Title: One Little Word
Author: PJ in NH
Codes: 7, P/T
Part: 1/2 NEW
Synopsis: One little word can mean so much. Takes place sometime after Bride of Chaotica in the fifth season.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, & BLTS. Please notify me if you post anywhere else.
Note of Appreciation: Special thanks to my beta readers Ann Harding and Annie M. Thanks ladies, you helped make this story possible.
One Little Word
by PJ in NH
"Hey," B'Elanna said looking up from her dinner plate as Tom neared her table. Her eyes were heavily lidded from lack of sleep and an over abundance of work.
"Hey," he replied in turn and sat down in front of her. Listlessly, he picked up half of a green lix melon that she had left on her plate. He examined it half-heartedly and finally popped it into his mouth.
Seven, who was sitting two tables over trying to assimilate her meal, paid close attention to Voyager's lovebirds, but she was also puzzled. She took a spoonful of Neelix's daily special and painfully swallowed the pink gel-like substance, still contemplating Tom and B'Elanna's exchange.
"Good to see you in here today, Seven," Neelix chirped up. He had come out to the seating area to help clean up the tables. "How do you like my Gelatin Goulash today?"
The ex-Borg grimaced. "It is adequate."
"Well tomorrow, I'm baking a leken bean soup, that you'll like even better," the cook advised.
Seven pushed the last of her meal away from her. "I require an explanation."
Neelix looked at her and then to the untouched food on the plate. "Well first I clean the crab beetles then..."
"Not about the food," she said abruptly cutting him off. "About Lt. Torres and Ensign Paris."
Neelix looked over to the pair still sitting quietly together. He shrugged his shoulders. "What about Tom and B'Elanna? Everything looks fine."
"Before Mr. Paris joined B'Elanna, she looked up and said 'hey' and he replied 'hey' as well. Then they sat down like you see them now." She looked up at the Talaxian. "According to the definition I found in Voyager's databanks, 'H-A-Y' is a type of cut grass used as forage, or spelt 'H-E-Y' is an exclamation to call attention or to express pleasure, surprise, or bewilderment. I have eliminated the first definition, but even the word H-E-Y does not explain how they used the word. What did they mean?"
Neelix cupped his chin in his hand and contemplated the pair. Then he looked back at Seven opened his mouth a bit, closed it, and returned to observing the lieutenant and ensign. At that moment, B'Elanna yawned and she and Tom stood up. Tom placed his arm around B'Elanna's slumping shoulders and they slowly exited the mess hall. Finally, the Talaxian turned back to Seven.
"They are tired," he concluded.
"The word 'hey' means 'I am tired'?"
"That would be my guess, but if you want to know more, I'd suggest that you speak to Harry or maybe Captain Janeway or Chakotay. They would know more about it than I would. Earth Standard I have found to be very complicated. Not as difficult as the Koranari, but..." He noticed her look of impatience, it was difficult not to with two blue eyes staring at him and that raised Borg ocular implant. "Yes, speak with one of the other senior officers, but not Mr. Vulcan. He wouldn't know," he suggested again shaking his head sadly.
Seven stood up and took her food tray in her hands. "I will take you up on your suggestion. Thank you."
Watching her attractive form walk away, Neelix's gaze returned to where the pair had been seated and shook his head once again then returned to wiping up the tables.
Seven deposited her tray in the recycler, and exited the mess hall. Anticipating Tom and B'Elanna's destination, she took a left and picked up her pace. She took the turbolift to Deck 9 and proceeded towards Section 12. Before she was half-way to B'Elanna's quarters, she saw the couple up ahead. Being sure to maintain a safe distance behind them, she observed their actions.
In the relative privacy of the corridor, B'Elanna leaned her head against Tom's chest. Tom continued to support her with his arm around her, resting his head on the top of his mate's. If it weren't for their height difference, this position would have been tantamount to impossible to accomplish comfortably. Together they navigated the remaining distance to B'Elanna's cabin. Their pace was slow but sure, each supporting the other. After they entered the cabin, Seven stepped out from her position behind the corner.
"Apparently, 'hey' does mean that they are tired. But I will continue my observations."
The next morning, Seven reported for duty on the bridge. Today she was to coordinate her research in interstellar radiation with Harry before completing the assignment on her own. She approached the ops station and noticed that Tom was already speaking to his friend.
<This is a good time to practice the social skills the Doctor suggested. she thought. "Good morning, Ensign Kim, Ensign Paris." She nodded to each man.
Harry nodded back and smiled.
"Good morning yourself, Seven." Tom replied.
"You appear well rested," she added taking in his bright eyes and cheerful demeanor.
"That I am. And Seven, when we are away from the bridge it's Tom, remember?"
"Tom. I will not forget."
He smiled back offering her encouragement. "Well, better get back to my post before anyone shows up." He started to head back to the conn and had just seated himself when the door to the turbolift opened and the Captain and Commander Chakotay entered the bridge.
"I don't know how he does it," Harry whispered to Seven. "He can just sense when the Captain or Chakotay are about to make an appearance. Now, what was it you wanted to see me about?"
Seven explained her assignment and he offered her his advice.
She was just about to leave Kim's station when the turbolift opened again, this time depositing B'Elanna Torres on the bridge level. She walked down to the command center greeted the Captain and passed the First Officer a dataPADD containing her engineering report for the past week, then glanced down toward the helm.
Tom's blue eyes sparkled as if they held some secret and his mouth turned up slightly. "Hey."
"Hey," she replied. B'Elanna twitched her nose and a winked at the pilot. Then she dismissed herself from the Captain and Chakotay's presence and left to return to engineering.
"They did it again," Seven said in a low voice to Harry.
"They said the word 'hey' to each other."
"In the mess hall last night they had the same brief conversation, but Neelix explained to me that it meant that they were tired. I observed them and came to the same conclusion myself. This time though, it did not seem that they were overworked or suffering from lack of sleep. Explain."
Harry blushed slightly. He had observed the pair for a lot longer than Seven, and had known them even before they had become mates. "I think in this instance, they both meant that they had a good morning."
"A good morning?"
"Um..." he dropped his voice lower. "To be blunt, Seven. I would venture to guess that the 'hey' you heard meant roughly: I had a good time this morning, let's do it again sometime."
"They had intercourse and they both enjoyed the experience?" the ex-Borg replied even more bluntly than Harry.
"Ah...yeah...right." She never ceased to surprise him.
Chakotay and the Captain looked up at the ops station. Seven and Harry greeted them with a smile.
"Something's up," Chakotay whispered into the Captain's ear.
"I know, Seven just smiled."
"Maybe we imagined it?"
Janeway smiled herself.
"You should have heard them this morning," Sue Nicoletti said to her good friend, Ensign Nirene Chase as they sat having their lunch. It was a conversation that did not go unnoticed by Seven of Nine who sat behind them with Harry Kim. "They woke me up at 0500, I don't know whether to be upset or jealous."
Nirene chuckled, her short red hair bouncing along with the vibration of her laughter. "They were a bit loud were they?"
"A bit? They were so loud, at least B'Elanna was, that I could probably accurately tell you just how many times she...."
"Sssh," Nirene cautioned. "She and Tom just showed up. I suggest we continue this conversation elsewhere." Sue nodded and she and Nirene left the table.
"How many times B'Elanna did what?" Seven queried her lunch companion.
Harry had been drinking a glass of fruit juice and sputtered at her question sending droplets of the liquid all other his chest and the table. He coughed twice, and mopped his mouth and his uniform with his napkin. "Seven!"
Harry reddened considerably and leaned over the table, so what he was about to tell her wouldn't be heard by the rest of the diners.
"She came?" Seven said a bit too loudly. "Came where? Specify." The diners nearest to them chuckled.
"Seven," Harry hissed. "They had intercourse this morning, and she um...apparently achieved...um...sexual satisfaction."
"She climaxed," Seven stated matter-of-factly but this time managed to keep her voice low enough so only Harry could hear.
"Without a doubt."
"Then it appears that your theory this morning was correct."
Computer begin log.
"Ensign Kim and Mr. Neelix both appear to be correct. Apparently the word 'hey' has two meanings. One, I'm tired and require sleep. And, two, that the sex was fulfilling. Both meanings are very different. So different that I will have to continue to discreetly observe Mr. Par...ah..Tom and B'Elanna."
Computer end log.
Tuvok looked up abruptly from his computer console. "Captain, there are five vessels approaching Voyager at Warp 9.5"
Harry Kim's nimble fingers danced over the controls. Ultimately he looked up. "No response, Captain." He looked down one more time.
"They have armed and their shields are raised," Tuvok informed her.
"Initiate Red Alert. Mr. Tuvok, ready weapons."
The lights on the bridge dimmed and the red-alert beacon flashed.
"Lt. Torres, engine status."
B'Elanna at her position in Engineering promptly responded. "Warp core is at sixty-nine percent, Captain. The best I can give you is Warp 7."
"Tuvok, time until they intercept?"
"At their current rate of speed, five point eight minutes," the Vulcan replied stoically.
"Prepare weapons. Mr. Paris, evasive maneuvers!"
"Yes, ma'am," Tom promptly replied.
When they came within range of Voyager, the five alien ships immediately started firing their own version of a phaser. Despite repeated attempts to contact them, their attackers remained silent--deadly and silent.
"Shields are at forty-eight percent and falling," Tuvok reported.
"Captain, engines are maintaining at fifty-five percent but I don't know long it they will hold," Torres informed her.
"Suggestions?" Janeway called out.
Paris replied. "Captain, there is a meteor belt ten minutes from our current position. I think I could use those meteors to the ship's advantage, but..."
A volley of phaser fire buffeted off the failing shields, causing the shields to sputter and spark.
"But what, Mr. Paris?"
"But it would be a very rough ride. I would suggest that the ship be placed under a Class IV lock down, personnel included."
Janeway nodded her concurrence and immediately announced to the crew to initiate the Class IV procedure. All over the ship, equipment was secured and personnel belted themselves into their seats, including the pilot and the rest of the bridge staff.
"It's all yours, Tom," the Captain replied from the command center where she was strapped to her own seat. "Good luck."
Tom nodded and steered Voyager at her present top speed to the meteors. He called for assistance from Tuvok and Harry to keep him informed of the position of the ships, while he paid close attention to the layout of the meteors themselves. Performing maneuvers typically reserved for much smaller vessels, the pilot swung Voyager around the chunks of rock in an assortment of patterns. The inertial dampers and gravitational unit couldn't keep up with the dance Tom choreographed for the ship.
If it weren't for the Class IV preparations, many of the crew would have required medical treatment. As it was, after four hours of playing this cat and mouse game, two of the alien ships careened into each other, a third plowed into one of the meteors, and the fourth and fifth finally gave up the chase and left.
Bringing the ship to a stop on the other side of the meteor belt, Tom turned to the Captain.
A bedraggled slightly green Captain Janeway scrutinized her pilot. "Nice work, Mr. Paris, but you can stop grinning now." During the entire time the ship had been at Class IV, she had happened to notice that Tom Paris had a self-satisfied smile on his face whenever her turned his head to starboard or port. "Tom, you and Seven," she motioned towards the ex-Borg who had just unfastened her security belt her hair having fallen around her shoulders. "Go down to Engineering and see if you can provide some assistance. The rest of us will handle it up here."
Tom nodded and he and Seven of Nine exited the bridge.
"Your flying was sufficient," the ex-Borg said to the pilot on their way down.
The pilot raised both eyebrows and placed a hand over his heart. "Only sufficient? I was hoping that you'd say that it was exhilarating, stupendous, or inspired. Really, Seven, you wound me."
The door to the turbolift slid open at the Engineering level. "Voyager and her crew survived. Your piloting was of sufficient capability to achieve that result," she said to substantiate her claim.
"It apparently takes a lot to impress an ex-Borg," he quipped and walked past her and into the mayhem that was Engineering.
Tom went in search of B'Elanna, and Seven trailed behind. He found her surrounded by half a dozen of her engineers. She was issuing orders at a furious pace. Seeing a familiar blond head above the others, she looked at him, her eyes flashing with fury.
"Hey!" she all but shouted.
Paris, as Seven was now accustomed to, replied, "hey" in return.
Without being told, the pilot picked up a spare toolbox. "Come on, Seven, you can give me a hand with the navigation relays until B'Elanna can find time to give us something else to do."
They worked in silence for several minutes, finally Seven spoke. "Lt. Torres is upset."
"More liked pissed off," he remarked from his position beneath the relay console.
Tom pulled his head out. "Why? Because of all the mess down here. She blames me for it."
"Really, Seven, you have to develop better vocabulary skills," he joked.
<I am trying to increase my grasp of Earth Standard vocabulary. she thought.
Seeing her perplexed look, Tom sat up. A streak of grease ran from his temple to his chin. "It's like this, I flew the ship so I caused all this chaos down here for B'Elanna to fix. Irregardless of whether I did it to save the ship or not, she feels the need to blame someone and I'm the most likely target."
"It is illogical."
"She's half-human and half-Klingon, Seven. She doesn't have to be logical all the time and I can accept that. Hell, I know I'm not perfect. If it helps her to target her anger toward me to get the work done down here, so be it," he shrugged. "It's happened before and this certainly won't be the last time." Tom saw as worried a look as he had ever seen on Seven's face. "Really, it's okay. She'll come around. By this time tomorrow, it will be like it never happened."
"If you say so."
Tom smiled confidently. "I do. Now, let's get this bucket of bolts pulled back together again, so we can repair it again another day."
Dressed impeccably in a two-piece wool suit and a pair of black pumps, Seven stood beside Harry Kim outside Holodeck Two. Her hair had been pulled back on both sides and secured with silver hair combs. She was prepared to try and assimilate, yet again, the fine art of recreation. Her mind though was not on the trials and tribulations of Miss Constance Goodheart or the heroic actions of Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid, it was on the conversation she had had with Tom Paris the day before.
"I am becoming more confused," she confessed to Harry. "I heard another exchange between Ensign Paris and Lt. Torres yesterday in Engineering. They said 'hey' to each other again, but they were neither tired or...ahem...sexually fulfilled. Mr. Par...ah...Tom explained to me that B'Elanna was angry at him. Explain."
"I wasn't there, Seven, but some words can take on a variety of different meanings depending on the inflection you use when you say the words. There are some languages that are based solely on that alone."
Seven cocked her head to one side. "Species 481 were like that," she recalled. "But the Borg found them to be unworthy of assimilation."
Harry smiled and tapped the panel to the holodeck. "Hmm, seems like Tom's here but B'Elanna hasn't shown up yet."
"B'Elanna is participating in the Captain Proton program today?"
"Yes. After she was able to get the mess in Engineering cleared up last night, Chakotay put Joe Carey in charge of engineering for the afternoon. He then ordered B'Elanna to the holodecks for recreation and made her promise to go to bed early tonight." Harry punched a final button or two and the holodeck door slid open to reveal the black and white world of Captain Proton. The pair entered to find Captain Proton already seated at the helm.
"What do we have to do to save the universe today, Captain?" Buster Kincaid, alias Harry Kim, asked already in character.
Tom pivoted around on his stool. "Well, Dr. Chaotica and his brother Professor Disastro have kidnapped the President of Earth and it is our job to get him back home safe and sound."
"No slave girls?" Harry questioned.
"No, no slave girls, Harry," B'Elanna stated just after she entered the program.
She was clad in a white dress that almost trailed the ground covering her shapely legs. The top of the outfit was cut low to reveal a substantial amount of cleavage. The silky fabric clung to her body like a second skin from her waist to just above her knees where it finally flared out dramatically. The dress left no doubt as to her gender, in fact it accentuated her assets.
B'Elanna sauntered over to were Captain Proton now stood. Harry gratefully relished the view, and he was sure Tom liked what he saw as well if his friend's slack jaw was of any indication.
She cast her dark sultry eyes on the hero clad in leather. "Hey," she said huskily.
Tom gulped. "Hey," he returned in a voice an octave lower than usual. Then he growled.
"It seems that this costume could be cutting off your circulation," Tom remarked. "We should do something about that."
B'Elanna returned that growl with one of her own, grabbed her mate by the hand, and proceeded back towards the entry door.
"Harry, I'm leaving Captain Proton and his universe in your capable hands," Tom said, just before B'Elanna pulled him out of the holodeck.
Harry smiled and nodded, then he turned toward Seven. "I suppose you want another explanation?
Seven stared at him.
"The 'hey' this time was meant to convey an attraction between them. They are going to...um...you see..."
"They are going to have sex until Voyager rattles," Seven replied.
"Saving the Universe may have to wait for another day. Perhaps we would be of better service in warning the occupants of deck 4 and 9 to their imminent arrival."
Harry nodded. "You take B'Elanna's section, and I'll go to Tom's."
Then both began to exit the holodeck when Harry turned to her.
"Gee, but who's going to check all the other places along the way?" he asked.
Seven shrugged, and smiled slightly. "Hey."
Email is appreciated and craved. Please send it email@example.com.
Thanks, Ronda, for letting me use "Koranari" in this story!