The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea - Part 4

In the Delta flyer Tom and B'Elanna were studying the shuttle's flight path, against its location when Voyager's sensors lost contact with it. The various scans of the area they'd identified as a potential site of a crash, or an emergency landing, had not yielded very much in the way of evidence. There were some traces of materials that could have come from a shuttle, but it was impossible to tell for sure. They were both reaching the conclusion that the best course of action was just to go down and take a look for themselves.

Tuvok, on Voyager, offered to send down some more search teams, to speed up the process and, in a matter of minutes, ten people were assembled on the surface, dividing up the search area between them. It was Harry and Ayala that found the shuttle, just as the first hint of dawn filtered through the mountain tops and the jagged cliff edges. No one wanted to believe that the Captain and the Commander might actually have been in the shuttle when it hurtled into the ravine, smashing itself to pieces on the rocks below.

No one wanted to believe it, but it needed to be checked out - B'Elanna, the senior officer, efficiently split the rescue team into two groups so that there were still some people searching for their missing officers. 'If they got out they might have been injured, they won't have travelled far,' she reasoned.

'And it was dark, they'll have found somewhere safe to wait until morning, or for a rescue party.' Tom agreed, 'it's procedure.'

B'Elanna agreed, distractedly and Tom knew it was because she was no longer thinking that Chakotay was missing because he had had second thoughts about his approaching marriage; this was an altogether different scenario. 'We will find them B'El,' he said firmly, trying for some measure of conviction.

'We will,' she agreed in a voice that said failure was not an option. Tom considered pointing out to her again, that despite all the ways in which she was different from their Captain there was also a similarity in the way they thought and acted and was no doubt the reason for their stormy relationship. But the last time he'd said something on those lines he'd had to move rapidly to avoid a flying plate - this was clearly an instance where discretion was the better part of valour.

He had started to believe that they might not find them. Perhaps subconsciously he had thought that a fiery grave together would somehow be a more appropriate end to their relationship than the pretence they were currently engaged in. But B'Elanna's tricorder detected life-signs and he followed her quickly, relaying the information to Voyager that they'd found something. When B'Elanna gasped he thought it must be because they were injured, he expected to hear her demanding medical aid immediately. But coming up behind her to the entrance of the cave he realised that wasn't it at all.

The Captain and the Commander were lying curled together in a peaceful tableau. Her head on his chest, his arm around her waist; they were both sound asleep and appeared completely comfortable being this close to each other. Tom found himself wondering if their relationship had been consummated in the cave, or if they'd just reached an understanding about their feelings.

'It's almost a shame to wake them,' B'Elanna said, smiling for what seemed like the first time in days. But they were stirring already, alerted by the voices, or perhaps the increasingly strong shards of daylight creeping into the cave. Tom didn't think they'd be happy to discover two of their crew had been just standing, watching them. Pulling B'Elanna two or three steps back with him he shouted,

'They're here!' And they made their way into the cave again, this time to discover Janeway and Chakotay, sitting up and moving those crucial few inches away from one another.

He watched them as he reported the good news to Voyager and called in the other teams. Something was wrong, although he wasn't sure what. There was still too much tension between them, indicating that nothing had been sorted out at all. A situation totally at odds with the image he had of them from just a moment before.

B'Elanna was sensing it as well, her initial happiness had disappeared, seeing the way they kept not meeting each others eyes, the was Janeway was brushing off all offers of assistance with her injured ankle. When Chakotay quietly reminded her a trip to sickbay was still necessary she turned to look at him briefly, agreeing with a brusque nod, before contacting Tuvok to ensure he let the Mulbari know what had happened.

That was too much for B'Elanna and she angrily dragged Chakotay to one side, demanding, 'what the hell is going on?'

'Nothing is going on B'Elanna, nothing has changed; we're still going ahead as planned.'

'That's ridiculous, didn't you talk to her at all?'

'We talked, there just wasn't anything to say.'

'I don't believe you.'

'I can't help that, I'm sorry, try to understand.' But she was no longer listening, stalking away from him, wearing a disgusted expression. She couldn't decide if she was more angry with him for blatantly refusing to acknowledge how he felt about Janeway, or for going ahead and marrying Tanka. He clearly thought there was a chance their relationship could survive the shadow of Kathryn Janeway; B'Elanna thought he was mad to even consider it.

'What's wrong?' Tom asked softly, drawing her to him.

'He's still going through with it, I don't know what's going on. I was so sure when I saw them asleep together.'

'I think something did happen.' Tom said, looking back and catching Janeway watching Chakotay while he studiously ignored her. 'I just don't think they want to admit it, or deal with it.'

'Well, they're running out of time.'

'I know, I'm sure they do as well.' Chakotay had looked up, just as their Captain turned away and their gaze failed to meet by split seconds.

'We can't let them go through with this,' she said decisively, 'we have to do something.'

'B'Elanna,' he began, before stopping, 'no you're right. If they don't want to be together, if we're wrong about their feelings then that's fine. But I don't want to be part of the reason they never found out; and I certainly don't want to be responsible for ruining three lives.'

She was smiling again, but this time it was a dangerous, feral smile, the kind she normally got when she was going to inflict some serious damage. Perhaps he should try to stop her, perhaps not.

TBC