It Could Have Been Worse
by Amy Michelle

Disclaimer:  Star Trek: Voyager does not belong to me. It belongs to Paramount. Show of hands, please, who did not know that?  (I don't see any hands do you?)  ;-)

Notes:  I have been deprived of seeing Voyager since January 1998.  The only way that I see Voyager is getting taped episodes from my wonderful source (who will remain anonymous) or through our smuggling ring of bootleg Voyager tapes at school. (Don't ask!)

Dedication:  To the greatest friends that anyone could ask for, the Parisites!  Their kindness, unfailing friendship, and incredible talent never ceases to inspire and amaze me.  They have my sincere gratitude.


"Hey, Tom, wait up!"  B'Elanna called as she walked quickly down the corridor.  Tom paused and waited for her to catch up to where he was.  He was wearing a brown leather aviator's jacket, goggles strapped around his forehead.  B'Elanna was becoming accustomed to seeing Tom in this attire, rather than his uniform.

"Off to save the galaxy?"  She asked sarcastically.

"Captain Proton to the rescue,"  He smiled as they began walking together towards the holodeck.

"I took the night off,"  B'Elanna said.  "I was hoping to spend some time with you."

"Sure,"  Tom said.  "I've got a part that would be perfect for you.  Chaotica needs some help trying to conquer the world."

B'Elanna seemed less than enthusiastic about what Tom was saying.  "Look, just forget it,"  She said and turned to leave.

"B'Elanna,"  He called.  She turned to face him once more.  Placing her hands on her hips, she waited to hear what he had to say.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"I'm sick of playing second fiddle to your stupid holodeck program," B'Elanna said, a hint of anger in her tone of voice.

"Second fiddle?!"  Tom said, raising his voice.  "That's ridiculous."

"Oh, is it?"  She countered.  "If you'd rather spend your free time fighting holographic villains than with me, that's fine with me."

"Fine with me, too!"  Tom shouted back.

"Fine!"  B'Elanna shouted again, just to have the last word before turning on heel to head back towards the turbolift.

Tom watched B'Elanna swiftly walk down the corridor before taking off after her.

"B'Elanna!"  He called to her.  No response.  "B'Elanna!"

She continued walking until she reached the turbolift.  She pressed the button and waited for the doors to open.  Tom reached her location just in time to slip into the lift with her before the doors closed.

"Computer, halt turbolift,"  Tom ordered.  The lift stopped.

"Computer resume,"  B'Elanna said.  The lift began to move once more.

"Computer, halt,"  He said.  The lift stopped once more.  B'Elanna turned and glared and Tom.  If looks could kill, he would have been dead where he stood.  When it came to an evil glare, B'Elanna had a way of chewing one up and spitting them out without saying a word.

"Go ahead, B'Elanna,"  Tom said.  "I can play this game just as long as you can."

B'Elanna crossed her arms across her chest, as she listened to Tom speak.

"What is wrong with you, B'Elanna?"  He asked.  His voice was no longer forceful, but soft and full of concern.

"It's noth--"  She began.

"Don't tell me its nothing,"  Tom interrupted.  "I'm sick of fighting with you."

B'Elanna dropped her arms to her sides.  She opened her mouth to talk, but closed it again.  The two just stared at each other defiantly until Tom broke the gaze.   He sat down cross-legged right in the center of the turbolift.

"What are you doing?"  B'Elanna demanded.

"Getting comfortable,"  He replied.  "We're not going anywhere until you talk to me and it looks like we're going to be here for a while."

B'Elanna moved to the opposite side of the lift and sat down, leaning against the wall.  She sighed.

"I don't know, ok?"  She said.  "I don't know what's wrong."

"Do you still love me?"

"Love you?"  She asked as if his question was an insult.  "Of course, I still love you, Tom."  B'Elanna leaned forward and took his hands in her own.

"I love you, too,"  He said softly.  "But, we're growing apart, B'Elanna. And I don't want that."

"No,"  She said shaking her head.  "We're not growing apart."

"B'Elanna, do you remember the last time we made love?"

The half-Klingon engineer dropped her gaze and looked down at her hands uncomfortably.  The truth was, she couldn't remember.  It had been weeks at the least.  She remembered a time when she and Tom would spend all night in each others' arms.

"Yeah, that's what I thought,"  Tom replied.

"What do you want me to do, Tom?"  B'Elanna asked forcefully.  "Tell me what you want me to do!"

"I want..."  He trailed off.  "I want to make this work, B'Elanna.  I want us to make this work.  I can't do that alone."

"Ok,"  B'Elanna said softly.  "I want this to work, too."

Tom stood and held out his hands to B'Elanna, helping her to her feet. "Computer, resume,"  Tom ordered.

B'Elanna's next motion surprised Tom.  Before he knew what was happening, her mouth was on his, kissing him passionately.  She pressed against him with such force that he was now standing with his back against the lift wall.  He responded by grabbing her face with both hands, pulling her even closer to him.

The kiss subsided.  "What's gotten into you?"  Tom asked breathlessly. B'Elanna shurgged.  "Whatever it is, I like it."  He smiled.

The lift came to a stop and the doors opened.  Before B'Elanna could turn to exit, Tom pulled her towards him once more.  This time, be bent down, grabbed her waist and flung her over his shoulders.

"Tom!"  She said, surprised.  "Tom, put me down!"

Tom said nothing, but continued walking down the corridor in the direction of his quarters.  B'Elanna began pounding her fists on Tom's back.  The leather of his jackets was smooth, and her fists just slide down his back with each blow.

"Tom Paris, put me down right now!"  She ordered once more as they turned the corner.

"Lieutenant Torres, have you been injured?"  A voice asked.

The pair turned to see Seven of Nine watching them with a quizzical look on her face. Tom stopped and placed B'Elanna back on the floor.

"Uh..."  B'Elanna stammered.  "No, Seven.  I'm fine."

"Then why was Lieutenant Paris carrying you?"  She asked with genuine curiosity.

Tom and B'Elanna looked at each other, as if begging the other one to answer Seven's inquiry.  Neither of them said a word, but instead both began laughing hysterically.

"I fail to see any humor in this situation,"  Seven said.

Tom patted Seven on the back, then grabbed B'Elanna by the hand and continued down the corridor, both still laughing.

"That was close,"  B'Elanna said.

"It could have been worse," Tom said.   "We could have ran into Captain Janeway."