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 Three | B'Elanna: Deficiency
They were such opposites at first.
Harry, the buttoned-up Starfleet boy scout, bursting with pride and excitement and do-gooder morals, gentle to his core, not even understanding what it could be like to hurt. And Tom, with that brave cracked facade not concealing the damage beneath, so wary and defensive, but trying so damn hard.
They're not so different now.
Should I blame myself completely, or let them accept some of the blame? Was I the cause or the catalyst? Does it even matter, now that I'm destroying them both, and myself?
He was so simple at first. Eyes shining, he reached out to comfort me even as I struck out. I felt so stupid. What was the point of screaming and raging when it wasn't going to get me anywhere? When I was just making a fool of myself in front of those creepy Ocampans and this self-contained Starfleet officer. He was so kind and so firm, calming me down, his voice soothing as though I were a frightened, angry child in a place I didn't understand.
I suppose I was.
I trusted him because he saved my life, that day. Stopped me from clawing myself inside out. Gave me someone safe to rage against. Held me while I tried to self-combust. The beginnings of our friendship.
And Tom. Of course, I didn't trust him for a second - not at first. Not when he'd spent his life proving himself untrustworthy. I was frightened of him, of his power. I thought of him as you think of a stingray or a panther - something wild and beautiful and fearsome, around which you should never let your guard down. But he surprised me. Saw through me from the start. He was patient and noble and gentle and on Sakari he proved his worth. And after that there didn't seem much point fighting any more, and I let him in. And I fell in love.
My whole life I've kicked and scratched and fought against the need to believe that there's even one small thing I can put my trust in. Then we were snatched across the galaxy and everything I'd ever known was gone, and Chakotay and the Captain offered me their trust and Tom and Harry offered me their friendship. Oh, I fought them all, believe me; I fought them with everything I had. But they wore me down, and I lowered my defences. And now, now that what I have is slowly corroding until there's nothing left to hold on to, I'm scared I'll lose myself again, and now my old defences are gone forever.
There must be something fundamental, something vital, wrong with me. I'm the anti-Midas; everything I touch turns to shit. I guess it's always been safer that way. When my father left, it destroyed me, and I've dedicated every moment since to destroying what might hurt me if I let it. I thought - I hoped - that I'd changed. I thought I'd learned how to love. And I have, but it seems I can't change that fundamental flaw in myself, after all.
I didn't mean to push Harry away. I thought he was being so understanding. Tom and I were caught up in the first flush of love, and Harry was giving us the space we needed. But Harry changed. At first I thought he was feeling abandoned, so I started chasing him down, resuming our old routine, pushing him to spend more time with me, playing the good friend. How smug I was; how self-absorbed. How condescending. I thought he was still that gentle, naïve young man. I failed to realise his complexity.
In those early days when we were all adjusting to our new family, carefully working two crews into one, raw from missing our homes, Harry was my haven. He said what he felt, and what he felt was ... predictable. That sounds awful, but believe me, it's what saved me. I didn't realise how much I needed something safe, something solid, something real. Something I didn't have to run away from. That was Harry; always there for me, even when I didn't know I needed it. My best friend.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not blind; I knew even then how attractive he was. But he didn't, so I could ignore it. And I wanted to ignore it. I wanted something real and simple and uncomplicated. I suppose that's why Tom scared me so much at first. Nothing about him seemed simple. Nothing about him even seemed real. Ironic, isn't it? I let down my guard and I started to know Tom better, and he became real to me. What I didn't realise until it was too late was that Harry had changed, and I couldn't understand him as I used to, and now I can't count on his simplicity anymore. What made him so comforting to me is gone. I'm not sure, now, who the real Harry is.
I pretended it wasn't happening, of course. I pretended that Tom and I were wrapped up in the newness of us and Harry was just giving us some space, as any friend would. I pretended not to see the disappointment in his eyes when I cancelled lunch to be with Tom, when Tom cancelled their holodeck time to be with me. I pretended that everything would go back to normal soon.
And then one day he looked at me and everything tilted.
We were repairing the Sacajawea and he said something and I laughed and I asked him to pass me a hyperspanner and he was smiling as he turned, and he looked at me and his eyes were not smiling. He looked at me and his eyes were naked and strange and I knew what that look meant. He looked at me and he was dangerous and I didn't know him any more.
And it hit me like a disruptor blast to the chest. I want him.
That simple trust in him is gone now, and with it my trust in myself. I no longer trust myself with him because I'm afraid that one day, his mouth will tell me what his eyes told me that day, and I'm afraid that I'll reach out and grab his words with both hands and fling myself into whatever comes next, and when that happens, everything I have will be lost.
It will kill Tom. What we have, what we've built, was as difficult for him as it was - is - for me. It takes courage to trust when you've lived like he has; like I have. It will ruin Harry, scald his gentleness, turn him into something hard and cold. It will destroy me.
I love Tom. I love him with a purity and warmth I never thought I'd be capable of. I like being the person his love has helped me become. I don't want to be the hurt, mistrusting, prickly outsider I used to be. I need what I have, here and now. I need to be part of this crew. I need everything to be as it was before Harry looked at me.
I almost hate him for that, for changing, for turning my world upside down. How dare he? Doesn't he know that I need to believe in him? I feel betrayed. And yet ... I can't blame him for that. I can't blame him for becoming mercurial, incomprehensible, magnetic, adult. I can't blame Tom for casting off his fears, his doubts, his past, and having the courage to become something more. I can't even blame the universe for stranding me here, for giving me so much and then threatening to snatch it all away. But I can blame myself.
Because after all this time, no matter how much I've changed, there's some dark impulse in me, some deficiency, which impels me to destroy it all. Some days I lash out at Tom, try to drive him away, try to provoke him into hating me. Some days I snarl at Harry, trying to erode his patience, trying to cut through his stoicism. Some days I almost - almost - have the courage to face it head on, but then my courage fails me and I bite my tongue.
Some day I'll have the strength to end this, one way or another. Perhaps I'll just leave the ship, disappear on some away mission, let them think I've died and mourn me for the person they thought I was. Perhaps I'll let it come to its natural conclusion, let Harry desire me and Tom grow to hate me, let the growing space between us fill with poison, let it all erode away until there's nothing safe, nothing real, nothing to hold anymore. Perhaps tomorrow, or the next day, I'll gather my waning honour and confront it head on, give that twisting knife a clean sharp pull and expose our wounds to open air and let them heal. Perhaps one day, but not yet.