~~~~But he had always told the truth
~~~~Lord, he was an honest man
~~~~And Brandy does her best to understand.

Early in the morning, just as the sky was lightening, a happy Tom Paris
approached the Liberty. Normally at this time of the morning, the ship
would be quiet. Instead, he found a hive of activity.

"Bout time you showed up!" Param called out.

Tom looked over to see the young Bajoran had his arms full of cables and
jogged over and relieved Param of some of his burden. "What do you mean?"
the pilot asked. "What's going on?"

"If you had been around, you would have known. Chakotay has ordered us to
prepare to leave the planet by this time tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?! I thought we had a least another week?"

"Apparently we've received word from the front that they need our
assistance," Param told Tom.

"Where's the Captain?"

"Last I knew he was down in engineering. Why?"

Tom passed his armload back to Param, who almost stumbled under the return
of the weight. "There's some business I have to attend to. I'll be back in
time, don't worry."

* * * * *

B'Elanna was just getting back to the bar when some of the overnight guest
were leaving. Alini and Trini in the hall upstairs bid their customers
goodbye with lazy kisses. When the men pulled away from them, the women
noticed B'Elanna heading toward her room at the end of the hall.

"Late night, Torres?" Alini called out, one hand on her hip.

B'Elanna's lips curled upward slightly, but she didn't comment.

"You go out with that pilot again, B'Elanna?" Trini asked, ignoring the
sullen expression on the other prostitute's face. "What'd you do this time,
to be coming back so late?" Her voice left little doubt as to what she
expected the pair had done.

B'Elanna remained silent while she struggled with the door's ancient locking
system. Meanwhile, Alini had moved closer to her, placing her arm across
the doorway to bar B'Elanna from entering the room. Alini was either brave
or stupid - B'Elanna assumed the latter.

"Yes, little engineer, what did you do? Engage in mad, passionate sex under
the stars?" Ani teased, not knowing how close to the truth she was.

B'Elanna turned to them. "If you must know, we had a picnic and swam in a
stream." She turned back to the door to work with the lock. "Then we had
mad, passionate sex under the stars."

Trini smiled, and Alini scowled.

"I don't believe it," Alini remarked.

"What don't you believe? That we made love, not that you'd know anything
about making love as opposed to having sex, or that we went swimming?"
B'Elanna challenged.

Alini spun on her heel away from B'Elanna's door and back toward her own

"Good for you, B'Elanna. It's good to see you happy, and it's good to hear
someone speak back to Alini," Trini replied. "Your pilot seems like a nice

B'Elanna nodded. "Yes, he is." She tucked the present Tom had given her
under her arm and opened her door. (How many men, would think to buy their
girl a radiometric converter instead of flowers?}

* * * * * *

"Open up!" Tom Paris yelled, pounding on the heavy wooden door.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" someone from inside finally called out. "Keep the
noise down!" The door creaked open to reveal a small man who had obviously
been aroused from a heavy sleep. His dark hair was in wild array and he
needed a shave. "Tom Paris, what are you doing here?"

"Our ship has been given orders to depart by this evening. I've come for my
pay," Tom explained.

"At this hour?"

"I didn't want to wake you, but I won't have another chance to come."

"Gobo, come back to bed!" a woman's voice cried out.

"I'll be up soon, desert blossom!" he called out. Gobo smiled and shrugged.
"My wife's insatiable. What can I say?"

"I know what you mean," Tom replied knowingly.

"You know my wife!?!?" The little man's eyes lit with rage.

"Oh, no, no." the pilot reassured him hands raised. "It's just that I've
met a woman like that. They are a rare treasure. You are a fortunate man."

Gobo smiled his chest swelled with pride and nodded his dark head knowingly.
His anger forgotten. "What is it you want, Tom Paris?"

"I told you, my pay. We have to pull out tonight, and I have plans for the


"I'm coming, dearest!"

"I'll be right back, Tom Paris. Wait here." True to his word, Gobo came
back with a pouch of luma. "Here you go, my friend, and you'll notice that
I added a little extra as a bonus because you've worked so hard. I wish you
well, and if you ever are looking for any more work, please come see me."

"I will. Thanks!"


* * * * *

Tom's next stop was at one of the kiosks that he and B'Elanna had visited
during their night at the cafe. He recalled that at the time she had paid
particular attention to a braided chain of fine Palmat silver. If he was
going to leave, Tom thought, he was going to make sure that B'Elanna had
something to remember him by, and he knew that this necklace was the perfect
gift. Paris was also aware that according to Klingon tradition*, that a gift
of adornment could be considered a commitment to the future. It would be
fitting he thought considering the bite she had given him the night before.
He knew to a Klingon what a bite on the face signified. Remembering the
moment, he fingered the bite mark as he approached the kiosk. As he neared,
he noticed the owner of the kiosk was just setting up for the morning's

"Good morning, friend, can I help you?" the owner called out.

Tom looked up at the thin man.

"I think so, I was here with my friend the other day and she was
particularly fond of a silver necklace you had on display," the pilot

"Your friend, she was the one with the..." he motioned toward his forehead.

"Yeah, what of it?" Tom jingled his money bag to signify that he intended
to do important business. Even with the Palmat's superstitions, they valued
money almost as much as a Ferengi.

"Nothing...nothing at all, it's just that I remember when she came in," he
explained reaching over to one of the display cases. "I think she was
looking at this one." He withdrew a long, braided silver necklace and held
it up for inspection.

Tom admired the quality workmanship. "It's beautiful."

"Made from the finest silver. It'll never tarnish or lose its shine."

Tom took the chain from the other man's hands. It was perfect. "How much?"

"Twenty-five luma."

"Eighteen," Tom countered.


"Twenty-one and you throw in that holo-locket." Tom pointed to a oval locket
that was displayed in another case.

"It's a deal. You drive a hard bargain, stranger. Lucky for you it's so
early in the morning. I'm not so relenting in the afternoon."

Tom laughed. "Thanks, I hope she'll like it."

"She will, after all it'll be a gift from you."

* * * * * *

Chakotay walked onto the bridge and noted that preparations were well
underway. At this rate, he mused, they'd depart ahead of schedule. But
where was their pilot? "Param," he called out, "Where's Paris?"


" know...our pilot."

"I saw him briefly this morning. He said something about unfinished
business, but he said that he'd be back before we left. We tried to raise
him on his commbadge, but we have having problems with communications."

"Well this ship isn't waiting any longer for him to return. There's still
work to be done. Param, you and Nicholls go find Romeo."

"Aye, sir. Ah, sir?

"Yes, Param?"

"Who's Romeo?"

* * * * * *

B'Elanna was just entering the bar when she saw Tom Paris come through the

"B'Elanna, I have to talk to you!" he called out.

She approached him. "Now?"

"There's no time." He grabbed her hand and pulled B'Elanna along after him,
out of the bar.

"What's so important?" she asked.

"We've been ordered back to the front," Tom explained.

"So soon? I thought you had another week or so before you had to leave?"
B'Elanna couldn't disguise the disappointment in her voice.

"Me too." Tom's tone of voice reflected his own sadness. "The war must be
heating up. By this time tomorrow we'll be gone, and I knew if I didn't see
you now, I might not have another opportunity before we left."

"I'm glad you were able to find the time."

Tom dug into an inner shirt pocket and pulled out a small box. "I didn't
want to leave before I gave you this."

"But you already gave me the converter last night." she argued.

"That was for your ship. This is for you," he explained and placed the box
in her hands. "Open it."

With trembling hands, B'Elanna removed the blue paper that covered the
oblong box and then pried open the box. In the morning sunlight, the
necklace that lay inside sparkled brightly. Looking up she saw how the
pilot's eyes shone in anticipation of her reaction.

"You shouldn't have, Tom."

"I just wish I could have done more."

"It's lovely. It's the one that I was looking at after we went to the

"I know," he replied. "Let me help you put it on."



B'Elanna closed the box. "I can't keep this. It's not that I don't love
it--I do. It's just..."


{He knew? If he knew of the significance of this gift, he might know about
the bite.} That's why I can't keep it," she explained holding the box out to
Tom for him to take. "In Klingon tradition, this is equivalent to an
engagement ring."

"Oh, I know," he remarked and pushed the box back into her hands. "I also
know that when a Klingon bites someone on the face, it means that they claim
that person as their mate."

Brown eyes widened "I can't hold you to a promise of this magnitude,"
B'Elanna replied. "I won't do it. I bit you in the heat of passion. I

"Responded instinctively. Something inside of you--probably your Klingon
side--knew that we are meant to be," Tom clarified. "Almost from the first
time I saw you, I knew that you were something special. That you were
someone that would always be part of me." Tom took the box from her hands
and removed the necklace, and slipped the long chain over her dark head.
Carefully he adjusted the locket so it lay properly against her stomach. He
knew the chain was long when it bought it, but didn't know how long it would
be on B'Elanna's petite frame until she actually wore it. It looked
wonderful, he thought.

"I'll wear it proudly," B'Elanna vowed.

"And I'll proudly wear this." Tom touched the scar that was starting to
form on his cheek.

"I'll wait for you, Tom Paris."

"And I'll return, I promise." The pilot cradled her face between his palms
memorizing her exquisite features. "Kiss me, B'Elanna. I have to go before
the Captain sends someone looking for me. I'm in enough trouble as it is."

Needing no further prompting, B'Elanna stood up on her toes, and encircled
her arms around the pilot's neck. Their lips crushed together and their
tongues entangled, each wanting to make this goodbye kiss a lasting memory,
for both knew that it might be a very long time before they were together

Breaking from the kiss, Tom looked down on B'Elanna once more. She smiled
bravely and he returned the grin looking very satisfied with himself, like
he had just made an important decision. Lowering his head to hers once
again, he avoided her swollen lips and instead tilted her face to one side
and deftly bit her cheek.

B'Elanna was surprised at Tom's action and her hand flew up to her cheek to
assess the damage. She never had expected him to mark her--to visually
declare that she was his mate.

"Your blood is as sweet as the rest of you, B'Elanna Torres. I wish I had
time to taste the rest of you." A movement in the crowded street made Paris
look up and he spotted a couple of Maquis amongst the mob. "I'd like to
stay, but I have to go. Looks like the Captain has sent out the posse to
bring me back."

B'Elanna nodded.

"I promise we'll be together again--and B'Elanna, after I'm gone open the

The half-Klingon's hands grasped the pendant.

"Not now," he warned, "later."

He kissed her again, this time lightly on the lips and in the next instant
he was gone, blending into the crowd before the pair of Maquis could spot

Alone now, B'Elanna turned to face away from the crowd and pried open the
locket with trembling fingers. Cradling the heavier half in her palm, she
pressed a small button in the center of the locket. Immediately a small
hologram of Tom Paris appeared above the button. The little hologram smiled
softly, and even in this diminished size, B'Elanna noticed the sparkle of
the pilot's blue eyes. Looking at her, the hologram spoke: "B'Elanna, I
know we'll be together again, I can feel it inside me." The hologram's hand
pressed against his chest. "Until then, trust in fate and remember that I
love you. I love you only and always." The hologram then blew her a kiss
before it finally disappeared.

"Oh, Tom," B'Elanna breathed, and a tear rolled down her cheek.

* * * * *

Fingers danced over the helm as Tom Paris readied the Liberty for take-off.
By now, he thought, B'Elanna would have seen the hologram. He was glad that
the jewelry shop owner had talked him into buying this option--it was worth
every luma.