Disclaimer: All main characters in this story and Voyager itself are property of Paramount and no infringements on them are intended. However the story is mine.
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Summary: Takes place about one month B'Elanna and Tom's first anniversary but Tom was never demoted to Ensign. Tom and B'Elanna try to celebrate being together for a year but everything goes wrong. First they just can't find time in their busy schedules, then crew members begin to mysteriously disappear. When the three commanding officers vanish it's up to the two of them to save Voyager. Needless to say, this wasn't exactly what they had in mind for their anniversary! Makes some brief references as to past episodes but no major spoilers and you don't have to see them to understand the story.
Dedication and thanks to: Starmei for the inspiration, beta-reading and all of her encouragement and kindness, for making me stop procrastinating and get on track and to Mrs. Radimer for being a huge inspiration and a very kind, caring, wonderful person. Also to Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill for being the most wonderful actors ever, to the rest of the actors and actresses who bring the Voyager characters to life. Wow this list is longer than I thought! To all of my friends and family who bear with my totally obsessive weirdness where Voyager is concerned. And last but most definitely not least to all other fanfic writers/readers. This world would be totally boring without you. Now enough of that, on to the good stuff (well, you can be the judge of that!:)
"First Year Fiasco"
By Pamela Blotnicky
"Finally!" sighed B'Elanna, bringing the wine glass up to her mouth for the first time in weeks. She and Tom hadn't spent any time together for over a month now, unless, she thought, you include senior staff meanings or a brief 'hello' when they would see each other on route to an assignment.
"I've missed you," Tom said sincerely.
"Mmmm, me too!" answered B'Elanna relaxing into Tom's embrace. They were curled up on B'Elanna's couch happy to finally be celebrating their one year anniversary, even if it was three weeks late. They had just finished eating a beautiful candle-lit dinner. Her quarters were fairly tidy with the exception of a stray PADD here and there or an unwashed uniform. The lights were dimly lit with soft, romantic music in the background. It was the perfect setting for a sentimental and meaningful anniversary of their love for each other. B'Elanna reached up to pull Tom's lips towards hers and her passion was almost immediately returned when a simultaneous beep sounded from their comm badges. The voice of Captain Janeway was heard loud and clear.
"All senior staff report to my ready room immediately." B'Elanna rolled her eyes.
"Maybe tomorrow," Tom sighed, trying in vain not to let his disappointment show. This time he thought they'd finally be able to spend some uninterrupted time together, but no such luck.
B'Elanna nodded, "Tomorrow," she repeated, "but until then," she reached up to give him a tender kiss, "that will have to do." Tom smiled, apparently satisfied, and they quickly headed to the ready room still dressed in their formal attire.
Paris and Torres, now both in a completely professional state of mind, walked listlessly into the ready room which they had seen far to often in the last month, quickly followed by Harry Kim, and Seven. The Doctor, Tuvok and Captain Janeway were already seated. They all took their seats and prepared themselves for yet another briefing. Everything seemed pretty much routine, only one thing missing. After an awkward half minute or so B'Elanna spoke up.
"Captain, where's Chakotay?"
Captain Janeway took a deep breath and stood up to address the officers, "Actually, that's why I asked you here."
B'Elanna suddenly became alert, "Is something wrong with him!?" she demanded before realizing that she was raising her voice.
The Captain raised her hand reassuringly, "We don't know. I wanted his assistance on the bridge to run some scans on an absurd spacial anomaly. He answered me to let me know that he was on his way and never showed. I asked the computer his whereabouts and it responded that there was no data of a Commander Chakotay on board. Apparently the same thing has happened all over the ship. So far we have had six officers disappear, including Mr. Neelix. I need to know what's happening and how to get them back before the rest of us disappear. Suggestions?"
After quickly overcoming their initial shock, the senior officers put their heads together and tried to come up with some explanation as to what was happening.
"Maybe they were beamed off the ship by an alien species attempting to conduct tests or something," suggested Harry.
"That thought crossed my mind, "said the Captain, "but that wouldn't explain the computer having no memory of our missing officers."
"They could have hacked their way into Voyager's computer systems," added B'Elanna.
"It is possible," stated Seven, "but it is unlikely they could evade our sensors so effortlessly."
"Seven's probably right but we should look into it," answered Janeway, "Are there any more suggestions before you are dismissed?"
Tom spoke up, "You said there was a 'spacial anomaly.' What if it caused some kind of alternate universe or time parallax?"
"That would be a logical explanation," agreed Tuvok.
Captain Janeway nodded, "Good, we'll look into it. Tom, Tuvok and Harry, check and see if there are any signs of a temporal time parallax or alternate universe. The rest of you investigate anything irregular, check for any signs of tampering or alien contact. I'll be in my ready room looking over the reports to see if there are any similarities in the disappearances. Now let's get to work, I'm not leaving until we find something. Dismissed." Kathryn watched while her officers nodded and headed out to their designated assignments. She knew if anyone could figure this thing out they could. She yawned and walked over to the replicator.
"Coffee, black," The replicator complied but Captain Janeway was no longer on Voyager to accept.
"Lieutenant, I've detected a small inconsistency in the forward diagnostic relay. It's not much but it might be worth a look."
"Good work, Carey. I'm not letting anything go until we find out what's been happening. I recommend using the upper workstation though. Things are going to get even busier in here in the next little while." Carey nodded and headed towards the small engineering turbolift. "Vorik!" The Vulcan engineer was promptly at her side.
"We have to speed this up. Get another team down here and make sure everyone knows this is absolute top priority. They should either be working with us or helping Tom and Harry with their investigation. Anything else can wait. Understood?"
"Yes Sir," replied the stark Vulcan. He turned and was quickly organizing a new team for the job. B'Elanna took a moment to marvel at how reliable her engineers were. She would have to remember to congratulate them when this was all over. With a proud feeling at her crew’s determination she turned back to her work station to resume her slow, tedious scan of each and every individual computer system on Voyager.
Meanwhile, in astrometrics Tuvok and Harry Kim were busy conducting their investigation alongside Tom Paris at helm. "Mr. Paris. We are ready for the next series of tests. Please begin circling the anomaly. Maintain half impulse until further notice and keep our current distance," ordered the loyal lieutenant commander.
"Yes, Sir," acknowledged Tom in his calm, easy-going tone of voice. While Harry ran his expedient hands over the controls and Tom kept unyielding control over the rotating ship, Tuvok made a hasty retreat to Voyager's bridge to observe from the large view screen.
Harry's alert voice interrupted the comfortable silence on the bridge. "Tuvok, I've detected some spacial distortion off our port bow."
"On screen." Soft waves of space rippled on the screen, occasionally disappearing and than becoming visible once again. The remaining bridge crew stood, mesmerized by the sight in front of them. It was like nothing they had ever seen before. The mixture of the soft waves of spacial aberration and the brilliant rays dispersing like clouds from the nebula was almost overwhelming. Of course, the crew had seen many magnificent beauties of space since there arrival in the mighty Delta Quadrant but none as breathtakingly stunning as the seemingly endless field they were facing at that very moment. It was as if it had a life of it's very own. A soul. A mind. A heart.
Tom Paris broke the increasingly uneasy silence which had manifested itself over the bridge, "Wow," he stated softly still in awe.
"Amazing," added Harry.
"Fascinating," Tuvok remarked, even his voice slightly portrayed the shock that everyone felt.
B'Elanna sighed quietly. It had been a long day and a half, and her engineering staff weren't quite half way through their thorough check of Voyager's systems. Carey came up from behind her. "You alright, Chief?"
B'Elanna smiled and turned around, failing in her attempt to look wide awake, "Don't worry about me, Joe. I'm fine."
"Come on, B'Elanna. You can't fool me. You haven't slept in over thirty-six hours. Don't you think it's time for a break?" Carey suggested.
B'Elanna wanted to stay up and help more than anything but knew her subordinate was right. Besides, she just didn't have the energy to put up a fight. She ached all over. From head to toe. *What I would give for one of Tom's shoulder massages right about now* She thought to herself. "Okay, I'll take a short break. You can take over here. . .thanks." She patted his shoulder softly and headed for the turbolift.
When the turbolift doors opened she immediately realized that she wasn't the only one that hadn't slept all night. "Hi, Tom," she said while yawning.
"Hey. How's engineering?" He answered, catching her contagious yawn.
"Busy," she acknowledged, "but soooo boring!"
"Sounds like fun," He teased. "I can just picture you. Working on the most arduous task and not stopping until you were ordered to rest by the doctor."
"Something like that. But I could say the same for you," She answered, enjoying their comfortable banter.
"Have you seen that anomaly yet?" He asked.
"No, but some of the engineering staff said it was really something."
"It was amazing! Here, We might be able to see it from my quarters." The turbolift doors parted and B'Elanna allowed Tom to lead her to his quarters. All she really wanted was to go back to her own quarters and get some sleep but she was to tired to argue and didn't want to risk hurting Tom's feelings. Especially considering that they still hadn't gotten to celebrate their first year anniversary. Besides, she had been somewhat curious to see this thing for herself. People were talking about it like they hadn't seen outer space before! B'Elanna walked in a daze and was almost surprised when they reached Tom's quarters. Tom tapped in his authorization code and the doors opened to his quarters. Keeping the lights out so that they could see outside more clearly Tom took B'Elanna's hand gently and led her over to his small window. The view outside was anything but small. The anomaly seemed brighter than the brightest nebula and took B'Elanna's breath away.
"Wow!" was all she could say about it. Tom smiled at her familiar reaction. They stood talking about it and watching the soft ripples of space for a few minutes when Tom noticed how uncomfortable B'Elanna seemed.
"Sore muscles, Chief?" he asked her.
"Yes. I'm hurting all over and my head is killing me."
"Can I replicate something for you?"
"No. I'll be fine. I just really need to sleep for a while. I'd better be getting back to my quarters," she turned around to leave but Tom's hand stopped her.
"No. Stay. Please. I'm tired too. We can curl up on my couch, I'll give you a massage and we can sleep for a couple of hours." He chuckled softly, "Look, I've spent the last thirty or so hours with Tuvok! Well, Harry was there too but. . .I really need some of your company right now. I've missed you." The look in his eyes was enough to melt B'Elanna's heart. Also, she remembered that wish she had made in engineering and the idea of one of his relaxing massages was too much to pass up.
"Well, you've got it, "she answered, kissing his waiting lips and leaning against his shoulder while he gently led her to his couch where he lay her down and sat beside her kneading her tender muscles with his strong hands. He ordered the computer to play a soft, slow song from the late twentieth century and "I'm Your Angel" sung by Celine Dion and R. Kelly began to play while Tom continued to relax B'Elanna's tense muscles and get rid of every knot in her tired out body. The last words of the romantic melody faded off as Tom completed his own thorough search of sorts, trying his best to bring his devoted love to the complete happiness and content that he felt at that very moment.
"There we go, how's that. . .Angel?" he asked her softly, "B'Elanna?" He bent down and kissed the forehead of his sleeping beauty and curled up beside her, careful not to wake her up. He, himself was asleep even before B'Elanna woke up long enough to kiss him in return and lay her head gently on his chest.
Lieutenant Commander Tuvok finished changing and was ready for another day as "Acting Captain", despite his serious lack of sleep. In three days he'd had only eleven hours slumber and had eaten a mere three rolls and about ten cups of coffee. He washed and toweled off his face and was about to leave for the bridge to relieve Harry when he suddenly realized how hungry he was. He walked quickly over to his replicator. He needed something that was relatively quick but also very filling, "Chicken soup and tea, lack." As the request shimmered into existence, Tuvok felt his body fall slowly unconscious and then into another place and time. As if Voyager was something altogether. . . isolate, unreal and futuristic.
Harry checked the time for what seemed like the hundredth time that hour. Tuvok had said he would be on the bridge at 0600 hours but it was already after 0700 and it hasn't like him to be late. Harry hated to wake the guy up but if he, himself didn't get to bed soon he'd fall asleep in the Captain's chair. *Oh, now wouldn't that be great!* he thought sarcastically. He checked the chronometer one more time and seeing that it was now 07:16 he sighed and spoke into his comm badge, "Kim to Tuvok. . .Tuvok?" Now this was definitely not the Tuvok he knew, "Computer, where's Commander Tuvok?"
"There are no records of a Commander Tuvok in Voyager's data banks."
"Oh, great," Harry sighed to himself. He put his head down to massage his throbbing head. "Kim to Paris."
Tom opened his eyes and looked down at B'Elanna, still laying in the position she'd fallen asleep in hours before. "Paris here," he acknowledged groggily, trying hard to keep his eyes open."
"We've lost Tuvok to the. . .whatever it is and, well, I guess you're in charge."
"Great," answered Tom, wryly, relaxing back into B'Elanna's arms, "Give me a couple of minutes, I'll be right there."
"Take your time," answered his friend. "I've been on bridge duty all night, another half hour or so shouldn't make a difference."
"Thanks Har, I owe you one. Paris out." He leaned down and kissed B'Elanna tenderly to consciousness.
She moaned softly and her brown eyes fluttered open, "Good morning. . .what time is it?" she asked in the middle of reciprocating his kisses.
"Oh, about seven thirty."
She yawned, "We should probably be getting back to work. I had no idea I was going to sleep all night. I told Carey I'd only take a short break."
"I'm sure Joe will forgive you. After all, he likes to see you getting some rest as much as I do. I have to get to the bridge now though. We lost Tuvok this morning, which makes me. . ."
"Acting Captain," they said in unison.
"Oh, wonderful," exclaimed B'Elanna, "What are we going to do now?"
"Well, there's nothing we can do. At least not until we find out what the problem is."
B'Elanna walked over to where Tom was grabbing a new uniform to change into and hugged him, "Everything's going to be alright. We'll figure out what's going on and we'll get them all back," He leaned down so she could kiss him once more, "Now, I should be getting back to my quarters. I have to get back down to engineering and hopefully it's still early enough to avoid a couple of rumors. Although, there could be some good points. Do you know how many women on this ship would love to be caught sneaking out of your quarters early in the morning?" They both chuckled softly. It was nice to ease some of the tension. He escorted her to the door with his arm draped around her waist effectionately and they exchanged a meaningful glance before heading in separate directions.
Tom yawned for what seemed like the thousandth time since he had taken command of Voyager. As new and exciting as it was for him to have the responsibility of being in charge of every single being still on Voyager, he longed to be at the helm, running his fingers over the controls and having nearly complete control over the entire ship. He heaved a loud sigh and shifted positions in the suddenly uncomfortable chair, *I'm tired of sitting here, giving orders and reading reports. I have to do something!* he glanced back at Harry who'd just returned to the bridge about fifteen minutes before, "Harry, you have the bridge. I'm going to go see if there's anything I can do in engineering. Keep scanning the area. If there are any changes at all with the anomaly or otherwise, let me know." He looked at Ensign Walsh at helm, "Maintain coarse circling the anomaly, Ensign."
"Aye, Sir," acknowledged the Ensign.
Harry moved down from Ops and took Tom's place in the Captain's chair and Tom headed for the turbolift. "Engineering," he ordered and the familiar humming began as he felt the lift descend at a comfortable pace. He stood back and rested his head against the bulkhead. Allowing his eyes to close for a few seconds while the lift continued it's consistent descent. After another half minute or so the lift came to a slow halt and the doors slid open to main engineering. Tom stepped out and gazed around the busy room until his eyes finally settled on the object of his search. He walked up to B'Elanna, who was laying on her back making a repair on a main console, careful not to bump into any of the people or their various scanning projects. "Hey there." He said cautiously. He really didn't want to interrupt her but in a place this busy, he didn't want to risk touching something that he wasn't supposed to. He wanted to help but pressing one wrong button could put them even further behind.
"Tom," she crawled out from under the console and got quickly to her feet. "Hi."
Tom was momentarily lost in her eyes. There was just something about her when she was in engineering. A certain stature that wasn't there anywhere else. Like engineering was the place where she felt most at home and a part of. And those eyes, the way they seemed to look right through people, the way he felt when they were looking at him. The strong feeling of love and compassion that rose in his chest when their eyes met. As if his heart was about to jump right out of his throat. . .
"Tom? You okay?"
"Oh, ah. . .yeah. I was just wondering if there was anything I could do down here. . . to help." He felt his cheeks flush slightly. B'Elanna couldn't help but smile at the sheepish look on his face. He glanced into her eyes causing her to lose her train of thought for a few seconds. She couldn't quite put into words, the way he made her feel when their eyes would meet. It was as if she could melt into his arms. She loved him so much. It was nearly overwhelming when she was so close to him. Especially when she was in a place where they both knew they couldn't get as close as they might like. It made her want him even more. Maybe someday they could express their feelings more openly, but for now, affection was only in private. . .
It was Tom's turn to be the concerned one, "B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna snapped quickly out of her reverie, "Oh, um, yeah. You can help me here." She went back underneath the console, pulling Tom with her by the arm. He laughed, nearly bumping his head. She showed him how to proceed with a particular scanning procedure and started the same procedure a few meters away. Every few minutes their eyes would meet for an awkward moment and both would turn back to what they were doing trying to keep their minds on their work.
Kathryn Janeway sat up from her laying position on the ground and examined her surroundings. She was in the middle of a large room that had expensive looking, dark blue carpet and was decorated with metals and awards galore. There were a lot of them. At least fifty, with inscriptions that commended everything, from remarkable bravery to outstanding achievement as a Starfleet officer. After recovering from the initial shock and regaining her senses she knew instantly where she was. . .this was Admiral Paris' office. It was indisputable. The laurels, the carpeting, it was just like she remembered it.
"I'll be damned," she whispered upon this realization. Then another thought occurred to her, "I must be dreaming." But dream or not, she had to investigate. She had to know for sure. She stood up and studied the engravings on the various trophies to try to gather a better understanding as to the time and place of this current mystery. It wasn't long before her investigation was cut short due to voices that seemed to be coming in her direction. She couldn't make out the words that were being said but the voice was unmistakable. It was, without a doubt, Admiral Owen Paris, himself.
Janeway pinched herself. If this was a dream, now would be a good time to wake-up. Preferably before she was caught snooping around an Admiral’s quarters. Owen Paris may have been her mentor but the man had a temper. Especially when it came to breaking laws or Starfleet protocols. Her eyes widened as the sense of pure reality struck her and the heavy wooden doors to the Admirals home office began to slowly creek open.
This was no dream. Kathryn stood like a statue. Was she supposed to be here? She had visited him in his home numerous times before she was a Captain. Maybe he was expecting her, but what if he wasn't? Every instinct in her body was telling her to hide and then run for the nearest exit, but the explorer in her just had to wait and see what would happen. The following won out and she just stood there, staring at the creaky old door, which seemed to be taking an eternity to open.
Luckily, her immediate concerns were not justified. The Admiral walked in, followed closely by a younger Tom Paris. Janeway tried not to gasp. Tom couldn't have been more than eighteen and was patiently arguing with his stubborn father.
Janeway could hardly make out what he was saying but there was one sentence she heard very clearly, "Look, Dad. . .it's my life, so just leave me alone!" He stood tall but there was an underlying fear in his eyes, like he didn't know what to expect. It wasn't often he'd talk back to his father. The risk was too great. The Admiral was never what you'd call predictable, and the reaction to his own son's anger towards him could be hostile at times.
Kathryn was standing so still that she had forgotten to breath. She had always known that Tom and Owen hadn't had the strongest father/son relationship in Starfleet's history, but she had no idea that the altercations had been this severe. Admiral Paris looked up, finally noticing that he and his son weren't the only people in the room.
"Why, Kathy. I wasn't expecting you. Please, have a seat." said the Admiral, immediately covering up the audacity in his voice. He then turned back to his son, "Thomas, you are excused. I'll deal with you later."
Tom narrowed his eyes slightly at his father then nodded politely to Kathryn, trying desperately to cover up his sadness under the mask that he had since perfected, "Ensign Janeway," he acknowledged respectfully before turning and slamming the door behind him. She couldn't help but flinch at her current designation. Though she knew very well that she was in a time prior to being in a commanding position, being identified as 'Ensign' had momentarily surprised her.
Owen Paris turned his attention back to Janeway, flustered, "Teenagers, these days," he laughed, more to himself than anyone else. "I-is there, ah, something you need my help with, Ensign?" he stuttered, acting very embarrassed. The Admiral had always said that despite any problems at home, his family was not to do or say anything that could risk damaging the "great Paris reputation," but with the way he was acting, you'd have thought Tom had just committed a crime.
Now, she really had to think, and fast. There was no way of knowing the reason she had been there. Nobody's memory was that good! She had to come up with a suitable question but she'd have to know a little more about her old self first. If Tom was still in his teens then that would make it her mid twenties, and about ten years before Voyager. She
had to come up with some explanation! But what?!
"Well, um, Admiral. . . I was just studying Starfleet's take on the, uh. . . the," She drawled out this sentence, pretending to be searching for an appropriate word, when in fact she had to come up with an idea that she would have completely understood at the younger age but would still want his input on. The thought of Tom entered her mind and an idea hit her. What was one of the things Tom had told her about the past? She thought hard for a moment. . .cars! She smiled, slightly and continued, "The. . . progression of transportation technology since the mid twentieth century. . . and I was just wondering your opinion. Do you think we've come as far as we could have?"
The Admiral looked thoughtful as he contemplated a respectable answer for his prize pupil, "Well now, Kathy, that's a very good question. A very good one indeed." He answered her question and she carried on a short conversation afterwards, leaving in less than an hour.
She thanked him for his hospitality and was politely dismissed from his office. She walked out of the enormous home and paused when the doors shut behind her, "Next step. . .find a way to get back to my crew."
Captain Janeway took a deep stabling breath and preceded up the beige steps to the Starfleet Academy entrance. She reached the heavy doors and walked into the main lobby. She glanced around for a few minutes, looking at the large glass box with the Academy's many trophies, and answering an abundance of warm hellos from old friends. She even had a brief conversation with a young woman who had been her best friend right up until the time Voyager left. Her name was Lindsay. They used to have so much fun together, ever since they met through a mutual friend at a junior high-school slumber party. Janeway kept the discourse short, sticking to casual topics like the weather to avoid changing the future. She realized that even the slightest interaction could completely change the whole life of the Voyager crew. On her walk to the Academy she had thought about it and had even, for an instant considered changing destiny. But then her thoughts went out to Kes and Neelix. Changing Voyager's fate would result in changing the future of an entire species, the loss of several wonderful crewman, no, several wonderful friends. . .and every single instinct within Janeway's entire sense of self couldn't allow that to happen.
She nodded a polite good-bye to Lindsay and headed towards the main research facilities. First, she went to the facilities that were open to students and cadets but was unable to find any of what she wanted. The next step was to get a little sneakier. She thought for a moment but knew there was know alternative method. This plan had to work. It was the only option.
She walked silently up the several flights of stairs leading to the part of the Academy allocated only for those with Captain's clearance or higher, avoiding turbo lifts at all costs and taking all precautions to not be detected. She reached the top and glanced around the corner to examine the premises. Seeing three guards in the hallway she knew that she'd have to put plan B into action. She silently scaled the wall, successfully avoiding detection, until she felt a medium sized panel against her lower back. She turned around swiftly and began to gingerly type in all of the Starfleet algorithms that she thought might work. She had to be careful because most of the Academy lock-outs would only allow a total of four incorrect codes before setting off an alarm in security headquarters.
One. Two. She flinched as she began her third algorithm. This better work out. She held her breath as she typed in the last number and the Jeffries tube slowly opened. Once inside, she took a few seconds to calm herself.
"Now, that is what you call cutting it close! "she mumbled to no-one particular.
She took a deep breath as she got on to her hands and knees and began to crawl through the seemingly endless Jeffries tube, careful to evade each and every one of the Academy's abstract sensors. She reached the end of the ostensibly abysmal tunnel and cautiously crawled out, making sure to duck below office windows and not get caught by a security guard. She carefully ascended the gently sloping hallway until she reached the main door to the restricted chambers. She glanced around, confirming that she was alone, and growing more and more excited by the minute when the rush of what she was doing hit her.
She clenched her teeth tightly in frustration as she found yet another security lock-out. She stopped herself in mid stream from slamming her hand against a bulkhead, took a deep breath and began to type in some new algorithms. She got lucky this time and got it on her second try. She smiled, satisfied and entered the large room. It was full of useful research and scanning devices. She hacked into one of the many alcoves and scrolled down the data base listings.
"Computer, list all known facts and the present location of," she thought for a second, "of a current member of the Maquis, Chakotay." The computer paused for a few seconds and then provided a short list of recent whereabouts. The last time the Maquis ship was spotted by Starfleet records it was fighting a massive group of raging Cardassians on Kessik. That was less than a week before. Janeway thought for a moment. If she remembered correctly, from prior research on the Maquis, (although they didn't stay in one place for long) they'd usually find some shelter where they could repair their broken vessels and rest for a few days after a large battle. If she was lucky enough, Chakotay may have also retained his memories as she did. Which would mean that he was likely trying as hard to solve this dilemma and find anyone else that was in the wrong time as she was. She cautiously exited the Academy building and headed for the nearest civilian shuttle station. She had to get to where Chakotay was and fast. She silently wondered how far this would go before she could get herself and all the rest of her misplaced crew back to Voyager.
Chakotay continued to search the Maquis computer's data banks but was unable to find any information on how he and ex-Maquis Joel Taren had arrived back in time and if they were the only ones. "Well at least we know that if someone did come back after us they're probably trying to find us as hard as we're searching for them."
Joel agreed, "You're probably right, but what if there isn't anyone else?"
"I can't see us being the only ones. Something on Voyager must have interacted with the array the Captain was talking about. I think we should just stay here on this planet, at least for a few days. It'll make it easier for them to find us," Chakotay suggested, knowing that Janeway wasn't about to give up on them no-matter what time she was in.
Joel nodded in concurrence, "Good idea, but what can we do in the mean-time? I don't think I can stand just sitting here and waiting much longer."
Chakotay smiled a little and patted his subordinate on the shoulder, "Don't worry. Right now there's plenty we can do. First of all, let's discuss our individual predicaments. If we can find some similarities, and discover what got us here, we might be able to find a way to get back.
The two men spoke about their arbitrary disappearances for several minutes but were unable to come up with a reasonable hypothesis. Apparently, Joel had been in the mess hall, eating a rushed breakfast before reporting to engineering while Chakotay had been on his way to the bridge on Janeway's request. They chose not to let on that they were from the future to their fellow Maquis. It was better to keep things the way they were for now. They turned in for the night like the rest of the Maquis but, needless to say, it was a restless night for both of them.
Neelix bolted upright in a cold sweat, trembling in the unfamiliar surroundings and hardness of the furniture he had fallen asleep in. He was disoriented for a few moments until the disturbing memories of his recent events returned to haunt him. He remembered being on Voyager, preparing for the mid-day meal and all of a sudden being whisked away by something unknown. His present habitat wasn't completely alien to him, though. Although he was definitely no longer used to these harsh, uncomfortable conditions, he almost immediately recognized the ship he was on. A ship he'd lived on for years before he had been discovered by Voyager. Another thing he was quick to notice was the star-date on the chronometer. According to this, he wasn't supposed to come in any kind of contact with Voyager for another fifteen years or so. Although the thought of having to wait that long to be reunited with his friends terrified him, he was determined to keep thoughts like that out of his head.
"Voyager will find me," he repeated to himself for the hundredth time, "Captain Janeway would never abandon me." He also decided that if Voyager wasn't able to find him within a couple of weeks he would find them.
He lay back down on the comparatively uncomfortable surface and his trembling gradually ceased as he fell into a short, agitated slumber.
B'Elanna yawned softly and placed her hand on her throbbing head. It had been four days since the whole crisis had begun and it seemed as if she'd made no progress at all. They were down to a skeleton crew. The remaining senior officers included B'Elanna, Tom, the Doctor and Seven of Nine. They had just lost Harry and the remnant crew, consisting of forty-six people, were not in very high hopes. Moral was becoming lower by the day, the absence of Neelix not helping a great deal, and they were losing an average of about two officers an hour. Tom entered engineering via the turbolift and stopped at a small console to type in a few algorithms on his way to see B'Elanna.
"Are you alright? You look a bit tired," he pursued gently.
She leaned-back thankfully into his waiting arms. "Tired and frustrated . I feel like we're going around in circles."
"I know the feeling," Tom agreed, "but we have to keep trying. If they're all together, wherever they are, their probably trying just as hard from their end."
"You're right. . .who has the bridge right now?"
"Well, the Doctor and Seven are both in astrometrics and we just lost Ensign Ayala so I put Ensign Walsh on bridge duty."
B'Elanna nodded, "We just lost Carey too. This is getting insane! "She flinched and brought her hand back up to her throbbing headache.
Tom looked down at her with concern visible in his deep, caring, blue eyes, "Are you all right, B'Elanna? You really should rest for a while."
She shook her head lightly, "No. I'll be fine. I can't stop now."
"Come on," Tom argued kindly but firmly, "You're the one who just said that we're going in circles. Just take a little nap. Even just for an hour or so. I mean, what good is a brilliant, beautiful Chief Engineer if she's exhausted and in pain?"
"Flattery will get you everywhere, Paris," she reached upward to give him a kiss on the cheek and reluctantly walked toward the turbolift. She turned to face him before the lift's doors enveloped her, "One' hour." she stated with mock-anger. The doors closed on her pretty face and Tom's sincere smile faded. He couldn't seem to keep one particularly
unsettling thought from repeatedly surfacing in his mind. What if she was next. What if he didn't have what it took to get them back...and he lost her? The beautiful, angelic image of her falling asleep beside him two nights before lingered in his mind. He took a deep breath and turned back to B'Elanna's console, with a renewed sense of hope and determination.
"Chakotay. . .wake up," Chakotay's eyes fluttered open and he sat up displaying silent relief at the sight of his Captain.
"Kathryn. Am I ever glad to see you!"
"Likewise," whispered Captain Janeway, "Did anyone else come back with you?"
Chakotay nodded, "Yes, Joel Taren arrived at around the same time as I did. There may be more. Have you figured out what happened?"
"I think I know about as much as you do. I was whisked back in time less than a half of an hour after you were. On route to find you I also came across two of our engineers and thirty-three other crewmen. About an hour after that, Tuvok and Lieutenant Carey found me and the three of us came here to get to you and anyone else at this location. The rest are back on a small camp that we set up on Earth."
Chakotay tried, in vain, to keep the look of dismay off of his face. "Does anyone know who's ordaining Voyager?"
"Well, Carey was the last one on Voyager that I've talked to. According to him, Tom is in charge. Apparently he, B'Elanna, the Doctor and Seven are the only senior officers yet to join us. At last count there were only about fifty soles on board."
Chakotay took a settling breath as he realized the seriousness of the conundrum and glanced at Joel who'd awoken during the Captain's explanation and had been listening intently.
"Taren and I will search the grounds for anyone else. . .we'll join you in a few minutes."
Janeway rose, "Good. I'll see you then."
There ended up being several misplaced people on the grounds. Nearly a dozen of Voyager's ex-Maquis turned up on Kessik that night. "That must have been some fight," commented Captain Janeway at the vast number of Maquis at the site.
"Oh, I remember it well," confirmed her devoted first officer.
They arrived at the camp that had been set up about an hour away from any communities or vast civilizations by 0200 hours, but none of them were ready to even think of sleeping. It was a very excluded spot, located in the midst of some large rock formations. There were lots of evergreen trees, very useful for sheltering purposes and it was one of the safest places they could chose in their present predicament. They were in close enough proximity to Starfleet to attain supplies and information efficiently, and the trees created enough exclusion to hopefully stop any of the crew from accidentally altering the future. The many crew members all stood around a small heat generator and exchanged stories to try and find out the cause of what was happening and possibly discover a credible resolution. After hearing from Chakotay and Taren, three other crewmen told their particular versions of the same story, but no major similarities were discovered.
Next was Tuvok's turn. The Vulcan stepped into the light and spoke in his usual sustained voice "It was 0530 hours. I was in the midst of leaving my quarters to relieve Ensign Kim of bridge duty. I had not had any source of nourishment for several hours and it was earlier than the designated hour in which I was to be on the bridge. I walked over to my replicator and orde. . ."
He was abruptly cut off by Chakotay, "That's right! Come to think of it, I did stop on my way to the bridge. . .to replicate a coffee!"
Now it was the Captain's turn to step forward, "Me too. I was sent back after replicating a coffee as well." She thought for a moment, the anticipation of her crew rising by the second, "How many of you, came here after using a replicator?" Unanimous hands went up and several cheers were heard before the excited group was calmly hushed by Captain Janeway.
"Okay, now that we have a good idea of what got us here does anyone have any suggestions of what could get us home?"
Ensign Vorik stepped forward, "Captain. Since it is most likely that the anomaly's interaction with Voyager's replicator systems causes a series of individual time displacement waves, it may be possible to reverse what has occurred by recycling each of the articles which were replicated back into their congruent replicator."
Janeway straitened in slight apprehension and glanced at Tuvok questioningly. She really didn't want to get her hopes up.
"His logic is sound, Captain. I recommend sending an encoded message to Voyager via subspace time warp. We can tell Mr. Paris, or the person presently responsible of commanding the ship, to ensure restriction of use of the replicators until a successful method of getting us back is acquired. We can also send them our specific co-ordinates to form a viable means of communication."
Janeway put her forefinger to her cheek inquisitively, "Agreed. Tuvok, Harry and Vorik you come with me. I pulled some strings and got us some Starfleet equipment to work with. The rest of you, stay close by. I'll need a complete list of who last replicated what and which replicator system was used. Understood?" With the acknowledgment of her crew, Janeway dismissed them to their designated arrangements and began her own
task with a satisfied smile. Finally, they were making some progress. She didn't have to feel helpless any longer. Now it wasn't a matter of if. The new question was 'when'?
Tom stood and paced around the bridge for a minute or two before sitting back down in the Captain's chair. Small circles were beginning to show under his eyes and the lack of sleep he'd gotten in the last five days was becoming apparent.
B'Elanna glanced up in concern. He'd been putting everyone else left on the ship first ever since he became acting Captain and had been seriously neglecting himself lately. For the last three days he'd taken only four short breaks to shower and change his uniform. He hadn't slept in over seventy-two hours, the light hairs on his face were becoming more pronounced and he was beginning to show severe signs of sleep deprivation and fatigue. The remaining crew consisted of only twenty-eight people, barely enough to keep the ship running at even half efficiency. Of course, he wasn't the only person working hard. B'Elanna was constantly running from one deck of the ship to another. With the limited number of crewman left on board, there was way too much pressure placed on the shoulders of the remaining officers. Seven of Nine had only regenerated twice in the last four days and B'Elanna had only taken three, extremely short, naps (the last two only after a direct order from a certain 'acting captain.')
B'Elanna walked up and sat in the first officer’s chair. She leaned in close to him, "So, when's the Captain going to get some sleep? "she whispered.
Tom sighed in mock exasperation, "B'Elanna, I've told you, I'm not taking a break until things get back to normal around here."
B'Elanna nodded her head sympathetically, "Look, Tom, I know how you feel. It's like, if you rest, everyone else will fall asleep too. But if there is anything you have taught me, it's that Voyager isn't going to stop working if you get some severely needed rest and neither are the rest of the people on this ship."
Tom reached out and touched her face, "Sweetheart, I know you're right, but I just don't think I can sleep right now. It's as if when I wake up there won't be anyone left on Voyager."
B'Elanna took his right hand with her left and held it to it's place on her cheek, "I understand, but you can't be as wonderful a Captain as I know you're capable of if you're completely rundown. "She spoke softly and her concern hit Tom hard.
He conceded and gave her a warm smile before hesitantly agreeing, "Okay, I'll take a short nap, but only for a few hours." He slid his hand from her face down her arm and squeezed her hand affectionately before giving a wink and turning to leave the bridge. Just before he reached the turbolift he spun around to face her again, "Oh, and wake me up at the first sign of, well, anything, I guess."
B'Elanna smiled and nodded her concurrence.
"Well then, you have the bridge. . .Commander."
B'Elanna watched the doors close over Tom's tired visage with a sense of relief, her concern gradually subsiding.
"Commander, we're receiving an encoded message. . .the command codes are Starfleet."
B'Elanna jumped at the unfamiliar voice of Ensign Michelle Brooks. She'd all but forgotten that there had been anyone else on the bridge with her and Tom. Composure instantly restored, she bounded out of the Captain's chair and ran up to Brooks' side. The ensign moved aside to allow the Chief Engineer/Acting First officer access. B'Elanna rapidly pressed the different controls and her face brightened, "It's from Janeway." Her face brightened even more at the reciprocative smile of her subordinate, "They think they know what happened and have an idea as to how to fix it." She stood strait, the sustained grin never leaving her face, and tapped her comm badge, "Torres to Paris..."
She heard Tom's amused response over the comm link, "So much for taking a nap," he joked, "What's going on up there?" Behind the half hearted bantering, authority and seriousness was etched in his tired voice.
B'Elanna didn't waste any time getting to the point, "We received an encoded message, Tom. It looks as if it were sent from the past through some kind of subspace time warp. It's from the Captain."
However tired Tom may have been, all signs of fatigue left his voice and they were replaced with pure authority and anticipation, "I'm on my way. Paris out."
"Captain, we're receiving a transmission. . .it's Voyager," Lieutenant Carey exclaimed, enthusiastically. They'd been on the planet for over three days and had been able to do nothing but wait. Wait for some sign that Voyager knew that they were still alive, wait to realize that the message may never come. It was more than a little frustrating for the agitated Captain and her misplaced crew.
Janeway's face lit up and she ran to the Engineer's side, "They got our message," she stated, to anyone within earshot, "Lieutenant Torres thinks she's come up with a faster, more efficient method of time warp communication. She's going to show Tom and Seven how to work it from Voyager and then she's coming back here to help us. Chakotay! Vorik!" The two were instantly at their Captain's side. "She thinks that she will most likely turn up on Kessik at her mother's home. She'll be waiting for you. Get her and bring her back here immediately. I'll be expecting you back in a few hours.
The twor espective officers nodded, "Aye, Captain," they acknowledged simultaneously.
". . .and after that, you just send it like a regular transmission," B'Elanna finished explaining the new means of communication and looked up questioningly at Tom and then Seven.
"Understood," Tom replied. The ex-Borg just nodded.
"Computer, end program," commanded Tom and the simulated ship controls shimmered into oblivion.
"Okay, well, I guess I'd better be going now," stated B'Elanna, sending a polite hint to Seven. "The Captain probably has someone waiting for me on Kessik."
"I will monitor the communication device from engineering," decided Seven, sensing the two wanted to be alone. With a nod from Tom she walked out the doors of the smaller holodeck and headed for the nearest turbolift.
Tom took in a deep breath and took a step towards B'Elanna, his voice was soft, as if he didn't quite trust it, "You get yourself back here soon, okay Chief?"
B'Elanna stepped forward and brought Tom's arms gently to her waist. She starred into the blue depths of his eyes and silently begged him not to worry about her, "I'll be fine, Tom. I promise." He leaned down and captured her lips with his, in a meaningful oath of obligation, hope and most importantly, everlasting love.
B'Elanna reluctantly broke the kiss and hugged him tightly, "I'll be back." She gave his hand one last squeeze and left the holodeck. Tom walked with her to the nearest replicator. He felt his heart dive painfully into his stomach. This was the beginning of some of his worst nightmares. *God, let her come back to me* he silently prayed with all of his being.
He swallowed hard and attempted to lighten the mood a bit, "Hey, if it's not to much trouble, do you think you might be able to help me get everyone else back here too?"
B'Elanna smiled, "I'll see what I can do. . .hungry?" Tom shrugged his shoulders silently wondering why this was relevant, "Hot, plain, tomato soup." The replicator complied and B'Elanna winked at Tom as she was silently whisked away. After recovering from the particularly painful good-bye, Tom smiled and shook his head. Taking the steaming bowl of soup into his tired hands and heading for the bridge, he thought out-loud, "Practically a matter of life and death and she still remembers my favorite food." He decided that after finishing it's contents he would bring the bowl and spoon to his quarters for safe keeping until it was time to bring his B'Elanna back to him.
Captain Janeway's anxious pacing slowed and she strained her ears at the soft sound of a shuttle craft nearing their destination. With the single exception of Tuvok with his advanced hearing, she appeared to be the only member of the crew who acknowledged the tiny noise. As a Starfleet Captain she had an ear for the slight yet definite sound of the powerful, warp driven engines. The noise became more evident and she could sense the tension of her anxious subordinates begin to subside. The shuttle made a soft landing with Chakotay expertly manning the helm and moments later the door opened, far too slowly for the Captain's impatient mood. She tried in vain to walk to greet her welcome Chief Engineer but broke into a light jog half way there.
B'Elanna smiled, "Captain, am I ever glad to see you!" she exclaimed sincerely.
"Likewise," answered Janeway, with a very genuine smile of her own. The pair walked in long strides towards the camp that had been set up about a quarter of a kilometer away from the landing destination. They reached the sheltered area designated as their temporary headquarters and B'Elanna was promptly at the side of the small, yet powerful
communication device, making a series of tedious, intricate repairs and improvements. Captain Janeway stared in amazement at her resourceful Chief Engineer. She worked fast, but caution was evident in her determined facial expression. Although the job took her over two and a half hours. Watching her brilliant engineer work and listening to B'Elanna's detailed explanation was almost enough to make the hours pass a little more quickly.
"There we go. Ready, Captain," Stated B'Elanna, never once realizing just how important an asset she was to Voyager and her crew.
Captain Janeway crouched down next to her and closely examined the device, her hopeful smile gradually broadening into the type of proud grin only a Starfleet Captain could give. The smile that says, *My crew isn't only the smartest, it's the all 'round best!* B'Elanna grinned in return, sensing Janeway's approval.
"This is brilliant, Lieutenant!" stated the proud Captain at B'Elanna's outstanding ingenuity. B'Elanna finished explaining how the device worked and looked at Janeway, awaiting instruction.
"Excellent, B'Elanna. I'm leaving you in charge of communications and getting the rest of the crew back where they belong," she handed B'Elanna a data pad with the information needed for each individual's safe passage back to Voyager.
B'Elanna nodded and began to walk away before spinning around to face Janeway once more, "Captain, what about you?" she asked, picking up the full meaning of Janeway's last comment.
"Lieutenant, I'm not leaving until I am one hundred percent sure that every single member of this crew is back on Voyager, including you," she held her hand up to stop the concerned argument that she knew was inevitable, "B'Elanna, I know you're worried about me. I also know that you are the most knowledgeable of this technology. But I am the Captain, and if anything is to go wrong, I need to know that the rest of my crew is safe and sound. Understood?" Although, her tone was not at all harsh and B'Elanna wanted nothing more then to make sure that her Captain reached her ship unscathed, she knew that Janeway was not to be argued with. She was the Captain, and a damn good one, that wouldn't sacrifice a single member of her crew for all the latinum in the universe.
Instead of begging that she be the one to foresee the entire project, she accepted the silent contract that she would be the second last member to find herself back with Tom on Voyager, "Aye, Captain," she acknowledged, her gaze centered on the moist dirt beneath her feet.
Captain Janeway took her forefinger and gently lifted B'Elanna's head to look her in the eye, "Were going to get out of this. Everything's going to be fine now," she said with certainty and sincerity. Almost as an after thought she spoke softly, almost a whisper, "Fine now, thanks to you." B'Elanna stood a little bit taller and nodded to her Captain, feeling a million percent more confident that this whole ordeal was going to work out. Captain Janeway nodded in return trying, not in vain, to keep her own emotions in check, and walked away to give the rest of the crew their particularly difficult orders. To be patient and to try not to worry. B'Elanna kneeled down and reassuringly began the singularly arduous task of downloading all the necessary information from the past into Voyager's future systems.
"Captain, we are receiving a transmission from Lieutenant Torres' communication device," alerted Seven of Nine. Tom still wasn't used to answering to the title of 'Captain' and had even failed to answer on a few occasions, but when B'Elanna was concerned he was there, Captain or not. He was immediately at Seven's side and scrolling down the seemingly endless list of names and articles that needed to be recycled into the replicators. When he reached the end of the long index there was a note to him. It read "Everything's alright now. I'll be in your safe and secure arms by the end of the day. I did 'promise' didn't I?" He smiled and quickly downloaded the list before heading to Ensign Cameron's quarters to begin his welcome job. *Thank goodness I don't have to worry about losing anyone else today.* he mused as he entered the turbolift.
Neelix paced the floors of his ship in agitation. He was extremely restless and when he wasn't pacing he was scanning to the best of his ships abilities or anxiously talking to himself, "What am I going to do? When are they going to find me? Are they even looking? It's been over five days!" He felt absolutely certain that they had been looking for him but after such a long time alone his doubts were beginning to surface. The loneliness was almost completely unbearable. Especially for someone like Neelix, who lived to talk and spend time with his friends and acquaintances, "Captain Janeway will not give up on me! She just can't!" He sat down in his chair by the helm. Cold, lonely and discouraged, he began to scan.
Things were going extremely well at the camp on Earth. People were being whisked off the planet and back to Voyager almost constantly. Between eight and eleven crew members were returned every hour and everyone was feeling one hundred percent better than they had only a day or two earlier. At this rate everyone would be back where they were supposed to be by six hundred hours the next morning.
Captain Janeway sat down on a fallen log beside her Chief Engineer with a reassuring smile on her face, "How's it going?" she asked.
B'Elanna hadn't noticed the Captain's presence and stood out of respect. Janeway tapped the seat beside her on the log and B'Elanna smiled kindly and sat back down again, "Just thinking, Captain," she replied, "How are you doing?"
"Well, I'm a lot better now that I know my crew is in good hands," B'Elanna blushed slightly, momentarily thankful for her darker complexion, "Actually I came to thank you." B'Elanna was about to protest but Kathryn continued to speak, ceasing any reply she may have had, "To thank you for not only coming up with this brilliant new technology but for willing to come all the way back here even with your own well being at stake."
B'Elanna finally had a chance to respond, "Well, you're very welcome, Captain but I was only doing my job."
Captain Janeway became more serious, "No. It was much more than that. When we get back to Voyager, I am awarding you an official citation and I am seriously considering a promotion for both you and Lieutenant Paris to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. For your outstanding contribution to getting us back and for his first-rate job in commanding Voyager in my absence."
B'Elanna was taken aback, "Y-you don't have to do that Captain, I mean you're right about Tom. He's hardly even taken as much as a nap since Tuvok was sent back, but me. . .with all do respect Captain, I did nothing out of the ordinary for a chief engineer."
Captain Janeway stood up, placed a hand on B'Elanna's shoulder and looked her directly in the eye, "B'Elanna, you did all that and more. I can think of no-one more worthy of a promotion than yourself. Not just for what you've done today, not that it in itself isn't immeasurably commendable, but for what you have brought forth as a brilliant engineer over the entire time we have been in the Delta quadrant. Not only am I convinced that you have been the one responsible for getting us out of many desperate situations, but because you have been and always will be a valued member of Voyager's family. . .I've made my decision. As soon as we get back and get moving again I am going to hold a formal celebration for the strength and determination of the entire crew. During the assemblies I will present the pips to yourself and Mr. Paris and give my commemorative speech."
B'Elanna new that by now the reddish glow running up her dark cheeks was quite visible. Although she personally didn't feel at all deserving of a such a speech little lone a promotion, B'Elanna new that it was no use trying to change Janeway's mind once it was made up. So she stood up to face her honorable Captain and extended her hand, "In that case, thank you very much, Captain. You can't imagine how much this means to me." They shook hands and exchanged a meaningful glance before sitting down to wait once again.
Tom rubbed his tired eyes and leaned against the walls of the turbolift. He grinned anxiously as he remembered how many people had come back to the ship *Only seventeen more people to go and then my beautiful B'Elanna,* he thought to himself. This caused an excited shiver of happiness to run up and down his body finally settling in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't wait to see her. To hold her. To have her come back completely unscathed without as much as a scratch on her slender form. This may have started out as a nightmare but was quickly turning into a sweet dream.
The turbolift doors opened and Tom was surprised at how vigilant he felt. It was as if simply thinking of B'Elanna was enough to rejuvenate his entire body. Well if that worked as a good stimulant to his tired bones, he wouldn't mind going without sleep a little more often! Unable to maintain a slower speed, he ran to the next recycling job, and the next, and the one after that. They had decided it best that only one person be brought back at a time to avoid any fatal mistakes so Tom had taken it upon himself to do the running around, while the rest of the crew were either manning their usual stations, helping the Doctor in sickbay or staying close to Tom to greet the people coming back and escort the injured to sickbay. Tom had started a silent countdown for when B'Elanna would be back in his arms.
About two hours after his countdown began, he was finally only one person away from B'Elanna. With great pleasure he replaced the spare gel pack that Harry had replicated to boost power in one of the main deflectors and waited for a minute before his friend slowly appeared in front of him. Harry looked around for a moment, checking himself over. Seeing that he was all in one piece and right where he was supposed to be he smiled and looked gratefully up at his best friend, "Thanks, Tom!" he exclaimed sincerely.
"Hey, it's no problem, Har! Nice to have you back!" he gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder and broke into a very fast sprint towards his quarters to grab the bowl and spoon that would bring the love of his life back to Voyager.
Harry gave a puzzled look to the security guard standing nest to him and pointed in the direction Tom had ran in, "What's with him?"
Crewman Mills looked at him, "I'm not certain but I think it might have something to do with the next person on the list."
"Oh? Who's that."
"It's Lieutenant Torres, Sir," stated Mills.
Harry grinned from ear to ear, "Well that explains it then!"
Tom was in and out of his quarters in a split second and was at the appropriate replicator almost before the turbolift doors opened to let him out. He practically threw the contents of his hands into the machine and counted the seconds to when her beautiful frame would shimmer into existence in front of him. The one minute and forty-three seconds that it took for her to finally appear felt like a million lifetimes to her anxious beloved and he held his breath as if there were no more air to breath. She appeared. Slowly, and finally she was there. For him to hold and to touch and to tell her how much he cared about her. She glanced around and felt her arms and legs to make sure she wasn't dreaming, a seemingly common reaction and then she glanced up at the man who had brought her here, "Tom!" she exclaimed running into his safe embrace. They pulled apart just long enough for their lips to meet. The intensity with which he kissed her surprised even himself. The relief they both felt was almost overwhelming. They hugged once more before breaking apart to look into each others eyes.
"Hey," Tom said casually, "Thanks for lunch."
B'Elanna laughed softly, "Anytime."
"What do you say we go get our Captain back, together," he asked, emphasizing the 'we' and the 'together.'
"I wouldn't have it any other way," she answered and they started towards the briefing room, hand in hand. Not even letting go of each other when they got to the turbolift. They walked into the empty briefing room and ran to the replicator where the coffee was still sitting, never touched. It had become slightly scummy on top but had never been moved or gone moldy. Tom and B'Elanna looked at each other and Tom took a deep breath,
"Computer. . .recycle." The coffee was put back into the replicator and the couple waited apprehensively for their Captain's desired return. After exactly One minute and twenty-six seconds she appeared in their midst.
She glanced around and nodded to her valued officers, "Why. . .thank you, Mr. Paris," she stated, with a somewhat humorous tone of voice.
She looked at B'Elanna, "Have you told him yet?" she asked.
"Told me what?" Tom demanded still not about to let go of B'Elanna's hand.
B'Elanna regarded the Captain, choosing to ignore Tom for the moment, "I haven't had the chance."
"Well I won't spoil it. You can tell him everything yourself. "Tom gave up, knowing full well that B'Elanna would let him know when she was good and ready.
Captain Janeway tapped her comm badge, "Janeway to Tuvok."
"Is everyone back where they belong," she asked, expecting a positive response.
After a brief pause Tuvok had an answer, "Negative, Captain. Mr. Neelix is still missing."
Janeway straitened and she looked at Tom and B'Elanna, "Did either of you see him before he was sent back?"
B'Elanna shook her head but Tom took a step forward, "I didn't see him Captain, but it was about eleven hundred hours when I got report of his missing. He was probably in the mess- hall preparing the mid-day meal."
Janeway nodded, "Agreed. You two are with me." Tom and B'Elanna exchanged quick glances and followed there Captain out of the briefing room and towards the nearest turbolift. They got out and walked to the mess hall.
"Okay," began Janeway, "Grab every food item, plate, utensil and anything else that may be the replicated item at hand, and recycle them into the kitchen replicator."
"Captain, what if the item replicated by Neelix has already been eaten by someone?" asked B'Elanna.
Janeway glanced at Tom and he decided it was time to say something positive, "Well, I wouldn't worry to much about that. Nobody's really had a lot of time to eat around here lately."
The three of them walked into the kitchen area and began replicating any and all of the food in sight. After all of the food, plates and utensils had been recycled the three sat down at the table nearest to the kitchen.
"Now what?" asked B'Elanna.
"Now. . .we wait," replied the Captain. One minute went by, one minute, thirty seconds, two minutes, three. When the counting reached five minutes Tom and B'Elanna exchanged glances and Janeway rose, sadly to her feet. Tom and B'Elanna stood as well. The Captain walked in the direction of the doors and turned slowly to look at the two of them. She spoke softly, "Mr. Paris, will you take care of the memorial service if I give you all of the arrangements?" It wasn't an order but he couldn't say 'no' to his hurt Captain.
Tom's voice was hoarse and B'Elanna didn't trust herself to speak, "Of course, captain," he answered softly. Janeway nodded her thanks and walked out of the mess hall.
"I can't believe he's gone," whispered B'Elanna.
"I know," Tom agreed, "it's gonna be tough around here for a while." B'Elanna put her arm around his waist and he hugged her close as they walked towards the door.
"I was beginning to think I'd never get back again!" Tom and B'Elanna spun around and saw none other than Neelix, standing there with an very astonished look on his face.
"Neelix!" They shouted simultaneously, running to their friend's side, "Are we ever glad to see you!" exclaimed Tom.
"Me too, Tom," shouted Neelix, "Believe me!"
"Torres to Janeway."
"Janeway here," answered her tired and disappointed voice.
"Captain, I don't think you're going to have to worry about those memorial arrangements quite so soon. There's somebody in the mess hall you might want to see."
When Janeway spoke, the grin she wore was evident in her excited voice, "On my way!" She joined them in a matter of minutes and even ran over to give Neelix a hug, "Neelix, I thought we were never going to see you again!"
"Likewise, Captain. Thank you for not giving up on me," replied the grateful Talaxian.
"Well, Neelix. As much as I would love to take all the credit. the real people that you should thank are these two," she gestured to Tom and B'Elanna, "These two worked together to get all of us back."
Neelix was temporarily taken aback. He had been under the impression that he'd been the only one sent back, "'All of us', Captain?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Captain Janeway, patiently, "It turns out that the cause of the whole ordeal was the replicators' reaction with a nearby anomaly. It worked out so that whenever someone ordered an item from any of Voyager's replicator systems they were sent back to a certain past point in time. It was discovered that by recycling the correct objects back into the proper replicators we could get everyone back to the ship. B'Elanna discovered a brilliant new form of communications technology. If it hadn't been for her, we wouldn't have gotten back for weeks, maybe even months! She even risked her own life to come back and help us. Tom commanded Voyager for five days, doing an amazing job with a serious lack of both personnel and ships resources. He also ran around the entire ship recycling things until everyone was back. Except for you that is. Unfortunately we hadn't known what you had last replicated so the three of us replaced anything that we could get our hands on," Her voice became softer with her next sentence, "When you didn't come back right away, we thought we'd lost you."
"Well, I'm here, Captain. Safe and sound, thanks to you. All of you. Thank you very much."
Captain Janeway smiled and tapped her comm badge, "Janeway to Commander
"We have everyone. . .now, get us the hell away from here."
"Aye, Captain," answered the relieved Commander, thankful that this was finally all over.
"Oh, and Commander."
"Be sure to make a ship wide announcement when we're safely out of range of the anomaly, I am dying for a coffee!"
"Consider it done," Chakotay replied, amused but not surprised.
Janeway and Neelix sat down at one of the tables and began what looked like a long talk. They had a lot of notes to compare. Tom and B'Elanna took the opportunity to politely excuse themselves. With a nod and a kind 'goodnight' to Neelix and Janeway they walked out the mess hall doors, once again holding hands like they hadn't seen each
other in a millennium.
Once in the turbolift they took a step closer to each other, their bodies not quite touching except for their hands which couldn't have been pried apart with a crow bar. "I'm so glad we're finally together again," stated B'Elanna, her voice both sincere and captivating, "I missed you so much. Your scent, your eyes and especially your touch. All of you."
Tom could sense the turbolift was nearing the desired destination, but didn't want this moment to end, "Computer, halt turbolift," he whispered, softly clearing his throat. His mouth had gone dry during B'Elanna's short speech but he hadn't realized that her enticing and seductive tone had produced that much of an affect on him, "I missed you to. I never want to be without you. . .your touch."
B'Elanna rapped her arms around his neck and he put his around her waist. They hugged each other tightly. There was no kissing, no increasing passion. They just needed a moment to breath in each other's scent, to feel each other's touch. . . "Computer. . .resume."
They stopped outside of B'Elanna's quarters, "Goodnight," Tom said, kissing her on the cheek and reluctantly letting go of her hand.
"Night," answered B'Elanna. He slowly walked away and B'Elanna felt her stomach knot up so badly that she was hit with a sudden wave of nausea. She took a quick, deep breath to steady herself and called out to Tom. He spun around to see her gesturing for him to come back. Although it was against his better judgement, he allowed his heart to take over and walked quickly back to her side. He leaned down, their hungry lips finally meeting and relishing in the delicious taste of each other. All their senses seemed to run together. This is what they had wanted, had needed ever since they had missed their anniversary, over a month ago.
B'Elanna reluctantly came up for air, breathlessly whispering his name, "Tom. . ." She led him into her quarters, deciding it best to get inside before someone came down the corridor and caught them. Tom took her up into his arms and lay her down on her bed. He closed his eyes and kissed her forehead before covering her up with the soft floral comforter and climbing in beside her. B'Elanna was the first to speak after a long silence, "Stay with me tonight. . .please." her voice was intense and alluring.
"I intend to," he whispered into her ear, just as provocatively. They lay there for a few minutes, holding each other tightly and loving every moment of being together. B'Elanna?"
"Hmm?" she answered sleepily.
"What is it that you and the Captain wanted to tell me."
"Oh, well she's throwing a ceremony within the next few days and she's handing out a couple of promotions."
"Oh? To who?"
"Well, Commander. . .that's for us to know and you to find out."
Tom was about to argue before he caught on to how she had addressed him, "Commander? She's making me a lieutenant commander? Are you sure?"
"Wow! Who else?"
"Well, let's just say you won't be giving me orders any time soon."
"B'Elanna, that's wonderful! You really deserve it, you know. More than me or anyone else."
"Thanks, Tom but I couldn't have done it without you." He leaned over to kiss her passionately. She was perfectly content as he swept her away into a flawless mixture of seductive and alluring sensations. Their passion only increased throughout the evening. It was time to make up for being without each other.
Four days had passed since the crew had returned to Voyager and there was a renewed sense of both adventure and content throughout all decks. No matter how routine everything became, everyone woke up in the morning, well rested and happy to work. To make things even better, the much anticipated festivities were being held that night in the mess hall. Captain Janeway relaxed in her ready room chair and calmly drank the last drop of her coffee. She was about to replicate her second cup of the morning when the familiar door chime sounded. She sat back down, "Come in."
The doors opened, revealing her first officer, "Good morning, Kathryn," he said, kindly.
"Good morning," she replied just as gregariously, "Can I help you with something?"
"I just came to confirm the plans for tonight's function," He said, handing her a Padd. Janeway had left him and Neelix in charge of the planning and had asked that they run their plans by her in the morning. Janeway skimmed through the itineraries and grew a bit more excited. She was really looking forward to this.
Chakotay interrupted her thoughts, "Captain, Neelix had another idea that I thought worth while to run by you," Janeway nodded for him to continue, "Well, obviously not everyone will be able to attend at this time. Neelix thought that perhaps those who are on duty could attend a smaller celebration tomorrow morning that won't interfere with the beta shift."
Janeway thought for a moment before answering his request, "Agreed. But I don't think it necessary to make a whole new party. What would you think if we just kept it going for the entire night. It can begin tonight at twenty hundred hours and can finish up at about seven forty-five tomorrow morning. That way everyone could have a chance to drop in even if it's just for a short time. I can give my speech tonight at twenty-one hundred hours and announce the promotions right after that. Sound reasonable?" she suggested, eager for her first officer's opinion but trying not to sound as excited as she really was about the festivities.
Chakotay nodded happily, *She's as excited as I am* he thought to himself, "Sounds good, Captain. Neelix and I will get started right away."
"Chakotay, what's the dress for tonight?"
"Well, I haven't really thought about that Captain. I think it might be nice to make it formal, though. After all, Lieutenants Paris and Torres are getting promoted and getting dressed up does seem to be a very affective way to boost moral on Voyager."
Janeway nodded in agreement, "See you tonight," she replied.
"See you then," answered her first officer on his way out the door.
Janeway smiled to herself. From just briefly reading through the plans she had found out that not only was there going to be the promotions that she'd been so looking forward to but lots of excellent food, music and dancing. She noted the enthusiasm around the ship over the last few days and was convinced that this would be the most fun and successful moral booster yet. *I think this may even beat Neelix's resort program* she mused before getting up to replicate another coffee.
B'Elanna sighed in pure exasperation. For the last hour she'd been trying on dress after dress. She only had four on the ship that were fancy enough for an extravagant celebration but she just didn't seem to like anything on her this evening. She couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. She knew for a fact that everyone intended to go all out for the party, but she was still worried about dressing up to much. On the other hand, what if she showed up under-dressed? She couldn't make up her mind and could feel her Klingon temper beginning to heat up in frustration. Luckily, she wasn't angry for to long. Her door chimed and she took a deep relaxing breath before leaving her bedroom and entering the living area, "Enter."
The door opened and B'Elanna was instantly cheered up at the sight of a very happy and very excited Neelix. The kind Talaxian ran into her quarters, and stopped when he got to her. The only word that B'Elanna could think of to describe him at the time was 'bubbly'. He was in his element, making people happy and planning a party. Trying her hardest to keep from laughing at his enthusiasm she managed a strait face, "Can I help you with something, Neelix?"
"No, well, not exactly. Here, this is for you," he answered, handing her a medium sized parcel.
B'Elanna accepted the box from his outstretched arms, "Thank you very much Neelix. Might I ask what this is?"
"To tell you the truth, Lieutenant, I don't know. It's from Mr. Paris."
"He didn't tell you?" B'Elanna asked, curiosity getting the better of her remaining frustrations.
Neelix shook his head, "Sorry B'Elanna. I tried to get it out of him but he wouldn't tell me. I decided not to push it in case it was, well, personal."
B'Elanna nodded and as much as she enjoyed Neelix's company was anxious to excuse him and investigate her delivery. "Thanks for brining it here, Neelix. I guess I'll see you tonight."
"I'll look forward to it. Oh! I almost forgot," he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small white envelope with B'Elanna's name on it. "He asked me to give you this as well."
She accepted it and thanked him again.
"Well, I'd better get back to work. I'll see you tonight."
"See you later," B'Elanna answered. She watched Neelix retreat from her quarters, all smiles and then carried the parcel to her bed and sat down, already opening the letter.
Hi sweetheart. I wish I could be with you right now but duty calls. I think I can guess what you're doing at this very moment. Probably searching through your quarters looking for something to wear for tonight. Most likely berating yourself and not giving that beautiful and stunning reflection of yours enough credit. Well, your problems are solved. Even though my expert opinion knows for a fact that you and your gorgeous body look sexy in anything, I got you something that will make even you believe in your beauty.
I can't wait to see it on you. No, I can't wait to see you in it. I'll pick you up at twenty forty-five (I know it's a little late but with the way you're going to look tonight it would be a sin not to make an entrance!)
(you know, the annoying pilot who happens to be madly in love with a
certain Lieutenant Commander. . .Not Tuvok!)
P.S. Tomorrow night is going to be one you'll never forget. We're going to get our anniversary once and for all. Leave it all up to me. All you have to do is be there. Meet me. My quarters. Nineteen hundred. Everything is going to be perfect.
B'Elanna read the letter four times and then slowly put it down. Sometimes it was scary how well Tom really knew her. She couldn't wait for tomorrow night. Just the two of them together, finally being able to have there own private little celebration. She also
couldn't wait to see what he'd be wearing tonight. The ancient phrase *less is more* ran through her head and she couldn't help but laugh softly. Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, she reached down and opened the box, using her thumbnail to rip the tape off the outside and then slowly lifting the top off. She removed the layers of tissue paper and looked at the dress inside in amazement. She lifted it out of the box to examine it more closely. It was beautiful.
She walked over to her full length mirror and held it up in front of her. *Tom certainly has great taste* she thought to herself.
The dress was a very pale lavender. It was quite long and hung just past her feet, but the silvery shoes that Tom had chosen to go with it were tall enough to keep the gown from dragging on the floor. There was a slit that went up the left hand side of the dress until just above her knee and had intricate crystal flower designs starting from the shoulders and thinning out tastefully until about the navel. The tiny flowers were blue and very realistic looking. One could almost mistaken them for the real thing. The shoes were dainty and a bluish silver, matching very well with the floral designs on the gown itself. B'Elanna also noticed a smaller box, in the corner of the larger one and opened it. Enclosed were two silvery blue hair clips, flower earrings, a blue, pearl necklace, and a tiny silver charm bracelet. Each of the accessories matched the gown and other attire perfectly. If that wasn't enough there was also a sweet little gray purse that, though it wasn't the same color as all of the other items, went with them surprisingly well.
After admiring the items for a few minutes B'Elanna ducked into the bathroom and changed into the beautiful gown. She decided not to look into the mirror until she was completely ready. If what Tom had written was at all true, she really wanted to like how she looked for once. She slipped into the shoes that despite their height were surprisingly comfortable and easy to walk in and slipped on the earrings and the bead necklace. She could feel herself getting a little bit more nervous with every passing minute but she couldn't decide whether it was because of Tom or her promotion. Probably a bit of both. For what seemed like the thousandth time in the last few minutes images of Tom ran through her mind. She thought of what he might be wearing. She couldn't sustain a giggle as she remembered what he'd worn to Neelix's resort program.
"Please don't let him show up in something like that!" she prayed, out loud to no-one in particular.
She put the finishing touches on her make-up and straitened the hair clips before walking back into her main quarters to examine herself in the full length mirror. The shoes added a good four inches to her height and the dress was a perfect fit. It emphasized her toned arms, thin waist and every curve of her body.
*I can see why Tom picked this out* she thought, noticing how it brought out all things that she liked about her appearance. She had curled her hair and it hung in soft waves above her shoulders. It was pulled back out of her face for the most part by the silvery clips except for two spiraled curls on either side which were partially kept up by bobby-pins. The spirals hung in front of her face, emphasizing her cheek bones and exotic looking eyes. Her cheeks were a crimson shade of red and her lips were a light purple, topped with a shiny gloss. The dainty beads hung only to about her collar bone and the top of the spaghetti strapped dress was low cut and came to a V at her breast-bone.
She turned to look at the side view and was just as pleased as she had been with the front. The slit showed of her fit legs which were lengthened by the tall shoes and the whole ensemble seemed exactly right except for one thing. She reached for the purse and examined her reflection again.
After staring for a few moments she nodded and a smile lit up her features, "Looking good, Torres," she stated, then not wanting to give herself the credit, she added, "Thanks to Tom. About time you look half decent for a change." She turned away, still very nervous about later but feeling very good about herself.
Tom Paris looked up from the medical hyposprays that he'd been working on organizing, "Computer, what time is it?"
"The time is nineteen hundred twenty-eight hours."
"Time I get ready to go," he mumbled to himself, "Doctor, permission to leave a couple of minutes early." He'd expected an argument but the Doctor simply allowed him to go, stating that sickbay really wasn't very busy at the moment anyway.
"Thanks Doc. Will I see you tonight."
"I will be there," the Doctor replied as Tom began to walk towards the sickbay doors, "Mr. Paris," the Doctor called after him.
Tom spun around, "Yeah, Doc?"
"I wonder if you would mind helping me for a second."
The Doctor motioned for Tom to come over to the console that controlled most of his cosmetic subroutines, "I have a few formal suits in my data banks that Lieutenant Torres has integrated into the computer over the last few years. I was wondering if you could help me chose one."
"Well," answered Tom, already looking through the cosmetic files, "I'm sure you'll look great in anything that B'Elanna picked out." The Doctor glanced at the helmsman but refrained from comment. . . "Ah, here's a good one, " said Tom, pressing a few buttons. A few seconds later, the blue uniform disappeared and was replaced with a black tuxedo,
complete with a red bow tie, a handkerchief in his left pocket, black dress shoes and a rose in his right hand.
The Doctor looked down and then at the rose, "Thank you very much, Mr. Paris. Now, go get ready. Wouldn't want to keep Ms. Torres waiting." He smiled kindly and Tom couldn't help but grin in return.
"I'll see you later, Doc."
The Doctor nodded his thanks and good-bye and Tom was quickly out the door and off to his quarters to get ready.
He arrived and walked over to his closet, took the tuxedo which he had recently designed and replicated off it's hanger and walked into the bathroom. After taking a quick, but relaxing sonic shower and shaving, he brushed his hair, parting it on the right hand side and slipped into the tuxedo. It was a creamy white and came with a blue bow tie and cummerbund which brought out the color in his beautiful cerulean eyes. His shoes
were black and shiny and he also had a quaint handkerchief hanging from the jacket. He re-brushed his hair and took one last look in the mirror, straitening his collar and glancing
at the chronometer. It was twenty hundred thirty-eight.
"Time to go pick up B'Elanna," He said to himself, already on his way out the door.
B'Elanna had been seated on her couch, reading over some diagnostic, engineering reports when she heard the door chime sounded. She jumped up, frantically. She'd put the touch-ups on her face and hair only five minutes earlier but she still wanted to make sure everything was perfect for Tom.
"Um, just a second!" she called out, breaking into a sprint towards the bathroom. She straitened out the imaginary wrinkles in her gown, quickly reapplied lip gloss over her already burgundy lips and ran her fingers through the back of her hair, straitening the clips at the same time. After that, she ran back into her living quarters and stood about five feet from the door, once again straitening out the already smooth dress.
"Uh. . .come in," she said, trying her best not to sound out of breath after her last minute running around. Tom who'd been patiently waiting outside for B'Elanna, calmly walked into the room, the sight of her causing him to stop abruptly.
B'Elanna stared in awe at the man who'd just entered her quarters. He looked wonderful. Beyond wonderful. Easily the most attractive looking guy she'd ever met in her entire life. Not that she didn't know that before now but this. . .this just really brought out all the little things about him that she used to take for granted. His broad shoulders, his muscular arms and stomach, his gorgeous facial features and his strikingly beautiful eyes. Of course she noticed his eyes every time she'd ever lay eyes on him but there was just something about seeing him, all dressed up and ready to escort her to a great party.
"Wow, Tom. You. . .you really look wonderful," she commented, sincerely, her astonished voice catching in her throat.
Tom was still speechless. He knew that what he'd picked out would look great on her but he'd never imagined that anything could make her this much more beautiful than she'd always been. "Thank you," he said, having to clear his throat before continuing. He could feel his mouth going dry and suddenly he was self conscious, "B'Elanna you are so, so, so. . ." B'Elanna didn't know what to think as he struggled for the right word, "Well, let's just say the word perfection comes to mind but really doesn't give you justice. You are so beautiful." B'Elanna could feel her cheeks flush but knew that they'd never match the pink shade of Tom's embarrassed face at the moment.
"Well, thank you. . .very much," she replied walking closer to him. He leaned down to kiss her and her new height from the four inch heels surprised both of them as they just barely avoided a head on collision. B'Elanna laughed softly as Tom pulled her closer. After a brief kiss Tom pulled away before things could go too far. "Well, My Lady, what do you say we get going."
B'Elanna nodded and grabbed her purse. "I'd be delighted," she answered as they joined arms and started towards the holodeck.
The short trip on the turbolift was neither talkative nor awkward. Neither said anything yet it was a perfectly comfortable silence. Little did they know that the exact same scenario was running through each other's minds. Both of them in each others arms, dancing and congratulating each other profusely on their promotions. The doors slid open and they walked up to the holodeck doors, both bracing themselves for the entrance that they knew would attract plenty of attention. The doors parted and Tom and B'Elanna were immediately greeted. First by Freddie Bristow.
He nodded respectably at Tom, "Lieutenant Paris."
Freddie then turned his attentions to B'Elanna, the woman whom no-matter how hard he tried, just could not stop caring about. He really had been trying lately. Slapping himself on the wrist whenever he felt jealous of Tom and even dating other people. But any progress he may have made was instantly ruined at the sight of her tonight. He could feel his knee's becoming week, "Lieutenant, you look beautiful," he stated.
Seeing that B'Elanna really wasn't sure of how to accept his compliment, Tom made a save with the use of his great sense of humor, "Why, thank you, Bristow," he replied, "Are you sure I don't look fat in this?" he added, hoping that would do the trick.
B'Elanna burst out laughing, trying desperately to keep a strait face. Freddie just stuttered out a frantic but polite good-bye and walked away, blushing. Tom laughed softly and B'Elanna slapped him playfully on the arm. "Tom!" she reprimanded in mock anger.
He just gave her his "Who me? How could I possibly do anything wrong" look and the two of them continued into the holodeck, until they reached the grand stair case.
It was a enormous ball room, easily 300 by 400 feet. It had a wooden floor and a stage at the back. The tapestries around the room were velour and had several elegant shades of burgundy and chestnut set in intricate designs and patterns. The ceiling was high, at least thirty feet and there were about fifteen crystal chandeliers hanging from it. B'Elanna held up the bottom of her dress just a tiny bit to avoid tripping down the steps and allowed Tom to lead her down by the arm. The banisters leading down the twisting stair were a pure ivory and each step was toped with elegant carpeting. When they reached the bottom, B'Elanna had to bite her tongue in order not to gasp. The room looked even more spectacular than it had upstairs. The stage was decorated in beautiful shades of baby blue and violet and the walls were marble. There were seven exquisite oak tables set up on each side of the room, each draped in immaculate white table cloths and supporting an impeccable assortment of delicious fruits, vegetables, appetizers, desserts and all kinds of delectable foodstuffs. Along the walls there were several chairs for the crew to sit in but very few were in use because most of the party guests were up socializing or dancing to the upbeat music that was playing. Tom lead her by the hand to the punch bowl and offered her a glass. She accepted and they sat down in two of the leather padded chairs near a corner table. They shared a small serving of shrimp and finished up their drinks before getting up to investigate the rest of the room. They didn't get very far before they were anxiously approached by Captain Janeway, followed shortly by Commander Chakotay.
The Lieutenants nodded respectably, "Captain. Commander."
Janeway looked excited, "You two both look very nice. That's a beautiful dress B'Elanna. Did you replicate it recently?"
B'Elanna blushed slightly, "Thank you, Captain. . .Tom got it for me."
"Well, it's exquisite," Janeway answered, a little surprised that Tom had such good taste.
"Thanks again, Captain. You look very nice as well," B'Elanna replied, flattered.
Tom nodded, "Yes, Captain you do look very lovely," added Tom. Janeway wore a silky red dress. It had three quarter length sleeves and a low cut V-neck. It went down to the tops of her velvet high heeled shoes. Her hair was up in a high bun which was kept in place by a red bow and there were several curly tresses of hair dangling on either side of her made up face.
She smiled at the sincere compliments, "Thank you, very much."
Chakotay leaned in and kissed B'Elanna on the cheek, "You really do look astonishing tonight, B'Elanna," he whispered, like a father, into her ear.
She held both of his hands and turned to face him, smiling sweetly. She was unaccustomed to fielding so many compliments, "Thank you so much, Chakotay," she replied, once again feeling very thankful. Even though she hadn't had her father in her life she had been blessed with Chakotay. He smiled back at her and gazed into her eyes with a genuine sense of pride. He felt very lucky. He'd never been able to settle down back home. His heart had been with the Maquis and it was his job to be a good Captain and never abandon them. But even if he hadn't had a family of his own, B'Elanna had always been just like a real daughter to him and he loved her as one.
The tempo of the music slowed down and the already dim lights went a little bit darker. Tom gave a respectful nod to his superiors and looked down at B'Elanna, "Care to dance?" he asked her, holding out his hand.
She placed her hand delicately in his and gleamed into his spellbinding eyes, "I'd love to."
They walked to the edge of the growing group of dancing couples and stepped into each others' eager arms. Unlike the majority of the couples present, they did not dance in the traditional fashion. Instead of having B'Elanna's left arm in his right, Tom had both of his arms wrapped tightly around her waist and B'Elanna had hers firmly around his neck. After the first thirty seconds or so the both of them tightened their grip even more, as if afraid to let go. B'Elanna nestled her head into the comfortable spot underneath Tom's chin, breathing in his sent and closing her eyes. Tom had his eyes closed as well. He had his face immersed in the soft tendrils of her hair and couldn't help but breath in her alluring scent. The two fell gradually out of reality, forgetting where they were or who else was with them, oblivious to anything but each other and the music. Their movement slowed somewhat as they lost track of their true surroundings but they still kept in perfect time with the underlying beat of the music. The two were so wrapped up in each other's body and sole that they didn't even notice when the first song ended and the next began. They danced like that, almost asleep in each other's arms for a full five songs, almost a quarter of an hour before they were forced to reluctantly break away from each other when a fast song began. They both backed away, their hands joined, and stared into
each other's eyes.
B'Elanna cleared her throat, "Thank you," she stated, unable to think of anything else to say about their shared experience.
Tom starred, placidly into her captivating brown eyes, "The pleasure was all mine," he said. The earnestness in his voice was tantalizingly sweet to B'Elanna's ears. They hesitantly let go of each other's hands and walked back over to where the Captain, Chakotay and now Tuvok as well were seated.
Janeway smiled, "Nice to see you two again."
Chakotay laughed, "We were beginning to think you would never get off the dance floor," he teased softly, provoking an embarrassed smile from the couple and causing a blush to creep up B'Elanna's already crimson cheeks.
As hard as he tried, Tom could help but add a certain honest comment, "Well, Commander, if being a little late for a promotion means a couple of extra seconds dancing with B'Elanna, then it's all worth it," he said, once again staring into her angelic eyes.
B'Elanna surprised all of them by responding unabashed, "I feel the same way," she looked even deeper into Tom's eyes and addressed him alone, "Tom, being with you. Being that close to you, it was as if everything about me, all of my senses, blended together. I love you." The looks on the faces of Janeway and Chakotay were priceless, they couldn't have been more shocked. Tom on the other hand, although he may have been pleasantly surprised, returned the intense look that was in her eyes and bent down to softly graze her lips with his.
"I love you too," he whispered. Janeway and Chakotay looked at one another then back at Tom and B'Elanna, not knowing what to say or even what to think. The two of them were completely confused and in a state of utter disbelief. Tuvok just looked at Janeway, even his facial expression, one of puzzlement.
After a few awkward seconds, Janeway decided to break the silence. She cleared her throat, "Well then. All that said, I, ah, think it's about time for that speech," she addressed Tom and B'Elanna, "You two be ready, the promotions are directly afterward." The lieutenants nodded and the Captain turned, heading for the stage. She was immediately followed by Chakotay and Tuvok, leaving Tom and B'Elanna alone for a few minutes before they had to go and accept their honorable promotions.
The shyness in B'Elanna's eyes was evident and she laughed, nervously before speaking again, "Sorry about that," she whispered, "I guess I forgot that we weren't alone."
Tom shook his head, "Don't apologize, B'Elanna. Hearing you say those words made my day. I never want to be without you again. I think it was about time we let everyone know how serious we are. . .and how much I love you."
"And I you," B'Elanna replied, relieved and loving this man more than ever before. They hugged each other tightly and Tom
planted a kiss on her forehead. The music stopped and the room stage lit up and all heads turned towards the Captain, awaiting her speech.
Janeway cleared her throat and began, "Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. I have invited you all here tonight not just because each and every one of you are an important and valuable member of my crew but because over the years we have become so much more. We have become family and friends and if there is anything that I've learned from being the mother figure of such a wonderful, hard working group of people it's that I could never be more proud." The crowed gathered as near as possible to the stage and applauded their Captain's last sentence but were quickly hushed when she raised her calming hand to them. She took a deep breath and continued, "We have been through a lot together in the past five years. We have survived through hostile aliens, countless attacks, odd spacial characteristics and even a dangerous anomaly as of recent. We have been thrown tens of years away from home, have lost love ones, have had our minds probed by aliens, have been kid napped and we have even been sent back in time. But we have also had some most positive outcomes. We have beaten the Borg and have made many alliances, some of the most memorable being species such as the Herogin and 8472. We have met some very kind and helpful people, some of the kindest including our very own Neelix and Kes. Although Kes did have to leave us, there was not a heart left untouched by her selflessness and childlike curiosity. The day she left she pushed us ten years closer to home. On top of all the wonderful people we have made contact with, we have gained an enormous amount of useful knowledge to bring back to Starfleet and have broadened the horizons of Starfleet exploration tremendously! Which brings me to the other reason that you're here tonight. During our latest crisis, it was up to everyone to come together and get us back home to Voyager. There were two people in particular who made that possible. They worked together, and very hard to make sure that all of us returned unscathed. Two people that acted over and beyond the call of duty and who risked their lives for us. Those two people are here today. Let's have a warm welcome for Lieutenants Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres."
She stood back and joined in with the great applause and cheering which had begun before she had even finished announcing their names. Nervous and shy, the two of them walked up the stairs to the stage and stood beside their delighted Captain. They waited for several seconds but the crowd didn't even begin to quiet. B'Elanna's hand inadvertently reached out for comfort and at the accidental joining of their hands, the cheering only became louder. The two glanced at each other, neither feeling particularly proud of themselves but both feeling very proud for each other. B'Elanna could not think of anyone more deserving of recognition than Tom. He on the other hand couldn't figure out why he was up there. To him, no one other than B'Elanna Torres was worthy of receiving such an honor tonight. Finally the noise of the excited crowd began to dissipate and the room was silent once again.
Captain Janeway cleared her throat and turned to face her officers, "Lieutenants Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. Both of you have been serving as fine Starfleet officers on Voyager for the last five years. You have proved selfless, hard working, Noble and honest. Four days ago you took full responsibility of Voyager and risked your lives to save the rest of us. You worked with brilliance, ingenuity and more then anything, bravery. Your performance has been nothing less than exemplary and I am honored to be your Captain. It now brings me great pleasure to advance each of you to the more than earned rank of Lieutenant Commander." She placed the extra pips in their hands in the absence of a Starfleet uniform and couldn't resist giving each of them a friendly hug, "Thank you for saving my life and my crew," she whispered to B'Elanna. The newly promoted Lieutenant Commander just smiled at her and then turned her shy gaze to the floor. Captain Janeway was grinning from ear to ear as the rest of the senior officers lined up to congratulate Tom and B'Elanna.
The couple received a kind word from nearly all who attended the party and found themselves relaxing more and having a great time though they didn't leave each others side. Another slow song began and virtually everyone found a partner.
Chakotay looked at Janeway and extended his hand, "Care to dance?" he asked. Janeway smiled and allowed her friend to lead her to the dance floor. He took her left hand in his right and she wrapped her right arm loosely around his neck as they began to dance slowly to the beat of the music. B'Elanna looked down at Tom. They were sitting down and were both really tired. Tom's eyes were closed but she couldn't let him fall asleep at his own promotion party.
She traced her finger along his jaw and kissed his narrowly parted lips, "Sweetheart, we're the only people not dancing." If she had said anything else it may not have been as affective but dancing with her was more than enough incentive to get up. He allowed her to pull him to his feet but instead of leading her to the dance floor he walked towards the far corner.
She joined him in the darkness and he once again rapped his arms snugly around her slender waist. Her arms inclosed his neck and her head found it's familiar comfort spot underneath his chin. After several seconds B'Elanna pulled back a bit to look into his shining eyes. The excluded corner was very dark and the only things at all visible were the two pairs of eyes. Both filled with emotion but no longer insecurity. They tightened their grip on each other and allowed their eyes to close. Tom tilted his head down and to the right, capturing B'Elanna's anxious lips in his own. Another three songs went by before the faster music began again. Tom and B'Elanna were both perfectly happy to stay that way. Though the passion never increased, the tender kisses sent sweet chills through both of them. They stayed well into the night, not missing one awaited set of slow songs until oh, one hundred when they both decided to turn in.
As Tom had put it, "It sure wouldn't be a good sign if we were to sleep in on our first day on the job."
He walked her to her quarters and their goodnight kiss was one that neither of them would ever forget. After once again professing their love to one another their lips met in a joining of their very soles. Tom stepped back and their hands reluctantly slipped away from each other, "I'll see you in the morning. Breakfast?" he asked.
B'Elanna nodded, "Six thirty. We both have very early shifts tomorrow."
Tom nodded, already missing her and anxiously awaiting six thirty when he would see her again. B'Elanna watched him walk down the hall, turning around more than once to look at her. He reached the turbolift and blew her a kiss which she returned and with a bitter-sweet feeling of pride in the pit of her stomach she entered her quarters. She had a nice warm shower. A real one with water as opposed to the sonic shower. Then she
changed into the silky pair of deep green pajamas that Tom had replicated for her on the first night that they'd ever stayed together and got into bed, her right hand absently touching her lips and remembering her unforgettable evening.
B'Elanna glanced at engineering's chronometer for the hundredth time since the hour countdown had begun. She had met Tom for breakfast, both of them showing up ten minutes early, but longed desperately to see him again. She was only on duty in engineering for another thirty-six minutes and then she had an hour and a half to run to her quarters, have a sonic shower, get ready for dinner and meet Tom. He wouldn't tell her exactly what he had in mind, but anything would be fine as long as they were together and finally celebrating their eventful first year.
Lieutenant Carey came up to her side, "Are we boring you, Chief?"
"B'Elanna smiled, "No, Joe. I'm fine, just restless."
"Big date tonight?" he asked her, recognizing the way she was acting as the way she always acted before meeting a certain someone.
She spun around to look him in the eye. If it had been anyone else, other than maybe Chakotay she may have lost her temper but seeing that all was in good humor she just smiled shyly at him before turning back to her console.
"Well, there's my answer," he said.
B'Elanna kept her head down as she addressed him, not wanting Carey to notice the faint blush on her cheeks which always seemed to appear when the subject of Tom came up, "Actually, we're celebrating our anniversary tonight."
Carey thought this over for a second, "Wasn't that over a month ago?" he asked her.
B'Elanna looked up at him, surprised. "I'm impressed!" she told him, amazed that anyone other than her, Tom, and maybe Harry could remember such a thing.
"It was nothing," he answered, "Everyone in engineering knows that you guys started seeing each other around the time when the 'Cochrane' got blown up."
B'Elanna narrowed her eyes, "They do?" she demanded, puzzled.
Carey could sense her temper beginning to heat up but couldn't resist just one more jab, "Well, of course they do, Chief. It's pretty obvious."
B'Elanna couldn't decide whether to laugh out loud or break his nose again. Luckily she didn't have to.
Joe put his hand on her shoulder, "Hey, Commander," she smiled at the new title, "Your shift ends in twenty minutes, and there's really not much going on down here. You've got everything working at top efficiency so why don't you let me finish up here."
Not wanting everyone to know how enthusiastic she really was about getting out of there, she decided that she had to pretend to be at least a little reluctant, "I don't know, Lieutenant. I really shouldn't leave early on my first day as a Lieutenant Commander."
Sensing that underneath all that professionalism, she really wanted to be persuaded he pushed a little harder. He whispered into her ear, "We won't tell if you don't," he teased.
She looked up at him, "Are you sure it's alright?"
He nodded in mock exasperation, "I am positive! Now, go have fun and don't worry about a thing."
She nodded and patted him on the back, thanking him on her way out the door.
She walked into her quarters and dumped a small handful of engineering reports on her coffee table before heading into the bathroom. There was a hand written note on her mirror.
Hi sweetheart. I want tonight to be perfect. I love you more than life itself and even more each day. I was able to buy some holodeck time of a couple of crewmen and got us more than four hours tonight. So meet me in holodeck one instead of my quarters. Same time. Oh. And if you're stuck on what to wear, don't worry about going too fancy. I kind of like that cute little purple dress that you wore once. You know, in my quarters when we found out about those alien experiments? Anyway, anything you wear will look great. I'll see you then.
B'Elanna smiled, remembering the night that Tom's letter was referring to and her hand, once again, moved up to touch her lips. She had a rushed but relaxing sonic shower and then, rapped in a towel, she walked into her bedroom area and began to search her closet for the purple dress. It turned up in the far right hand corner and she took it out, along with the pair of two inch healed velvet shoes that went with it. She changed quickly and curled her hair, letting it hang free, past her shoulders. Next she put on a bit of eye make-up, a light blush and a glossy purple lip gloss that always drove Tom crazy.
She finished up rather quickly and headed out the door. Even though she was a good fifteen minutes early, she had a sneaking suspicion that Tom would be waiting. She walked down the hallway and stepped into the turbolift. Before reaching the holodeck the doors opened and Tom Paris strode on. She couldn't hide the smile on her face when she saw who it was.
"Hey, Sweetheart. You're early."
"I could say the same for you."
"Well, I couldn't wait another minute to see you."
"Me neither. By the way, you look gorgeous." He was wearing a pair of white dress pants with a long sleeved, dark blue and green golf shirt. The top two buttons were undone, just enough to make B'Elanna's day. Noticing where her gaze on him was fixated, he brought his hand up and undid a third button, laughing softly as he noticed B'Elanna's breath catch in her throat.
"Thanks. And you look incredible!. . .the usual high standard of B'Elanna Torres."
She slapped him playfully, secretly flattered, and the turbolift came to a stop. They stepped out and walked hand in hand to the holodeck.
"So, where we going today?" she asked, "Dinner in Paris? Walk along the beach in Jamaica?" Her voice lowered into a suggestive whisper, "That romantic place in Canada with the big waterfall. . .N. . . Ni. . . Naga. . .?"
"You mean Niagra Falls. Most romantic sight in Canada. Actually I had something new in mind. How do you feel about the most romantic place on Earth?"
B'Elanna let out a content sound from deep in her throat which could be described as a purr and edged closer to Tom, "And what place is this?" asked, her voice still an enticing low.
As much as Tom loved her contentment, he hated what it did to him, the lack of control that it sent through his body, "Uh. . .it's called Venice. A city built completely on water. Full of fictitious settings and," he cleared his throat and spoke softly, "very satisfied couples. . . Computer, activate program ParisV99."
The scene changed abruptly. They were in a beautiful hotel room, standing in front of an open window. The view was picturesque to say the least. They were very high up. About eight stories by the looks of it. There was a light breeze, blowing the thin, blue curtains about the window and the bright orange and red sun was beginning to gradually set. B'Elanna stepped in front of Tom and held onto his arms as they wrapped, spontaneously around her waist.
"Thank you," she whispered, tilting her head to the side to look him in the eye. "It's beautiful."
"You're more than welcome," he replied tasting her sweet lips, "but it's nothing compared to you." B'Elanna turned around and her hands found his face as their lips met again. After a minute Tom broke the kiss and took a step back, "Hey, what do you say we investigate the rest of this place before it gets dark, or before we get to. . .comfortable," he breathed into her ear. He took her hand and they decided to check out their
accommodations before heading out.
The entire place was obviously five star. It had all the pluses of a deluxe honeymoon suit. There were two swans made out of soft white towels and red flower pedals on top of the floral comforter. The bed was king size and heart shaped. The bathroom had ceramic tiles on the floor, white flowered wall paper and marble counter tops. There was even an
enormous heart shaped hot tub, located in a small room off the bathroom. After investigating for a few more minutes Tom suggested they go take a boat ride in the town before the sun was completely set.
B'Elanna agreed but added a friendly ultimatum, "Just as long as we try out that hot tub later."
Tom smiled mischievously, "It's a deal, Chief."
They headed out and walked down the hall. The whole place was ritzy with elaborate floral carpeting and wall tapestries. When they got to the elevator, Tom had to pull B'Elanna back to stop her from walking right into it. Once inside, Tom pressed the "L" button to reach the lobby.
"This is a really inefficient turbolift," she commented.
Tom laughed softly, "It's an elevator." At B'Elanna's puzzled look he continued, "It's kind of like your twentieth century turbolift."
B'Elanna nodded, "I see." Tom noticed the smirk on B'Elanna's face and couldn't help but smile himself. The two of them had been involved in more than their share of turbolift 'meetings', some quite memorable. In fact if it weren't for the lifts on Voyager, they may never have become so close. They reached the main floor and the doors slid open. They nodded politely to the employee at the front desk and walked through the revolving doors to the warm sun beating down on the glistening water streets. There was a casually dressed man who rose to greet them.
"Could I interest you in a tour of Venice?" he asked politely, gesturing to some small gondola boats located to the side of the hotel building, "Or maybe you'd prefer to take one out on your own," he added.
Tom looked at B'Elanna and she shrugged her shoulders, "We would like to take out one of these. . ." he glanced at the sign that hung over top of the boats, "gondola's if you don't mind."
The man nodded, "Certainly." They walked along the dock until they reached one of the small boats. The man assisted B'Elanna into the boat and held it steady as Tom climbed in. Tom handed him some coins in an ancient currency and the gentleman pushed them into the soft ripples of the flowing roads. There was very little traffic and after a while the two of them were the only people within kilometers. They stopped and held each other for about ten minutes, watching the last of the sun go down. Their eyes stared, in awe of the beauty of the colorful sunset fading into countless bright stars overhead. Their eyes opened wide as they followed a shooting star, both knew that it was only a holographic projection but didn't bother thinking about it, just enjoying the moment.
"Make a wish," Tom whispered into B'Elanna's ear.
They glided the streets for another magnificent hour, taking turns maneuvering the gondola. The starlit water shimmered and glistened underneath them. The bright, half moon lighting their path. They eventually reached the familiar dock of their hotel. After tipping the employee who helped them to dock, they walked back through the revolving doors and into the lobby. B'Elanna, being a step ahead of Tom, pressed the up button for the elevator.
Tom smirk, "You catch on quickly."
B'Elanna laughed softly, "I'm an engineer. This isn't exactly complex."
Tom smiled, "I suppose you're right." They reached their floor after a few moments and walked to their room. Seeing that the door didn't open for them B'Elanna looked around for an access panel, finding none, she glanced at Tom.
"How do we get in?"
"With this," he said holding up a small key and slipping it into the key-hole.
They entered the luxurious room and Tom turned the old fashioned lock, to make sure that they weren't disturbed by any unwelcome holocharacters. B'Elanna sighed in content, "Tom, you were right. That was so romantic."
He took her into his arms and their lips met. First soft and tender but then becoming more passionate until the two once again reached a point when their consciences seemed to blend together in sweet oblivion. After several sensual minutes, the Tom backed up, breathless, "I think it's about time we try out that hot tub."
B'Elanna nodded, wiping moisture from her brow.
"Stay here, I have to go make sure everything's, perfect," Tom said.
"I'll be waiting."
On his way to the bathroom, he picked up a bikini that he'd recently replicated and through it at her, "Here, why don't you slip into something a little more comfortable." B'Elanna caught both pieces. There really wasn't all that much to it. It was purple and made of a strong acrylic material. The top tide around her neck and back and the bottom half was a mere triangle, kept in place by a thin string of fabric.
B'Elanna raised her eyebrows, "Well," she mumbled to herself, "I wonder who he really replicated this for." However, shortly afterwards, her mind rifted to more important matters, like what Tom might be wearing. . .
She didn't have to wait very long to find out. He came in and stood beside her, " Ready?" he asked, looking her up and down. He was wearing a black bathing suit. It was baggy and went down to his mid thy. He still had his shirt on but it was unbuttoned and hung loosely over his shoulders. She got up and began to follow him into the bathroom but he let her in front of him, not only to be a gentlemen but also to get a better view.
Being anything but naive, she spun around to catch him checking out her back side, "Watch it, Paris." He looked up to her, pretending to be completely innocence. He gave her the 'who me?' look. She wasn't taking any of it. "By the way, loose the shirt." He slowly complied. Making a show out of it by flexing his muscles and stretching. Although she was secretly impressed, she couldn't let him know that, "Pig." she accused, turning around, throwing her shoulders back and stalking into the bathroom. Unfortunately for her, she didn't turn around quick enough for his, shrewd, pilot eyes not to catch the satisfied smirk on her face. B'Elanna stopped suddenly when she reached the small hot tub room. There was soft, wordless music playing and the side of the beautiful, ivory hot tub was decorated in romantically scented candles. The soft sound of the jets within the swirling water was almost completely drown out by the quiet music and to top it all off there was a red, heart shaped box, with pink lace along the edges.
Tom wrapped his arms around her from behind, "You like?" he asked simply.
She relaxed into his strong embrace, breathing in his sent. An enticing mixture of the outdoors and a musky after shave, "Very much. I love you." The sentiment in her voice surprised him. B'Elanna had know idea how much it meant to him to here her say that but the feelings that generated in him from those three little words were a sure sign that he felt the same way. They walked to the porcelain steps at the base of the tub and Tom walked in, silently cursing himself for the hot temperature he'd made the water. If it had been just him he would have turned it down about ten degrees but B'Elanna liked the warmth so he forced himself to endure the pain until his sensitive skin got used to it. He held out his hand to assist B'Elanna. Although she was extremely capable of getting in on her own, she decided to let Tom have his fun at being a true gentlemen this evening. It was worth giving up a little independence to hold his hand anyway. She stepped in and sand slowly into the hot water, sighing with content. It was the perfect temperature for her, *Probably way to hot for Tom*, she noted as he took his time submerging the upper half of his body. B'Elanna could tell he was a little uncomfortable and almost ordered the computer to lower the temperature five degrees but then she thought better of it. Not wanting him to feel like she wasn't perfectly happy with everything. Her concern gradually subsided as his apparent discomfort disappeared. He edged closer until he reached her relaxed form and handed her the heart box.
"Open it," he said.
Her hands daintily undid the three pieces of tape holing the lid on and she slid it off. Inside there were several small chocolates and a note. It read simply,
To B'Elanna, Because I will always love you.
a smile lit up her face, "Mmm, thank you and I will always love you." For the next few minutes they took turns feeding each other. When the box was half full Tom replaced the cover. They fooled around for the next forty minutes or so, teasing each other and cuddling for a while. Before things could go far the computer interrupter their private party.
"There are currently ten minutes remaining to your private holodeck time," the disembodied voice stated.
They both sighed, disappointedly. Tom smiled, running his left hand provocatively along her thy while his right absently stroked her cheek, "Your quarters or mine."
"Mine," B'Elanna answered, "I have a little something for you there." They reluctantly left the hot tub, relaxed and exhausted from the heat and the massaging jets. Tom grabbed a giant white towel and rapped it around B'Elanna's shoulders.
"I'll go get dressed in the other room," she said, "You can get changed in here."
"Sure, Sweetheart." She departed, leaving him with a long and promising kiss.
"There are currently five minutes remaining to your private holodeck time," the computer reminded.
"Shut up," both Tom and B'Elanna whispered from different rooms.
In, give or take, five minutes time, the two were once again standing in the familiar scene of Voyagers grid holodeck and heading for B'Elanna's quarters. They kissed almost the entire time in the turbolift, neither knowing where this sudden burst of passion had came from but neither really caring. When they reached her quarters, Tom surprised her by literally sweeping her off of her feet and carrying her to the bed wear he lay her down and began to kiss her tenderly.
She sat up, in an almost giddy mood. Well, giddy for a half Klingon. "I have something for you," she said getting up to get it out of the top of her closet. "I've had it since before our real anniversary," she said, "but I never had the chance to properly give it to you until now."
She came back and sat beside him on the bed, handing him a flat box. He gingerly opened it and removed the tissue paper on top, pulling the garment out of it's holder. It was a very red, and very skimpy piece of female lingerie. It was sparkly, with beads and sequins decorating it. Although it was one piece, it was more like two separate pieces connected by two very thin pieces of fabric going up the sides. It was hardly enough material to cover the appropriate areas.
Tom swallowed, hard, "B'Elanna it's beautiful but I'm not sure that it'll fit me all that well."
She laughed, "Tom, Sweetheart, it's not for you, it's for me."
He swallowed again, though his mouth had gone dry several seconds before, "Even better." Before she left him again to go out it on, he reached into his pocket, "I have a little something for you too." He handed her a tiny rectangular, velvet box with her name encrypted on top. She opened it, excitedly.
"Oh, Tom. It's beautiful!" she exclaimed. It was a silver locket with tiny little diamonds outlining the heart on a sparkling silver chain. B'Elanna smiled and read the inscription 'I will love you always and forever. Nothing can do us part. Not even death itself. I love you,' She looked up at him, unshed tears, glistening in her eyes.
Tom smiled, softly, *B'Elanna Torres, crying?* he thought in disbelief hugging her tightly. The tears never fell, only disappeared in a matter of seconds. "Open it up," Tom suggested. B'Elanna hadn't even realized that it could be opened. She parted it with her thumbnail and looked inside. There were pictures of both of them and another tiny inscription, 'Only love this strong can last forever.'
She handed it to him and held up her hair as he did it up around her neck, "Be right back," she said, taking the present she'd given him with her. He lay back in the bed taking of his shoes, socks and belt and undoing his shirt. He could not wait to see her. In a few minutes, she entered the room again, with a satin robe tied around her body. Once at the foot of the bed, she took it off, slowly and deliberately, as he had done to her before. *Holy! Does she know how to make an entrance!* he thought to himself. He stared at his present, or rather, the wearer of his present. He liked what he saw.
"You know, I think this may be one of the most enjoyable anniversaries in history," he said as she lay herself down confidently beside him.
She laughed, with an almost evil grin, "Oh. . .you have no idea."
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Disclaimer: I've said it once so I might as well say it again. Voyager, Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres and all related stuff belongs to Paramount and no infringement on their rights is intended. I make no profit off this story, it's just for me and hopefully some other people to have fun with.