Summary: Tom suggests that some changes in their relationship should be considered. B'Elanna is not so sure. This story is set sometime in the future.....
Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns the ship and all characters, but not their reactions to certain stimuli.
Changes (PG-13) by Annie M
Engineering was quiet, gamma shift were on duty and the skeleton crew did not have much to do tonight except monitor and regulate the systems. They had not had any major repairs to deal with for the last couple of weeks: which made a change.
Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, chief engineer, sat yawning over data pads in her little office. She did not need to be here, but she found it comforting to be around worp equations and texts on matter anti-matter theory. These were things she could readily understand. There were no hidden agenda behind mathematics, unlike some people, she mused.
B'Elanna was actually pretty tired and the only reason she had not gone to her quarter's for some well earned shut-eye, was because of her sleeping partner, whom she knew would be curled up in bed now, or sitting up waiting for her.
She did not want to face him yet, she did not want to fight with him again. B'Elanna, laughed at herself - she was actually trying to avoid a confrontation.
They had been arguing on and off for the last four days, they just couldn't seem to agree about anything. Tom Paris, her partner, thought she was being ridiculous. She, in turn, thought he was being unreasonable. And so they would argue continuously, all the way to bed. Although their disagreement seemed to have no effect on their lovemaking. That's not true, B'Elanna thought, there lovemaking since their argument had seemed even more passionate than was usual. Tom had been a little rougher with her and she found that she kind of liked it.
She yawned and stretched, thinking about Tom's hands and lips on her body. Maybe I should just go home and face him, she thought. I know we can work it out, I just need him to understand how I feel about this.
How do I feel about this?
Tom Paris tossed and turned in bed. He couldn't sleep and he knew why: B'Elanna wasn't here beside him. B'Elanna wasn't here beside him because she was still angry with him. B'Elanna was still angry with him so she was hiding out in engineering. Damn, he was so stupid. He should have known she might react like this. How the hell could I know she would react like that? I only asked her a question. Okay, it was an important question, admittedly, but still, did she have to start cursing at him in Klingonese?
He heard the doors hiss open to their quarters, listened to her padding around silently. She made her way to the bathroom in the dark, and he could hear water running briefly and eventually felt the bed dip slightly as she crawled under the sheets next to him.
'Hi.' He greeted her quietly.
'Hi.' she answered 'I thought you were asleep.'
Tom didn't answer he just rolled over to face her and stared at her earnestly. B'Elanna hated it when he did that, actually she loved it. No. She decided, she hated it. She squirmed under his gaze.
'Tom....' she pleaded.
'I only want what you want, B'Elanna.' he whispered to her, then lay back on the bed, careful not to touch any part of her sensual flesh. He was torturing her: no, he was torturing himself. Tom could feel his erection growing so he turned on his side away from her, before she could notice.
'I don't want things to change between us.' B'Elanna stated. She was still lying on her back, oblivious to the aroused state of her lover.
'Why would this change things?' Tom asked, he knew he sounded annoyed.
'It just happens, Tom.'
'That's not an answer, that's a kop-out.'
'It's a shitty excuse, B'Elanna. If you're scared just say so.'
She was quiet for several moments.
'I'm terrified.' she blurted out.
Tom turned over and pulled her into his strong arms. 'It'll be okay.' he soothed.
'How can you say that?' she was pleading again.
'Because I love you and you love me. Because I can't imagine a life without .you. You mean everything to me B'Elanna, don't you know that?'
'I suppose.' she whispered into his chest. 'But, marriage? We've been living together forever, what do we need to get married for?'
'I guess I just want the universe to know what you mean to me. I want everyone we meet to know that I belong to you and that you belong to me. Is that so bad?' Tom's initial exasperation at B'Elanna's question almost made him want to shout at her, but as he went on his voice was no more than a whisper against her hair.
'No.' she quietly admitted. Pulling away from him, so that she could look up into his face, she continued. 'Marriage doesn't work for everyone Tom,......my mother.....' B'Elanna paused and looked away from Tom's searing, serious gaze.
'You're not your mother B'Elanna. And I'm not your father.'
He gently turned her face towards his and lightly stroked her cheek. 'I don't know why it didn't work out between them, but it had nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with how I feel about you. I want a life with you B'Elanna. I want kids with you, and to make love with you, fight with you, make up with you, laugh with you, work with you. I want to be with you always, B'Elanna.'
Although B'Elanna was facing him she could not look at Tom. His words were too much for her, they ripped through all the walls and barriers she thought she needed to protect herself from being hurt.
She knew Tom loved her, he had proved it often enough in the past, but this confession he had made went straight to her soul.
This was what terrified her. His need, his love. Could she ever love him as much as he loved her?
Sure, she'd been the one to confess that she loved him first, but she wasn't romantic, or very feminine and she certainly didn't see herself as wifely - not in the Earth/human way - she was just B'Elanna Torres, chief engineer of a starship. Just doing the best she could. Was it enough? could it ever be enough?
'I don't think I'm worthy of you.' B'Elanna whispered, her eyes flicking over Tom's face. 'I'm too hostile and impatient. No tact.' she continued miserably. Tom reached up and pulled her head down to rest on his chest, sighing deeply as he brought his arms around her in a comforting embrace, gently stroking her back.
Over the course of their relationship Tom had noticed that B'Elanna seemed to suffer these crisis of self confidence every once in a while - and he used to think he had low self esteem.
His heart tore inside when he thought about the past she must have had. She had told him some of it, her father leaving when she was five years old. Her poor relationship with her mother, growing up on a human colony, where she tried to hide her forehead so that she might 'fit in'. He knew that she had experienced a lot more hurt and rejection than she had ever told him about, which she tried to hide under an exterior of brusqueness and hostility.
B'Elanna just wasn't able to see herself as anything but a competent engineer. She was so vulnerable, like a bleeding wound that wouldn't heel. Tom had made a promise to himself a long time ago that he would do everything he could to protect her and shield her from hurt and harm. Not so much in the physical sense, he knew on that score she was more than able to handle herself. Her emotions were another thing entirely.
Her self confidence had grown since she had come aboard Voyager and she had been made chief engineer. People skills she never realised she possessed had been utilised, she had made friends, good friends on board the ship, and yet she always had doubts about her capabilities. Doubts she wouldn't share with anyone except Tom. What to do? Tom thought.
'Do you love me?' Tom asked quietly, still stroking B'Elanna's back.
'Yes.' She replied simply.
'Trust me?' He could feel her head nodding in affirmation against his chest.
'Do you want us to be together?' Tom continued his gentle interrogation of his
B'Elanna pulled herself closer to Tom's body, trying ease the tension in her own. 'So much it hurts sometimes.' she whispered. 'I don't want to lose you, Tom.'
'You won't ever lose me' he assured her 'I'm here for you until my heart stops beating. Hey,' he teased 'and probably a lot longer than that.'
B'Elanna laughed softly against him through her tears, she had been crying quietly since her last words to him. Tom pulled one of her hands up to his face and gently started to kiss her fingers.
'We don't have to get married, if you don't want to, but I do want a life with you, B'Elanna. Do you want that too?'
'I want everything with you, Tom. Everything. Even the part about babies.' Tom could hear the humour returning to her voice.
They lay there quietly for several minutes, thoughts of their future and the life they could share together creating an intimate silence. B'Elanna moved slightly against Tom's body.
'Could we have a small wedding Tom?'
'What ever you want, B'Elanna. What ever you want.'
B'Elanna raised herself up and pressed her lips to his. The kiss was gentle then deepened and became passionate. Tom broke the kiss and looked into those brown eyes, they were shining with tears and he kissed them away. They embraced and B'Elanna started to nibble at his ear lobe, while running her hands down the length of Tom's well defined body.
'Feeling hostile?' Tom asked smugly as he pinched at one of her nipples.
'Yeah, maybe.' she purred as she bit down on his exposed jaw.
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