"With a Cherry on Top"
Author: Briar Rose
Posting: Please ask me before you do.
Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns the characters and all things Trek. Itís not my fault if Tom and BíElanna are so much fun to play with and TPTB leave me wanting more.
Summary: Tom does it again and attempts to apologize with chocolate. This is an origin story for BíElannaís (fan fiction) obsession with chocolate set sometime before "The Chute." ie: Tom and BíElanna are just friends. Letís assume Naomi Wildman had a growth spurt and she appears about the size of a human two year old. Thanks go out to DangerMom who was far more gracious than she had to be under the circumstances. Tomís promise to Harry is from her story, "No Good Deed, or Stuff and Nonsense." A huge thanks to my beta reading buddy, Liz for the morale boost and the kick in the butt.
Date: December 2000
"I like tomato soup, and I like ice cream sandwiches too.
I like pizza, but I love you."
- With apologies to The Barenaked Ladies
The mess was fairly crowded for the late hour. Members of gamma shift were bravely facing breakfast, competing for table space with the stragglers from alpha shift who were not quite ready to call it a night. It had been a long day.
For Tom and Harry the morning had begun at 04:00 hours with a surprise staff meeting, followed by systems checks, drills and repairs, all designed to keep Voyagerís crew "on their toes." They were more than tired, but instead of going to bed they sat in the mess in silence, staring into their mugs listening to the ebb and flow of conversation around them. The doors slid open, admitting Voyagerís chief engineer. BíElanna paused in front of Neelixís buffet and surveyed the dishes. She shook her head slightly and crossed to Tom and Harryís table sliding wearily into the chair beside Harry, elbows propped on the table.
"Not hungry, BíElanna?" Harry asked.
"Iím too tired to eat. I feel like I could sleep for a week but my mind wonít shut off." She rested her forehead on her hands and closed her eyes.
"Really?" Tom teased. "I thought this was a normal day for you."
"Thatís the problem," she bristled. "Engineering is the largest department on the ship and none of them can do a thing without me. They ask permission before they check a relay. Iím their chief,
not their mother, youíd think some of them could show some initiative. Think for themselves."
Tomís mouth quirked. "Well, maybe thatís because every time they do you bite someoneís head off. If you want them to think independently, BíElanna, you have to cut the apron strings. Give
them some room to maneuver, you might be surprised how well they do without you." He risked a glance at BíElanna. Her head shot up and her eyebrows drew together in an angry scowl. She opened her mouth but Harry interrupted before she could blast Tom for his comments. He shot Tom a warning look.
"They just respect your opinion BíElanna," Harry soothed. "They probably just donít want to make anything worse for you right now."
BíElanna ignored him. "So are you saying Iíve been snapping at people lately?" She directed the full force of her aggression at Tom. Her enunciation was precise. "If they canít do the job, or take the pressure maybe they shouldnít have joined Starfleet to begin with."
Tom felt adrenaline surge through him. Suddenly he wasnít tired anymore and he rose slightly in his seat. "Thatís my point, a third of them didnít join Starfleet. You should remember that since they came from your Maquis ship."
"I managed to make the transition just fine," she ground out.
He was undaunted. "Oh...well, I can see that!"
"Would you two cut it out," Harry interrupted. "Iím not in the mood to referee tonight. Canít we just sit here like civilized people without you two snapping at each other? Just once Iíd like to share a table with both of my friends and have a pleasant conversation without it downspiraling into a brawl."
The mess had quieted and people were starting to stare at them. Tom had the grace to look chagrined. He risked a glance at BíElanna and judged she had cooled to a simmer. Harry was right, and he had promised to try to get along with BíElanna. Time for a peace offering, he decided. "Would you like a something to drink, BíElanna?" He motioned to Harryís coffee cup, "Replicated, Iím buying."
"Heís not as magnanimous as he sounds, BíElanna. Those were my rations," Harry complained.
"Harry, donít you know by now not to bet on sure thing? You lost them fair and square."
BíElanna sent Tom a narrowed glance. He raised an eyebrow and looked at Harry, daring her to start something by turning down his offer. Before she could reply, the mess door slid open and
Samantha Wildman walked in carrying her young daughter. Naomi had her head buried in her motherís neck and her small, high voice carried across to their table. "I donít want you to work. I donít want Neelix, I want you to play wif me."
Sam sighed patiently and adjusted Naomi in her arms. "Sweetie, we talked about this. You know mommy has to work tonight. I mean today. Neelix will look after you."
"No!" Naomi was not in the mood to be reasonable.
"Good evening, Naomi." Neelix came up to the little girl and held out his arms. She went to him and hugged him tightly. "Itís morning silly, I just got up," she said.
"Why, youíre right," Neelix replied. "I was confused."
"Yeah, you were confused." Naomi giggled into his whiskers.
"Would you like some breakfast? I have Eskarian eggs. I know theyíre your favorite." Neelix tried steering the little girl toward the kitchen.
"I want something sweet," she stated.
Tom could hear the calm tones of Sam Wildman, "After you have breakfast, sweetie."
"No! Something sweet first!" she whined. Tomís eyes slid from Naomiís retreating figure to BíElanna. The implication wasnít lost on her.
"What are you drinking?" She peered into his mug. "It smells funny."
He shot her a lazy grin. "Chamomile tea with honey. Itís supposed to be calming."
BíElanna refused to rise to the challenge. "Can I have a taste?"
That surprised him. "Ah...sure." He pushed the mug toward her.
She raised it to her nose and sniffed. It did smell odd to her, but she was used to some foods smelling strange to her Klingon nose. She took a cautious sip, then her face puckered as the flavor of the tea hit her tongue. Her eyes squinted almost shut as she tried not to let the offensive liquid slide to the back of mouth. Tom and Harry watched in awe, certain she would either spit the tea back into the mug or all over Tom. Tom was betting on the latter. She bravely swallowed, to Harryís relief, and slammed the mug down in front of Tom. He jumped back with a "Hey!" as the warm liquid sloshed onto the table in front of him.
BíElanna was furious. "Very funny!" she shouted. "Thatís the last time I put anything of yours into my mouth, Tom Paris!"
There was a stillness in the mess. An audible silence. Then someone snorted. BíElanna was on her feet leaning across the table, her nose inches from Tomís. As muffled laughter rolled across the room, she straightened and with a final glare at the pilot, stormed from the room. Tom heard someone mutter, "Now heís blown it," and the room erupted in roars of laughter.
A crewman walked behind Tom and clapped him on the shoulder, wiping tears from his eyes as he passed. Tom was red to his hair. ĎFantasticí he thought, Ďjust great. Sheís gonna kill me.í
Harryís face was impassive. "You just canít resist, can you? One meal--thatís all I asked for. Not even a meal, just a friendly drink at the end of shift. But no, you have to bait her, donít you?"
"Honest, Harry itís just tea with honey." Tom was imploring. "I have no idea what her problem is." Harry didnít appear to believe him. "I didnít even know she was going to show up, remember?
Iíve had that mug for twenty minutes. How was I to know it would taste like...whatever it tastes like to a Klingon?"
Harry sighed. He realized Tom was right. This time Tom had honestly tried to be nice to BíElanna. "Well, intended or not, youíve offended her. Iíd apologize if I were you."
"I know," he sighed, "but how do you make up for public humiliation?" His eyes searched the room reflexively and fell on Naomi Wildman. She was sitting on the counter facing Neelix holding out an empty tray.
"All gone," she piped. "Can I have something sweet now?"
"I donít see why not," Neelix replied. "Now, letís see, what do I have?" He kept a restraining hand on her knee while he bent to search under the counter. Tom jumped up.
"Neelix! I have an idea." Tom walked around the counter to face Naomi. "Do you like chocolate?"
The little girl grinned and nodded her head. She put her arms around Tomís neck as he lifted her and began to walk toward the replicator. Harry got the feeling that Tom had some experience in apologizing to women.
A while later...
Tom stepped off the lift on deck nine. It was past midnight and he hoped BíElanna was still up. The corridors of Voyager were mostly empty, but the few crewmembers he had passed on his journey from the mess hall had sent him odd looks. Youíd think theyíd never seen one before. It was starting to drip and he licked a trail of sticky chocolate from his wrist. He stopped outside her door, muttered "courage" under his breath, and pressed her door chime.
The door slid open to reveal BíElanna. She was wearing her red lounging pajamas, leaning against the doorframe, one eyebrow raised. "Whatís this supposed to be?" she asked, her voice neutral.
Tom smiled encouragingly and held out his trophy. "Itís supposed to be an apology," he answered.
"I assumed that," she replied. "What IS it?"
Tom stared at her dumfounded. "Itís chocolate ice cream, BíElanna. Donít tell me youíve never had any before. I thought you were raised in a human colony."
"I was. But my mother wasnít very fond of human food."
"Didnít the other kids have ice cream at their birthday parties?" he asked.
Her eyes shuttered and he saw her mouth tighten slightly. "I donít know. I didnít go to many parties when I was a child," she answered.
He suddenly realized how little he knew about her. He wondered just how lonely sheíd been growing up in that human colony. "You must have been lonely," he ventured.
Tom shuffled his feet. "Look, BíElanna, can I come in?"
"With that?" She gestured to the cone. "Itís dripping."
A crewman walked by and raised an eyebrow at the scene outside BíElannaís door. "Lieutenants," she nodded.
"Crewman." BíElanna nodded back, then watched her disappear around a bend in the corridor before stepping back to allow Tom into her quarters. "All right. Come in for a minute."
Tom followed her toward the couch and held out the frozen confection again. "Well, are you going to take it?" He licked more melted chocolate from his thumb.
BíElanna eyed the cone again, then reached out and closed her fingers around Tomís as he released the ice cream. He felt an odd tingle in his arm, right up to his elbow.
"What do I do with it?" she asked. She was deadly serious.
"You lick it. Or bite it if you want to," Tom replied. He tried to remember what he had heard about people who lick ice cream cones as opposed to people who bite them.
BíElanna, apparently, was a biter. He watched her eyes go round and the corners of her mouth tilt up as the chocolate melted in her mouth. "Itís cold!" she said, sounding delighted.
Tom laughed in reply. "ICE cream, BíElanna," he said. "Itís supposed to be cold."
She took another healthy lick and held it out to him. "Do you want some?" she asked.
"No thanks," he replied. "Iíve had more than enough tonight."
"How many have you had?" she asked. She was pushing on the top of the ice cream with a finger, and it slid a bit into the hollow of the cone. She looked delighted.
"Two. It took a few tries to get a variety of chocolate that wasnít too sweet. This one has more cocoa and less sugar."
"It took you three tries to figure it out?" She was touched as she thought of the drain on his rations.
Tom shrugged. "Actually, it took me six. Naomi Wildman ate the other three."
BíElanna had licked the ice cream into a point and was using a fingernail to create a spiral pattern in the frozen dessert. "Ummm--" she said.
Tom chuckled. Heíd been awake for over twenty hours and he was starting to feel a little punch-drunk. He watched, mesmerized as she licked the ice cream from her finger.
"Whatís the handle called?" she asked. She looked straight at him, her eyes bright.
Tom swallowed. "You mean the cone?" he asked.
"Yes, what does it taste like? As good as the ice cream?" BíElanna lifted the point of the cone to her mouth.
Tom tried to stop her. "I wouldnít do that, BíElanna!" he cautioned. "The ice creamís too soft, itíll drip everywhere."
The cone cracked under her teeth and melted ice cream dripped onto her chin and collar bone. She laughed and started to suck the ice cream out the bottom of the cone.
Tom felt desire hit him like a sucker punch to the gut. He wanted to reach out and wipe the drips from her chest. Hell, he wanted to lick them off. He shifted away from her on the couch and brought a pillow between them. To ward her off? Where had it come from, he wondered. He had never really considered BíElanna that way before. She was brilliant certainly, strong minded definitely, but--he realized she was stunning; sexy and strong and she had the most amazing eyes. He shook his head to clear it and retreated further into the couch. This was crazy. He didnít think of BíElanna that way. She was Harryís friend, his friend too, to be honest. Ensign Jatel was certainly more classically beautiful...and either Delany sister was more voluptuous. Tom was starting to panic.
BíElanna finished the ice cream cone, oblivious to his epiphany. She wiped the drips from her collarbone with her thumb and licked it clean. She had forgotten about her chin. Tomís eyes were drawn to the brown smudge just below her lips. ĎMy God,í he thought, Ďshe has a beautiful mouth. I have to get out of here!í
BíElanna faced him and grinned. "That was amazing, Tom! Apology accepted."
Tom leapt to his feet and backed to the door. Where the hell was it? Why wasnít it swishing open?
BíElanna raised an eyebrow. "Is something wrong, Tom?" she asked. She advanced on him, concern creasing her brow.
"No, no of course not," he lied. "Iíveóumójust been up too long. Iím really tired. Iím glad you liked it, Iíll send the instructions to your replicator in the morning if you like." His back came up against the wall and he groped for the door with one hand, the other raised as a shield between himself and BíElanna.
She raised a hand to the combadge on his chest. "Do you want me to call sickbay?"
"No!" he yelped. He inched along the wall and was rewarded with the door opening.
"Ensign Wildman to Lieutenant Paris." Tom jumped as his combadge chirped.
"Paris here." He shot BíElanna a desperate grin.
"Tom, Iím in sickbay with Naomi. I thought maybe you could explain to me why she just threw up?"
BíElannaís hand flew to her mouth and her eyes grew round. "Tom!" she exclaimed. "Did you say she ate the other three?"
"Lieutenant Torres?" Samantha Wildman sounded confused. The part of Tomís brain that was always on the lookout for trouble was glad she wasnít a gossip considering the lateness of the hour and his obvious company. Another part of his brain wished she had something to gossip about.
"Iím on my way, Sam. Sorry." Tom pushed away from BíElanna. The feel of her firmly muscled arms under his hands made his palms tingle. "Iíll see you sometime tomorrow. On the bridge maybeó
Ďnite!" Tom dove for the open doorway. BíElanna shook her head and rolled her eyes. Her tongue snaked out and licked the chocolate from her chin. She would never figure out Tom Paris.
ĎI Love Youí copyright 1992 Treat Baker Music (SOCAN)
from the album, GORDON by the Barenaked Ladies.
Words by A Creegan, J Creegan, S Page and E Robertson
Music by A Creegan and J Creegan
The original words are:I like soup, and I like ice cream sandwiches, too.
I like fish sticks, but I love you.
Please donít be offended that I changed them a little to suit my story.