while I was a fool; I let myself believe there wouldn't be a trade-off for Harry's friendship.
Since Sakari, since the Cataati, our friendship's gone sour. Oh, not so's anyone outside it would notice. To the casual observer, we're still the three musketeers, all for one and one for all. Except we're not, of course. The changes were subtle at first, and blame me for being so blinded by B'Elanna that I failed to notice. Blame me for not seeing as we joked in the mess hall how Harry would try to provoke B'Elanna's laugh, her growl, the delight in his eyes when she reacted, the desolation if she didn't. Blame me for my gratitude as he broke more and more arrangements - "You two lovebirds need time to be alone" - as he tried to flirt, sourly, with Jenny Delaney, as he grew loud and abrasive on Sandrine's synthehol, as our banter on the Bridge grew less easy, more strained.
They called Harry naive, but I was the ignorant one. I didn't even notice that my best friend was in love with my lover.
Until she began to respond.
It wasn't secret or gradual. It was fierce and hot and overpowering, the way everything is with B'Elanna. It was a slap in the face. It happened in the shuttle bay.
We were working on the Sacajawea, the three of us together. I was tinkering with the helm controls, Harry upgrading the sensors, B'Elanna realigning the warp coils. They were laughing and teasing, and my mind wandered, free against the comforting background of their camaraderie. I don't know how long they'd been silent before I realised, and came back to myself.
Something made me cautious. I looked around slowly and saw them. Harry, half-turned from his crouch on the floor, dark eyes naked. He looked - adult. Foreign. Unknown. Dangerous. And B'Elanna, hand stretched out to take the tool he held up to her, looking down at him, a smile fading from her eyes, her mouth soft, her cheeks flushed. And I knew.
He wanted her. She wanted him.
Self-preservation kicked in, as it always does with me. I turned back to the console, tapped it forcefully, swore as though frustrated, sighed, turned around. They were back in their places. I could almost pretend I'd never seen what I'd seen.
I've been watching them ever since, I'm ashamed to confess. Watching for signs that the latent attraction has bloomed, or died, or been acted upon. I've been watching, but I can't be sure ...
And then one day he looked at me the way he'd looked at B'Elanna.
Not the quite the same way, of course. For B'Elanna I think he feels only love and regret and desire. For me ... those things are there, too, but there's more to it than that. He looked at me hotly, but it was a calculated heat. As though he'd take me if I let him, and love me, and fuck me, and then break me. He looked at me as though I were his life's prize, a thing he'd come to adore and yet would destroy if he could, just to break its power over him. The way the Captain looks at me.
And I understood the price of his friendship.
The two of them could break me apart.
They know this. It attracts them; I can feel it, because it attracts me too. It seems my days of self-destruction aren't over after all. Sometimes I can feel myself pushing them, daring them, no longer content to wait passively for the fall of the axe. Sometimes I long for it, know I deserve it, for what I've done to this sweet-natured boy. This tormented man. Sometimes I despair of it, hating the things about me that it seems I can't change.
Perhaps soon I'll find the courage to expose this to the harsh light of day, diminish its power by speaking its name. Or perhaps I'll disarm it in a different way; break B'Elanna's heart, make her turn for comfort to the one man who'd lay down his life to give it. Perhaps I'll stop hiding, make a decision, bring this stalemate to a conclusion of a sort. Someday, perhaps.
But not yet.