Why Do You Love Me?
Rating: PG-13, language
Summary: Just an intimate little scene in the mess hall. 6th season.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters but I love to play with them.
Why do you love me?
B'Elanna Torres was having a very bad day. She'd started out the day by fighting with Tom over something so important that she couldn't even remember what it was anymore. Oh, yeah, the engineering department had interrupted them at a terribly inconvenient moment, long before Tom's alarm had been set to awaken them. As she had moved away from him to dress and head for Engineering, he had the audacity to complain that her engines were more important to her than he was.
It wasn't what she wanted to hear when there was a leaking plasma conduit and she was going to have to crawl into one of her favorite places, the Jefferies tubes. No, it wasn't that no one else could do it, but it was still her responsibility. She had heard herself snapping at Tom and regretted it the minute the door of his quarters closed behind her. But the thought of going back in and apologizing was overridden by her concern for a Starship that was in its 6th year of a mission with no end in sight, and nowhere to stand down for repairs. Tom would live, she thought angrily to herself, there were days when she wouldn't place the same bet on Voyager.
The day had continued to deteriorate from there. It seemed like one thing after another went wrong and the crew in Engineering had finally reached the point where they were making a concerted effort to stay completely out of her way. No one was safe from her wrath on this day, and alarm signals had been sent all over the ship. "Stay away from Engineering!" She knew what they were saying, and it didn't make her mood any better.
Now, it was 2100 and she hadn't had any breakfast or dinner and lunch had been a replicated sandwich which she carried with her as she worked. Coincidentally, she was in the messhall working on Neelix's kitchen replicator. Neelix had considered it an emergency that only she could handle, but B'Elanna strongly suspected that the engineers had pooled their resources at dinner and offered Neelix a significant bribe to get her out of Engineering.
The replicator had been recalcitrant as usual, and a few good Klingon oaths were rolling around in her head but she was getting tired now, too tired to go to the effort of cursing out loud. The two crewmen who passed through the messhall just then were unaware of her presence but had obviously heard about her day.
"Must have been a hell of a day in engineering," one began.
"Yeah, the whole ship is talking about the Chief's bad mood," his companion agreed. "Paris must be crazy to put up with that temper just for a piece of ass."
The first voice replied, "I don't get him. He could have any woman on this ship, why would he stick with her?"
B'Elanna was shocked and hurt by their remarks, but she sat quietly, hidden in the kitchen until the two had passed through the messhall. She was still sitting there when her combadge chirped and she heard Tom calling her. In her frustration and anger she took the combadge and threw it against the back wall of the kitchen.
B'Elanna's temper had never put Tom off before and he recognized the sound of a combadge being hurled across a room. Undaunted he asked the computer for the whereabouts of Lt. Torres and was rewarded with the information that she was in the messhall. He found her there, sitting under the counter with an indecipherable look on her face. Anger, frustration, hurt and uncertainty were all there for Tom to see.
"Hey," he began as he squatted in front of her.
"Hey," she responded. It wasn't much, but Tom was willing to consider it a good sign. At least she was speaking to him.
"What's going on?" he asked.
Her reply surprised him. "Do you love me?" she asked abruptly.
"You know I do." He replied with an eyebrow raised in question.
"Why?" he repeated, looking at her curiously.
"Yes," she growled, "why? Why would you love me?"
Tom realized that this conversation was going to take a while and rearranged himself so that he was sitting cross- legged in front of her. "Why do I love you?" he began. "Well, you're beautiful, smart and the best engineer in the Delta quadrant. It's a well known fact that every good pilot needs a great engineer!" he added with a wink.
Tom could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't convinced. Someone must have really upset her he thought. "You play a mean game of pool," he continued almost flippantly but he thought better of it when he felt her begin to withdraw. "Hey," he said as he reached for her hand and continued in a more serious tone, "I love your fiery Klingon temper and the fight you're always having with yourself to control it. I love your loyalty to your friends, to the Maquis, to Starfleet and to me. I love the fact that you always say exactly what you think, long before you've thought about it. You're brave and strong, and have the honor of a warrior, but you're also warm and soft when it's just the two of us. You're an enigma, B'Elanna Torres, and I look forward to every day with you and trying to figure you out."
His words and his eyes were warm. Tom could tell they were bringing out that soft side of B'Elanna that he claimed to love, but her hand was still in his and he could feel the tension in it. "What's got you so upset?" he asked.
She answered him with a question that threw him off balance. "Is it really just for the sex?"
Tom studied her face for several moments before he answered her. B'Elanna carefully watched his eyes to see what emotions were going on behind those cerulean pools. She saw surprise and hurt flash quickly through before he put on a façade of composure. "B'Elanna," he began, "I loved you long before we were having sex."
"You did?' she seemed surprised, and asked softly, "When did you first know?"
"I knew you were special the first time I saw you in the Maquis. I got to where I really enjoyed being called a pig," he teased. But then he grew serious, "I knew it was more than that when we were captured by the Vidiians. I saw your Klingon side and your human side and realized what a battle you were fighting. I admired your courage. You didn't give up on me when I had to go undercover and leave the ship a few weeks after that. That meant a lot to me."
He was sitting next to her now and had his arm around her shoulders. B'Elanna decided it felt good to have his arm around her, she felt safe until his next question. "Is it just sex with you, B'Elanna?" Tom asked very softly.
"No, no, Tom." She turned to look at him and touch his face in reassurance. "I mean, the sex is great, but I loved you long before we were that close. I'm not exactly sure when you stopped being a pig," she gave him a look out of the corner of her eye, "but I knew from the time you helped rescue Harry and me from the Ocampa that you were a friend. Harry said so and we all know Harry can't lie worth a damn." Tom smiled at that.
"I think I knew before the little pon farr incident that I was in love with you but I didn't have the courage to tell you until I thought we were going to die. I wasn't sure how you would react." B'Elanna finished uncertainly.
"B'Elanna, I had been pursuing you for two years and I'm not usually all that subtle, how could you not know?" Tom was incredulous.
"No one has ever loved me like that before. The men who were interested before always treated me as a curiosity, a Klingon trophy for their virility belts. You never did, you never pushed me or tried to change me. When we were in the Vidiian prison you gave me strength and the courage to go on. You weren't intimidated by the Klingon B'Elanna, or disgusted by my cowering human half. No one has ever been interested in both halves before."
The look she gave him was full of trust. It gave Tom the opening he needed to ask "What brought on this intimate little conversation?"
'Nothing," she said quickly and tried to get up.
Tom held onto her arm, "I don't believe you. You're not much better than Harry at lying. I may have to give you both lessons."
B'Elanna sighed and told him of the conversation she had overheard.
Tom understood her anger now and her need for reassurance. "Do I need to go break some noses?" he asked.
"No, that's my specialty." She laughed, just a little, but Tom could feel the tension ebbing. "I'm not even sure who they were."
They sat there for a few minutes just enjoying the quiet time together, a little more secure in their love. Finally, Tom stood and reached his hand out to help her up. "You are finished here, aren't you?"
"Yes, Neelix's replicator is back in perfect condition or as near perfect as I can get it 30,000 light years from a repair facility," she grumbled.
Tom smiled, "Then let's find your combadge and go back to my quarters and replicate some dinner." He paused in deep thought and then said, "You know, a really good engineer would want to test her work on the food replicator that's going to feed the whole ship. Maybe we should try something really complicated, like pizza!"
"I don't think so, Flyboy. We'll just go back to your place. I have enough rations left this week to get you a pizza." She laughed as she made her way to the other side of the kitchen to find her recently abused communication device.
"That's the other reason I love you," Tom came up behind her and put his arms around her waist nuzzling her neck just a little to let her know he was interested in more than pizza.
"What is?" she asked, turning in his arms to lose herself in his eyes.
"You budget your replicator rations so much better than I do." He answered her, all innocence and charm.
Her reply was a warm kiss that held a little promise for later. They had started out of the kitchen and into the eating area when Tom thought to ask B'Elanna, "Why do you love me?"
"That's easy," she answered, "it's your eyes. I have never known anyone with eyes like yours. All your competition had brown eyes, Vorik, Harry, Freddie..."
Tom was speechless and stopped to look at her as she strode ahead of him and out the doors of the messhall. "B'Elanna," he called, "you're kidding, right? B'Elanna..." he was still calling as he followed her through the door.
Unnoticed by either of the young officers, they had been observed. Captain Janeway and Neelix had both almost walked in on the poignant scene. They looked at each other now from the corner where they had stood quietly in the shadows waiting for an appropriate moment to interrupt.
Neelix was the first to speak. "Young love is a beautiful thing, isn't it, Captain?"
Kathryn nodded, 'Yes, Mr. Neelix, it is." She moved to discreetly brush away a tear. "Any coffee left?" she asked.
"I think we should try out the replicator and see if it will give us some of the real thing. What do you think, Captain?" The little Talaxian bobbed in excitement at sharing such a precious moment with his captain.
"I think that's a wonderful idea, Mr. Neelix, and while we're at it, I'd like to know how it does on apple pie, wouldn't you?" Kathryn gave him a conspiratorial grin as they began to test B'Elanna's repair. But both knew there was no way they were going to mention it if the repairs weren't effective. At least not until morning.