Diane's Note: JoAnna provided me a short scene in which B'Elanna and Tom experience a telepathic incident. She was stuck, so I volunteered to write a story around the scene. This is what came of it. The POV hops around a bit, but who cares, really? Of course, this version includes my usual P/T carnal shenanigans and is, therefore, rated NC-17. JoAnna's version does not include the smut, so if you'd rather read that, go to her page at www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/2171/

Thank you, DangerMom, for applying the final polish that makes this story shine!

Devoted Hearts Already Bound
by JoAnna Walsvik and Diane Bellomo

It was no stretch to imagine that there might be unknown lifeforms out there in the vastness of the universe, nor might it be hard to imagine that one of those lifeforms could enter a starship undetected and move about freely until it either achieved its goal or came damn close. Even in the Alpha Quadrant – where every corner was, if not explored, at least charted – the Enterprise herself had had many such encounters.

Out here in the Delta Quadrant, one would barely bat an eye at the suggestion that this could happen. Hell, on Voyager, it had even happened already.

And it was happening again.

* * *

The being could not comprehend where it was. It could not comprehend much of anything, save a burning desire to escape its captor. There was no malevolence attached to it, no evil intent. In fact, any intentions it might have had were relatively pure. It was merely running out of time.

At that moment, it felt a presence, something unknown, but remarkable and unique – if it had been able to think in those terms. In its own way it felt warmth and a degree of desire, and knew it had found its escape. It moved toward the source of the unique warmth.

* * *

It had been an incredible stroke of luck that Voyager had come upon the space station, named according to the Universal Translator, Smith Station. The station couldn't have been any more plainer than its name, and it wasn't very big, but for the starship it was a godsend.

Smith Station contained nothing but grocery, produce, and hardware stores, clothing and shoe stores, and a vast array of shops full of various and sundry products unknown but fascinating to the crew of Voyager. Not many bells or whistles, or fancy window dressings – just stuff.

Tom Paris, of course, found what was probably the seediest bar on the property, to which he dragged both B'Elanna and Harry.

"Geez, Tom," Harry hissed as they stepped across the threshold, "I don't think this is quite the worst place on the station. Do you think we could try again?"

"Harry, Harry, get a grip. Look around, this is great!" In all honesty, Tom was more right than Harry. While the place was classically dim and smoky, it was also filled with music playing at a fair tempo, had a beautiful wooden dance floor, and quite a number of smiling faces.

Tom stepped up to the bar and asked for the equivalent of a beer for himself and his friends. The bartender nodded and proceeded to pour the drinks. Tom studied him a minute and couldn't find anything "alien" about him except for the fact that he had six fingers on each hand.

Tom gathered the full glasses into his hands and pointed with his chin toward an empty booth in the back. "C'mon, back there."

When the three were settled in the booth, they set about tasting the local brew, which wasn't half bad, as it turned out. While they were busy drinking, the pre-recorded music stopped and what appeared to be a live band entered the room and stepped up onto the stage. After a few minutes of set-up, they raised their instruments and began to play. The music was not unfamiliar to the small group, sounding much like jazz. Several couples got up to dance. Tom followed suit.

Eyes sparkling, he stood, bent slightly at the waist and held out his hand to B'Elanna. "Will you dance with me, Bee?" She smiled and took his hand, allowing him to bring her into his arms. Harry took another swallow of his beer and leaned back to watch them.

As they walked together to the dance floor, B'Elanna coughed, suddenly and violently, and Tom felt a tremble pass through her.

"Whoa there!" He stopped and patted her back. "You okay?" He was about to turn and hail Harry to bring a glass of water when she straightened up, clearing her throat.

"Uh, yeah." She shrugged and rubbed her arms, then paused mid-rub as if she were considering her answer, and then decided for certain, dropping her arms and nodding sharply. "Yes. I'm perfect." She glanced back to the place they had passed, looking for the cloud of insects she must have walked into.

But there was nothing there except empty space between tables.

Tom stood watching her, then repeated his question, eyebrow quirked in concern. "You sure you're okay?"

His overprotectiveness kindled her annoyance. "Thomas, what'd I just say, huh?" They had by this time reached the dance floor. Tom turned her into his arms, and she immediately forgot both her coughing fit and her annoyance. She rolled her hips and felt him move in kind. "So dance with me, lover. I said I was perfect." She purred and put her lips next to his ear, flicking her tongue over his earlobe, whispering, "How can you resist?"

He couldn't. He began to move with her to the beat of the music.

An hour or two passed in this pleasant manner. B'Elanna danced with both Tom and Harry and once sandwiched between both of them, until the three realized it was high time they got back to Voyager. They never noticed a slender, dark form watching them from the shadows with intent that could only be defined as evil. He had spent quite a bit of his time with his eyes fixed solely on B'Elanna.

* * *

"Tom! Help me! I need you!"

Tom bolted upright, breathing heavily, his sweat-soaked pajamas clinging to his skin. He clutched the sodden material and gasped for breath, trying desperately to come fully awake.

"Tom! Help me! I need you!"

"B'Elanna," he breathed aloud, frantically untangling himself from a twisted mass of blankets. "Hold on, I'm coming!" For reasons of practicality, they had not shared a bed on this night. B'Elanna was due on duty at 0700. Tom was not due until 1500. He glanced at the chronometer on his bedside table. It was 0100.


The frightened urgency of her voice sent his heart pounding in his throat and brought him to full awareness.

He jumped out of bed and ran for the door, pausing only to snatch his commbadge on his way out, giving it a fierce squeeze. "Security! Emergency! B'Elanna's in some kind of trouble! Get a team to her quarters pronto! I'm on my way there now!"

His breakneck pace through the corridors got him to B'Elanna's door ahead of Security, but he was not about to wait for them. He keyed in the unlocking sequence and flew inside.

"Computer, lights!" Tom yelled, sprinting for her bedroom door.

A horrific and surreal sight greeted him when he reached her bedroom, freezing his feet to the floor. An unfamiliar figure was crouched on the bed, pinning B'Elanna against the mattress, hands clamped tightly around her throat. The attacker, a slim alien male, was momentarily blinded by the sudden illumination and for a split second, his deathly grip around B'Elanna's throat loosened. It spurred Tom to action.

"Get off her, you bastard!" He sprang toward the bed without any thought to himself, grabbed the intruder and tore him off B'Elanna, delivering a powerful blow to the man's face, knocking him heavily to the floor. He issued a well-placed kick to the alien's groin, savagely hoping by the sound the man made that he had hit a strategic spot, and was about to kick him again when he heard at the outside rim of his awareness the sound of doors swishing open. Knowing that the barely-conscious prowler would be taken care of by the Security team, he spun towards B'Elanna.

She was curled in a fetal position on the bed, choking, her hands on her throat, gasping and wheezing for breath. Tom was kneeling by her side in an instant. He pulled her gently into a sitting position, bracing her body against his own, rubbing her back reassuringly. "It's okay – you're safe. Calm down...take deep breaths."

He heard Tuvok's voice calling for the Doctor, and silently thanked the Vulcan. In spite of her noticeable attempts to do as he asked and calm down, B'Elanna was still having trouble breathing. Her face was ashen, and he could see dark bruises already beginning to form on the delicate skin of her neck.

"That's it, Bee" he said encouragingly. "Good...that's good," he repeated, although he was growing increasingly worried because she seemed unable to fully inflate her lungs. His alarm rose. He should be getting her to Sickbay, not sitting here waiting for the Doctor to come to her.

Before he could summon the wherewithal to move, the Doctor arrived, medkit in hand, followed by Captain Janeway. "Report!" she snapped, stopping by the bed.

Tom answered tersely, his anger surfacing. "I don't know how, but an alien intruder got in here. It looked like he was trying to choke her to death." He pounded the bed in frustration. "God dammit, Captain…" His voice cut off as he felt Janeway's warm hand curl over his shoulder, much in the same manner she did when he was at the helm and they encountered something they could not explain.

The Doctor, kneeling in front of B'Elanna, had already passed his medical tricorder over her. To her credit, B'Elanna was considerably calmer now but was still taking ragged, uneven breaths. One of the Doctor's eyebrows arched towards his forehead as he studied the readout, speaking directly to his patient. "Mmm…according to these readings, this intruder very nearly succeeded in his choking efforts. Both your windpipe and esophagus have been damaged, but it's nothing that won't heal with my help." He deftly prepared and administered a hypospray. "There. That should assist your breathing."

True to his word, in a few moments the gray color faded from B'Elanna's face and her breathing became less labored. The Doctor stood and continued to study the readouts from his tricorder. "I'm afraid, Lieutenant, even with medical care, you won't be able to eat solid food for a day or so, and I highly recommend no talking at all, but you'll make a full recovery. In the meantime, I think you should be in Sickbay so I can begin proper treatment." He clicked the tricorder closed with a flourish.

The captain held a hand up before anyone could move. "Tuvok," she said with less urgency, now that she knew B'Elanna was out of immediate danger, "what do you have?"

Tuvok was succinct. "When my Security team arrived in Lieutenant Torres' quarters, the intruder had been incapacitated by Ensign Paris. He has been taken to the brig."

"Tom?" Janeway asked, turning to look down at her helmsman.

Tom did not take his eyes off B'Elanna. "I, uh, I called Security on my way. When I got in here, I saw him choking her." He paused slightly, his fingers curling around a wisp of B'Elanna's hair. "I hit him a couple of times, I guess, and when Tuvok's team got here I forgot about him. B'Elanna was hurt, and I turned my attention to her." He continued twirling his fingers around the wisp of hair.

"Ensign Paris," Tuvok began, "how did you know Lieutenant Torres was in distress?"

"She, um, she called me on the comm," he replied absently, releasing B'Elanna's hair and rubbing her back gently.

A tug on his sleeve turned his attention to her face. B'Elanna was shaking her head, staring up at him with dark puzzled eyes.

"You didn't call me?" He stopped rubbing her back, his own eyes clouding in confusion.

She shook her head again.

Now he was fully focused. "But, Bee, I heard you. I mean, I heardyou." Tom continued before she could shake her head again. "You said, 'Tom, help me, I need you,' didn't you? You did. I heard you. It was clear as day."

Tuvok handed his tricorder to Janeway, and the two exchanged glances after she read its contents. "Tom," Janeway said gently. "She couldn't have called you." She presented the tricorder to him, but he didn't really look at it. "According to Tuvok's findings, the intruder disabled the comm system in her quarters and destroyed her commbadge before he attacked her. There was no way she could have contacted you."

"I heard her," Tom insisted, but just a little less certain this time.

B'Elanna again tugged on his sleeve, opening her mouth to speak, but the Doctor stopped her with a firm shake of his head. "No talking, Lieutenant." He reached for the PADD on her nightstand and handed it to her.

B'Elanna began to type. I didn't say it. She paused, looked up at Tom and then returned to the PADD. But I thought it. She extended the PADD to Janeway.

Janeway's brows furrowed and she read the contents aloud. "You thought it? I'm afraid I don't understand."

B'Elanna took the PADD back and typed furiously for several minutes. Tom, leaning over her shoulder, read aloud as she wrote. I didn't know anyone was in my quarters until I woke up and felt hands around my neck. I started to panic when I realized I couldn't move. I was terrified. I kept thinking of Tom and wishing he would come. I couldn't speak, but my mind was screaming for him.

Tom and Janeway stared at each other in half-awe, half-disbelief. Tuvok merely raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"Think, Tom," Janeway urged softly, leaning forward, the intensity of her blue eyes all but drilling holes into the pilot's head. "Are you absolutely certain that you heard her voice? What happened, exactly?"

Tom's forehead creased in deep thought, as he tried to recall every second of what had happened. "Okay, okay, I woke up suddenly – my heart was pounding, and I was sweating like crazy. I had this overwhelming feeling that B'Elanna was in danger. And I heard her cry out for me." Now he looked directly at Janeway. "I heard her, Captain. I'm sure of it. I thought it was the comm, but it – I guess it might have been in my head."

The Doctor, who'd been listening intently to the conversation, spoke up. "There have been documented cases of non-telepaths communicating messages to someone with whom they share a strong emotional bond – identical twins, mother and child, husband and wife…"

"…or, in this case," Janeway finished, smiling, "boyfriend and girlfriend. Well, I'm willing to accept the Doctor's hypothesis…for now." She squeezed Tom's shoulder and lightly touched B'Elanna's hair. B'Elanna was by now sagging against Tom, clear evidence of her trauma. "As the Doctor suggested, B'Elanna needs to be in Sickbay."

Tom was afraid to let her go. "You're sure she's going to be okay?" he asked, his arms tightening protectively around B'Elanna.

"She'll be fine in a few days," the Doctor promised, "thanks to you. Come on, Tom," he added with surprising sensitivity, "why don't you help me get her to Sickbay?"

* * *

"Good afternoon, beautiful," Tom said lightly, entering B'Elanna's bedroom with a covered tray in his hands. "Sleep well?"

She nodded, yawned, and smiled, raising her hands in a questioning gesture, pointing toward the tray.

"What's to eat, you point? Well, I've got some orange juice, oatmeal, and, if your throat is up to it..." Balancing the tray on one hand, Tom lifted the cover of the tray with a dramatic flair.

B'Elanna clapped her hands and inhaled deeply, her smile growing wider.

"Yup. Banana pancakes," Tom said, beaming. "Only if your throat feels okay, though. Doc says that as long as they have enough butter and syrup to make them soggy, they should be all right for you." He balanced the tray on her knees and sat down at the edge of the bed.

'My throat feels fine,' she mouthed, picking up her fork and starting to cut the pancakes.

"Oh? Then why aren't you talking?" Tom asked, taking the fork from her hands.

She snatched it back. 'Doctor's orders,' she mouthed again.

Tom chuckled, relinquishing the fork peacefully. "Glad to see you're actually following them."

Rolling her eyes, B'Elanna grabbed a PADD from her bedside, popped him smartly with it and typed something on it, holding it out to him. He read it aloud while she started on her breakfast.

He said if I didn't follow his orders to the letter, he'd confine me to Sickbay and surgically seal my mouth shut. Tom winced.

"Oo. Harsh."

She nodded and rolled her eyes, her mouth full of pancakes.

"Well," he began, eyes twinkling, "I'll be glad when you're talking again. I miss my daily dose of sarcasm." He dodged in time to miss the pillow that came flying. At least it wasn't the PADD. That might have hurt. He smiled to himself. It felt good to be frolicking with B'Elanna.

She went back to her food, and for a few moments he sat in silence and watched her eat. She was obviously enjoying the pancakes, and they didn't seem to be adversely affecting her throat.

The Doctor had released her from Sickbay several hours earlier, after having spent the balance of the night carefully repairing her damaged throat. Even with that, B'Elanna had hardly been able to drink water without wincing, and it hurt him to watch her struggle to swallow, even with the Doctor's reassurances that each hour would bring a steady improvement.

Now, to Tom's utter relief, her throat was much improved, just as the Doctor had predicted. But in the interim, Tom had become so paranoid that he was afraid to let her out of his sight. Even while she slept safely in Sickbay and then later in her own bed, Tom was unable to relax and get a few hours' sleep himself. Tuvok had ordered a security guard outside her quarters, but Tom still kept his eyes glued on her, on constant alert for anything out of the ordinary. He was already feeling the effects of his interrupted sleep, but it didn't matter.

Nothing mattered but B'Elanna.

Had he taken a moment to consider the deeper meaning behind that thought, he might have been amazed. As it was, he was just relieved to see her on the road to recovery.

But as long as Voyager remained docked at the station, Tom would remain on guard. Not that he didn't trust Tuvok to do his job, but the prisoner in the brig wasn't talking and Tuvok wasn't exactly the type to use torture as a means of obtaining information. Discreet inquiries that morning around the station had yielded no further information. No one was willing to admit knowing the prisoner, if anyone even did know him. Even the station manager himself admitted to never having seen him or his kind before. The manager was very apologetic over what had happened, but since there seemed to be very little crime on the station, security was lax almost to the point of nonexistence, and it was clear the manager had no idea what to do next.

Since B'Elanna had not suffered permanent damage and had already decided it would be useless to press charges, there would soon be nothing left to do but release the man and continue on their way. Tom did not care any more than Tuvok did for leaving things hanging in this manner, but that was about the only choice they had left.

There were no further telepathic incidents between he and B'Elanna, thank god, her mood was good, and her throat was healing right on time, but…something was still peculiar about her. It worried Tom a great deal, and although he couldn't prove it, he just knew it had something to do with the alien in the brig.

Since the attack, she'd become jumpy and nervous, especially at unexpected noises. While this was certainly understandable for anyone else, it was out of character for B'Elanna, who was more inclined to be the cause of unexpected noises, rather than to react to them. Last night in Sickbay, Tom had nearly given her a heart attack when he'd accidentally dropped his tricorder next to her biobed. She'd bolted upright, breathing with short, rapid breaths, nearly ruining all the Doctor's repair work, her frightened gaze darting around the room. It had taken him nearly five minutes to calm her down.

This morning, when he was helping her get into bed, he'd knocked a glass of water off her nightstand, and she jumped again. It hadn't taken her quite so long to relax after that, but she had still reacted more like a rookie ensign than a Chief Engineer. It was like she did not believe the threat to her life had been neutralized.

The sound of a fork clattering onto an empty plate brought him out of his reverie.

"I'm done, Flyboy. Pour me some coffee."

And that would have been fine, except he was looking right at her face when she said it, and her lips hadn't moved.

Time froze. B'Elanna's dark eyes went wide and she reached a hand up to stroke her throat.

"B'Elanna?" Tom whispered, reaching for the hand at her throat. Then he didn't whisper, but said her name again, inside his head, his hand clasped tightly in hers.


B'Elanna felt a rush of adrenaline flood her system at the sound of his voice in her head, and she was at once filled with a strange euphoria. She smiled in spite of her unease and dared to try it again. "Oh my god, Tom, I thought what happened last night was a fluke. What's this?"

He was not as courageous as she was and so spoke aloud. "I…I don't know. I think we should go back to Sickbay." The look on B'Elanna's face, however, doubled his worry. She wore an odd smile, like she was enjoying herself. This alone pretty much nailed peculiar, never mind her uncharacteristic jitters and the fact that they were speaking to each other telepathically.

She hesitated before answering him, didn't speak out loud, and never lost the odd smile. "Yeah, I guess so."

Tom just sat there, letting her words echo in his skull.

* * *

Lt. Ayala wasn't supposed to talk to the prisoner, but he felt a certain duty to B'Elanna to get the little creep to say something. Besides, Tuvok hadn't exactly made it an order.

"Hey, buddy," he started in his most bullying tone, "you know we're a tight-knit group around here – almost tighter than family, ya know? And we protect our own."

The alien shifted on the bunk and Ayala saw something shift in his eyes as well. To Ayala's complete surprise, he spoke.

"So. What of it?" His voice was coarse and low, as if he didn't use it much, which could very well have been the case, considering these were the only words he had spoken since his arrival.

Ayala neatly covered his surprise with anger at the response itself. He stepped towards the cell's forcefield, intent on shutting it off and showing him exactly "what of it." With great effort, he reigned himself in, deciding it might be in his best interest to continue with his goading, rather than get physical with the guy. While Tuvok might overlook his talking to the prisoner, he was pretty sure his Vulcan boss would severely dislike it if he punched the man's lights out. They were too far along in this journey to blame it on Maquis influences.

"Eh, punk, you are just not worth my trouble. You're just lucky B'Elanna's okay. Otherwise, I may have been forced to add a new bruise or two to your ugly face." Ayala was standing so close to the forcefield, his breath was causing the field to buzz.

The alien rose and stepped forward, facing the big security man across the forcefield. "I thought your precious Chief Engineer had something I wanted. But she doesn't. And you know what? It's not worth my trouble anymore.

"I know you won't hold me much longer. Your captain wants to get her sleek starship out of here. So get out of here." And with that, he turned and went back to sit on the bunk, head down.

Ayala stood there a moment, trying to figure what to do. It seemed abundantly clear by the alien's posture and tone of voice that he was done with it. Whether or not he was lying, however, would be best left up to the investigative skills of Lt. Commander Tuvok.

Lt. Ayala had managed to obtain more information than Tuvok had, but he knew it was only because he happened to be in the right place at the right time. He backstepped to his console and signaled for Tuvok.

* * *

Tom and B'Elanna were in the corridor, walking hand-in-hand towards the turbolift. It didn't take twenty steps for B'Elanna to realize how she and Tom could use their new telepathic ability to great personal advantage. She felt fine. In fact, she felt quite a bit more than fine. A test of her voice found it a little gravelly, but her throat no longer hurt, and the Doctor had already told her she could start talking and eating regular food the next day.

But this new talent was far too enticing to dismiss so quickly. She prodded Tom silently, using the nickname she used only on certain particular occasions.

"Tommie? Let's not go right to Sickbay."

Her voice in his head startled him, sounding breathy and ragged, different again from any other time he had heard it. He ventured a look at her. She still carried that odd smile and she was sort of bouncing as she walked. But when she repeated his nickname out loud, adding distinct heat to the syllables and pressing her thumb rhythmically into the center of his palm, he felt his body and his mind respond in a much less mysterious way.

He stopped right there in the corridor and faced her, trying not to visibly quake with the arousal she had stirred in him. "You…you…don't want to go to Sickbay?"

She leaned closer to his face. "No." He felt no breath on his cheek, only a seductive caress in his mind. The scent of her lifted in the still air and filled his nostrils. She deftly removed his commbadge and her brand new one and let them drop to the floor.

He watched them fall, with a quick nagging worry that with the alien still on board, and the mystery of what he wanted still unsolved, that it maybe wasn't a good idea to be out of touch. But if anything happened, he'd be there to protect B'Elanna, so it didn't really matter…

Then she squeezed his hand, and hungrily licked his chin, sending all thoughts of caution right out of his head.

"Where would you like to go?"

"The arboretum. Nobody'll be there during Alpha shift." Their lips met in a burst of moist heat and it was all he could do to remain standing as he heard her groan somewhere deep in his soul.

* * *

Tuvok met privately with Janeway, reporting exactly what Ayala had just told him.

"Do you believe this man is no longer a threat to B'Elanna?"

"He said as much to Ayala." His manner suggested he wanted to add something and Janeway didn't miss it.

"Go on, Tuvok."

"Ayala believes the man could be lying."

Janeway stood with her hands on her hips, her classic stance when circumstances proved frustrating. "He's not leaving until we get to the bottom of this, even if we have to take him with us."

If he'd been of any other race, Tuvok would have smiled.

* * *

The alien, who called himself R'yan, but did not share that with anyone, sat in the brig wondering how soon he could be gone from this starship. It did not do his position well to be stuck in an alien jail. His client had probably already found his pleasure elsewhere, an annoying but no doubt true fact. He should never have chased his little prize so far outside his own star system, but he absolutely hated the idea of having to leave without it. Unfortunately, it looked like that might have to be the case. Either that, or spend the rest of his life inside this dismal cell. A rotten choice either way.

He was angry at his incompetence this time, but he had badly underestimated the people from this vessel. He would not have killed the alien woman with the strange forehead.

What had that security beast called her? 'B'Elanna?' He rather liked the sound of that.

No, he had not needed B'Elanna, he had just needed what was inside her. Unfortunately, by some miracle he had yet to understand, her boyfriend had appeared almost immediately after he had begun the process of retrieval.

He cursed himself, accepting with distinct finality that he was going to have to give up this kayla. Despite his decision, he allowed one frivolous moment to wonder if there was some way he could still get to B'Elanna for just a minute or two… But no, it would be best if he just cut his losses and got moving, so he could find another kayla, another client, and get back to business.

A smile spread across his face. And what a business a kayla could be! Tiny, nearly microscope creatures, they were greatly desired by those who could afford them, but they were difficult to capture. Once captured, they were expensive and hard to maintain. However, when "properly motivated," they were able to enter and stimulate the pleasure centers of his species' brains until they either died or were "properly motivated" to leave. The amount of time in a brain depended on the amount of money one had; even a quarter-hour didn't come cheap. Thing was, it was a touchy endeavor at best. Unless you maintained strict watch, the kaylatended to die inside a client or in rare cases, escape through the motivation unit. Then you were back at square one, which is where R'yan was now.

There was, of course, much controversy about whether or not kaylas were sentient, and if using them in this manner didn't constitute some sort of slavery, but R'yan didn't care one way or the other. He had never mistreated the one he had captured, had he? But the damn thing had gotten away from him anyway.

The reason why this might be so never once occurred to R'yan.

He had fumbled a brief chance to recapture it in the bar, and had been certain it had entered B'Elanna, which is why he followed her to this starship.

He knew what sort of fervor a kayla inspired inside the brains of people of his species, but he had no idea what it would do inside her. The very fact that the thing had entered her without the usual persuasion was cause itself for speculation. Her genetic make-up must be remarkable. It obviously didn't kill her – certainly a good thing – but he couldn't help but wonder what it was doing. If it was anything like what it did to his people, well, what he wouldn't give to get an eyeful of…

The door hissed open to admit Janeway and Tuvok. Janeway marched straight to the front of the cell, dropped the forcefield and stepped right up to R'yan. With no preamble, she grabbed him by his shirtfront and hauled him to his feet.

"My Security Chief here," she said through clenched teeth, jerking her head sharply back towards Tuvok, "is a little too soft for my liking." She shook him again, her gaze burning into him. "Many of my crew think I'm crazy, did you know that?" This time, she shook him so hard his head banged against the wall of the cell. "Right now, I'd like to kill you for trying to kill my Chief Engineer, but I'm not sure that's good enough for you. What I'd rather enjoy doing…"

Tuvok cut her off with a dark warning. "Captain…"

She turned her head towards Tuvok, but did not release R'yan, her voice insanely sweet. "Now, Tuvok, don't you start with me. You don't want me to have to pull rank on you, do you?" She turned back to R'yan, narrowing her eyes and studying the slight alien so pointedly that he finally had to look away. She shook him again and then calmly drew her phaser and pressed it into his gut. She put her lips to his ear and hissed, "Tell me why you wanted to kill B'Elanna, and maybe I'll let you live."

R'yan was not about to get himself killed over this. No one, not even the security brute who had been guarding him, said anything about a crazy captain who'd enjoyed doing something other than merely killing prisoners. He was not built for this.

He was brought out of his musings by another severe rattle. He cursed silently. This cinched it. Let the damned thing die. He'd find another kayla.

"I wasn't going to kill her. I just wanted what was inside her, but I don't want it anymore." He grunted as the point of the phaser pushed further into his side.

"Explain yourself, mister. Now."

He explained. She was appalled and then she was angry, employing every bit of her self-control not to engage the phaser.

* * *

Tuvok and Janeway exited the brig. In spite of what she had learned, Janeway wore a wide smile.

"How'd I do, Tuvok?"

"A 'command performance,' Captain."

"Thank you. Now we just have to find B'Elanna. Escort our guest to Sickbay, and then meet me in Engineering."

* * *

"Jesus, Bee, god, there, right there, oh, do that aga…again. Uh…"

This was like nothing Tom had ever experienced with B'Elanna before. Nothing. It both frightened and exhilarated him, but he never once considered stopping. They had only been in the arboretum about twenty minutes and already they'd sixty-nined to climax once. B'Elanna had never come so fast. He could not say the same for himself, but he wasn't really thinking about himself right at the moment, even though B'Elanna certainly was.

Tom was flat on his back on a pile of blankets and clothing, his ass elevated by a pillow, knees spread wide. B'Elanna was kneeling between his thighs, a finger buried in a very intimate part of his anatomy. Her eyes were closed and her opposite hand encircled his penis. She applied slight pressure with her finger, stroking his penis at the same time. The scent of her filled the humid room.

"How's that, lover? Feels good, doesn't it?"

He stared blindly at the ceiling, awarding top billing to a few other senses.

"Yeah, yeah, it does." Being able to communicate telepathically was quite the rush.

Her mouth closed over his penis.

"This feels even better, doesn't it?"

Tom could no longer form words, either in his head or on his lips. B'Elanna had no such problem.

"You taste so good, Tommie, so salty and musky and male.Jesus, I can't get close enough." She stirred her finger and swirled her tongue, scraping her teeth along his shaft; she was almost chewing on him. He gasped again and his hips jerked involuntarily. "Oh, that's so good. Come for me, Tommie, come in my mouth. I'll take it, I'll take it all this time. Come for me." She pressed her finger deeper into his anus, pressing on his prostate, and this time he groaned. She carefully rearranged herself so she could straddle his leg, pushing her wetness into his thigh.

As she did this, the focus of their endeavors shifted smoothly to her, and Tom did not for one moment regret it. She rode him expertly, obviously as delighted as he was with the added excitement of the telepathy, continuing to murmur dirty words that seeped hotly into his brain and kept his penis iron hard.

As he watched, her movements became broader, more exaggerated and intense, and it was clear the part of her brain that formed the words was starting to have trouble keeping up with her body. "Huhh…mmm…Tommmm…feelsvery…very… good to meee…too…touch me…touchme…" She struggled to scoot up higher on his thigh so he could reach her and still not lose contact with his body, but she couldn't quite manage it.

Disappointment blanketed her words. "Sorry…sorry…"

He reached for her. "No, Belle, nothing at all to be sorry about. Come to me, let me touch you. Come to me."

As his fingers dipped into the wetness, her telepathy failed completely, and all he heard in his head was a low moan of satisfaction. The hands that had been on him were now flat on either side of hips for balance, digging into him, as she leaned heavily into his hand, rocking against him. Though her eyes were closed, the odd smile had reappeared, and her face was not scrunched up as it usually was in the pleasure-pain expression of arousal, but was serene, almost as if she were sleeping.


God, she was so beautiful and he was so weak. He could not resist another mental touch. It was one thing to talk dirty out loud to your lover, but this was something else entirely. Oh, baby, you're so wet. So wet for me. I want you. I want to fuck you till you die. Come for me. Come for me now."

He continued to stroke her, lightly thumbing her clitoris and then sliding his finger smoothly into her, allowing her to grind his hand between her and his leg. "Oh, yes, par'mach kai."

She jerked and twisted as he said the Klingon word, all sensation, a slick, writhing mass of human/Klingon sexuality. She managed a few more words, right to the point.


He changed the tempo of his touch, stroking her roughly, pinching and rubbing with more pressure. His opposite hand found a breast, and he pulled hard on the nipple, pressing his thumbnail into it. She reached up and began to fondle her other breast. She was quaking now and sweat was dripping from her. Hanging on his hand, her face was still strangely serene and her concentration was definitely elsewhere.

He had never seen her like this. It was like she was by herself. But, no, that wasn't quite right, because she kept talking to him. Most of the words he no longer understood.

Her eyes suddenly popped opened, focused on him, and she spoke out loud, her voice husky for many reasons. "Heh, Tom, how 'bout we do this right, shall we?" Like the engineer she was, despite the slickness between them, she raised herself up and flawlessly lowered herself onto his rock-hard penis.

This sent her into immediate, full-throttle climax, heaving and rocking above him. She threw her head back and dropped her jaw, but he didn't hear anything out loud.

"Yessss!" And then a string of Klingon words and then something decidedly Spanish that would have surely deafened him had she said it out loud, and then again "Yessss…" as she emptied her lungs in a deep guttural moan. A rush of sticky wetness flooded his hand and thigh, renewing the smell of her in the space, and then she collapsed unconscious on top of him, nearly knocking the breath out of him.

Five minutes passed before he realized something was wrong.

* * *

Though Tuvok assigned several teams to search, it was he and Janeway who found them in the arboretum. Actually, what they found was Tom, half-dressed, struggling to lift an unconscious B'Elanna into his arms. She was not dressed at all, but wrapped in a blanket.

Tuvok stopped where he was, hand on his phaser. Janeway kept moving towards the couple, her arm stretched out, palm out, back towards Tuvok.

"At ease, Tuvok." She reached Tom and spoke softly, but used his rank to be certain he understood. "Put her down, Ensign. We need to beam her directly to Sickbay."

Tom stopped struggling but did not release B'Elanna. He looked so pained and confused that her heart ached for him. God dammit, but she hated this miserable quadrant and its array of unfriendly aliens, all seemingly hellbent to prevent her beautiful ship and its intrepid crew from arriving safely home. She steeled herself against the angry tears threatening to make a shambles of her voice.

"I don't want to make it an order, mister, but I will."

Defeated, Tom gently lowered B'Elanna to the floor, carefully arranging the blanket so it remained over her.

Janeway wasted no motion. She knelt down and placed her commbadge on the blanket. "Janeway to Sickbay. One to beam out." As B'Elanna shimmered out of sight, Janeway looked up at Tom and added, "Mr. Paris, you may accompany us to Sickbay the old-fashioned way."

* * *

"Can you wake her now, Doctor?" Janeway spoke into the stillness.

The Doctor nodded. A hiss of hypospray and B'Elanna's eyes fluttered opened. When they settled on R'yan, standing to her left and just behind the Doctor, she bolted upright, trying frantically to crawl backwards to put more distance between them.

Tom, standing to her immediate right, heard her voice in his head, edged with the same panic he had heard the night before.

"Tom! Tom! It's him! The man who attacked me! Get him away from me! Kahless, get him away, away!"

Knowing the story now, Tom knew it was not B'Elanna who was so frightened, only B'Elanna who could voice it for the little kayla. Instinctively, he reached out, both with his arms to hold her and his mind to calm her.

"It's all right, kayla, he can't hurt you anymore."

B'Elanna stopped her panicked motion, clearly confused. "Tom?"

He saw no reason to cease their telepathic conversation, at least not until he could explain what they would have to do.

"B'Elanna, there is another lifeform present in you. It entered you in the bar, remember? Remember when you thought you swallowed something? It, uh, it apparently has an ability to infuse pleasure centers of the brain with something that, uh, enhances those pleasures. That's why you…that's why you and I…"

B'Elanna met his eyes and nodded in understanding. "But what about the…the telepathy?"

"Yeah, that's apparently a side effect that only applies to you…and to me, I guess. Your hybrid physiology at work again." He allowed a small smile and was relieved when she returned it.

"What do we do now?"

"Well, that part's going to be a little bit more complicated. Our friend here, Mr. R'yan, claims the kayla can't escape you without what he calls 'motivation' and what the captain calls torture. The Doc thinks he has a way to free the kayla, but it's going to take a procedure similar to the one he used when he forced that entity from the captain. Remember that one? It took the shape of her father and tried to get her to go with it into its 'matrix?'"

It had happened a while ago, but she remembered what he was referring to. The Doctor had used direct synaptic stimulation to drive the alien from Janeway, and it had worked. He was obviously going to try the same thing with her. But the look on Tom's face prompted a very basic question.

"What's the problem?"

Tom blinked.

"Tell me, Tom, and don't you dare spare me. Not after all we've been through."

"The Doc can't use Starfleet's equipment. He has to modify R'yan's unit, a device implanted in his hand. And…because you're conscious, it's probably going to hurt. A lot. It'll also leave you with the migraine from hell and maybe blind you for a couple of days."

She considered this. "But no permanent damage?"


"Okay, what about the lifeform? What did you call it? A kayla?

"Yeah, kayla. It's a little energy being, and this is the only chance it's got. According to R'yan, it'll die if it stays in you much longer. But if the procedure works, it will exit without harm the same way it entered – through your mouth – which will tear up your throat again. Tuvok will hold R'yan long enough to give the creature plenty of time to get away. Then we say goodbye to R'yan and we're outta here. That's about it."

She gave him a wide smile. "Piece of cake."

Tom turned to the Doctor, speaking the two words that had become a sort of mantra on Voyager. "Do it."

* * *

Two days later, Tom and B'Elanna were in her quarters on the couch, dressed in off-duty civvies. Tom was in Starfleet-issue shorts and a t-shirt because it was always warm in B'Elanna's quarters. B'Elanna was in a new maroon sweatsuit she had bought on Smith Station. She still couldn't see, but the headache had faded and her throat was better again. It would be a few more days for her eyes. Tom's head was in B'Elanna's lap and she was fiddling blindly with his hair.

The procedure had gone exactly as Tom said it would. B'Elanna suffered some seriously intense pain, but she suffered valiantly, and the kayla had been freed of both her and R'yan. They released the alien to Smith Station, where he was told in no uncertain terms by the station manager to get lost for good. The kayla they never did quite see, though the Doctor recorded a brief energy burst as the creature exited B'Elanna and then Harry picked up another as it passed through the ship's shields.

The telepathy was gone as suddenly as it had appeared, and no amount of concentration on either of their parts could bring back even a whisper of it.

B'Elanna spoke into the quiet. "Tom, I know this is gonna sound awful, but I miss it."

He didn't need to ask what she was talking about. "Yeah, me too. But you know you did the right thing."


They were silent for a while and then B'Elanna quoted Longfellow by heart, a short bit of verse Tom had once taught her. He'd done so, he claimed, in order to bring human balance to a Klingon ritual she had never quite learned but hadn't quite forgotten, either. It came to be their private, blended ritual.

"Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day."

He picked up the PADD from his stomach and began to read:

"I love your lips when they're wet with wine,
And red with a wild desire;
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
Lit with a passionate fire.
I love your arms when the warm brown flesh
Touches mine in a fond embrace;
I love your hair when the strands enmesh
Your kisses against my face."

B'Elanna leaned over him, smiling openly and honestly, if sightlessly, allowing her hair to fall over her face.

Tom stretched up and captured both hair and lips and kissed her thoroughly – and swore later that he heard husky laughter echoing through his head.


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