DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was suggested to me by the words in Dido's song, White Flag. And not the words, "I will go down with this ship!" either!!! The ones before then.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

White Flag
By alastria7

"I suppose it's what I expected," the captain replied softly, looking

down at her hands. She drew in a deep breath as she stood and looked

at her chief engineer, offering her a smile tinged with deep sadness. "Well," she shrugged, "I'd better be going, leave you to..."

"Wait!" B'Elanna had been studying the floor in her quarters as she'd listened to her captain's words but, standing to face the woman, she now risked eye contact. "You hurt me, you know?"

"I know." They stared at each other, neither wanting to re-hash the past.

The engineer snorted before pacing around the living area. "And, what? I'm supposed to risk this kind of hurt again? Just because I love you?" She stopped pacing and confronted the reason for her pain. "I mean, is love enough here? You tell me the answer to that, lady, because I'm struggling."

"Darling." Janeway moved closer to B'Elanna, trying to put a hand on

the engineer's arm but the smaller woman neatly side-stepped her and moved to a safe distance. Further away, she felt more in control of her urge to forget everything that had happened and leap into the present sea of promises and declarations with full trust. It was what she wanted to do, but...

"I'm not sure I can sweep it all away, Kath. You tell me, what's different this time, huh? `Cause I don't see anything's changed here. Not really."

"Bel, I can only repeat what I've already said. I was immature in our relationship - beset by doubts that I could ever be entitled to love, having given so much heartache to everyone aboard this ship by my actions at the Caretaker's Array."

B'Elanna was listening, clearly waiting for more.

"I sabotaged us, pure and simple, but I swear I didn't realise it at the time." The expression in the beautiful dark eyes cut directly to the captain's heart as she saw the pain and damage within, both of which she had caused. It was time to accept reality and move on. "I'm sorry, I can see this was a mistake. I won't bring it up again, you have my word."

The door closed behind the departing figure and B'Elanna finally allowed herself to relax a little. Collecting a cup of herb tea, although not really remembering doing so, she sat on the couch, looking over the rim of the cup onto the wet surface. Her brain took a while to question the frequent ripples she saw there until it dawned on her that it was due to her tears, slipping down her face and splashing in.

B'Elanna, rarely one to cry, finally felt ready to give full vent to her feelings. The cup would be forgotten for some time as she put it on the floor and curled up on the couch, hugging her knees in a foetal position, almost a statement of intent to move back to the time before she could feel anything at all. The tears began and showed no sign of abating, as she called out a name repeatedly to the empty room: "Kath, Kath."

"Damn," shouted the captain, back in the safety of her own quarters. She pulled at the zipper of her jacket and ripped it off her body, throwing it with some force onto the couch as she walked through to the washroom and ran some water into the basin. The coolness of the water felt good on her

enflamed cheeks but the minute she closed her eyes she saw B'Elanna's face again, so hurt and confused. "Damn," she cussed again, hiding her face behind the towel.

"One thing you know how to do, Katie, and that's ruin people's lives," she muttered as she re-entered the living area and headed for the replicator, looking for a whisky. She sat on the couch, pushing her jacket aside and took a sip, a sizeable sip. "And you're good at it, too," she continued. "Couldn't have done a better job on her if you'd planned it all out! God knows if she'll ever talk to you again."

There followed two more large sips of whisky and the barrage of self-abuse continued. "What the hell were you thinking? Did you think she'd just take you back, after the way you treated her? You idiot. Best thing that ever happened to you and look what you did to it."

Balancing the glass on her thigh, she put her head back against the cushions, closed her eyes and allowed the tears to fall. The only thing that satisfied her right now, if satisfied was the right word, was the fact that she was hurting so much inside. It seemed fitting somehow to hurt this much after all the hurt she'd caused the one person she was in love with. "Computer, Programme 42," she ordered as soft piano sounds filled the air and her tears increased tenfold.

It was the one thing you could be sure of, moving through space in a little tin pot filled with tiny beings – that the stars would streak by as you watched them. And B'Elanna watched them. For how long? She didn't know, but she did know that she could never grow tired of them. It had the same effect as watching fish in a tank, lazily swimming from one side to the other, or watching clouds form patterns and then disperse, only to form new ones. It relaxed her. And when the warrior in her was relaxed, she thought more clearly.

She had been treated appallingly by the captain during their four month affair. Strangely, the crew had been fine with the idea of them as a couple, expecting it almost as it was pretty obvious to everyone on board that the two women were getting closer. So what had gone wrong?

It was as though Kathryn had expected her to pick fault with her as she got to know her better, as though she thought that B'Elanna wouldn't like what she found deep within the centre of her lover. But that was Kathryn's fear, the fear that she was not loveable, and not B'Elanna's truth at all. She could see that now. If the captain couldn't love herself, she would find it very hard to believe that anyone else could love her, so in her eyes they would be lying, which would hurt her. Being hurt within she would then lash out, creating a self-fulfilling prophesy... `There, I told you I wasn't loveable!'

B'Elanna smiled at her stars. Kathryn's reaction was almost that of a small child and it became blindingly clear that the `small child' in question needed a big hug and plenty of reassurance. `I wish I'd realised this at the time,' she thought. `Perhaps I could have changed things as they started to go wrong.'

`So. What? It's too late now?' asked her conscience. "You don't get another chance?'

She didn't even answer before allowing a bright smile to take over her face as her feet found the door.

The chime had been activated twice now and the captain was aware that

whomever this was, they were not about to go away. `Computer, identify the person standing outside the captain's quarters.'

<The person is Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, Chief Engineer>

Not sure what to think, Janeway quickly rubbed her hands over her cheeks to capture and remove the wetness before rubbing her hands over her pants to dry them. She took a deep breath and straightened her hair before allowing entry.

B'Elanna was standing in the corridor, her face swollen and puffy from her tears. "You look terrible," greeted the captain sombrely.

A smile flickered. "You don't look so hot yourself," the engineer sniffed, looking past her lover and into the room. "Can I come in?"

"You sure you want to? I hurt people, you know."

"I'm here, aren't I?" she argued as she moved around the captain, who had stood aside for her. "There's only one thing I am sure of right now..." she said, turning around to face Kathryn, "...that I love you. But I don't like you right now, OK?"

The captain smiled. "I don't like myself right now, either."

"That was your problem all along, Kath. I worked it out – me and the stars." The engineer smiled and linked her hand around her lover's small fingers and led her to the couch, where they both sat. B'Elanna explained her `findings', leaving the captain with her head down.

"You certainly know me," Kathryn stated quietly, amazed that anyone could, with all the barriers she had placed around herself.

"I want to, if you'll let me. But you have to show it all to me, Kath. Good, bad; real, perceived – I want it all. And I won't take less."

"Then you don't think I've damaged `us' beyond allowing it to flow again?"

"I guess we'll have to find that out."

Janeway drew B'Elanna into a hug, wrapping her arms around her and breathing in the smell of the dark silky hair, which she started to stroke gently. "Darling, I've been such a fool. Forgive me?"

"How can I forgive you for being yourself and for acting on what you thought was true? There's nothing to forgive. But I might pretend there is, and give you a hard time," she added, wickedly. "And don't you dare say you deserve it!"

B'Elanna pulled back to look into her lover's eyes and Kathryn's fingertips moved softly over the three layers of forehead ridges that had always fascinated her. "Do you remember," Kathryn asked, "that day, in the Conference Room? The first time we worked together on a problem and fired up on each others ideas?" B'Elanna nodded, remembering. "I felt so alive, talking with you in that way, I wanted to reach out and touch you then, and I recall feeling a little shocked at the thought."

"For me, it was definitely that time in sickbay, when you allowed me to be drugged - so I could go to my mother in Sto-Vo-Kor? A part of me believed I would die that day and lose you forever. When I came `back' and saw you, I couldn't help myself. I know it surprised the hell out of you but I just had to hold you, to reassure myself I still had you. I knew I was in love with you that day, for sure."

"And I thought I was a surrogate mother to you; that's what I made of your hug, you know, and it hurt me. It was some time before I allowed myself to see the look in your eyes when you looked at me in private. It wasn't the kind of look a girl should ever give her mother!" Kathryn laughed, holding. B'Elanna to her again. "You are such a light in my heart, Belushka. Shine in me, always?"

"I will," replied a woman who felt she had just taken the next step to a deeper commitment. "And you, will you let me be there, in your heart? Without trying to push me away?"

"I will."

Both women remained silent, holding and being held, each realising the significance of the words they had just spoken. It felt a lot like a marriage and it humbled them both.

The stars didn't care. Shout at each other. Love each other. It was all the same to them as they continued to streak by. Each passing star seemed to point the way towards home - although home was now somewhere else for two beings in the tin pot loose among them. Home was now within the heart of the person they loved; it was in the depth of the eyes, that held them more surely than arms could ever do. Home was Love Itself – being One, although two, although One, together.

`Daddy?' B'Elanna thought silently, thinking about how her battle with acceptance from humans or Klingons. `The kid did good, Daddy. At last, the kid did good. I finally fit.'

The End

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