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Author's note: this continues after Chakotay's revelation about his feelings for Janeway in Lessons, Part 3.
The chief engineer of the USS Voyager was angry. Well…maybe angry wasn't the right word. More like…frustrated. Yes, that was a good term for it. She was fully aware that she was avoiding what was really on her mind. But then that was her typical defensive reaction. And she knew that as well, but she really couldn't help it. With all the crap she'd had to put up with, who could blame her? At least that was the way she saw it.
The ball got away from her again and this time she growled, most definitely in anger. Hastily she picked up the ball, eager to continue the exercise. Well, to her it was exercise. To a human it would probably be considered torture.
She activated the ball once again and threw it against the wall. It buzzed through the air with such speed that if it wasn't for the holodeck safeties being activated it would have shattered into several pieces. As it was the ball harmlessly bounced off the wall, and sped back towards her.
"You know, hoverball is always so much more fun when there are two people playing."
She managed to catch the ball, but she was caught off guard by the unexpected voice and stumbled back a few paces.
Breathing heavily she spun round to face the unwelcome intruder. Harry Kim stood in the doorway of the holodeck.
"What are you doing here?" she shouted.
Wincing slightly, he nevertheless took a step forward. "I'm supposed to be meeting Tom here for a hoverball game. Must be running late. When I saw that the programme was already running I just assumed it was him."
"Well now that you know it isn't him, why don't you leave?" she demanded heatedly.
Harry moved even closer and yanked the ball out of her hands. "Like I said, hoverball is always so much more fun when there are two people playing."
B'Elanna eyed him appraisingly, her frown not vanishing for one second. "Alright, but don't expect me to take it easy on you Starfleet."
"I'd be disappointed if you did Maquis." He replied.
They began the game and it became clear from the start that it was anything but. B'Elanna was desperate to work off some of her frustration and when it wasn't working she began working harder and harder.
By the time they finally stopped, fifty minutes later, both were exhausted and Harry felt like he was going to pass out. He collapsed onto the floor and leant against the wall, his breath coming in short uneven gasps.
B'Elanna sat next to him and although she wasn't quite as short of breath as he was, her clothes were certainly as sweaty.
"Computer, once glass of water, 10 degrees Celsius." She ordered in between much-needed breaths. The water appeared before her and she picked it up and offered it to Harry.
"You first." He said, absently wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
"You need it more."
He rolled his eyes but eventually agreed, gulping down the liquid greedily. When he finished he leant his head back on the wall with a satisfied sigh and offered her the rest of the glass.
After several minutes of silence, except for the occasional sip of water, Harry finally spoke.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
"About what?" B'Elanna answered, knowing full well what he was talking about.
"Whatever's got you so worked up."
"Would I like to talk about it? I think you know my answer to that."
"I could probably guess."
B'Elanna paused for a moment, thinking about how she should begin. She didn't want to reveal too much after all. "I…just discovered something. It shocked the hell out of me, and yet it didn't at the same time. I guess I always knew that it was possible - I just didn't really expect it to happen. That's not what's bothering me though; it's the fact that this person didn't come straight out and tell me." She took a deep breath and then said in a small voice "I thought we were good friends. How could he try and hide something like this from me?"
"Have you considered that maybe it's just too personal?"
"Yeah," Harry leant forward slightly. "there are some things that are just too private…too intimate…for you to be able to tell anyone about them. Even your best friend." She looked doubtful. "Look at it this way - aren't there some things you hide from him?"
"Well…yeah." She admitted sheepishly, thinking of the incident with the Cardassian dreadnought, among others. That was something she never wanted to deal with again.
"Then why should he be any different?"
"I guess he shouldn't. It's just that I didn't expect him to keep something like that from me!" she stopped, then continued bitterly "Listen to me. I sound like a spoilt child."
"B'Elanna, he is a very private man."
"Oh I know that Harry!" she scoffed. "I know him better than anyone on this ships. I know he's not going to share everything with someone unless he was in love with them. I guess…I just felt he could tell me anything. It upsets me."
"This really bothers you, doesn't it?" he queried, already knowing the answer.
Feeling a sense of déjà vu, B'Elanna quickly stood and turned her back on him. "No. We're just friends." She insisted too harshly.
She heard his clothes rustle as she stood up behind her. B'Elanna almost jumped when she felt his hand on her shoulder, but somehow she had known it was coming.
"I'd better be going." He told her softly. "See you later B'Elanna."
He removed his hand and she almost missed the slight pressure of the comfort he had been offering her.
Listening to his footsteps retreating, she waited until the holodeck doors opened before she cocked her head slightly to the left and called out. "Hey, Starfleet. You and Tom were never going to meet here, were you?"
When he replied she could hear the good humour in his voice. "Of course we weren't Maquis. I'm not very good at hoverball."
"I can tell." She answered, her own humour apparent on her voice.
Harry must have left then, because she heard the doors shut and she knew she was alone.
Her top was being pulled over her head before the door to her quarters had swished shut. Yanking off the top at the end of her arms she threw it onto her bed. The rest of her clothes rapidly followed as she headed toward the sonic shower.
As she passed the sink she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She stopped walking and leant forward, examining all the faucets of her face. Gently she reached up and traced the outline of the ridges on her forehead.
"Why can't I be happy with myself?"
END PART FOUR
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