Author: Briar Rose
Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns everything. Please don’t sue me. I really don’t mean any harm.
Summary: A coda to "Nightingale." I just had to address B’Elanna’s immortal statement. For all those kind people who emailed me about Tom’s hat, it’s back.
Thanks, Liz for forcing me to finish this one.
Date: December 2000 - January 2001.
B’Elanna sat in the center of her bed, one knee bent, arms curled around her leg. She was wearing Tom’s pilot’s hat—the one she had given him almost four years before. She’d found it under the bed while searching for her favorite dark blue nightgown, and had put it on in a sentimental moment. There were good memories tied to that hat.
She pulled the brim down low over her forehead and peered out from under it to look around her bedroom. Their bedroom. It still bore the marks from the hasty cleanup that morning. Tom’s pajamas lay discarded on the chair in the corner where he’d tossed them after rescuing them from the floor. A pile of data padds was precariously stacked on the night table and the bed was sloppily made. Tom had made it with his usual military precision, but then he decided to mess it up again with help from his very willing wife. She had only thrown the covers over it on her way out the door.
B’Elanna had often wondered if his almost compulsive neatness was a result of his ‘fleet upbringing or his time spent in Auckland. She had never asked him; some parts of his past he preferred not to talk about, and if she were to be honest with herself, she really didn’t want to know the answer.
She grinned at the memory of that morning. As passionate and wild as their lovemaking had been before their wedding, it was somehow more satisfying now…and more plentiful. If not being able to fly Voyager temporarily during the maintenance overhaul had given Tom a nervous energy and a need to channel his wanderlust, B’Elanna certainly wasn’t complaining. He had piloted Voyager—at impulse--when the Annari had ordered them out of their space, but B’Elanna knew he was anxious to fly at warp again. He claimed to be able to feel the difference.
Three years ago, she would have spent her time waiting for Tom going over reports or studying her padds, but sometime in their relationship she had started—well, primping was the only word for it. She had never been very interested in make up or clothing, but there was something about Tom that brought out the *girlie* in her and now the state of her leg hair sometimes vied with the state of the warp core in her mind.
So, she sat in the center of their bed, a happy smile on her face, toes pointed toward the opposite wall and surveyed her handiwork. She had used a dark brownish red on her toenails, the shade that Tom could never resist on her lips. She wiggled her toes a moment, then slid her leg down and brought the other one up.
The door to their quarters slid open and Tom ambled in, crossing immediately to his wife, his long legs eating up the distance.
B’Elanna looked up, surprised, "You’re back early," she said. "How was the poker game?"
"I missed you so I left. It was fine." He dropped a lingering kiss on the back of her neck. B’Elanna craned her neck around to face him.
"Just ‘fine’?" She arched a finely drawn eyebrow. "How much did you lose?"
Tom crossed to the closet and grabbed fresh boxers and a t-shirt. "Just half a week’s rations," he said over his shoulder as he headed for the bathroom.
Friends of the couple had occasionally noticed that Tom had picked up his wife’s tendency to growl, especially during emotional duress. B’Elanna, though no one would dare tell her to her face, had started to whine. "Tom, I wanted to replicate a new pair of climbing shoes. Why did you leave early if you were losing?"
She heard the sonic shower start and Tom’s muffled voice came to her across the room. "I didn’t intend to lose, B’Elanna. Besides, I can’t win every game, Chakotay would stop inviting me to play."
"So who is winning?" she asked, curious as to who now owned her rations.
"When I left it was Harry. He’d cleaned out me and Tuvok, and was working on Neelix."
B’Elanna grinned. "Tuvok always quits early. I think he only goes because Chakotay orders him to. Did Harry tell you any more about his away mission?"
"No, I get the feeling he doesn’t want to talk about it yet. I did hear some interesting gossip, though," he added. "From Chakotay."
B’Elanna frowned. "It’s not like Chakotay to gossip, Tom," she replied, capping the nail polish and tossing it onto the nightstand. She stretched both legs, flexing her feet. Very nice, she decided.
"Oh, he has to keep an ear open." She heard the shower turn off and Tom fumble with his clothing. "Tuvok too, I imagine. Sometimes scuttlebutt is the best way of finding out what’s going on." He turned on the water and started cleaning his teeth.
"Do you think you’ll get the warp drive back on line on schedule?" he asked, hope giving his voice an excited edge.
"Looks like it, as long as nothing else goes wrong. What was this little tidbit you heard anyway?"
"Oh, nothing too interesting." He crossed from the bathroom to the ‘fresher and shoved his uniform inside. He flashed a wicked grin at her, "So tell me, how was your ‘hot date’ with Icheb?"
Surprise, anger and embarrassment vied for supremacy on B’Elanna’s face. Embarrassment won out and she blushed deeply. She grabbed her pillow and threw it at Tom’s head but he caught it easily and hugged it to his chest.
"Oh, those—" she fumed. "I should have known Mendez wouldn’t keep his mouth shut! They used to respect me."
Tom walked quickly toward her. He tossed the pillow back to her and leapt at her, knocking her backwards onto the bed. "They still respect you B’Elanna," he whispered, not masking the chuckle in his voice. "They just don’t fear you anymore."
"Tom! Be careful, my nails are still wet." Her voice softened. "You’ve ruined my reputation, you know."
"How?" His eyebrows rose toward his hairline. "By marrying you?" He started to trail soft kisses up her throat toward her left ear.
"Yes. Now they all think I’m domesticated. Boring. No threat at all. Aaak!" B’Elanna giggled. "Stop it, that tickles!"
Tom snuffled her ear one more time then pushed himself up on one elbow to look into her eyes. "Well, you’ll just have to show them you’re still someone to be reckoned with."
"I could put them all on rotating half shifts, they’d never get any sleep."
"You are a cruel woman, B’Elanna. I think that’s why I like you."
"What exactly did Chakotay say to you?" she asked.
"Well, apparently someone—"
"Mendez!" she interrupted.
"—someone overheard you and Icheb discussing your…relationship," he was grinning now, "…and how you had to do the ‘honorable thing’ and stop seeing each other."
B’Elanna was starting to grin herself at the memory. Poor Icheb, he’d looked like a scared rabbit when he’d first entered Engineering. "Well, I am a married woman," she reminded him.
"Poor kid," Tom commiserated. "I hope you let him down easy. I know it took Freddy Bristow a long time to get over you." He had shifted to lay beside her on the bed and he pulled her head onto his shoulder. She looked up into his eyes, startled.
"You’re kidding, right?" she asked.
Tom’s brow creased in confusion. "No. You must have noticed. He hung around Engineering for months. And when you finally made it clear to him that he didn’t have a chance, he looked like his dog had just died."
"No, not Freddy," she brushed the thought of him aside in much the same manner as she had brushed aside the man. "Icheb."
Tom raised up on his elbow. Now he really was confused. "What about Icheb?" he asked.
"I didn’t break up with him, he broke up with me."
Tom looked at her, startled. "Now you’re kidding me."
She shook her head. "No. He thought it was for the best," she added.
Tom stared at her, incredulous. He slowly ran his eyes up and down her scantily clad body. B’Elanna blushed for the second time that night.
"Let me get this straight. He thought you were interested in him and he turned you down?" B’Elanna nodded. "Icheb really has spent too much time with the Borg. Harry’ll have to dust off the resort program and show him what he’s been missing."
"Tom Paris, don’t you dare corrupt that sweet young boy!"
"Young boy!" Tom roared with laughter. "B’Elanna, when I was his age…" He looked at the proprietary gleam in her eyes. "Never mind." he whispered as he bent to kiss her mouth, "It’s better if you don’t know."
He worked his way from her lips to her nose, then along each ridge of her forehead, tracing the familiar trail with light kisses. He bumped the brim of her hat with his nose. "You’re wearing my hat," he said into her hair.
"I like your hat," she responded, reaching up to cup his head and pull his mouth back down to hers.
"Did I ever thank you for it?" he asked. His lips brushed her own as he spoke. She shivered.
"Not properly," she replied huskily. "I believe we were interrup—"
Tom brought his lips onto hers and crushed her to him, rolling them so she lay atop him, legs entwined. He ran one hand along her back and shoulders, then up into her hair as he kissed her. His other hand caressed her hip as he began to pull her short blue nightgown up past her thighs.
B’Elanna growled softly and arched against him. "B’Elanna?" he whispered. "I like your nail polish."
"Ummm…" she answered, placing a kiss on his temple.
"B’Elanna?" She was barely listening. "B’Elanna, I have to ask you something," he murmured against her throat.
A pause. Then she finally seemed to hear him. Her voice was warm and throaty as she replied. "What?"
"Are you aroused yet?"
It took her a moment to make the connection. When she did, she pushed him hard away from her and sprang off the bed. "Ass!" she said. She was genuinely hurt. He hadn’t carried a joke that far in a long time. He scrambled up after her and blocked her passage to the bathroom, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her around to face him.
"I’m sorry, B’Elanna, really. It was just joke. Mendez said you told Icheb you weren’t aroused, so I just thought…" he trailed off. "I guess I didn’t think. I’m sorry. Come back to bed."
She didn’t feel as victorious as she thought she would having him confirm that Mendez was the snitch. "I don’t know," she answered. "I thought I might go see if Freddy wanted some company. I heard he’s been a little lonely lately." B’Elanna was staring at Tom’s t-shirt, but he could see the corners of her mouth start to turn up. She was doing her best not to grin.
"Maybe I should hook him up with Icheb. I’m sure they would have a lot of fun together comparing notes on how to romance Voyager’s Chief Engineer."
"Oh, I don’t know," she laughed. "I don’t think Freddy could teach him very much."
"I was thinking the other way around," he replied.
She heard a new tone in his voice and she looked at his face. His smile looked a little forced. "This actually bothers you doesn’t it?" She was surprised at that and her eyebrows drew down in a slight frown. "Surely you don’t think of Icheb as competition for my affections?"
"No. Of course not," Tom answered. "He’s just a kid, like you said. ‘A sweet, young boy’."
"Tom Paris, you are jealous!" B’Elanna was incredulous. She almost laughed at the wounded expression on his face.
"I just don’t like guys hitting on my wife." He was starting to feel silly and a little defensive at her obvious humor at the situation.
"But he didn’t," she reminded him. "He thought I was ‘hitting on’ him, remember?" B’Elanna wound her arms around Tom’s neck. "Tell me again how sorry you are that you brought this up," she murmured.
He tightened his hands on her waist. "You would not believe how sorry I am. Really. I’m sorry, now come back to bed," he said again.
B’Elanna took in the earnest expression in his eyes, then glanced at the bed. Her eyes fell on the scrap of khaki fabric on Tom’s pillow. "All right," she acquiesced. "But only if you wear the hat."
The hat is from my story,"He Wore a Pair of Silver Wings." If you’re curious, you’ll just have to read it. Also, if anyone can tell me who it really is who hands the PADD to B’Elanna in Engineering, I’ll take the blame off Mendez.