WHAT IF?

By Shayenne

Disclaimer: Paramount owns everything.

Rated PG-13

Everyone has a What If story somewhere. You know, a relationship that could have been, if only.... Here is a 2 part What If from the Voyager Universe.

Toms reflects on a Chakotay - B'Elanna moment.

 

I know without doubt I am the luckiest man alive. I'm lying here in my quarters, jammed up against the bulkhead, crushed into a corner in my own bed. B'Elanna has taken the majority of it, sprawled out on her back, arms over her head, legs akimbo. I can see the gentle rise and fall of her breathing, and the round turgid hillock of her pregnant belly.

She loves me. This incredible, beautiful, passionate, fiery, brilliant woman loves me. Only me.

I know without doubt I am the luckiest man alive.

I am thinking about something I saw today, something that reminded me that I should not take B'Elanna for granted. We were sitting in the mess hall, she and I, and had just finished what we call 'Dinner' to Neelix's face and 'Slop' to ourselves. B'Elanna had picked up our empty plates, taken them to the recycler and was walking back to our table. Chakotay had just entered the mess hall and he was walking with her, when she suddenly stopped in mid sentence and mid stride and put her hand on her belly, a faraway look on her face. I knew what it was of course, she had felt the baby move, but Chakotay didn't know that.

He placed a hand on her arm, his face showing concern.

"B'Ella," I heard him say, "Are you alright?"

B'Elanna returned with difficulty from her focus on her inner world and smiled at him. Taking his hand, she placed it low on her belly, just below the biggest part of the hump. Her eyes locked on Chakotay's face, obviously wanting to share the special moment with him.

When the baby moved again he jerked his hand away in surprise, but immediately placed it back, spreading his long fingers over her belly, rubbing it lightly with his palm. His eyes were wide and unfocussed, he was probably trying to absorb all sensation through his hand. I know that's what I try to do when she places my hand there. A smile spread slowly across his face, like a sunrise and his lips parted slightly. His hand rubbed her belly caressingly.

B'Elanna was still staring at his face. Slowly he seemed to return and realize where he was. He bent his head and kissed her, softly on the edge of her mouth, then taking her hand, he walked her over to where I was sitting. I thought his eyes were moist. He sat down.

"I've just met your daughter," he said to me.

He shook his head slightly and seemed to be speaking as much to himself as to me or B'Elanna.

"Amazing. Truly precious."

He smiled at B'Elanna and took her hand. "You're doing a magical thing Little One." And he picked up her hand and kissed her fingers.

"You can do it too, Chak," she said to him. "You and Kathryn. It's not too late."

His eyes took on the distant look they get for that first heartbeat when someone mentions the name of his beloved. Then he smiled again, maybe a little bit wistfully, but there was no sadness or regret in his voice when he said, "No. That road is not for us. We'll just have to be auntie and uncle to your little one instead."

At that moment he saw Kathryn walk in and look around for him. He squeezed B'Elanna's hand and looked directly at me.

"Look after her."

Then he was gone, crossing to Kathryn's side and giving her a big hug of greeting. Always so physical those two, so much in love.

* * *

Lying there in bed, I replayed that small incident. Chakotay was so tender and protective of B'Elanna. She was so openly affectionate to him. I know they were lovers in the Maquis for a brief time, B'Elanna told me. I don't mind now, now that I feel secure in her love, but it gave me a few difficult moments when she first mentioned it. I kept envisaging his dark head kissing her, his big body moving and rocking inside her smaller one. I had questioned her compulsively as to what he was like in bed, kept asking her to compare us.

"Intense, sensual, affectionate, incredibly generous. Very, very good," she said, with a faraway look in her eyes.

"And me?" I know I sounded like a jealous child.

"I love you," she said, which was part of the answer I wanted, but not a direct answer to the question.

I must have pouted.

"You're exceptional!" She kissed me.

They are good, close friends now, her and Chakotay; they love each other as friends. B'Elanna was incredibly happy for him when he and Kathryn finally breached their self-imposed barriers and let themselves be lovers. And the four of us often do things together.

But I often wonder how he managed to let B'Elanna go. She says she ended their relationship, she felt he deserved better, but never really told him why. Then there was Seska, then the Caretaker and once we were here in the Delta Quadrant there was Kathryn, and Chakotay fell hard and deeply in love and never wavered from that course. The rest, as they say, is history.

In a different time, one in which B'Elanna and Chakotay were not in the Maquis, with all that entailed, I think she and he could have made a relationship work. With his patience and love and with time on their side, he could have broken down her defenses and feelings of inadequacy, made her see she is a person of great worth. And when B'Elanna finally lets herself love she does so unconditionally. She would have loved him in return, the way he deserves to be loved. They would have been very happy together. Selfishly I'm glad they are not.

We all have our What If's. Mine is Kathryn, but I don't think B'Elanna takes me seriously when I tell her that. Ironic, isn't it. The four of us such good friends, and within the group so many possibilities for happiness. That must be one of the reasons why the friendship works.

Enough introspection. I turn towards B'Elanna, wrapping a leg over her thighs and smoothing my hand over her belly. She turns to me in her sleep and nuzzles my hair.

I know without doubt I am the luckiest man alive.

Feedback? Please. Shayenne

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