B'Elanna Torres couldn't sleep. She had slept for two hours, woken up, and now she couldn't sleep. She had been up until 0100 hrs and now at 0430 hrs she was very tired but she just couldn't sleep. She got up deciding to do something useful with her time instead of lying in bed doing nothing. She showered, dressed, brushed her teeth and pulled a brush through her brown, shoulder length hair. Then she left for engineering.
When Tom Paris entered engineering 2 hours later he saw B'Elanna hunched over a console studying a padd and the corresponding data on the console. She didn't look happy and he thought she looked tired but her eyes still looked beautiful as the light thrown out by the warp core lit up their chocolate brown depths when she looked up to see who had entered her domain. She smiled when she saw who it was.
"Hi, Tom," she greeted him.
He smiled back his beautiful smile that lit up those warp core blue pools that had the power to drown those who looked into them. This made B'Elanna's smile even wider.
"Hey there," he said. "We still on for dinner tonight?"
"Um..." B'Elanna started. Tom's face fell. "Tom," she said softly as she placed her hand gently on his arm, "I'd love to but I'm really tired. I'd like to have an early night tonight, okay? I'm sorry."
"You wouldn't be so tired if you didn't pull an all-nighter," he argued bitterly.
"I didn't. I worked until about 0100 hrs then I went back to my quarters and tried to go to sleep, after about half hour I finally got off to sleep but I woke up again after about 2 hours. I couldn't get back off to sleep so after lying for an hour I decided to get up and do something useful, so I came down here," she explained.
"I'm sorry," Tom apologised, "I just assumed..."
"It's alright, Tom," B'Elanna said softly.
Tom smiled at her and looked at the chronometer. It was 0645 hrs. "You coming to breakfast? We've got quarter of an hour before the morning briefing."
"Only if you'll come with me," she told him as they walked out of the engine room together.
Tom couldn't figure her out. One minute she was breaking a date and the next she was flirting with him.
The day had gone surprisingly quickly for B'Elanna but she was still very tired. At the end of her shift she went back to her quarters and changed into a pair of dark blue jeans and a deep red T-shirt then she sat on the couch and read endless engineering reports, wrote her own for the captain for tomorrow and then she got ready for bed. She was just about to get into bed when her message terminal blinked. She walked over to it and called the message up.
See you at breakfast tomorrow, 0645?
B'Elanna saved the message and climbed into bed. She was so tired she thought she'd be asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. No such luck. Her sleep, when she finally got it, was restless and each time she woke up she stayed awake for hours. When she got up the next morning she felt just as tired as she had the previous morning.
When B'Elanna entered the Mess Hall she grabbed a tray of 'Breakfast' and sat down with Tom and Harry.
"Hi, Starfleet. Hi, Tom," she said as she sat down next to Tom.
"Hi yourself, Maquis," said Harry.
Before Tom had a chance to say anything Neelix approached them. "Good morning, Lieutenant," he said to B'Elanna. "Ah, I see you have tried my Daratilian Omelette this morning. A very good choice."
He noticed Seven of Nine enter the Mess Hall and went to fuss over her shouting "Enjoy" over his shoulder.
Saved by the Borg. B'Elanna thought, glad for the first time in her life to have Seven on the ship. "This is an omelette," B'Elanna exclaimed looking disgustedly at the bright blue lump on her tray.
"It's really not that bad if you forget about its colour," Tom assured her.
B'Elanna took a cautious bite, chewed it slowly and swallowed it, a grimace on her face.
She pushed her tray away. "I'm not hungry." Then she picked up her tray, said goodbye to Tom and Harry, shoved the food in the disposal unit and walked out.
When she reached the briefing room she was five minutes early. She yawned and decided that a cup of good strong Klingon coffee might be a good idea. She walked over to the replicator. "Raktajino, extra strong," she ordered. The cup materialised and she took it and sat down.
Kathryn Janeway walked in. "Good morning, B'Elanna."
"Good morning, Captain."
Kathryn walked over to the replicator. "Raktajino, extra strong," she ordered.
"You have good taste, Captain," B'Elanna said. When Kathryn looked puzzled she held up her cup.
"Great minds think alike," she said with a smile.
"And fools never differ," continued Chakotay as he walked in.
"I never learnt that part, Chakotay," Kathryn said with mock annoyance.
B'Elanna laughed. "Well being a natural born genius you don't need to bother, you know that you're brilliant. Did I mention how beautiful I am?" she said sarcastically.
"And so modest too, B'El," Chakotay quipped.
"What does modest mean?" B'Elanna asked in a serious tone, the smile on her face betraying her.
"I don't remember," Kathryn said. "Have I ever told you about my great sense of humour."
Chakotay smiled. "Yesterday, drink your coffee."
"We don't just have coffee, we have extra strong Raktajino," Kathryn told him.
"Both of you?"
"Yes. Great minds think alike," B'Elanna said.
"And fools never..." Chakotay started but he stopped seeing the look and both faces, "never mind."
They stopped talking as Tom Paris and Harry Kim walked in.
"Good morning, everyone," Tom said brightly. When nobody replied he said, "Try not to sound too excited will you."
"I think I need more coffee," Kathryn said reaching for her cup.
"I thought it wasn't just coffee but..." Chakotay started.
"Shut up, Chakotay," B'Elanna and Kathryn silenced him together.
Tom shot Harry a puzzled look. Harry shrugged.
Then Neelix came into the room behind Tuvok and then Seven of Nine followed by the Doctor.
Once they were all seated Kathryn began the meeting. First she asked the Doctor about his most recent patients, Ensigns Taylor and Trayani who had been suffering from a virus after their most current away mission.
"It was very difficult to find the cause of their illness but due to a feat of medical brilliance I found it and they are now recovering well." Tom noticed Kathryn, B'Elanna and Chakotay exchange amused glances. "They will be released later today and will be fit for duty in two days time."
"Thank you, Doctor. Good work." Kathryn told him.
The rest of the meeting passed uneventfully. As they were walking out Tom held B'Elanna back. "Can I meet you for lunch, B'Elanna?"
"Sure, I'll see then. Have a nice morning."
"You too," Tom said as he walked down to the conn to start his duty shift with a smile on his face.
Tom walked into the Mess Hall to see B'Elanna already sitting down picking at a plate of food. Neelix handed him a lunch tray and he went to sit down.
"Hi there, mind if I sit down?"
B'Elanna indicated at the vacant seat opposite her. "Sure," she replied.
Tom sat down. "Did you sleep okay last night?" he asked her concerned.
"Yeh! Better," she half-lied.
"You want join me for dinner tonight?" he asked. He smiled a hesitant but genuine smile that lit up his eyes. B'Elanna could see he was nervous, although he covered it well, about whether she would agree.
Feeling guilty about the previous evening and knowing he would be hurt if she said turned his offer down again she agreed. "I'd love to, Tom," she said with a smile.
Tom's smile grew wider. Gods, he thought, she has a beautiful smile. "Holodeck one, 2030 hrs, formal but casual dress."
"Sounds fun. What have you got in mind?"
"That is for me to know and for you to find out at 2030 hrs tonight."
"Give me a clue."
Tom shook his head.
"Just a little clue."
"Just a tiny clue. Please." She pleaded.
Neither one had realised it but while they had been speaking they had both finished their lunches.
Nobody else in the mess hall had eaten more than a bite of theirs but the two lieutenants had eaten theirs without seeming to notice its foul taste.
Katia Trayani nudged Drakan Taylor. "Hey, look over there," she pointed to where Tom and B'Elanna were sitting.
Drakan grinned. "'Bout time too. I think their good for each other."
"I think you and Lisa are good for each other too, but you never pay any attention to that."
"Shut up, Katia!"
Although Katia was female and Drakan was male they were as close as two friends could be, male or female. They were almost like brother and sister, so much so that once they had tried dating but found it weird and uncomfortable and he gone back to being good friends.
"Oh, you're blushing. You like her," Katia needled some more.
"Come on, Kat. I'm serious. Quit it." Drakan said seriously.
"Hey, you do like her don't you?"
Drakan turned his head away.
"Don't you?" Katia repeated.
"Yes," Drakan admitted.
"Well what's the problem? Ask her out."
"That is the problem."
"She'll probably just laugh in my face or something, or if she's feeling nice maybe she'll just say no."
"Or she might be sensible and say yes. You've asked girls out before you never went through all this with them."
"Yeah, I know. Difference is I really like her."
"You've got it bad, Drak. If you really like her ask her out. The only way you'll know for certain what she'll say is if you ask her. Besides I think she likes you, you're a good guy. Anyway if she says no you just have to persevere. B'Elanna kept rejecting Tom but he kept at it and look where he is now," she said encouragingly, gesturing at Tom and B'Elanna. At that moment B'Elanna hit Tom lightly, for a Klingon, on the arm at something he had said.
"I don't know, Kati."
"Look, if Tom gets B'Elanna to join him for dinner you'll have no problem with Lisa."
"I guess. Okay, I'll ask her."
"Now we have some down time so make the most of it. Ask her out before we go back on duty."
"Yes, ma'am," he said sarcastically, trying to hide an evil grin.
Katia smiled and kicked him under the table.
When B'Elanna walked into the holodeck it was all Tom could do to keep standing up. She looked gorgeous. Her dark brown trousers matched the colour of her eyes and flared slightly at the bottom making her look slightly taller. Her deep red sleeveless V-neck top, which he later discovered was a halterneck that left most of her back uncovered, showed off her beautifully tanned arms. Her shoes were brown suede with big, thick heels that made her taller, though not quite as tall as himself, and in her arms she had a brown jacket. Her hair fell softly around her face and her whole face was smiling. Her lips looked so full and beautiful that he wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her. But he restrained himself knowing that she would probably hit him into next week and never speak to him again if he did so.
B'Elanna smiled when she walked into the holodeck and saw what Tom was wearing. Black trousers with a beautiful blue silk shirt that was the same colour as his eyes, open loosely at the top revealing a little bit of his muscular chest. His golden hair was slightly tousled and his eyes looked like the ocean, in colour and they revealed some of what hid in their depths. She smiled when she noticed his mouth was slightly agape and he swiftly closed his mouth when he realised it was open.
Tom was the first to finally speak. "You look beautiful, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna's smile grew even wider. She had been cautious as to what she should wear but judging by Tom's reaction she had chosen the right thing.
"You don't look so bad yourself, Hotshot," she replied.
Tom gestured towards a table in the middle of room. "Dinner?"
It was only then that B'Elanna took in the beautiful setting. She was standing on a beautiful white beach with the sea lapping on the shore a few metres away. The sea was almost so clean and beautiful it looked fake, almost. There were a few palm trees dotted about and in the middle of the beach was a table. The sky was a deep orange as the sun was beginning to set.
The table was set silver cutlery and simple white dinner plates with a silver trim around the rim. The wineglasses were made of fine crystal and had simple but intricate designs carved into them.
"Thank you," B'Elanna said.
They sat down and Tom took the cover of the larger of two bowls sitting in the middle of the table. "Its pasta."
"I love pasta," B'Elanna told him. "What sort of pasta?"
"Its name in Italian is Tagliatelli alla Carbonara."
As they ate B'Elanna watched the sun slowly sink beyond the horizon, and enjoyed the affect that the setting sun, and the moon and stars that appeared afterwards, had on Tom's eyes.
When they had finished Tom stood up and walked around the table to where B'Elanna was sitting. "Would you like to dance?"
"I'd love to," B'Elanna told him with a beautiful smile.
Tom extended his hand and she took it and they moved away from the table.
"Computer play some slow dancing music from the late twentieth century."
The computer complied and a beautiful melody filled the room as they started to dance.
After a few minutes B'Elanna slid her hands around Tom's waist and held them against his back and she stepped in closer to him and rested her head on his chest. Tom, in turn, slipped his hands behind her back and rested his head on hers, her hair soft against his cheek.
Standing like that, wrapped up in Tom's arms, B'Elanna felt comfortable and relaxed. Then tiredness began to overcome her and she felt that if she closed her eyes she would be asleep.
She pulled out of Tom's embrace. "I'm really tired, Tom. Do you mind if we call it a night?"
Tom nodded slowly. He thought she'd enjoyed the dancing but apparently not.
B'Elanna saw that Tom looked slightly upset with himself as though he thought he'd done something wrong and that was why she was leaving. She picked up her jacket and then walked over to him. "Thank you for a lovely evening, Tom. I really enjoyed it." Then she kissed his lips softly before walking out and returning to her quarters leaving a confused but very happy Tom Paris standing in the holodeck grinning from ear to ear like an idiot.
Despite how sleepy she had felt earlier, B'Elanna had trouble sleeping, again. When she woke the next morning she did not feel very rested.
Deciding to forego breakfast completely knowing it would be brightly coloured, very spicy and foul tasting, she headed for engineering.
She worked for hours and missed lunch completely, not realising how late it was. At 1830 hrs Tom came in to find her.
"Hi, Tom," she said distractedly not looking up. "Wait a minute." She tapped a few commands on the console.
Tom waited patiently and when she had finished what she was doing she looked up and turned to face him. "I'm sorry, Tom. I've still got work to do here I can't make it for lunch."
"Lunch! B'Elanna its half past six. You've missed lunch. Neelix is serving dinner in the mess hall."
"Gods, I didn't realise it was so late."
Tom took B'Elanna's arm. "Come on. You had no breakfast and no lunch you need something to eat."
"No. It's all right. I'm still quite tired. I'll just go back to my quarters."
"B'Elanna you have to have something."
"Alright, I will. In my quarters. I'll replicate something."
As they walked out of engineering and along the corridors to B'Elanna's quarters neither of them said a word.
As they reached her quarters Tom stopped her. "Are you still having trouble sleeping, Lanna?"
"Just a little. I'm fine. I think I've just been pulling loads of late shifts and my body's just not used to getting so much rest," B'Elanna said uncertainly.
"B'Elanna..." Tom started.
"Tom please can we talk about this some other time?"
"Okay. See you. Sleep well." On impulse, he cautiously planted a soft kiss on her brow ridges that made B'Elanna smile inside.
As Tom walked away B'Elanna raised her hand to touch her forehead as she went inside.
B'Elanna was sitting on her couch plowing through reports. She had decided to read first and eat later. She felt tired but when she closed her eyes she couldn't sleep so she would pick up her padd and read again. After half an hour her door chime rang.
"Come in," she called out, not really wanting a visitor.
The doors slid open and Tom walked in, his arms full of padds.
"Tom, what the...?" B'Elanna said in amazement.
"I decided, seeing as I couldn't have dinner with you, that I would come and work with you, because I knew you'd be working before you could sleep."
B'Elanna smiled. "Well sit down, or are you going to work standing up?"
Tom sat down next to B'Elanna as B'Elanna resumed her reading. He picked up a padd and did the same. Suddenly a thought occurred to him. He glanced around her quarters and saw no sign of food.
"B'Elanna, have you eaten yet?" he asked.
"Not yet." B'Elanna replied. "I was going to read my reports first."
"B'Elanna," he scolded. "You need something to eat." He got up and walked over to the replicator. "What do you want?" he asked.
Knowing Tom would not take no for an answer she replied. "A small tuna salad please."
Tom ordered one, took it and handed it to her.
"Aren't you going to have anything," she asked.
"I ate already. Neelix's stew was just about edible. Trust me, you didn't miss a thing."
B'Elanna started eating and he sat down and watched her.
"Tom Paris, are you just going to sit there and watch me while I eat?"
Tom looked away sheepishly.
B'Elanna smiled at the look on his face of being discovered.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"Pleasure," B'Elanna said, her smile growing wider. Tom doubted she had any idea what she was doing to him.
"You going to eat that?"
"Not if you watch me."
"Why don't I trust you?"
"I'm deeply hurt, B'Elanna. That you don't trust me," he said dramatically.
B'Elanna turned away from him but did not start to eat.
"B'Elanna, why aren't you eating?" Tom asked.
"Hah!" B'Elanna exclaimed. "I knew you'd watch."
"Damn," Tom said. He paused. "Does it really matter whether I watch you eat or not?"
"Um, no." B'Elanna said. "It's just off putting."
"You know, I really think we ought to get ourselves lives, I've heard it's worthwhile; and it stops you arguing about little things."
Tom smiled. "It's the little things that are the most important," he said sincerely.
B'Elanna saw how Tom's smile lit up his eyes and forced herself to look away and start eating before she lost herself in them.
Tom resumed reading deciding it was more important for B'Elanna to eat than for him to tease her some more.
After she had finished eating B'Elanna put her plate in the reclaimer and curled up next to Tom. She rested her head on his shoulder and simply scanned the report, not noticing the amazed expression on Tom's face.
Tom was about to make a wise crack but restrained himself knowing it would make her uncomfortable and he didn't want to ruin it.
Tom draped his arm across the back of the couch behind B'Elanna, immediately questioning the wisdom of the move. He found the warmth of her body next to his distracting, to say the least, and the scent of her was driving him half-crazy; but she seemed comfortable so he resolved to bear the discomfort a little longer.
B'Elanna, indeed, was very comfortable and feeling very tired again. She didn't see any harm in closing her eyes for a second, so she did so; and she fell asleep listening to the sound of Tom's heartbeat.
Tom gradually became aware that B'Elanna's breathing was very even and that she had stopped reading the padd she held in her hand. He looked down at her and saw that her eyes were closed.
Most men would be offended if a woman fell asleep in their arms, but not Tom. He was honoured that she felt safe enough with him and trusted him enough to let her guard down in front of him and fall asleep. He looked at her face that revealed that she was relaxed and calm and peaceful. Tom decided he had never seen a more beautiful sight in his life.
Tom was going to move her into her bedroom but he knew she had had more trouble sleeping recently than she had let on and he didn't want to disturb her and wake her up. Besides, he did still have some reports to read.
As Tom woke he became aware of a warm body against him. Suddenly he remembered reports, B'Elanna falling asleep. He must have nodded off too. He looked at her face and saw that her eyes were still closed. At least she was still asleep.
Suddenly he noticed where his hands were; one was on her thigh and the other was resting lightly on her breast.
Thank God she didn't wake up! Tom thought, then he noticed where her hands were - one on his chest, one inside of the top of his left thigh.
This could be a problem! Tom thought. That hand has got to be moved now, Thomas. What're ya gonna do 'bout it?
He shifted her gently, trying not to wake her, and got up carefully. He carried her through to her bedroom and put her into her bed.
He touched a feather light kiss to her cheek, and he left, glancing at the chronometer on the way out. It read 00:46.
B'Elanna woke up.
"Damn! I still can't sleep," she said aloud to the room. But she couldn't remember going to bed last night.
Then it came to her, she had fell asleep in Tom's arms and concluded that he must have moved her into her bed. Her clothes were still in place, although truth be told didn't doubt that they would be, so nothing had...happened.
She looked at the chronometer. It read 00:59. She tried to get back off to sleep but failed. It was going to be a long four hours before she dared to show her face in engineering.
B'Elanna filled her time by reading the reports she hadn't finished reading the night before.
After that she tidied her quarters and did all the little things that she couldn't usually find the time to do. Then she curled up on the couch with a book that someone had recommended to her a while back but she had never taken the recommendation. It was a book called 'Pawn Of Prophecy' written by a late 20th century author called David Eddings.
She became absorbed in the book and was enjoying it immensely. She had always liked the fantasy tales about magic and sorcerers, and about swords and mystical weapons that her father has told her as a child, and had read many fantasy stories, but never any by this author.
She was about halfway through the book when her alarm went off in the sleeping area telling her it was 0600, time to get up.
Reluctantly she put the book aside, after marking the place, and told the computer to turn off the alarm. She showered, changed and headed for engineering 15 minutes later.
B'Elanna went to breakfast earlier than usual and ate fast, so that she would not have to see Tom; she was embarrassed about the previous night and didn't want the onslaught of jokes that Tom would come up with.
After breakfast she headed to Engineering and began the routine system checks. Not long after Tom entered and looked around the room. Upon finding the object of his search he headed over to her.
"Hi B'Elanna," he greeted her. "Sleep well?" he asked sincerely, genuinely concerned about the lack of sleep she had been getting recently and how tired she looked.
"Funny Paris," she said in way of reply, moving past him to access another console.
"What?" Tom asked.
B'Elanna just ignored him. Tom was now confused and a bit hurt at her reaction.
"What B'Elanna? What have I done now? I'm still half asleep and really don't understand what I've done wrong," he said.
That made B'Elanna even more irate, and the fact that Tom didn't know why was bugging him. He surmised that he had unintentionally done something wrong but he didn't know what.
"B'Elanna, I'm really sorry for whatever it is that I've done to make you so angry," he tried.
She still ignored him but she did stop, just for a second, at his words.
Tom thought about what he had done in the past few days that might have upset her, either something he had done today or over the past few days that she had just found out about.
Suddenly it came to him. She was embarrassed. B'Elanna Torres was embarrassed. Then he realised what he had said to her. She must of thought I was teasing her, he thought, with all the references to sleep I was making.
He wanted to tell her not to be embarrassed but he figured that he would only make matters worse - he wasn't good at things like that, and he suddenly wished that his mother were here; she had such a talent for talking to people and making them feel at ease.
Stunned at his quietness, B'Elanna looked up at him, seeing a sad, far-off look in his eyes, and it made her want to reach out and touch him, and wipe the sadness away. Had she been a little unfair to him? He had sounded sincere when he spoke to her, not sarcastic and he didn't look like he was in a joking mood at the moment.
Suddenly, before she knew what she was doing, she reached out and touched his arm, regaining his attention. His eyes focused on her and he saw the look on her face, a look full of concern and sympathy. Maybe she wasn't so mad at him after all.
"I'm sorry, Tom," she said quietly. "I over reacted, I didn't sleep too well and I'm a little edgy," she apologised.
Slightly taken aback at her apology, Tom grinned at her, "That's ok," he assured her. "I'm always a little edgy if I've had a bad night, and you've been having a run of them," he told her understandingly. "But I thought..." he stopped mid-sentence.
"What? What were you going to say? If it's nothing then tell me anyway."
"Uh," Tom started. Goodbye head, he thought. "Last night you seemed to be sleeping ok," he whispered, his voice getting quieter as he finished the sentence, and B'Elanna had to strain to catch it.
" I woke up just before one," she told him.
I left just before one, Tom thought but did not actually speak the words, he had been lucky to get the last sentence out without being hit and he thought that if he told her that he would not be so fortunate.
"I hear the breakfast is good this morning. Want to grab something to eat?" he asked.
"It is good breakfast this morning," B'Elanna told him. "I've already eaten though."
"Okay," Tom said, trying to sound cheerful, but his face fell.
"But I am rather thirsty," B'Elanna added quickly, without knowing why she did so. "I'll come and have a coffee while you eat." She did know why - she couldn't bear to see that face so upset.
Tom's smile was a mile wide and his eyes sparkled. "Good." He said.
Kathryn Janeway sat in her normal position at the head of the table in the briefing room.
"This planet shows signs of edible plant life and no signs of any inhabitants near to these sources, or any large animals. We will be sending down three away teams to scan and collect foodstuffs. If many sources of edible and nutritious food are found then we will send down more." Janeway told them.
Tom looked at B'Elanna and grinned. Hopefully that meant more breakfasts like the one he had just eaten... edible.
B'Elanna knew what he was thinking and smiled back.
Kathryn looked at her two young officers. They had both been working very hard lately and B'Elanna was looking tired and a bit stressed, in need of a break. Also, she noticed, she and Tom seemed to be getting on well and she wondered if there was any substance to the rumour Chakotay had told her about a date, a red top and a blue shirt. If the two were getting on then why not send them down together, Tom would make B'Elanna relax, she was sure of it.
"B'Elanna, Tom," she addressed them. "You two will be away team one. Mr Neelix, you and Mr Tuvok will form the second team and Ensigns Trayani and Taylor will be the third. You leave in one hour. Dismissed."
They all filed out of the briefing room, except for Chakotay, who remained behind to talk to his Captain.
"Are you sure that's wise, Kathryn?" he asked.
Kathryn knew exactly what he was talking about. "Yes, Tom and B'Elanna have been getting along fine, they won't kill each other and they both need a break."
"So do you." Chakotay stated.
"Really," Kathryn raised one eyebrow.
Chakotay grinned. "Really." He confirmed.
"You're right," she said, "I do need a break."
Chakotay looked at her with a stunned expression, she was actually admitting to needing a break!
"A coffee break," she elaborated.
Chakotay sighed. Coffee, he should have known.
B'Elanna breathed in the sweet heady scent of the air around her. The surrounding area contained fruit trees and root vegetables, but interspersed with these were beautiful large petaled flowers, coloured in every hue under the sun.
They sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees that hung overhead adding a majestic beauty to the planet.
B'Elanna saw a flower that was the exact colour of Tom's eyes and she looked up instinctively to see if she was right. She found that Tom was studying her closely. She looked into his deep blue eyes and found that she was right.
Tom had been studying her reaction to the planet. It was beautiful, made ever more beautiful, he thought, by the way she smiled at the scenery around them. Her smile lit up any place, and here was no exception.
"It's gorgeous," Tom said, looking straight at her.
B'Elanna's smile grew wider. "Shut up Tom," she told him, but she didn't sound angry.
"To work, Lieutenant," he said as he walked over to the nearest tree to examine its fruit.
B'Elanna, too, set to work.
They worked for two hours, teasing each other, bantering happily, and just generally enjoying each other's company, and then they stopped for lunch.
Finding many of the plants there edible they decided to try them. Their lunch consisted of some root vegetables they had found and some of the fruit. B'Elanna's favourite was a plum sized fruit that tasted like strawberries and cherries at the same time.
B'Elanna looked a lot more relaxed, Tom noticed, but she still looked tired.
"B'Elanna, how long had you been working in Engineering this morning before you had breakfast?" he asked her, concerned.
"I didn't, I had breakfast first," she told him. At Tom's puzzled look she elaborated. "I was in my quarters before I had breakfast, I was reading."
Tom was relieved that she had at least been resting rather than working because she couldn't sleep. "More Klingon romance novels?" he asked with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.
"No actually, I was reading a Terran fantasy story." B'Elanna stated.
Tom had read lots of fantasy stories, his favourite sort of book. "Which one?" he asked.
"I doubt you've heard of it," B'Elanna told him.
"Pawn Of Prophecy," she told him, "By David Eddings."
Tom's face lit up, one of his favourites. "I love that book," he exclaimed. "Have you read the others too?" he asked her.
"No," B'Elanna answered him, surprised that he had read the book.
"You have to, they're good."
"I will," B'Elanna told him. Besides, she thought. If I can't sleep for the next week I'll have plenty of time.
They talked for a good half-hour about the book and others that one or other of them had read before starting to work again.
Three hours later they were ready to beam up to the ship. Tom looked at his companion. She looked very relaxed, and happy too. He was pleased, they had worked quite hard as well and hoped that if she was tired and relaxed she would sleep well. He was worried about her.
They were about to beam up when Tom stopped her.
He walked over a rainbow-coloured patch of flowers and picked a deep red flower.
He offered it to B'Elanna. "It will go with that top you were wearing the other night," he told her.
B'Elanna smiled, but couldn't resist teasing. "You expect to see me in it again do you?" she asked.
"In it, out of it, whatever!" Tom said dodging B'Elanna's fists.
"Tom Paris, come here!"
Tom ran off and she chased him, she was not going to let him get away with that remark.
"All I want is my flower, Tom," she said sweetly.
Tom wasn't falling for it. He continued to run. They ran around until they reached the beam out site. Both of them stopped for they could not run any farther because they were laughing so much, although B'Elanna was still resolved to get Tom back, she would just have to get him at another time, and so much the better.
Tom held the flower by the tip of the stem, getting the sticky sap over his fingers, and handed the flower to B'Elanna. "Your flower," he announced grandly, and B'Elanna was surprised it wasn't accompanied by a fanfare.
"Thank you," she acknowledged.
Tom's face grimaced. "Ugh, the sap from that flower is disgu, ah..." he stopped mid-sentence and doubled over in pain.
B'Elanna was at his side instantly, her flower forgotten. He was not putting this on, as she had first suspected. "Torres to Voyager. Medical emergency. Beam Lieutenant Paris and I directly to Sickbay."
The Doctor watched as two figures shimmered from blue sparkles to people. Lieutenants Paris and Torres, in actual fact.
It was apparent that it was Tom who was in pain so he hauled the Lieutenant onto the bed and scanned him with a medical tricorder.
"What have you done this time, Mr Paris?" he asked.
"We don't know!" B'Elanna exclaimed.
"Well, there's traces of a toxin in his system. 50ccs of alethoproxin should neutralise it, although it will leave you very drowsy," the Doctor told them.
"Ok," Tom got out, "Check B'Elanna too."
"All in good time," replied the Doctor, as he injected the alethoproxin.
He then turned to B'Elanna and scanned her.
"Well, there is no sign of any toxins in your body Lieutenant, you are free to go." The doctor informed her. "You may take Mr Paris with you, he made some help getting to his quarters because of the side effects of the alethoproxin."
"Thank you Doctor," B'Elanna thanked the physician. "Come on, Tom," she helped him up.
"Bye Doc," Tom said over his shoulder as they left.
When they reached Tom's quarters B'Elanna opened the door and guided Tom to his bed. She helped him remove his boots and he lay down.
He was obviously fighting to keep his eyes open, so B'Elanna started for the door.
"Wait," Tom said none too clearly.
B'Elanna turned around. "Goodnight, Tom," she said and turned back to the door.
"Wait," Tom said again. "Stay, please, just for a little while," his words were almost unintelligible now, but B'Elanna knew what he had said.
Her mind screamed at her to go, but she told herself to shut up and she settled in the chair beside Tom's bed. "Okay, until you fall asleep."
Tom smiled. "If you're going to leave that soon then why don't you come and sit over here," he tried to pat the bed next to where he was too tired. "I don't bite," he told her.
"You don't!" B'Elanna said softly under her breath, "Shame."
"What?" Had she said what he thought she had said. He hoped so.
"Fine." She moved to sit beside him.
"Oh," Tom's eyes close and he opened them again. He wanted to stay awake for as long as possible, with B'Elanna sitting beside him. He yawned.
This caused B'Elanna to yawn as well, and she suddenly felt very tired.
She looked down at Tom whose eyes had closed and was now asleep.
She knew she should go, but she was tired and comfortable where she was and no one would know if she rested there for a couple of minutes.
Tired and comfortable as she was she closed her eyes, and fell asleep.
'The time is 0500hrs,' the computer's monotone voice sounded in the room.
Tom groaned and slowly became aware of the fact that he was not the only person in the room, not the only person in the bed.
They were lying spooned together, Tom had his arms wrapped around her, she was definitely female, and her hands were resting on his.
Tom suddenly realised just who it was... B'Elanna.
At that moment she shot up and looked at him. She's going to kill me! he thought.
"B'Elanna..." Tom started.
"Oh Gods! Tom, I'm sorry. I must have fallen asleep..." B'Elanna cut in but Tom silenced her.
"Ssshh, B'Elanna," he said trying to calm her down and ease her state of obvious embarrassment. "It's ok, honest." Hell, he didn't mind at all, as far as he was concerned it could happen every night, but he decided that telling her that would not be the wisest course of action. He was counting his lucky stars that she hadn't taken action against the fact that he had put his arms around her, although he had been asleep at the time.
"I should go," B'Elanna said getting up, but Tom held her back.
B'Elanna paused. Tom didn't seem phased by it; he didn't seem to mind.
Tom put his finger under her chin and tilted her head so that he could see her face.
He smiled at her, trying to reassure her. "At least I didn't bite," he joked, wanting her to smile. The corners of her mouth curved up slightly and Tom's smile grew wider.
Tom noticed that she looked more rested, and realised that she must have slept through the whole night, if she had woken up she would have left.
"You slept the whole night through," he told her.
"I guess I did," she said quietly.
"You always seem to fall asleep when I'm around," he said brightly, trying to cheer her up, she still wasn't happy.
"You're just a boring person," she told him, teasing him back and appreciating his efforts to lighten the mood. Then B'Elanna suddenly realised that what he had said, as a joke, was actually true.
Tom grinned, but the smile was short-lived when he saw her face become concerned again.
"Lord, I wish my mother was here," he told her, wishing the thought for the second time in so many days. "She would know what to say."
B'Elanna smiled at this, in a perverse way she was glad that Tom was uncomfortable too. "If your mother was here I doubt we'd be in this situation," she told him.
Tom laughed, "Then I don't want her here, I like having you all to myself," he stated.
B'Elanna raised an eyebrow. "Really," she said, "I'll have to remember that."
Tom was surprised at her reaction, but pleased; she wasn't pushing him away. Encouraged by this he leaned forward slightly, "And if my mother was here I wouldn't be able to do this," he leaned in closer still and touched his lips to hers.
"I'll have to remember that as well," she told him when they broke apart, and she laughed at the look of pure shock on Tom's face; he had not expected that one.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"Your face," she told him.
"Oh, I'm glad my face is a source of amusement to you!" he exclaimed indignantly.
"The look on your face," she elaborated.
Tom put his hands on his face. "Where? Where is there a look on my face?" he asked with mock seriousness.
B'Elanna laughed again.
"You have a beautiful laugh," Tom told her.
B'Elanna looked down again. "I don't," she muttered.
"You do," Tom said. "And I want to hear it more often, it will make the entire crew very happy."
"Tom..." B'Elanna said, a warning note to her voice. "What are you planning?"
"Nothing," he said innocently. "Well, almost nothing," he changed his mind when she looked at him disapprovingly.
"What?" she asked him.
"Are you ticklish?" he asked and without giving her a chance to reply he started to tickle her sides.
She retaliated and pushed him onto his back tickling him and trying to keep his hands off her.
They were both laughing when B'Elanna caught Tom's wrists with her hands.
She looked down at him triumphantly; their faces were centimetres apart. Tom moved his face up to capture her lips and B'Elanna moved her head down.
She released his wrists and put her hands on either side of his face. Tom moved his hands also, one to cup her cheek and one wrapped around her back, pulling her closer to him.
Lack of oxygen forced them to break apart. They stared at each other in silence, breathing deeply, until they both spoke together.
B'Elanna could see a desire in Tom's eyes that she had never seen so strongly before. He normally kept it almost hidden, but not now.
He had dropped the mask he habitually wore and she could see everything he was thinking and feeling in his eyes, but most of all love.
She knew that he loved her but she had never realised how much. She had feelings for him too, but the fact that did not know quite how deep his feelings ran had stopped her from acting on her own.
Tom reached a hand up to her face and stroked her cheek gently. "You're beautiful," he told her, "And don't tell me that you're not because you are."
"So are you," she whispered.
Tom kissed her cheek before sitting up, pulling her to sit beside him.
B'Elanna looked at the chronometer. It was now about 0530hrs. "Do you normally get up at this time?" she asked him.
Tom grinned sheepishly. "No, I just forgot to tell the computer to wake me at six, instead of five. It was set for five yesterday because I had to see Bateheart before shift."
They sat together like that until 0615hrs, talking and laughing.
One thing was for certain: things were going to be different.
Kathryn was sat in her seat at the head of the table waiting to start the morning briefing. Everyone was talking amongst themselves, even Tuvok, who was trying to explain something to Seven after Neelix had been unsuccessful.
She glanced at Chakotay, smiled and rolled her eyes. Chakotay had not been expecting this and so he started laughing. This got the attention of everyone and so Kathryn started the meeting. Her face was straight but her eyes were smiling.
The Doctor gave his report on the previous day's events.
Kathryn turned to Tom. "Mr. Paris, have you been able to determine how exactly the toxin entered your system?"
"Yes, there were some flowers down on the planet and I thought they might be grown in the airponics bay so I picked one." He bent the truth slightly, he didn't want to say 'I picked a flower for B'Elanna' as that would most likely destroy everything that had happened between the two of them that morning, and then some. "Some of the sap got on my fingers and we think it was the sap that contains the toxin."
"That would explain the fact that there were no animals there, the herbivores would eat the flowers and therefore the toxins, and the carnivores would eat animals that had eaten the toxins, and omnivores would eat both." B'Elanna added.
"Very well. We'll send down an away team to check your theory. If there's nothing else then you're dismissed," Kathryn concluded.
As they left Tom came to walk beside B'Elanna. "You free for lunch?" he asked her.
"No..." B'Elanna started.
"B'Elanna, don't do this," Tom begged her, "Don't push me away."
"Tom," B'Elanna placed a gentle hand on his arm, "I'm not free for lunch because we are running a warp core full diagnostic this morning, all engineers will have to be there. But I'm free for dinner, my quarters, 1900hrs?"
"I'll be there," Tom assured her with a soft smile.
As he turned to go onto the bridge B'Elanna called out to him, "Have a good day!"
Surprised he turned around to see her laughing quietly at his startled reaction. He smiled and went onto the bridge.
The away team sent down to investigate the flowers consisted of Ensign Katia Trayani and Ensign Drakan Taylor.
They beamed down to the site that B'Elanna and Tom had beamed down to the previous day and they wore contamination gloves, so they could handle the flowers without becoming ill.
As they worked, they started talking and teasing each other.
"So," Katia asked. "How did it go?"
"How did what go?" Drakan asked, feigning innocence.
"How did it go with Lisa, did you ask her out?" Katia inquired.
Drakan smiled widely. "Yes, I did."
"Oh, you're forthcoming with information today," Katia said sarcastically. "What did she say?"
"She said it was about time. She'd been wondering how long it would take me to pluck up the courage and ask her out, because it was obvious that I was interested apparently, and she saw right through me."
Katia laughed. "Well, it was obvious. You should be pleased anyway, it shows that she thinking about you, and if she didn't like you she wouldn't have noticed."
"Just call me Cupid!" Katia exclaimed with a giggle.
Drakan laughed as she held an imaginary bow and pretended to release an arrow in his direction. "Would you like to know what else she said?"
Katia turned to him, a serious expression on her face. "Of course."
"She told me that I reminded her of Richard Leotoe."
"Why?" Katia asked, visibly blushing. She knew why. She had noticed the looks she had been receiving from Rich.
"You know why, Kati. And, correct me if I'm wrong, you're pleased with the attention."
"I'd be happier with the attention if he actually talked to me instead of gazing at me from across the room," Katia stated, indignantly.
"Why don't you make the first move and go and talk to him then?"
"If he wants to talk to me then he can walk over himself. He has legs!"
"You've noticed have you?"
Katia shot him a withering look.
"Besides, you have legs too. Why can't you walk over to him?"
"Because what? Is he meant to do all the talking because he's the man?"
"That'd be nice!"
"Katia!" He moved over to her. "I'm temporarily taking your position as Cupid," he told her, levelling the imaginary bow at her and letting the imaginary arrow fly.
"You missed," Katia told him, monotone.
Drakan said nothing; and eventually Katia felt the need to fill the silence. "Oh Fine! I'll talk to him. Maybe," she relented. "He just better say yes!"
"Like he'd say anything else," Drakan muttered quietly.
They continued collecting flowers.
At 1859hrs that evening B'Elanna checked her appearance in the mirror as the door chime rang.
"Come in," she called out.
Tom Paris stepped through the door looking as gorgeous as ever, in a pair of jeans and a jumper, that made him look smart but casual at the same time.
"Gooood evening, Lieuten..." he trailed off when he saw B'Elanna. She was dressed in a pair of black combats and light blue T-shirt, with a low neckline. Nothing fancy, but Tom thought she looked breathtaking.
"You look gorgeous, B'Elanna," he told her, regaining control of himself again and, by placing one foot in front of the other, making his way over to her.
"Thank you," B'Elanna said with a smile, standing on tiptoes, intending to kiss his cheek softly.
Tom, however, turned his head, just at that moment, and a soft kiss on the cheek became and soft kiss on the lips, and that soon progressed from a gentle kiss.
"Tom," B'Elanna said somewhat breathlessly. "Do you think that we should maybe eat first?"
"I'm not hungry," Tom told her, moving in for another kiss.
"It's pizza, Tom," she told him, smiling as his eyes lit up. She took his hand and led him to the table.
"Pepperoni pizza at that," Tom exclaimed. "B'Elanna, I love you!"
Tom suddenly realised what he had said when he saw the shocked expression on B'Elanna's face. He cursed himself; she wasn't ready for that, you idiot!
"Do you really mean that, Tom?" B'Elanna asked.
"More than anything, B'Elanna," Tom told her sincerely, looking into her eyes.
"I love you too," B'Elanna whispered, as she moved closer to him, wrapping her arms around him and enjoying the feel of Tom's arms encircle her in response.
Tom's grin was a mile wide. He planted a feather light kiss on her brow ridges, which caused her to look up at him and he saw the beautiful, soft smile on her face, which looked more peaceful than he had ever seen her face look before.
"What? Oh yeah," he said, releasing her from his arms, so that she could sit down.
They ate their dinner, talking about little things on the ship, and speculating about the love lives of their crewmates and their commanding officers, who, the both agreed, had something deeper than friendship between them, although whether they had acted upon it was anyone's guess.
After they had finished dinner, Tom rose and extended his hand, which B'Elanna took, and led her to the couch. He sat down and pulled her into his lap, where B'Elanna sat quite comfortably, needing no persuasion. She cuddled next to him feeling safe and warm in his arms.
"This is nice," she told him.
"This. You and me, together," B'Elanna said as she stifled a yawn, her restful night the previous night had not made up for the previous few nights of sleeplessness.
"It is nice, B'Elanna, but you need your sleep," Tom told her, rising and taking her through into the bedroom, where she sat on the edge of the bed and kicked off her shoes.
B'Elanna settled down under the covers and Tom bent down to kiss her goodnight. "Sleep well."
Tom moved towards the door but B'Elanna grabbed his hand and held him back. "Stay?" she asked him. "I won't sleep otherwise."
"You will," Tom said softly.
"No, I won't. Like you said this morning, the only times in the past few days I've slept is when you've been with me."
"B'Elanna, I was kidding."
"I know you were, but it was true."
"Just humour me."
"Ok." Tom wasn't going to argue anymore, if she didn't mind then he'd hold her while she slept, and he couldn't think of anywhere else he'd rather be.
Tom kicked of his shoes and climbed in next to B'Elanna. He pulled her close to him and enveloped her in his arms. B'Elanna snuggled closer to him and closed her eyes. When Tom saw her slip into a peaceful sleep, he closed his eyes, waiting for sleep to claim him also.
Now it was three times in as many days that B'Elanna had fallen asleep in his arms and his last thought before he crossed into unconsciousness was that this felt natural and right and was the way he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
Entangled in each other's arms, they slept.