The chime sounded less than a minute after Janeway had left. A low growl sounded in B’Elanna’s throat. “Come in,” she snapped. At the sight of her new visitor, her anger rose again. “What do you want now? Come to gloat about your latest medical miracle?”
“Actually no. I came to make sure you were alright.”
“I’m fine! You said so yourself only a while ago. Why are you here?” She returned to the PADDs she’d been perusing. But she was acutely aware of his presence nonetheless.
Slowly the EMH sat next to her, watched her as she tried to read. His eyes took in the sight of her: her agitation, her anger, her fear...her relief at being alive. “I wish there had been another way,” he started slowly. “But if I had to relive the situation, I wouldn’t change what I did. B’Elanna, you must understand--”
“No, Doc, *you* need to understand,” she lashed back. “I expressly said not to do it. You went against my wishes...*knowingly.*” And then she grew quiet. “How am I to trust you now? How do I know you won’t disregard my wishes again?”
“I can’t guarantee that. Your safety is my first priority. You know that.”
The PADD went flying across the room, followed by the clatter of the incense burner tumbling to the ground. B’Elanna was on her feet, pacing angrily. “Damnit, Doc! That’s not fair. I was completely rational and in full mental capacity. You deliberately disregarded that fact. What am I to think?”
“Captain Janeway gave you the green light to decide your actions. And you decided to take me and my wishes so lightly. She gave you permission, but that doesn’t mean you had to do it. I should have died.”
“Now that’s enough!” came his angry reply, standing to face her. “That is just about enough of this. Damnit, B’Elanna, listen to me for a change. Hear what I’m saying to you. My oath as a doctor aside, there was no way in hell I could allow you to die like that.” He stretched out a hand, caressed the air above her cheek, spoke gently. “Do you honestly think I can turn my feelings off like that? They are not part of my algorithms, B’Elanna, and you well know that. I love you and could not in good conscience allow you to die like that when I had the chance to save your life.”
Tears filled her eyes at that admission, and she fell forward into his arms. “I know that,” she whispered into his chest, then tilted her head back to look at him. “But you have to realize that your job is to do as your patient wishes, particularly if your patient is completely in her right mind. I was, and you damned well know it, Doc. Yet you deliberately went against my wishes and allowed that Cardassian pig to operate on me.”
“That Cardassian pig saved your life, in case you had forgotten. And I wasn’t the only one to fight for your life. Lieutenant Paris put up quite a fight as well. Why aren’t you screaming at him?”
“He hasn’t shown up yet,” came her snide reply. “Besides, he doesn’t quite have the emotional involvement anymore. Remember?” Then she gazed up at him again. The anger in her eyes softened and she sighed heavily, reaching up to touch his cheek. “I am grateful to be alive, I have to admit that, but I’m still very angry at you for doing this. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be able to trust you again, Doc.” He started to speak, but she placed a gentle finger across his lips. “But I do know that, even when you screw up hardcore like this, no one else has understood this damned mind of mine quite like you do.” Then a wry grin curved up the corners of her mouth. “And no one else has ever really had the temerity to stand up to me quite like you do. You are a rather reckless hologram to be pissing off the only person who can really understand and work with your programming algorithms.”
He attempted a tentative smile at that. “Am I forgiven?”
The grin on her face widened, a twinkle in her eye. “Perhaps.” And then she turned and walked into her bedroom. When she realized he wasn’t directly behind her, she turned to look at him. “Well? Are you coming or not?”
“I will be shortly,” he muttered under his breath, eyes transfixed on the woman before him, thankful beyond words that he had in fact gone against her wishes. He really wasn’t sure what he’d have done if she’d died. But he did know that he was going to make damned sure that she truly appreciated her life now. No more debilitating depression that was kept a secret from everyone. No more hidden broken bones and bruises. No more unnecessary risks. No more crazy stunts. No more disregard for her own person as she was wont to do. No more.
“Doc?” came her soft voice, breaking into his thoughts again. “Everything okay?”
He smiled at her then, made his way toward her. “Everything’s fine, B’Elanna,” he replied, caressing her cheek again.