"He Wore a Pair of Silver Wings"
Author: Briar Rose
Date: October 2000.
Disclaimer: The characters, the holodeck, and all things Star Trek are owned by Paramount/Viacom. Please don't sue me. This story is for fun, not profit.
Summary: Takes place after Blood Fever, but before Tom and B'Elanna are a couple. Minor spoilers for Blood Fever and Faces. Blink, and you'll miss them. Tom is having a birthday and B'Elanna gives him a present. Rated PG, remember.
Thank you to PJ in NH for her guidance and encouragement and to Fred for the research.
Tom Paris sighed softly and leaned back in a beach chair, a pleased expression on his face. He hadn’t wanted a real party, but a few well-wishers had stopped by the holodeck anyway, offering congratulations and a few presents. They sat in a very small pile beside his chair.
His last official birthday party had been in honour of his eleventh birthday; cake, balloons, cousins, the whole deal. Now, almost two decades later, he couldn’t remember many details, but he did recall that his father had taken a shuttle from Starfleet HQ and after the party they had gone for a short ride, young Tommy at the helm. He still remembered the thrill, the joy of having that old shuttle respond to his commands. Now, here he was, flying Voyager. He doubted his father would believe it...hence, the smile.
Neelix’s resort program had become a fast favorite among the crew, and the holodeck was filling up quickly. If he closed his eyes, he could pretend that he was on shore leave and the holographic sun was real. He heard the soft click of boots on the slate tiles and he knew it was her. He knew her stride, the sound of her footfalls as they hit the deck. His smile broadened. How she managed to walk in those heels, let alone crawl around Jefferies tubes he had no idea.
"How’d you find me?" he asked, as her shadow fell over him.
"I just followed my nose, you do rather stand out in a crowd," she answered with a chuckle, her eyes dropping to his surfer-special shirt. "May I?" She nodded to the chair beside him.
"Be my guest." He sat up to face her, their knees almost touching. "Is that for me?" He gestured to the brightly coloured box she clutched on her lap.
"Why, Lieutenant, I must say you look lovely this evening, though a trifle over dressed," Neelix interrupted with a wink. "Would you care for a drink, its an old Earth delicacy called rum punch." He offered B’Elanna what appeared to be a hollowed out pineapple shell with a gaudily coloured paper umbrella floating in it along with several cherries.
She wrinkled her nose slightly at the sickly sweet aroma. "Sorry, Neelix, I have to get back to Engineering. I just stopped by to give this to Tom." B’Elanna shook her head slowly, her hair
swinging around her chin. She eyed the proffered cup as if it might jump at her.
"Well, we’ll be running the resort until 0200 in case you change your mind," he answered, then wandered away in search of his next prey.
Tom found himself grinning again. She did look lovely; her uniform a little rumpled, hair messy as if she’d run her hands through it many times in exasperation. He remembered the silky softness of her hair, the way it flowed through his fingers. Sakari. A lifetime ago.
"So…" he held the note, "do I get to see what’s in the box or not?"
"I found it in the computer’s data base. It’s from Earth, America, mid twentieth century. I know you like that time period, so I thought you would like it. But then I did some more research and I realized that it’s about 15 years too early. It’s odd how much a country’s identity can change in so little time, isn’t it?" She was rambling, the words almost falling on top of each other trying to get out. Tom found himself grinning again. "I would have replicated something more suitable, but I haven’t had the time, so if you don’t like it I can just recycle it and get you something else." She apparently ran out of air and snapped her mouth closed. B’Elanna kept a firm grip on the box. A little too firm, one of the corners had started to give under pressure from her thumb.
"How about you hand it over so I can decide for myself," Tom suggested, wrapping his large hands over her smaller ones, trying to dislodge her grip before it became a moot point and the present had to be recycled. She reluctantly gave in and let go. *Score one for Tommy boy* he thought, eyeing the box. He balanced it in one hand, noting its lack of weight. He tried shaking it gently, but it only made a soft whump as the contents slid from one end of the box to the other.
"Just open it already!" B’Elanna hissed, trying not to shout in exasperation.
Tom grinned again; he did love getting a rise out of her. He carefully slid the wide blue ribbon off the box, and looped it around B’Elanna’s neck before she could protest, arranging the large bow to lie against her breasts. "Very…festive," he decided. She sighed. She was almost twitching in anticipation, so he naturally drew it out as long as possible.
He eyed the box again. He’d thought it was coloured with random splashes of blue and white, but closer inspection revealed a sky scene. What his mother liked to call robin’s egg blue with fluffy white clouds. *Curiouser and curiouser* he thought. He gripped the lid with his thumbs and lifted it off with a flourish, spinning it several times on his index fingers before placing it in B’Elanna’s lap. This time she snorted softly. Their eyes locked for several seconds and she moved to make a grab for the box, so he quickly looked inside. The ever-present grin seemed to slide off his face leaving him slack jawed, mouth slightly open as he stared at her gift.
B’Elanna twisted her hands together, taking in his expression. "You don’t like it," she stated flatly. "I told you it was all wrong, I’m sorry—"
"No, no, B’Elanna it’s...I love it, it’s perfect." He slowly drew the hat out of the box, fingers caressing the soft khaki cloth, his thumb sliding along the brim.
"I just remembered what you’d told me about summers when you were a little kid. I thought a hat would be appropriate under the circumstances." Her eyes flickered to the remainder of his hair, more like stubble now. Tom laughed and she giggled with him, *I’ve never heard her giggle before* Tom thought. He was entranced.
"I guess Sam did get a little carried away, but she insisted on making it even..."
B’Elanna fingered her own longer locks. "I sometimes wish we had a proper barber on this ship. Sam offered to trim mine, but I don’t know now."
"No!" Tom interrupted. "I like it long, it suits you."
Sakari, the word hung unspoken between them.
B’Elanna dropped her gaze to the hat. "It’s a pilot’s hat from what Earth history refers to as the Second World War. American pilots apparently wore this colour," B’Elanna explained. He touched the silver wings reverently, with a ghost of a smile. How did she know him so well, he wondered. "Well, are you going to try it on or not?"
He lifted the hat to his head and settled it over what was left of his hair.
"Its a perfect fit, B’Elanna, how did you guess?" He was amazed.
She lifted an eyebrow at his tone. "I just asked the replicator for an extra large," she deadpanned. His eyes held hers a moment too long and suddenly the playful atmosphere was gone, almost replaced by something else. B’Elanna jumped to her feet and took a step back.
"I really should get back to Engineering, there’s no telling what Joe and Harry are doing with that simulation."
Tom stood and faced her holding her shoulders lightly so she couldn’t get away. His palms slid down her arms stopping to hold her hands in his. He remembered the softness of her skin, and his gaze lingered on her eyes, her mouth. She acted so tough, but everything about her was soft. He remembered...
"This is probably the best gift anyone has ever given me," he said finally. "Thank you."
He leaned down, moving his face to hers, his breath stirring the hair at her temple. Gently, he slid his lips along her cheekbone stopping a centimetre from the corner of her mouth. Her eyes were closed, her lips slightly parted as she breathed in his scent. He knew what she was doing. She remembered too.
Her combadge suddenly came to life with a loud beep and B’Elanna leaped away from Tom as if she’d been prodded with a Klingon painstick.
"Engineering to Torres." Joe Carey’s evident frustration came through in the short sentence. She tapped the badge at her chest, her eyes locked with Tom’s.
"We’re reading a cascade failure down here, Chief. Sorry to break up the party, but this just isn’t working."
"That’s all right, I was just heading back anyway. Torres out. I really should go now, Tom. I’ll try to spring Harry soon so he can come up here. He has a gift for you, too." She wasn’t quite babbling this time.
"Will you join him?"
Another shake of her head, her hair swung around her jaw. "I doubt it, but I’ll try."
"How about a game of pool after shift tomorrow, I can dust off Sandrine’s. I promise, no Gaunt Gary and no Gigolo."
"What about that creature that used to hang off your arm," she replied, eyebrow arched.
"Ricky’s gone, too. I promise, it’s just you, me, and Sandrine to keep us honest."
"You’re on. I hope you have some replicator rations left, Paris," she tossed over her shoulder as she turned to leave, "because I’m going to kick your butt. Don’t think I’ll go easy on you because it’s your birthday."
"I wouldn’t have it any other way, Torres," he murmured to himself, stretching out in the deck chair again and pulling the brim of his new pilot’s hat down to shield his eyes from the sun. He wondered idly if the Captain would let him wear it on the bridge. His grin was firmly in place.
This is my first attempt at fan fiction, so feedback, constructive or otherwise, would be greatly appreciated. If you didn’t like it, don’t blame PJ in NH, blame me. Send all comments firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: the title was inspired by a WWII song, He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings. I don’t know who wrote it, but it was sung by Dinah Shore. Perhaps she wrote it as well.