Title: For Miral
Author: Dasia
Email: njpm143@hotmail.com
Synopsis: An Endgame coda: mostly B'Elanna's thoughts about
Miral's birth...
Rating: PG
Written: August 2001


DISCLAIMER: Paramount/Viacom own Star Trek and its 
characters. I am just writing about them because I love 
them, definitely not for profit.

SYNOPSIS: Scenes missing from "Drive". B'Elanna applies her 
analytical skills to an important decision. RATING: R, for 
sexual content. For a PG-13 version, email me at the 
address above. DATE: February, 2002

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Many hands held mine through this story's 
lengthy gestation period. Heartfelt thanks to Barb 
(SamzMom) for keen-eyed and sensitive beta reading, and to 
Briar Rose, Brigid and Kat for moral support and many 
pertinent suggestions.

FEEDBACK: As a beginning writer, I'd be VERY happy to hear 
from anyone who enjoyed this story. Even more so if they 
said why!

NOTES: This is what (in my opinion) we didn't see in 
"Drive". I have avoided retelling the episode except where 
absolutely necessary, so if you haven't seen the episode, 
the story may not make sense.

AND: Please do not do anything with the story without 
asking permission.


Luminescent wisps of cloud enshrouded the Delta Flyer. 
Damaged and ominously still, it hung on the fringe of the 
nebula that had saved the shuttle, and the surrounding 
sector of space, from the full force of the explosion of 
the Flyer's jettisoned warp core. There was grave concern 
on Voyager for the fate of pilot Tom Paris and engineer 
B'Elanna Torres, because the shuttle's position was 
disturbingly close to the flashpoint of the core breach. 
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when sensors detected 
two life forms. They were transported to Voyager 
immediately, while the task of tractoring the Flyer back to 
its docking bay went on.

The two officers went first to Sickbay, where the Doctor 
tended to their relatively minor wounds. Then they made 
their way to Captain Janeway's ready room and set off their 
own bombshell there.

"Marriage!" exclaimed their startled Captain. "Now, that's 
an original way to divert me from reprimanding you two for 
conduct unbecoming senior officers. You treated the 
transporter room crew to quite a display. Ensign Lang is 
still blushing."

Tom's face was red too as he began to apologize. "We're 
sorry, Captain. We knew we were out of comm reach, and that 
we could be beamed aboard any time. We should have been 
more careful. But...well, it was my fault. I was so happy 
when B'Elanna accepted my proposal that I guess I got 
carried away..." He gazed at his fiancé with his heart in 
his eyes. She bit her lip and reached out for his hand.

Kathryn had never seen them look at each other in quite 
that way. Her expression softened and transformed into one 
of genuine delight. "Well, if you're sure, then...my 
heartiest congratulations to you both. It wil be a 
privilege to join you in marriage. We'll hold a celebration 
for the entire crew, to mark the occasion properly. Have 
you thought about a date?"

"Yes ma'am," Tom answered. "We're absolutely sure. We want 
to be married, we just hadn't said it clearly enough to 
each other until now." B'Elanna rolled her eyes and shook 
her head slightly as Tom went on, "Neither of us is very 
fond of ceremonies, Captain. We just want to make this 
official, as soon as possible. We were hoping the date 
could be...well, today, if it's all right with you." 
Kathryn raised her eyebrows.

B'Elanna added, "We'll invite the crew to celebrate with us 
later, when the treaty functions are done with. But we'd 
like the--" she seemed to hesitate over the word-- "wedding 
itself to be as private as possible."

'These two!' thought Kathryn with exasperated affection. 
Did they think their volatile relationship went unnoticed 
by the crew or herself? They aired private grievances in 
the mess hall, gave each other the cold shoulder 
elaborately at senior staff meetings, and then made up 
their disagreements so enthusiastically that their 
deckmates had been driven to wearing auditory inhibitors to 
sleep. It was understood that even under the threat of 
court-martial, neither would leave sickbay if the other 
were seriously injured. 'They are as essential to each 
other as the air they breathe, but the idea of admitting it 
publicly has them tied up in knots,' she said to herself. 
But she nodded and agreed, "Well then, if that's the way 
you want it...come back here at 1600 hours. At the very 
least we do need two witnesses."

"Harry," two voices chorused. "And Chakotay," added 

Kathryn smiled. "Excellent. I'll be pleased to inform 
them." Even the occupant of Voyager's big chair looked 
forward to the satisfaction of being the bearer of such a 
choice piece of news.

On the point of dismissing the couple, the captain suddenly 
looked serious again. "I take it that your idea of a simple 
wedding extends to skipping the honeymoon?" She paused a 
moment to relish the consternation that immediately 
appeared on the two faces in front of her, before taking 
pity on her lusty lieutenants. She continued, "Assuming 
Engineering can get the Flyer into an acceptable state of 
repair, why don't we say you two take her out for a 
seventy-two-hour 'test flight' on impulse power? That 
should see the rest of us past the treaty festivities."

She interrupted their profuse thanks to add, "And in the 
circumstances, Mr. Paris, I won't expect your report on the 
sabotage incident until two days after your return. But I 
am anticipating a full account of the race. According to 
what Harry told us, you had stopped the Flyer even before 
he sent you the Morse code message. Did you have reason to 
suspect that Irina had tampered with the fuel converter?"

"Uh, well...no, ma'am...but we were experiencing some 
unexpected turbulence in the Flyer that required immediate 
attention. It will all be in the report, Captain."

"I must say I look forward to reading it, Tom. Dismissed."

In the corridor outside the ready room, Tom and B'Elanna 
regarded each other. She rested her head on his chest for a 
moment, and took a deep breath. He gripped her shoulders 
and kissed the top of her head. "This feels so right, 
B'Elanna." Placing his fingers gently under her chin, he 
raised her face and softly kissed the top ridge on her 
forehead. "I'll replicate wedding rings for us. Any 
suggestions on style?"

"Just keep it simple. I'll give Engineering the orders 
about the Flyer, then go to my quarters and get cleaned 

He noticed that her expression seemed a little remote, and 
reluctantly asked, "You're not having second thoughts, are 

"No," she responded slowly. "I'm just overwhelmed. It's 
been quite a day and it's not over yet."

"You've got that right. The best is yet to come." Tom 
pulled her more tightly into his embrace and kissed her 
again. This time his mouth lingered on hers, seeking to 
reassure her wordlessly that the feeling between them 
deserved the recognition of the step they were about to 

"Till 1600 hours," he whispered in that breathy voice he 
used only with her. It was barely audible, but it never 
failed to make her go weak at the knees.

She managed a tremulous smile. "See you there."


B'Elanna started off toward Engineering, but felt the 
strain of the day weighing on her. She decided she couldn't 
face her staff in person just now, and headed to her 
quarters instead. Once there, she communicated to Joe Carey 
her request that the essential repairs to the Flyer be 
completed by late afternoon. Then she curled up on the 
couch with her legs pulled up to her chest, clasped her 
arms around them, and dropped her head on her knees.

'Kahless, what have I done?' she asked herself.

Away from Tom's seductive physical presence, the analytical 
and pessimistic elements of B'Elanna's nature began to 
reassert themselves. In mere hours, she would relinquish 
her independence forever. Had she been too impetuous? Was 
it really in her best interests to fulfill her promise to 
Tom and return to the ready room at 1600 hours to marry 
him? Vow to spend her life with this man who, even after 
proposing and receiving her acceptance, had yet to come 
right out and tell her that he loved her?

Marriage had certainly not been on her mind when she had 
programmed their holiday, and wheedled the holodeck time 
for it from what had seemed like half the crew. Yes, she 
had hoped that during their time alone she might have found 
an opportunity to tentatively broach the subject of their 
relationship. They had never really discussed how they felt 
about each other; she herself had only recently felt the 
inclination to do so. But marry him, just like that? At one 
point this morning she had barely been able to bring 
herself to speak to him!

She remembered the bitter disappointment that had flooded 
her when Tom had heedlessly forgotten their plans. 
Naturally she wouldn't have wanted him to go on their 
holodeck trip if he would just have been thinking wistfully 
about the race. But if he really cared for her, wouldn't he 
have shown more regret over the lost time alone together? 
Oh no, far from it, there he had been in the mess hall, the 
life of the party as usual, kidding around with the Voyager 
crew and the alien competitors. She had seethed, 'Typical 
Tom. He takes me completely for granted. I'm just one of 
the many amusements in his endless quest for diversion. The 
exotic Klingon girlfriend. Maybe he just doesn't find me so 
intriguing any more...'

Now that was not quite fair, she reminded herself...at 
least among the myriad pastimes there had not been any 
other women. She remembered her apprehension when the 
statuesque and highly intelligent Seven had joined the 
crew. An obvious potential rival, if there ever was one, 
for either or both of B'Elanna's loves, Tom and her engine 
room. But there was some justice in the universe, after 
all; neither of those fears had been realized. Even today 
it had been clear that Seven saw Tom purely as a colleague 
and, in whatever capacity the former Borg drone could 
experience friendship, a friend.

B'Elanna had brooded for a time. She'd paced distractedly 
along Voyager's corridors, while all around her the crew 
buzzed with excitement about the race.

Whatever it was she and Tom shared, it had survived 
personal crises, periods of numbing boredom, and daunting 
experiences that had made both of them all too aware of the 
risks of falling in love in uncertain circumstances. There 
<was> something there, something worth preserving. 
Eventually she had found herself in the mess hall, where 
Neelix made it clear that in his opinion Tom deserved 
another chance. The Talaxian was a pretty astute observer 
of human psychology... B'Elanna had resolved to make one 
more attempt to break through whatever it was that kept her 
and Tom from a deeper understanding of what they meant to 
each other.

Seven's reference to sharing Tom's interests had hit home. 
Wasn't there something a little out of kilter if it had 
occurred to <Seven> to improve her relationship with Tom by 
sharing his interests, but not to her, his girlfriend? 
'Hmm, a race,' she pondered, her competitive instincts 
kindling. She probably would have been enthusiastic about 
it from the start, if it had not been responsible for 
ruining their plans. Maybe it wasn't too late to get 
involved... but first, she would have to ask a big favour 
of a friend.

Requesting that Harry come to her office in Engineering, so 
she could speak to him without Tom present, she began 
ingratiatingly: "Harry, I bet you'll be glad to hear you 
can have your holodeck time back."

"What do you mean? What about that trip you've been 
planning for so long?"

She waited for the penny to drop. Harry was sharp; it 
didn't take long.

"Ohhh, the race..." He didn't seem to want to continue, and 
moved almost imperceptibly away from her.

B'Elanna reached out--gingerly--and put her hand gently on 
Harry's forearm. "We can't go on the trip, but Tom and I 
really need some time alone together. It's crazy-we live on 
this small ship and see each other every day, but we never 
have time to really <see> each other. A race is hardly what 
I had in mind, but--"

Kind Harry made it easy for her. "You want to take my 

"I know it's a lot to ask. You've been looking forward to 
it. And you do look so dashing in that suit..."

Cutting short her feeble attempt at humour, he put her out 
of her misery. "Don't worry about it. Tom was probably 
going to add some extra loops and spins along the way, just 
to torment me. My stomach thanks you."

B'Elanna let out the breath she had been holding, and 
squeezed his arm more firmly. "I mean this, Starfleet, 
you're a real friend."

Harry looked a little surprised; they hadn't called each 
other by those nicknames for some time. But he just winked 
and said, "Go get 'em."

Tom had accepted the change in copilots with pretty good 
grace; B'Elanna had tried to make sure of that by waiting 
until almost the last possible moment to report to the 
Flyer. 'This just might work,' she said to herself, her 
black mood behind her as Tom programmed the last 
coordinates. 'We'll win this race, and the winning team 
will have its own special celebration...'

Unfortunately, by the second day of the race, winning could 
not to be taken for granted, and B'Elanna's good intentions 
were being inexorably undermined by still more obnoxious 
behaviour from Tom. He put her back up by insisting she 
repeat that juvenile rhyme, and his cheerfully oblivious 
responses to her pointed observations about Harry and 
Irina's budding relationship irritated her still further. 
Exasperated by what was beginning to seem like deliberate 
obtuseness on his part, she lost her patience and cut to 
the heart of what was troubling her:

"Maybe 'interesting' isn't enough for me."

Tom's unexpected response threw her completely off balance. 
He'd abandoned the precious race, and with them in the 
lead! Turning the tables on her, he stunned her with his 
honest disbelief that she could possibly not know how he 
felt about her. Suddenly finding herself on the defensive, 
she was no match for the onslaught of persuasion he 
unleashed. He melted her resentment with his sweetest 
kisses and stated with real conviction that she was the 
most important person in the world to him. But then, just 
when things were moving along very promisingly, he alluded 
to "happily ever after." 'Sure,' was her first thought, 
'like now he's going to ask me to marry him. Why does he 
have to joke at times like this?' Everything he had just 
said and done had been spontaneous and heartfelt, but if he 
truly wanted to marry her, wasn't there one thing he had 
neglected to say?

Still, there had been a certain look in his eyes as he had 
knelt before her and touched her as though he was afraid 
she might break; a look that had taken her breath away...

Blindsided by Harry's shocking message, they had just 
seconds to avert a disaster, and the only possible action 
could easily have cost them their lives. In the euphoric 
moments immediately after their survival of the warp core 
explosion, it had seemed unthinkable to refuse Tom's 
proposal. Hadn't fate had just handed them a second chance 
at life and happiness? And if that wasn't enough, 
B'Elanna's mind was whirling at the revelation that Tom did 
indeed care very deeply for her. He had not been joking 
about the "happily ever after", nor had he proposed only 
because they were seconds from death. Carried away by his 
wholehearted enthusiasm, B'Elanna could muster no 
convincing reason to delay their marriage. Which brought 
her to this point, a few hours from entering a state she 
had regarded dubiously since childhood.

B'Elanna's grandmother L'Naan had held her counsel about 
her daughter Miral's marriage to John Torres. While the 
union lasted, she had treated her human son-in-law 
cordially and had made an effort to overlook his lack of 
regard for Klingon ways. Even after he deserted his wife 
and child, she had tried to spare Miral further humiliation 
by keeping her views on their ill-fated marriage to 
herself. However, during a stay at her grandmother's home, 
B'Elanna had heard L'Naan refer to the "bad match" Miral 
had made. Not wanting to confirm her fear that she had 
driven her father away, B'Elanna had not asked her 
grandmother for details about her parents' estrangement. 
Now, she wished she had. She had such brief experience of 
marriage to go on, so little of it good. How could a person 
really be sure she was making a "good match"?

John and Miral must have loved each other a great deal to 
have embarked on the relatively uncommon path of an 
interspecies marriage. On the point of following in their 
footsteps, B'Elanna yearned to know what had gone wrong. 
Had their love not been strong enough to bridge the 
differences between them?

B'Elanna shuddered at the memory of her mother's black 
moods and short temper. At one time she had assumed that 
they were directed at her, for her part in driving her 
father away. But now, from the perspective of an adult, she 
realized that Miral had been in the throes of depression, 
and she wondered if she had she ever really recovered. 
B'Elanna knew she had inherited that tendency...would it be 
better not to put herself in the position of being 
vulnerable to that awful desolation? Would she be any more 
able than her mother to bear the betrayal of broken vows, 
if it ever came to that?

Then again, Tom sincerely respected Klingon culture. She 
sometimes felt he regarded it more highly than she herself 
did. He actually seemed drawn to her Klingon side, although 
they had never really talked about that either. She knew 
only too well many human men found Klingon women sexually 
exciting, but she had not wanted to consider the 
possibility that that could be all there was to their 
relationship. And in any case culture was only part of a 
match. Not that that was such a comfort...she and Tom had 
such different personalities...she regarded his hobbies as 
childish, they had few common interests...he thrived on 
social interaction, while for her a little of it went a 
long way...

B'Elanna abruptly propelled herself off the couch. Time was 
marching on, and she had better make some preparations in 
case she did decide to carry through with their plans. She 
removed her torn and singed flying suit and headed for the 
sonic shower.

But a water shower was more appealing today. She dimmed the 
lights, lit aromatic candles and surrendered herself to the 
water's soothing warmth. As residual aches and pains 
receded, her thoughts turned to a more agreeable aspect of 
her relationship with Tom. She smiled ruefully. She had to 
admit, there was one thing they certainly did enjoy doing 

Her physical attraction to Tom had begun as soon as it 
dawned on her that he was not quite the pig he so 
convincingly imitated. At first, she had felt chagrined to 
discover that she was just as susceptible to his blue eyes 
and boyish charm as were the other women on Voyager. Even 
the captain seemed to take every opportunity to get her 
hands on the attractive pilot. Gradually, though, as she 
came to know Tom as a friend, she began to appreciate the 
sensitive person masquerading as Voyager's resident Don 

As friendship imperceptibly transformed itself into a 
deeper emotion, she had successfully concealed her growing 
desire to make love with Tom. But every day it became 
stronger, fed by dreams and fantasies. When had Tom 
displaced Chakotay as the lover in her dreams? She smiled 
to think of the difference between that old infatuation 
with her Maquis comrade and the real thing. But what had 
been unfolding naturally, at its own pace, deep within her 
heart--and, she knew now, in Tom's--had been prematurely 
and violently ripped from its sanctuary.

Seized by the ponn farr, the instinctive urge to mate, she 
had been powerless to control her actions. She had made a 
public exhibition of her interest in Tom by marking him in 
the most primitive way known to her mother's people. Even 
now, in full knowledge of his longstanding feelings for 
her, she reacted to the thought of that blatantly carnal 
act with revulsion. Vigorously scrubbing at her arms and 
legs distracted her from the humiliating memory.

B'Elanna preferred to dwell on what had followed her crude 
proposition, the deed by which her suitor had won her 
heart. Thinking back on it, she realized that if she had 
consciously set out to do it, she could not have devised a 
more effective way to test Tom's honour.

In most ways a very practical woman, B'Elanna nevertheless 
had a romantic streak, nourished by reading the Klingon 
romance novels L'Naan had introduced her to. The elder lady 
had noticed how her granddaughter sought refuge in 
literature, and tried to impart to her an understanding of 
fundamental Klingon values through a medium that she 
obviously cherished. The plan had worked only too well. If 
just one aspect of Klingon culture had imprinted itself 
indelibly upon B'Elanna's impressionable young psyche, that 
one was very firmly rooted. Never would she be able to 
settle for a lover who was less than wholly honourable.

Once she knew her friend to be a fundamentally good person, 
Tom's chequered past and the devil-may- care alter ego he 
showed the world troubled B'Elanna not at all. The notion 
of a romantic relationship between them began to seem less 
a fantasy, and more of a real possibility. And then alone 
in the caves of Sakari, with no one else present to impress 
with his principled behaviour, Tom had proven beyond all 
doubt that he was the very soul of honour.

The ponn farr was an elemental life force for the Vulcan 
race. Skilled as they were at controlling their emotions, 
they bowed before the mating imperative. It had come upon 
B'Elanna with no warning or preparation. Her instincts 
aflame, she could stop at nothing to have her way with the 
male of her choosing: Tom <had> to be hers. She tried 
assaulting him, seducing him with a wantonness she hadn't 
known was in her, and even, most shamefully, appealing to 
the feelings she suspected he had for her. How he had done 
it, she still did not know, but he had held firm against 
all her wiles. Nothing but the certainty of her imminent 
death would convince him to take her when he was in doubt 
of her true feelings for him. Even though his own desire 
had been unmistakably, achingly, obvious.

And afterward, too...his caring and discretion in that 
unspeakable time had confirmed her perception that here was 
a man worthy of her love.

For a time, she had kept that knowledge to herself. Reeling 
from the shock and embarrassment of the way she had thrown 
herself at Tom, she could not bring herself to expose even 
feelings she knew to be genuine. She wondered if that 
newborn love would have survived if Tom had not in the most 
tactful way possible refused to pretend the whole 
mortifying affair had not happened.

She smiled to recall how he had made it all seem so much 
less ugly by lightly referring to his hopes of seeing her 
"big, scary Klingon side" again. It had taken her some time 
to trust that he meant what he said. But eventually, 
reassured by his unobtrusive attentiveness and by the 
knowledge that the events on Sakari were not making the 
rounds of ship's gossip, B'Elanna let down her guard. And 
inevitably, the desire reasserted itself.

Not, thankfully, that frenzied hunger that had threatened 
her sanity. But her nights were now enlivened by dreams of 
wrestling his tall body to the soft bed of a forest glade. 
His scent had been imprinted in her being, and when she 
encountered him during the course of their daily life--
which somehow seemed to occur quite frequently--she drank 
it in. Mixing with the oxygen in her bloodstream, becoming 
a part of her, it drew her ever closer to him. She longed 
to taste his lips again, to feel the weight of his body on 
hers, to drown in his passion-filled gaze as she told him 
yes, truly, she had wanted this for so long...

They flirted, courted and struck sparks off each other. And 
became Voyager's main topic of gossip again. She struggled 
to master her desire, torn between the voluptuous thought 
of just giving in to it--it was beginning to seem as much 
of a fever in her blood as the ponn farr--and her 
reluctance to make a spectacle of her personal life again.

On a day she faced the prospect of death with dishonour, 
she broke through her reserve at last. She simply could not 
let Tom go to his death not knowing he was loved. The 
inadequate verbal response he made to her confession had 
disappointed her, though loss of consciousness had blunted 
its sting. Later, though, his physical answer had more than 
met her expectations. As she stammered that she didn't 
really expect him to reciprocate her feelings, he cut short 
her nervous chatter and launched himself on her with a 
display of masculine aggressiveness such as she had dreamed 
of since their lamentably aborted foreplay on Sakari...

And then came the wonder of their first night together. 
Comfortable in each other's company after sharing a good 
meal and an excellent wine, they savoured the novelty of 
being alone with time to indulge in holding each other, 
kissing and laughing about the misunderstandings which had 
kept them apart for so long. Free at last to explore bodies 
they had undressed many times in their dreams, their first 
tentative touches soon became eager caresses. Tom gave in 
to his yearning to kiss and nuzzle B'Elanna's graceful 
neck. She gasped as his lips found a sensitive spot, and 
her heart leapt at the murmur of appreciation that escaped 
him. He nibbled her earlobe and cupped a breast in his 
hand, and she marvelled that the merest brush of his 
fingers could make her wish their clothing would just--

Because of their previous intimacy, brief and ultimately 
frustrating as it may have been, this time Tom and B'Elanna 
were more prepared to deal with the unfamiliar erotic 
responses of a different species. When he gently reached to 
remove her dress, he was not taken by surprise when she 
instinctively growled and pushed him firmly away. His eyes 
gleamed, and he snarled, "No, you don't, woman." He seized 
her wrists and held them above her head, pinning her under 
him. His breath heated her neck and his teeth grazed her 
bare shoulder, sending a delicious thrill of anticipation 
through her whole being. He understood! He was challenging 
her to display her womanly power. She gathered her 
considerable strength, freed her hands, and threw herself 
over him in turn.

They wrestled on his couch, laughing with the pleasure they 
took from this battle in which neither would be the loser. 
Finally, she pulled him down on top of her, panting, 
inhaling his intoxicating maleness. Running her fingers 
through his hair, she drew his face down to hers and took 
possession of his lips. She tasted the potent desire he was 
no longer called upon to restrain, and her body responded 
instantly. She was back in that cave, every part of her 
alive with the need to touch him, taste him, feel him 
inside her...but this time she was in full command of her 
mental faculties. Separating only the distance necessary to 
look deep into each other's eyes, they affirmed what had 
been unequivocally clear in that delirious kiss: it was 
time to leave the couch for the bedroom.

She no longer resisted Tom's efforts to undress her. As she 
felt his fingers slip the straps of her undergarments from 
her shoulders, B'Elanna revelled in the gentleness of his 
touch. This time she did not see it as human passivity, but 
as an expression of the tenderness that essentially Tom. He 
was taking her there in his own way...she lay her head on 
his shoulder, and his arms enfolded her.

Clasped against the full length of Tom's naked flesh, 
B'Elanna felt that she had come home. They fell to the bed 
clinging together. He bent his head, his hair brushing her 
chest as his lips captured one of her nipples. With that 
simple intimacy, he made her his own.

B'Elanna abandoned the last of her self-consciousness and 
entered a realm of pure emotion and sensation. There were 
no more barriers between them, no need for words. He told 
her how much he cared for her by his sensitive response to 
her every movement and cry; she divined his need to be 
unreservedly embraced by another living soul and opened 
herself totally to him. When he entered her, she knew 
beyond all doubt that at that moment there was nowhere in 
the universe she could possibly belong more rightfully than 
joined with this man in this place, lost in rapture as 
Voyager slipped through the stars.

B'Elanna shivered, remembering the sound of her voice 
calling to Tom as the ecstasy took her, body and soul, and 
the answering light in his expressive eyes--almost a 
benediction--as he held himself still deep inside her.

Anchored in his arms, she floated in bliss, never able to 
recall for how long. Then, as the waves of delight within 
her gradually subsided, Tom began to stir. She heard him 
take a shuddering breath as he thrust into her with renewed 
power, burying his face in her hair and uttering incoherent 
endearments as he came to her. They lay locked together for 
a last few glorious moments as one, until his fierce grip 
on her loosened, and he began to return to himself. Kissing 
and caressing each other's shoulders, chests and faces, 
they prolonged that precious sense of connection for as 
long as they possibly could.

"So beautiful," Tom whispered, his fingers delicately 
tracing a path from her jawline to her forehead, his 
expression unguarded, adoring. With a sigh of deep 
contentment, he nestled his head next to her neck and 
shoulder, and pulled her closer, murmuring: "I could stay 
like this forever." His words went straight to B'Elanna's 
heart, and her satisfaction was complete. To think that he 
had found that ease of body and spirit in her...

She drifted to sleep cradling her lover in her arms, 
profoundly at peace.

Surely the perfect accord they had achieved that night, and 
many times since, was proof they belonged together. That 
feeling of transcending her individuality, of sensing his 
essential self...it had to be more than simply the joining 
of two people with strong sexual appetites who gave each 
other more pleasure than any other lover ever had. Perhaps 
they really were drawn to each other on some subconscious 
level, and their driving need for each other was its 
physical manifestation...

B'Elanna shook her head as she emerged from the shower and 
patted herself with a towel. Fanciful thoughts for a nuts-
and-bolts girl like her! She and Tom both had that ironic 
element to their personalities that made them feel faintly 
ridiculous when they tried to put such evanescent emotions 
into words. But that did not mean that they could not 
acknowledge what those feelings were telling them, even if 
only in their hearts. If she felt their love become a 
living presence in their most intimate moments, wouldn't 
he, too? In any case, she knew that never being with Tom 
that way again would leave her bereft. Whatever name you 
gave it, something deep within her found its fullest 
expression when they completed the act of love.

B'Elanna slipped into her soft dressing gown and carried 
the candles into her living area. Tuvok was right, they did 
help her to relax and focus her thoughts.

Nights of glorious passion, moments out of time--yes, they 
had those. And she knew how few were so blessed. But what 
about the rest of the day? What about real life as Tom 
Paris' wife?

She surveyed her tranquil, private realm and contemplated 
the coming change in her living arrangements. The TV had 
been an inspired gift for Tom, and she loved watching him 
enjoy it, but would she be able to stand listening to those 
silly cartoons and noisy detective programs night after 
night? And she was not the only person on Voyager drawn to 
Tom's infectious sense of fun. The more sociable members of 
the crew tended to gather in his quarters. Where would she 
find the solitude so essential to her?

Of course, she did have a tendency to shut herself off in 
here and brood her way into melancholy. Hadn't Tom's 
company charmed her out of a bad mood after many a 
frustrating day in Engineering? With his understanding of 
human nature--she shook her head, smiling ruefully, he 
actually delighted in the perversity of the species--he 
helped her see the lighter side of the personnel issues 
which were the one part of her position as chief engineer 
she heartily disliked. He entertained her with his 
affectionate observations about the foibles of the bridge 
staff, and put into perspective the inevitable frustrations 
of living cooped up with a small group of diverse 
personalities for an indefinite period of time.

With a start of guilt, she wondered if he was having second 
thoughts about being exposed to her formidable temperament 
for many more hours of the day. And their fights...she was 
quicker to anger, but they were both stubborn, strong-
willed individuals. Would they clash more often if they 
shared quarters? She shuddered, remembering her parents' 
heated confrontations, her little-girl self hiding from the 
angry voices. She had sought refuge in books or outdoors, 
fearing the worst only to see it happen. But fighting 
didn't faze Tom...he even considered it "interesting" to 
"scrape shields." Only this morning, he had clearly been 
dismayed by her lack of understanding of how he felt about 
her... but he had not hesitated to go ahead and propose 

Time was marching on. B'Elanna went into the bathroom and 
began to apply her makeup: a wisp of powder, and the rose 
lipstick Tom said made her lips look "even more kissable." 
With practiced strokes she smoothed her hair into its usual 
shining, precise arrangement. She liked the way the style 
expressed the professional control she exercised in her 
work life...but she loved it even more when Tom's fingers 
twined through it, disarranging it and tempting her to 
abandon that control...

She had to admit that the signs of his growing seriousness 
about their future together had been there. It was just 
that her eyes had not been ready to see them for what they 
were. After he had returned from being stranded on that 
godforsaken planet with Tuvok, Tom had made love to her 
with even more than usual intensity. She had been thrilled 
by his ardour, but had assumed his not having been with her 
for so long accounted for the deep, fervent kisses, the 
lingering, almost reverent caresses and possessive 
embraces. He had been taken aback, even hurt, to learn that 
she had not missed him as much as he had her. She winced to 
recall that she had even made light of it, quipping that 
she had barely had time to miss him at all. And, with 
another pang, she realized that it hadn't been long before 
their relationship was back to its secondary position in 
their lives.

He had been against her going on that mission to the Borg 
cube, even suggesting he would not be above committing 
sabotage to keep her secure on Voyager. Preoccupied with 
her preparations for the mission, both practical and 
psychological, she had not given as much consideration to 
his feelings as she should have. She heard again the quiet 
conviction in his voice when he had told her it would be 
worth the loss of his new rank, just to keep her safe. It 
struck her then: that was how Tom expressed his feelings 
when he could not avoid putting them into words. He would 
make a brief, elliptical reference, one that could, if need 
be, be explained away as a joke, while he watched for her 

The deceptively light statement, "I'd wouldn't mind seeing 
it again sometime," echoed from that long-ago conversation 
in a turbolift. Until that moment, she had been sure she 
had repelled him forever with that unbridled display of the 
Klingon side of her nature. She knew now that for Tom, 
especially in those days, that seemingly offhand remark had 
been a baring of the soul. He had cared for her even then, 
but he had left the next step up to her. She had finally 
taken that step--more like a terrifying leap--into his 
arms. But even then, glad as he had been to catch her, he 
had assured her he never would be "so presumptuous" as to 
assume they would have a future together.

Maybe at one time he had been as wary of commitment as she 
was. But more recently--could he have been worried about 
frightening her away? Perhaps he had been trying to walk a 
fine line between letting her know how he felt, and not 
putting pressure on her. Was that why his messages were so 
subtle that someone not attuned to hearing them could 
overlook their significance? Someone, well, like her, till 
just now?

B'Elanna threw down the brush. Some engineer she was! She 
had been so distracted by surface noise, like his 
thoughtlessness about their weekend and their different 
preferences in leisure pursuits, that she had overlooked 
the pure, clear signal that had been sounding steadily in 
the background all along.

Hurrying out of the bathroom, she dressed in a clean 
uniform, pulled a carryall out of her closet and returned 
to the bathroom to tuck a few toiletries into it. She 
picked up the tiny vial of perfume that Tom had replicated 
for her last birthday. He had chosen well; every time she 
put it on she appreciated how the freshly natural, but 
elegant floral scent eased the transition from her 
utilitarian work world into their private sensual realm. It 
did have a strange name, though: "Ma Griffe." Tom had just 
smiled enigmatically when she had asked him what it meant, 
and suggested she look it up in the database of regional 
Earth dialects. She made yet another mental note to do just 

Checking her image in the mirror, B'Elanna suddenly had to 
laugh. 'Who are you kidding, Torres? Look at you--dressed, 
groomed, ready to go with time to spare.' There was no way 
she was not keeping that appointment at 1600 hours. She 
loved Tom, and had never been as happy as she had been 
during their years together. There was no denying that he 
had his own demons; Tom unquestionably did. But she dared 
to hope that she was equal to the challenge of helping him 
deal with them. And if they kept him from saying out loud 
that he loved her, she would just have to live with it, 
because she couldn't live without him. Taking his love on 
faith would be a fair exchange for his understanding of her 
temperament, the value he placed on her lineage and the way 
he could transport her to the heights of ecstasy with the 
touch of his knowing hands.

'Diagnostic complete,' she said to herself. She had reached 
her conclusion: taking into account the known capacities 
and limits of the mechanisms involved, allowing for a 
reasonable margin of error, and accepting a certain measure 
of inevitable risk, the Paris-Torres system was definitely 
viable, its parameters well within the limits necessary for 
a safe mission into marital territory.

She felt a sudden surge of joy. It was her wedding day.

And there stood the bride, neatly attired in her everyday 
uniform. They had agreed that uniforms would do for their 
no-fuss ceremony, but suddenly she felt the need to do more 
justice to the occasion. Tom was replicating their rings, 
and he hadn't mentioned her sharing the considerable cost 
in rations. What gesture could she make to show him how 
much the day meant to her?

She let her mind wander back to the time when a little 
half-Klingon girl had dreamed of her wedding day. An idea 
began to take shape...she moved to the computer console and 
accessed the Klingon cultural database: 'Female Clothing, 
Ceremonial.' She punched in commands to replicate a gown of 
bold design, fashioned of a rich bronze-toned fabric and 
trimmed with metal and leather in a manner that accented 
womanly curves. Clinging here, flowing like molten mist 
there. She paused; she couldn't imagine appearing before 
anyone but Tom dressed like this...so, why not create a 
dress just for private viewing? She entered modifications: 
lower the neckline, push up the cleavage; make the fabric 
more translucent, shimmering with golden highlights. The 
Delta Flyer certainly did not have the spectacular tropical 
ambiance of Gedi Prime, but if she had anything to do with 
it, Tom Paris would have a memorable sight to behold on 
their wedding night.

Daring to wear this for him would show him how far she had 
come in accepting the Klingon within her, and pay tribute 
to the part he had played in that arduous quest. She hoped 
Tom would also see it as a testament to the high regard his 
half-Klingon bride had for her groom's own honour. She 
pictured again the anguish and regret in his eyes as he had 
refused her advances on Sakari, felt anew the control he 
had forced on himself in spite of his own rampant desire. 
Because he was her 'friend.'

Yes, her grandmother would have considered him a worthy 
mate for a Klingon, a member of that race for whom honour 
was more important than life itself. L'Naan had promised 
B'Elanna that one day, she would find her honourable 
warrior...and she had told her what the women of her house 
did when that day came. Did she dare follow that tradition 
now that, yes, she felt certain, it had?

She just might. 'If Tom's in the mood to take vows today, 
maybe he will go so far as to take an oath with his mate 
tonight,' she said to herself. It was second nature to 
B'Elanna to be prepared with the proper implements for any 
eventuality she might reasonably anticipate...her fingers 
danced over the computer console.

So absorbed was she in her task that the door chime only 
registered as a distant distraction. The spoken message, 
"Chakotay to Torres" got her attention, though, and she 
invited the Commander to enter.

"It's getting close to 1600 hours. I was wondering if you 
would like an escort to the ready room," he offered.

"That's thoughtful of you, Chakotay. I'd appreciate it." 
Still intent on her work, B'Elanna tapped in the last 
commands, then sat back. The replicator hummed in the 

"This is all pretty sudden. I went to congratulate Tom and 
asked him why the haste. He said he was afraid you might 
change your mind."

B'Elanna smiled. "He knows me only too well."

"So you are having second thoughts? You shouldn't feel you 
have to go ahead unless you're absolutely sure this is the 
right thing to do."

"I admit, I needed to take some time to think it over," 
B'Elanna answered slowly, meeting her friend's eyes. "But 
now that I've looked back over our time together, I can say 
I'm willing to trust the instinct that tells me Tom and I 
are right for each other."

"You're sure you don't need more time?" he persisted.

"No...you know, Chakotay, I'm used to dealing with things 
that can be taken apart and analyzed, to gathering data and 
making calculations, and drawing conclusions based on the 
scientific method. I've tried to do something like that in 
making this decision, but it seems that, in the end, 
intuition has a part to play too. Something deep inside me 
tells me I <do> want to build a life with Tom, and that we 
can make it work, even though it may not always be easy. 
And he's right--why not start right now? If we wait until 
every detail of our relationship is perfect, we won't be 
married till we're seventy, if then."

"I must say I admire you both. You're not afraid to act on 
your feelings."

"I don't know about 'not afraid.' I've gone into battle 
feeling less nervous. That's one reason I just couldn't 
invite the whole crew. Saying those words out loud to 
Tom...somehow it just feels like the most private thing in 
the world. I can't explain it any better than that."

"Knowing you both, I think I understand. But I am honoured 
to be on the very exclusive guest list," said Chakotay, 
smiling more broadly.

With a final click, the replicator presented a resplendent 
golden gown. B'Elanna snatched it up, shook it out and 
folded it as best the leather and metal trim would permit. 
The bronze metalwork twinkled in the candlelight for just 
an instant, as she whisked it into her carryall. Chakotay 
blinked. His glimpse had been brief, but the design of the 
dress appeared to be provocative in the extreme. He 
ventured, "Tom seems to think you are getting married in 
your uniforms."

"That's right. This is for later." B'Elanna's tone invited 
no further comment.

A small dagger followed the dress out of the replicator. 
Its scabbard was embellished with a raised design, a motif 
of two opposed shields entwined in a complex scrolled 
pattern. B'Elanna grabbed it and reached for the carryall 

Chakotay appeared to weigh the advisability of commenting. 
He decided to risk it. "You know, I don't think Seven ever 
finished her comparative study of mating habits. She would 
be very interested in all this."

B'Elanna froze and fixed her gaze intently on her 
Commander. "If Seven ever mentions anything about this," 
she intoned, "I will know exactly who told her. And there 
will be repercussions." She drew the dagger from its sheath 
and closely inspected its keen edge.

Chakotay stifled his smirk. "Understood, warrior woman. 
Now, shall we?" He waited as she placed the dagger in her 
carryall, then picked up the bag in one hand. He offered 
her the other.

B'Elanna extinguished her candles and took his arm. "I'm as 
ready as I'll ever be. Lead on."

As they waited for the turbolift, Chakotay turned to his 
companion. "You know, I'm glad you've come to this 
decision. You and Tom are both so different from the way 
you used to be: you're more assured, much more comfortable 
with yourselves. Part of that has come from meeting the 
responsibilities of your command positions. But you've also 
brought those qualities out in each other. You didn't ask 
me, but for what it's worth to you, I think you're doing 
the right thing."

"Thanks, Chakotay. I guess you could say I just ran a 
complete diagnostic on our relationship and came to the 
same conclusion."


 Tom was waiting in the corridor outside the ready room. 
Chakotay clapped him on the back and went into the room 
while B'Elanna stopped beside Tom. "Still sure you want to 
do this?" she asked him.

"More than ever." Taking her hand, he placed two rings on 
her open palm. "What do you think?"

B'Elanna picked up the smaller one and noticed the letters 
inside the perfectly polished, gleaming gold circle: 'BT & 
TP ~ wa' tIq.'

Her glance flew to his. "'One heart.' That's just right, 
Tom. They're beautiful." She handed the ring back, and they 
stood in silence for a moment.

This was it.

Tom motioned toward the open door. "The Captain is 

Barely hesitating, B'Elanna reached for his hand and nodded 
firmly. 'Steady,' She told herself. 'Just take hold of his 
hands, say the words, and it's done. How hard can it be?'

Harry rushed up to them. "Hey, Maquis! When you said you 
wanted to be his copilot, I didn't think you meant for 

The three friends laughed, and B'Elanna felt some of her 
nervousness fade away. Harry went on, "Sorry I'm late. 
We've been busy down in Engineering, it took quite some 
work to get the Flyer back in shape in such a short time."

"No problem, Harry. And don't think we don't appreciate 
it,' Tom told him, continuing, "Here, will you keep track 
of these for a while?" Tom handed his friend the rings, and 
the three entered the ready room.

Tom and B'Elanna took their places in front of Captain 
Janeway, flanked by Chakotay and Harry. The five officers 
exchanged glances acknowledging the special bond they 
shared, and the Captain began to utter the first words of a 
traditional Earth wedding ceremony.

B'Elanna realized then that it wouldn't have mattered after 
all if they had invited the whole crew, or indeed everyone 
gathered for the treaty festivities. As Kathryn's first 
words reached her ears, her perception of everything around 
her shifted. Suddenly she was aware only of Tom's face, his 
hands clasping hers, and, from somewhere far away, the 
Captain's voice. She was mesmerized by Tom: the naked 
honesty on his face and the rock-steady grip of his hands, 
as he made his promises in a voice resonating with 
sincerity. For only the second time in her life, B'Elanna 
experienced the sensation of time standing still.

How could she have thought this ceremony would be a mere 
formality? The last time she had felt such a sense of 
rightness had been when she had joined her body with Tom's 
for the first time. He really means what he is saying here, 
she thought, awed. How she loved him, this man who had had 
the insight, the courage, and the patience to look past his 
own self-doubts and insecurities and see through hers as 
well. He had given them both the chance to reach for the 
kind of life neither had once dared envision for 
themselves. Thrilled to the depths of her soul, her own 
expression as radiant as her groom's, B'Elanna repeated the 
vows the Captain recited, aloud and again in her heart: 
"Love, honour, cherish..."

'I do, Tom, I do.'

As she lifted her face for his kiss, B'Elanna felt Tom 
tremble in her arms. One more reason she was glad she had 
married him came to her: Tom needed her, her strength and 
her belief in him. She felt both humbled and proud to think 
of what she meant to him, and vowed to do her best never to 
let him down.

The witnesses watched the couple, lost in each other. Harry 
pictured another bright-eyed, vibrant engineer, far away on 
her chosen path of exploration. He wondered if she thought 
of him as often as he did her. 'One day, he promised 
himself,' rejoicing for his two friends, 'I'll find a love 
like theirs.'

Kathryn and Chakotay regarded their protégés with something 
like parental pride for the part each had played in 
bringing them together. The feeling was tinged with regret 
for what might have been, if only another couple had been 
able to surmount the barriers that had kept them from 
reaching out to one another...

When at last Tom and B'Elanna drew apart and turned to the 
others, the Captain moved first to hug B'Elanna. "You're a 
beautiful bride, 'Lanna," she told her. "You both deserve 
all the happiness in the world." She brushed tears from the 
younger woman's cheeks, tears B'Elanna had not been aware 
of shedding.

As Chakotay reached out to kiss the bride, Kathryn turned 
to Tom. 'Funny,' she thought. 'This morning I fully 
expected to be congratulating him for winning that 
race...but he's won the highest prize in a much more 
important contest, and doesn't he just know it. Protocol be 
damned.' She took the tall man into her arms for a long, 
loving embrace. As she released him, she looked deep into 
his eyes and told him smiling, but with absolute sincerity: 
"Your parents would be so proud of the man you are now, 

"Captain, I'll never be able to thank you enough for giving 
B'Elanna and me the chance to prove ourselves. Everything 
we have, including today, came from that. We'll never 
forget it." Beside him B'Elanna nodded in agreement.

"I don't think I really took all that much of a risk," 
Kathryn said, trying to lighten the mood before she 
disgraced herself by bursting into tears. A Captain could 
only let herself go so far...she finished, "Now, Mr. Kim 
here: there was a challenging reclamation project..."

It worked. They all left the ready room laughing.


 The wedding party entered the shuttle bay to the applause 
of most of the crew. B'Elanna gasped, but was immediately 
disarmed by the sight of Naomi Wildman advancing toward her 
and Tom, arms full of an extravagant bouquet of fresh 
flowers. "On behalf of everyone on Voyager," the beaming 
child recited, "May you always be as happy as you are 

B'Elanna bent to kiss her and take the flowers, while Tom 
thanked them all, adding, "We should have known it would 
take more than just the Engineering staff to fix the Flyer 
that fast."

His wife found her voice. "Yes, thank you, everybody. We do 
appreciate it, very much."

Neelix stood behind a table full of glittering champagne 
glasses. "Everyone, take a glass so we can drink a toast to 
the bride and groom!"

B'Elanna felt a stab of guilt. "Neelix! I'm so sorry. You 
of all people--you should have been at the wedding."

"No need for apologies, my dear." the Talaxian assured her. 
"I'm just thrilled it all turned out this way. And some of 
us had quite a lot to do down here, you know." Harry 
coughed and gave him an eloquent stare, and Neelix took the 

"Still, I wish you had been there," insisted B'Elanna. "The 
talk we had yesterday...it made quite a difference..." She 
took hold of his hands and kissed him on the cheek. Before 
moving away, she whispered, "You were right. Thank you--and 
thanks for always being there for me."

Neelix squeezed her hands, his eyes misty. "It does my 
heart good to see you and Tom 'tie the knot' at last." He 
told Tom, "You're a very lucky man, you know."

"That's for sure," Tom agreed, putting his arm around his 
bride. "So it was you who gave B'Elanna the idea to take 
Harry's place in the race?"

B'Elanna answered him herself: "Not exactly. To give credit 
where it's due-- I decided to foist myself on you as 
copilot after a chat with Seven."

Hearing her name, Seven strolled over to join Neelix and 
the newlyweds, announcing in her distinctively flat, 
carrying tones: "My congratulations to both of you, 
Lieutenants." Turning to B'Elanna, she continued, "And I am 
pleased to hear our discussion about my relationship with 
Lieutenant Paris was helpful."

A hush fell over the room. Harry's mouth dropped open.

The doctor looked stricken. From some ancient lexicon in 
his database, the words 'cad' and 'bounder' leapt out and 
set his optronic pathways ablaze.

Chakotay hid a smile as he bent to stow B'Elanna's carryall 
just inside the door to the Flyer. 'Perhaps I have 
underestimated Seven,' he mused. 'The woman has a sense of 
humour almost as twisted as my own.'

Stalwart Neelix stepped into the breach. "A toast, my 
friends! To our intrepid pilot and his resourceful chief 
engineer, as they start out on life's journey together." 
The company saluted the pair, and a buzz of conversation 
broke out.

Tom was aghast. It was just not fair. Okay, he had screwed 
up by being so careless about their plans. But did he 
deserve to have some stupid misunderstanding mar his 
wedding day? For the second time in two days, he prepared 
himself to face a furious B'Elanna.

To his infinite amazement, when he did he saw she was--
giggling! 'Women,' he said to himself. 'You can work with 
them, sleep with them, fight with them and love them to 
distraction, but can you ever possibly hope to understand 

As he made his way back to join Kathryn, Chakotay overheard 
Tom whisper to B'Elanna, "What in the world did she mean by 
that?" He almost choked at her terse response: "She made a 
clean breast of it, Helmboy. I suggest you do the same."

B'Elanna saw the adorably baffled expression she had 
captured with her camera just before the race appear on 
Tom's face again. Really, he was heartstoppingly handsome. 
And all hers! She almost burst out laughing, so overflowing 
was her joy, but she managed to hold back. She and Tom 
would share the joke later, when she explained Seven's 
comment. Not a bad way to start off a marriage, with 
laughter. In the meantime, thanks to their unlikely Borg 
matchmaker, the crew would have something besides their 
honeymoon to speculate about. 'The Paris legend,' she 
observed to herself, with an outbreak of giggles that she 
just could not contain, 'is undimmed.'

B'Elanna picked up a bottle of champagne and handed it to 
Tom. She helped herself to two glasses and entered the 
Flyer cradling her armful of fragrant blooms. They would 
toast their good fortune with the champagne, but the wine 
couldn't possibly raise her spirits any higher. No 
intoxicant could even come close to pure happiness.

They settled into their seats, only to freeze at the sound 
of the communicator.

"Bridge to Lieutenants Paris and Torres."

It was Tuvok. The newlyweds exchanged a look of dismay, but 
Tom made the automatic response. "Paris here."

The Vulcan's gravity would never have permitted him to say 
a word like "Gotcha!" but Tom heard it loud and clear 
nevertheless, as the answer came in tones warmer than usual 
for Tuvok: "You are cleared for departure, Lieutenants, 
with the best wishes of the crew on the bridge. And--Tom 
felt it coming, the coup de grâce, and saw from her gleeful 
expression that B'Elanna did too--my friends," he 
continued, after an impeccably timed pause, "Live long, and 

*"La griffe" literally means "the claw." It also appears in 
these idiomatic expressions: "Je suis entre ses griffes" (I 
am in his/her clutches) and the verb "griffer" (to seize, 
to stamp [with signature, etc.]).--New Cassell's French