"REFLECTIONS OF A BRIDE"
SUMMARY: Bride-to-be, B'Elanna Torres, reflects on her choices for a mate minutes before her wedding. Set in mid-Season 6.
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"REFLECTIONS OF A BRIDE"
Married. Kahless, I cannot believe it! I, B'Elanna Torres, will be getting married. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would find someone willing to put up with a volatile, unattractive half-Klingon. But apparently there was someone.
It seems strange that I would marry someone whom I considered as a friend for such a long time. From the moment we first met, he accepted me. He never backed away, hid or ran screaming for his life. Instead, he simply offered his friendship. And I like that. Not many people - including me - seem willing to accept me so quickly. Well, I can think of one other.
The door chime rings. Ah, speak of the devil. It is Chakotay here to escort me to the Mess Hall and the groom. Good old Chakotay. Hmmm. There was a time I would have longed to marry him. After all, I did maintain an infatuation of Chakotay for over two years.
"B'Elanna." He greets me with that dimpled smile, which has dazzled so many women throughout two quadrants. "Ready to face your future husband?"
I smile as brightly as I can. "I've been facing him for over five years. Today shouldn't be any different." Kahless! I almost sound like a Vulcan.
Chakotay responds with another smile. "Then I guess today should be a piece of cake."
"Maybe," I grumble. "I know that I look like one." I am referring to, of course, my wedding dress. I can't believe I'm wearing one. I wanted to wear my formal uniform, but my fiancé convinced me to wear a dress. With a veil. Gods! What was I thinking?
Chakotay assures me that I look beautiful. Naturally, I do not believe him. If I had been completely Human - like 85 to 90% of the women aboard this ship - I would. The Best Man had suggested that I wear a Klingon wedding dress - red leather. I appreciated the suggestion, but decided to disregard the Best Man. As usual.
We leave the sanctuary of my quarters and proceed along the corridor, toward the turbolift. Staring ahead, I try to ignore the stares from passing crewmen. I should have known this damn dress was a mistake. I should have worn my uniform. Okay, B'Elanna. Calm down. Just calm down. We're almost at the turbolift.
Had Mother gone through this barrage of nerves on her wedding day? I doubt it. Not Miral, daugher of L'Naan. I bet that she wore red leather, despite marrying a Human. Perhaps she should have been nervous -considering that Human turned out to be the wrong man. And John Torres was the wrong man. Can I say the same about my future husband?
Finally, the turbolift arrives. Chakotay and I step inside and my train nearly gets caught between the doors. Damn dress! I should have worn my dress uniform. "Deck Two," Chakotay orders and the lift moves. He turns to me. "Still nervous?"
I give him my darkest glare and growl. Not very matrimonial, but he did piss me off. "I'm not nervous," I snap back. "I haven't been nervous at all." The smile on Chakotay's face tells me that he believes otherwise. Bastard.
Okay, I don't really mean that. Chakotay is probably one of the most trustworthy men I have ever met. Probably the most trustworthy. But he does not understand me. Not really. He accepts me - to a certain degree. But he always lectures me about my temper. I get the feeling he would prefer if I suppress it, Vulcan style. Or obliterate it completely. My temper seems to make him uncomfortable. He dislikes bloodwine - can't really blame him, there. And when I had approached him about my visions of Grethor some four or five months ago, he dismissed them as possible illusions on my part. Strange, he never harbored such view regarding his own spirituality.
My fiance's views on Klingon culture seemed to be a little more open. Somewhat. He takes them in stride. Sometimes. Okay, in reality, he is really no better than Chakotay. But at least I don't have to listen to lectures on temper control from him. Besides, his attitude really suits me just fine. I no longer mind facing my Klingon side every now and then. Somewhat. But you will not catch me becoming a born-again Klingon.
The turbolift stops at Deck Two. Chakotay steps out. I hesitate. Why did I hesitate? I'm getting married, for Kahless' sake! To the one man who has been consistent during the last five years of my life. He has stood by me during so many crisis in my life - those early, difficult months in the Delta Quadrant; the aftermath of the Vidiian mines, my infatuation with Chakotay, those telepathic dreams from Jora Mirell; the embarrassment of Vorik's pon farr; news of the Maquis' destruction; my depression . . . my God! I have been through a lot! And he has been with me every step of the way. The wrong man? Hell, I can think of other men who probably deserve that title.
"Coming B'Elanna?" Chakotay asks. He gives me a questioning look. Okay, I am nervous. Nervous, but determined. I step out of the turbolift and we proceed along the corridor.
The wrong men in my life. Let's see. How about Roberto from the Maquis? Poor Roberto. Either he is dead or languishing inside a Federation prison. The same Roberto who used me to get over his fiancée, who had been murdered by the Cardies. I didn't mind. I used him for sexual release and nothing else.
Another candidate - Ensign Freddie Barstow. He had a crush on me, once. I wonder if he still does. Of course, I couldn't care less. I still find him shallow. And he is still a lousy Parises Square player.
Vorik was the first man to ask me to marry him. Naturally, I said no. Vorik is a nice man. And warm for a Vulcan. But I don't think I can deal with years of Vulcan stoicism, punctuated by pon farr, every seven years. And to be honest, Sakari IV will always come between us. I suspect he remains privately horrified by his actions and my humiliation of him. And I keep a wary eye on the calendar, knowing that his next pon farr is due in another four years.
And then there was Max Burke. My old Academy boyfriend. He was not the sort of man one would seriously consider as a mate. Thank Kahless I didn't. Ten years after we dated, we had a reunion when Voyager encountered his ship, the Equinox, in the Delta Quadrant. A reunion that turned into a major disappointment, especially after we learned that Max, his captain and the remaining Equinox crew were killing alien life forms for fuel to get their ship back to the Alpha Quadrant. Max had changed from the charming and smooth man I knew into a genocidal killer.
The doors to the Mess Hall slide open. It looks like many of Voyager's crew had gathered for the wedding. This is a mistake. I should break away. Escape. But I have no reason to run. I'm going to marry a wonderful man. The most dependable man I have ever met, next to Chakotay. I can always depend upon him to make me happy. Not leave me. He is no Max Burke.
My eyes focus upon the two men standing before the Captain. I smile at the slightly shorter man. The groom. Next to him stands the Best Man. The same man who had suggested I wear a Klingon wedding dress. The same man who once propositioned me during an Away mission. The same man whom I tried to mate with, while in a state of pon farr. And the same man with whom I nearly died, while we floated in space over two years ago.
He reminds me of Max Burke so much. Perhaps, too much. The Best Man, I mean. Both possessed the same superficial charm, smooth tongue and ability to shut people out. I'm not saying that he may become a killer, like Max. But I simply cannot see him as the type to commit to a permanent relationship. I would rather live with his friendship than with the fear that he might get bored with me. Or worse, leave me. So, I kept my distance from him, as much as possible. Until he finally realized that I was not interested in romance.
After I stop before my husband, I release Chakotay's arm. I smile at him. The groom, I mean. And try to ignore the taller man at his side. Captain Janeway smiles. "Ready?" she asks. We both nod. Then she begins. "We are gathered here today, as friends, to celebrate the marriage of two family members. As captain of Voyager, the honor falls upon me to join them together as husband and wife."
Yes, this is a Federation ceremony. The Best Man had suggested to include a Klingon ritual in the ceremony, but the decision was left to me. I said no. He became disappointed. Why? Why is he still so interested in Klingon culture?
"Henry Kim," the Captain continues, "do you take B'Elanna Torres as your lawful wedded wife?" Henry? Huh.
In a firm voice, Harry, my future husband, answers, "I do." Oh God! The point of no return.
The Captain turns to me. "B'Elanna Torres, do you take Henry Kim as your lawful wedded husband?"
My mouth gapes open. What will I say? Yes? No? Memories flash through my mind in an instant. Memories of a fair-haired man comforting a frightened Human woman in the Vidiian mines. Three friends sharing pizza inside my quarters. Harry's pleasant kisses. Those disturbing kisses in the Sakari caves. Max Burke's smooth face. Me comforting Harry after his experiences with the Nakin memorial. A wedding proposal. Max's dispassionate voice. An announcement. Shock, followed by disappointment in a pair of blue eyes.
Say no. Say no, B'Elanna. You know this is wrong. In your heart. Max's face appears once more. Then it transforms into Tom Paris' face. I open my mouth. The words spill out. "I will."
Harry and I exchange rings. I try to ignore those same blue eyes drilling into the back of my neck. Oh yes, the Captain. "Ensign Henry Kim. Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres. With the power vested in my by Starfleet Command, and the United Federation of Planets, I now pronounce you husband and wife." She smiles. "Well, Ensign. You have my permission to kiss the bride."
Laughter fills the hall. Harry grins. I give him a weak smile. Warm, pleasant lips press against mine. Forbidden memories of Sakari IV rise appear in my mind, again. I quite forcibly erase them.
Time to congratulate the bride and groom. The Captain gives each of us a hug. So do Neelix and Samantha Wildman. Seven offers us her congratulations - Borg style. The Doctor's felicitations are more warmer. Tuvok's more solemn. Chakotay pecks my cheek and shakes Harry's hand. After nearly everyone else has rushed forward to congratulate us, it was the Best Man's turn. I hold my breath.
Tom gives Harry a bear hug. "Congratulations, buddy," he says warmly. "You are one lucky man." Now why didn't he say that I was a lucky woman?
Then he turns to me. Blue eyes seem darker than usual. Hypnotic. "B'Elanna," he greets in a soft voice. "Congratulations." Warm, soft lips press against the edge of my mouth. I inhale. His scent fills my head, making me dizzy.
The truth finally hits me. I have made a mistake. A big mistake. Thanks to my cowardice, I have married the wrong man. And now I'll have to live with this mistake for who knows how long. Kahless! What am I going to do, now?