Watcher (24th Century Version)

by Laura Mason

This story is a brief tribute to the incredible "Just A Guy" universe (a Star Trek: Voyager and Highlander slash crossover) created by ZorroRojo, and told in wonderful tales by ZorroRojo, Kamil, and Robin Serrano. JAG is a wonderful, lengthy saga well worth the time to read -- and I believe it can be enjoyed even if you've never seen the series. The authors do that good a job of covering background without being boring! My little tale is rated G.

I've been watching her for years now, ever since I was assigned to Engineering. Watched her become more comfortable with Starfleet; grow out of her crush on Chakotay and find her way in and out of brief relationships with others on the ship.

I never intended to love her, but I do. So much that it never surprised me when others saw her beauty, appreciated her sharp mind and the strength of her -- not simply physical strength, either. That was breathtaking enough, but inside... She is tough and fragile; angry and impish. We all watch her, really. Impossible not to feel your eyes drawn to her.

So it wasn't a shock when Connor MacLeod saw it, too.

Their relationship happened fast, even for B'Elanna, who moves in and out of love faster than some species regenerate cells. They met, she gave him a tour of Engineering, and two days later he reported for duty, the Captain having assigned him to our department. That was all it took -- a few days of regular contact and they were together constantly, oh-so-obviously in love.

The newest crew members were all fitting in easily. But despite the ease with which they assumed their duties, we knew very little about them. We heard rumors about them, their lives on earth and their involvement with Tom Paris. And there was much speculation about Connor's relationship to Duncan MacLeod, who by now we thought of as "one of us." They had the same name, but didn't look very much alike. Certainly they treated each other like family. It was fun to watch them together, sparring before the regular classes began or drinking at Sandrine's.

All the newcomers helped relieve a little of the isolation we'd felt for so long. Despite our brief time in the Beta Quadrant, we remained a "small town" ship. With both the good and bad things that implied. After all these years, we all knew each other's faces and names. Sometimes we knew too much; we could feel sick of each other and the lack of privacy and space. So the new people were very popular, for a while. But they didn't talk much about themselves, really. Things settled down as the newness wore off.

I suppose that's what happened in their relationship, too. MacLeod and Torres practically sparked whenever they touched for that first month or so. Even in Engineering, where they were all business and no hanky-panky, there was an aura around them. When they socialized in the holodeck, the glow was incredible. Watching them dance was riveting. B'Elanna's laughter from their table carried across the room. As always, we all watched. Their joy, just being together, was the most compelling thing I've ever seen.

Our new home wasn't as dangerous, perhaps. Maybe there was hope of the wormhole reopening. But day to day, for grunts like me, it was more of the same. Replicator rationing was back in effect; Neelix was still cooking up things that only vaguely resembled food; and our daily duties were fairly dull. We'd been so close to home. Maybe it was foolish or naive to believe that going home would make everything perfect. Still, morale was low.

It didn't affect Torres at first, but one day she blew into engineering and the whole "I'm walking on clouds" honeymoon attitude was long gone. She slammed around for a while, reamed out most of us for various things we'd been getting away with for months now, then assigned us all a Class 10 systems check. That kind of check takes all day, if you're lucky, and weeks if any anomalies show up. We groaned to ourselves, exchanged glances, and wondered what had happened.

Connor was late for his shift that day and Torres never questioned it. I found out later that he'd been in sick bay in the morning, briefly. But nothing was wrong with him, apparently. He looked fine. When it was time for the shift change, I remained for a few minutes. Just long enough to overhear a whispered conversation between them.

"It shouldn't change anything."

"It changes everything. I can't believe you didn't tell me!" B'Elanna was still very angry, she couldn't really keep her voice down.

"You knew about Tom and the others."

"But I didn't fall... they're my friends. If that's all you wanted to be, fine."

"Well, yes, I feel sooo friendly!" MacLeod's shout turned heads all over the department, but they both stormed out without noticing.

~~~

Robert and Gina sat with Connor in the mess hall. He had his head in his hands and was finally silent.

"Oh dear." Gina couldn't think of anything else to say at the moment. Connor hadn't come to her as a counselor, but as a friend. And she was stunned by his account of his fight with B'Elanna when she'd learned he was immortal.

"Connor, she's upset at the circumstances, not at you." Robert didn't usually butt in like this, but the man was in pain and Gina seemed too shook up over half-Klingon behavior to step in. "She accidentally kills you. During... well, it must have been terrifying. She has you beamed into sick bay, rushes there to see if they can revive you, and..."

"And finds me just reviving, lying naked on the table while Methos laughs his ass off." Connor raised his head and looked at his friends. "I understand why she's angry, but I thought she'd be relieved she can't hurt me permanently. Instead, she claims I don't trust her, because I didn't tell her before."

"I suppose it's time all of us come clean and tell our shipmates what's going to happen." Robert looked to Gina, who merely shrugged.

"Rather, what's not going to happen." Connor groaned. "She's already talking about aging -- she's so young and beautiful, and she's worried because she'll age and I won't. Can you imagine?"

"Connor, women are still sensitive about their ages in some cultures." Gina smiled. "Even Amanda and I joke about wishing we'd been a few years younger when we became immortal."

"Just give her time to adjust. She'll find you when she's ready to talk, not throw things."

"You don't know her temper. She won't calm down or reason this out on her own. I suppose I'd better hope she has good friends to talk it over with, people who will give her sound advice like you two." Connor rose and left without eating the meal Neelix had provided.

Gina looked at her husband. "Do you mean it? You want the whole ship to know about us?"

"Seems kind of foolish to keep it a secret. The only danger to us here is our own friends, if the Gathering comes."

"You should talk to the Captain then, Robert. See if she agrees. And the rest of us, I suppose."

"I won't make the choice for anyone else, but yes, I'd like to be open about our lives and who we are – for once." Robert pushed the food around his plate, then asked. "What about Connor's problem? Why were you so quiet?"

"It's been a while since I've dealt with any Klingons."

"She's only half."

"I know. But still, that kind of violence, as a part of lovemaking. I just couldn't think of anything intelligent to say. B'Elanna shows her anger so openly. Parading around the ship growling at people, slamming things around. It's very different from my own way of handling things."

"Very different from most immortals' way, Gina. We learn to hide things, to hide who we are and what we feel from the world. But she's not like us, she is very open about everything she does, says, and feels."

"Maybe that's what we should have pointed out to Connor." Gina smiled. "My love, you are a genius. Let's visit Duncan."

~~~

I was in Sandrine's that night when Connor MacLeod walked in with Duncan, their arms around each others' necks, singing at the top of their lungs. Singing very badly, I might add.

Everyone in the place turned to watch them. Their drunken hilarity was only funny until B'Elanna stood and tried to leave the room. Tom stopped her. She'd been drinking with him and the Delaney girls, obviously pouring her heart out. She was red-eyed and it wasn't from anger.

I felt like a spectator at one of the old-fashioned badminton games we sometimes played on the holodeck. Back and forth, I didn't know who to watch. I saw B'Elanna's cheeks flush as Tom quietly spoke to her and she resumed her seat. Then Connor's drunken voice rose over the crowd noise.

"Ne'er give your love to a vengeful woman, kinsman!" Duncan shook his head and replied just as loudly.

"She's angry, Connor. That's good, because it means she cares for you." Connor nodded solemnly in drunken agreement, but seemed content to drink from the bottle he'd carried in rather than add to those words.

B'Elanna looked up, her face now drained of color. Then she spoke, too loudly for the group she was sitting with. "Cut out the heart of the p'takk you cannot trust." She slammed her glass on the table to punctuate her words.

Connor peered at Duncan, who smirked back at him. "How do ye give all you are and know to someone? Is there a new technology to download your life for your love to review?"

B'Elanna's hand quivered as she spoke toward her table again. "What do you think of people who deliberately misunderstand a simple request for honesty?"

Connor's voice was sad, now. "Nothing is simple, Duncan lad. Not in our lives."

B'Elanna was silent. Then she looked toward Connor. "But love demands that you try, that you reach out and share, trust each other. Otherwise why are you there?"

Connor raised his glass and responded to her: "Love needs to extend to forgiveness, too. We fail and forgive -- and hopefully move on together."

I couldn't believe how silent the bar had become. The holographic characters weren't aware of the tension in the room, were they? Even they seemed to have subsided for the moment, intent on the drama we were witnessing.

B'Elanna stood and walked to Connor's table. He remained seated, facing away from her, even when she put her hands on his shoulders. I could again see the aura around the two of them, the intensity of their love. "Aye, Mr. MacLeod. My love needs forgiveness, and I need him." I'd never heard B'Elanna speak with a Scots burr before, and I was surprised at how melodic it was. Coming from a woman who frequently swore fluently in the hacking, harsh noises of the Klingon language, it was astonishing. It changed her, softened her.

MacLeod's response was to raise a hand to the one on his shoulder. "I'd be happy to accept it, lass. Because I love you so much."

Then they were kissing, Duncan was up and moving away from them towards Tom – moving swiftly, not at all like someone who was drunk. The rest of us were suddenly too aware of our voyeurism. Not that it was our fault if these two decided to carry on their arguments in the middle of Sandrine's, but still... I ordered another drink and didn't turn back in their direction until they were leaving the room, arms around each other, oblivious to their audience.

I was kind of surprised that there wasn't applause as they left.

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