Waking up

Imagine being on the Voyager after escaping the aliens who abducted you. You set course to earth together with Captain Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry and Seven. Icheb gets a crush on you. Neelix teaches you how to cook. The doctor sees you as his personal psychologist. Tom and B’Ellanna are having a furious marriage.
But your abductors come back to claim you as their property.
(_Stardate 54400 – 54470; Season 7, episode 10 – 13)

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9. Fixing the heart

Stardate 54409.6, May 30th, 2377, around noon.
The Voyager was now hiding in a meteor field to complete reparation works on all decks. I felt guilty, because I was the cause of all their problems right now. I was trying to figure out what to do. And then there was this unwelcome awkwardness between me and Icheb.

I was at the mess, having lunch, when Icheb had entered. Out of nowhere, he just ignored me and joined Tom Paris in the seats at the other side of the room. I could hear their conversation, but they probably thought I couldn’t because a normal human being couldn’t possible have.
“What’s bothering you, Icheb?’ Tom asked, I hadn’t personally met him yet, but Lieutenant Paris seemed a decent man with a touch of humour. Right now, on the other hand, he seemed a bit off. Something was troubling him.
“I’m fine,” Icheb replied, “but I do wonder… How are you and B’Elanna managing to maintain a stable relationship?”
Tom almost spit out his drink.
“What are you asking me? Are you…? I don’t have a stable relationship! She threw a coffee table at me this morning!”
Icheb’s eyebrows rose in surprise.
“Why would she do that?”
“Because she is always right? You know what, Icheb? You want my advice? Stay away from women, or, if you want to make a gamble, always listen to them and say they’re right, let them take the lead.”
I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided to join them. I left my lunch for what it was and walked to the other side of the mess.
“Hi Icheb,” I said as I came closer and sat next to him.
He blushed so hard I could feel his temperature rising by two degrees.
“Lin! Hi?!”
“I just finished lunch and thought that maybe we could hang out?”
My back was turned to Tom, but I could feel how he was making gestures at Icheb to abandon and flee. So I turned around and caught him mid act.
“Lieutenant Paris?”
“Uh, I was just uh, scratching my arm…”
“I see… May I gave you some advice? Your relationship with B’Elanna is really remarkable, but I’ve heard you’ve had some troubles recently. Maybe it’s because your relationship is going on a way that both is a bit bumpy and that maybe, really soon, you both will be so thrilled with joy. Just wait for it…”
For the baby, B’Elanna was pregnant, but they didn’t know yet and I didn’t want to spoil, so I wanted to sooth things a little.
“Right, thank you, I guess…”
He scratched his head, looked inside his empty glass and went to the bar for another one.
“How can you predict their relationship?” Icheb wondered sceptically.
“I know something they don’t know yet…”
He thought about that for a moment, raised his shoulders and said: “I should be on my way. I promised Harry to help him with a project.”
“Can I join you, maybe I can help?”
He wanted to shrug me off. I didn’t allow that and five minutes later we walked to the lab. There we joined Harry. Then everything became even more awkward. Harry briefly explained the cause of the project: making the shields strong enough to keep the bio-electronical slugs (that’s how they were officially called now) out and away from the Voyager for as long as possible. Icheb dropped tablets all the time and Harry just… was being Harry who thought I had seen his naked ass. The two started being so clumsy that I left on my own free will and wandered around on the ship. That’s how I got to know Tom Paris a little better. He was still in the mess hall. He was drinking too much to be rational so I joined him.
“Didn’t you pick up my advice earlier?” I asked.
He sighed.
“No, I’m too scared.”
“You shouldn’t.”
“You clearly haven’t been around with Klingons a lot, have you?”
“No, obviously.”
He dropped his face in his hands and moaned: “I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong!”
There, I had an idea.
“I think we can help each other out, do a favour in both directions.”
He hooked in and for the first time this day, he sat up straight and waited for me to explain the plan.
“You show me what you do with B’Elanna as a date activity, or what you don’t do and then I can tell you what you’re doing wrong. In favour, you tell me what I have to do to make Icheb and Harry act normal.”
“Aren’t they acting normal then?? And don’t expect me to kiss you or anything more intimate…”
There it was, his humour. We laughed. He understood very well what I wanted to do. I was going to play a relation therapist. I was bluffing.
“Harry thinks I have seen him naked, but I was technically blind so…”
Tom’s eyes widened and he laughed even harder now.
“No way! You’ve seen him naked??”
“I didn’t! That’s the whole point!”
“Well, one advice: just tell him that and everything will go back to normal. He has only been doing weird with you around, so… And concerning Icheb… Just give him some time. The kid hasn’t really grown up as a normal teenager. Technically he’s really smart, but in practical situations, he just sometimes… can’t figure out how to do something, but he does in the end. Trust me.”
Right. Being patient.
“Well, what are we waiting for? Let me take you to the holodecks!”

The holodeck was occupied, but Lieutenant Paris arranged something with another crewmember and we managed to get in. He played a program of a Hawaiian-like place and waited for me to react.
There were waiters, barely wearing clothes. Cocktails, a swimming pool, nice weather, a sea and a white beach. A light breeze was gently lifting my hair, but not cooling off.
“First problem,” I stated, “the waiters. You are clearly distracted by them. B’Elanna doesn’t appreciate that.”
Tom deleted the waiters and ordered male ones.
“That won’t work either…”
He deleted everyone.
“That’s better. This ship is very confining, so when you have the chance to be alone with someone, take it. It evokes real conversations, it shows you how that person really is.”
He nodded and listened carefully.
“A woman likes it when someone’s paying attention to her, but not too much. B’Elanna is half Klingon, so maybe it’s different with her…”
“I see,” he said, “but you see, I ask her how her day has been and she just… tells me her whole day but I only want to know the interesting things so I ask her this and then she doesn’t tell me anything at all anymore, she ignores that question now.”
He said that in one breath.
“Just keep being fair with her, make your jokes, don’t be so serious with her all the time.”
“No, then she tells me to stop playing around!”
“She clearly wants a more serious relationship.”
“We’re married!”
“You’re not acting that way.”
That made him think. It really made him think and suddenly he yelled ‘Eureka’, kissed my forehead and ran away.

I had never been more bluffing in my life before, but apparently it worked.

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