Title: Common Interests
Author: Julie Evans
Series: VOY, "Scenes From a Marriage"
Summary: Do Tom and B'Elanna have enough common interests
to make a marriage last? Part of the "Scenes From a
Marriage" series. Also a coda to "Nightingale," set
immediately after that episode.
Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are the property
of Paramount/Viacom. I am borrowing them for fun only, not
Archive: Okay to archive to ASC, PT Collective archive and
BLTS. All others please ask author for permission.
by Julie Evans
Tom ran a towel quickly over his body, and then slipped on
his boxers and t-shirt, feeling completely contented.
After being planetbound for seven days Voyager had received
an escort out of Anari space this morning, and had taken a
short detour to the Kraylor homeworld to pick up Harry and
Seven before finally resuming course toward the Alpha
quadrant. B'Elanna had spent much of the evening in
Engineering supervising the working diagnostics on the
newly repaired engine and propulsion systems, while Tom had
completed a final helm diagnostic in time to make his
nineteen hundred hours reservation on the holodeck. When
he'd arrived in their quarters shortly after twenty-one
hundred hours, he'd found B'Elanna already here, emerging
from the sonic shower. After a quick greeting and
lingering kiss he'd exchanged places with her.
As he came out of the bathroom now he saw that she was
already in bed, absorbed in a datapadd. He joined her
there, heaving a large sigh as he slipped his legs under
the covers. B'Elanna looked up from whatever she was
reading. "Rough day on the bridge?"
Tom shook his head. "Nope. Everything went smoothly. I'm
just very happy we're back in space. Being planetbound for
a week doing repairs was getting pretty tedious."
B'Elanna patted Tom's leg. "I'm sorry you had to suffer.
I know you would have preferred to go with Harry."
Tom smiled at the mock sympathy in B'Elanna's voice.
"You're right. I'll take a helm--even if it's not
Voyager's--any day over replacing every conduit and relay
on the ship."
"It was necessary, Tom," B'Elanna said. She dropped her
datapadd on the bed, and frowned at him. "I know it was a
lot of drudge work, and everyone was complaining, even the
captain, but it's not like the ship can repair itself--"
"Okay." Tom raised his hands in submission. He leaned
over and pecked her on the cheek. "I know it was
necessary. I wasn't complaining--very much," he amended at
her sharp look. "You did a great job, by the way. The
ship maneuvered like a dream today."
B'Elanna looked a little mollified at that acknowledgement.
Then she gave him a quizzical look. "Are you still annoyed
with Harry because he didn't take you with him?"
Tom frowned. "I wasn't annoyed--" he paused at B'Elanna's
raised eyebrows. Okay, so he'd sulked a little over it.
"Maybe I was a little...hurt at first. I thought it would
have been fun, but as it turned out Harry could have used
some friendly support."
"I don't know about that," B'Elanna said. "Harry had some
rough moments, and he made mistakes, but that's part of the
learning process. He wouldn't have learned as much if
you'd been there advising him constantly, or had taken over
when he got into trouble."
"You think I would have advised him constantly?" Tom
asked. "Or taken over for him?"
B'Elanna gave Tom a pointed look. "Come on, Tom. You've
never been one to keep your opinions to yourself."
Tom acknowledged the truth of her statement with a shrug,
and a small smile flitted across his lips.
"Neither am I," B'Elanna admitted, returning his smile.
"And if you'd been there while Harry was floundering you
would have wanted to take over, with the best intentions.
That's why he needed to do this alone, so he could find out
for himself if can cut it in command. He needed a chance
to rely on his own instincts without someone else there to
bail him out."
Tom nodded slowly. "I do understand why he wanted to do it
alone. And even if he had a setback or two, he stuck it
out and he got the Kraylor safely home with a pretty clever
B'Elanna nodded in agreement. "I wasn't sure before, but
with more experience, Harry just may be the one who has it
in him to make captain one day--if we get back to the Alpha
"Hmmm." Tom pondered that statement. "The *one*? So you
don't think I have it in me to make captain?"
B'Elanna's eyebrows rose. "You, Tom?"
Tom frowned at the skepticism in her tone. It wasn't
exactly the response he'd been expecting. "Yeah, me."
B'Elanna gave him a penetrating look. "Do you have a
burning desire to become a captain?"
Tom shrugged. "I haven't really thought about it that
much," he said frankly.
"Exactly," B'Elanna said. "Neither have I. If a situation
comes up where I have to take command--on an away mission
for instance--then I do it, and with a fair amount of
"You have more than a fair amount of that," Tom said
gallantly, and truthfully.
B'Elanna nodded, accepting that compliment without
reservation. "You don't doubt your own abilities any more
than I doubt mine, Tom. You certainly have more than
enough ability to make captain--if you wanted it enough to
put in the time and effort to get there. But you love
being a pilot, just like I love being an engineer. Would
you really want to deal with the politics of being a
captain while someone else was flying the ship?"
Tom met her knowing gaze. He thought about it for a
moment, and then shook his head. "Maybe not. I enjoy
commanding a mission here and there, but I'm not sure I
could sit in the captain's chair fulltime watching someone
else doing my job at the helm." He gave her an insouciant
grin. "So, are you disappointed that you married a man
with no ambition?"
B'Elanna snorted. "Ambition for its own sake is overrated.
I didn't marry you because I expect you to achieve some
high-level position of power one day at the expense of
doing what really makes you happy. Just like I'll assume
you didn't marry me expecting that I would be a captain one
"Hardly," Tom said. "You're too gifted an engineer. Your
talent would be wasted as a captain."
"Yours might be too," B'Elanna said. "And if piloting is
what you love to do, and what you excel at, why would I
want or expect you to do anything else?"
"Well, you never know," Tom mused. "I might change my mind
some day and decide I want to become a captain so I can
outrank you permanently."
B'Elanna patted his shoulder, unperturbed. "Until you do,
I'm more than happy to be married to a lieutenant." She
smirked. "That's assuming you don't get booted back down
to ensign again."
Tom returned her smirk. "I think my ensign days are over."
He grabbed her hand as she started to slip it off his
shoulder. "What's this?" he asked, brushing his thumb over
a scrape on the underside of her arm that was starting to
B'Elanna looked at the spot he was rubbing lightly with his
thumb. "I slipped while I was rock-climbing."
"Oh, right." Tom had forgotten that she'd set aside
holodeck time to go rock-climbing this afternoon.
Recently it had become her favorite program to work out the
kinks after spending hours crawling through Jeffries tubes
and under consoles. "I have the dermal regenerator--"
B'Elanna shook her head as he started to reach for the
drawer on his side of the bed. "It's hardly worth it.
It'll be gone by morning."
It probably would. B'Elanna healed quickly. Tom rubbed
his thumb gently over the tender spot one more time, and
then slipped his hand down her arm. "So how did Icheb like
B'Elanna gave Tom an odd look he couldn't quite interpret
before she answered. "He cancelled."
"He did?" Tom wondered what had prompted Icheb's sudden
change of heart. "I thought he wanted to get more involved
in recreational activities. I invited him to try out my
race car program this evening but he cancelled on me too."
And since Harry had been busy working on his away mission
report Tom had found himself racing against only holo-
opponents after all.
B'Elanna gave Tom a contemplative look. "Yes, he told me
that you challenged him to a race."
Tom's eyebrows rose. "It wasn't exactly a challenge--or at
least that's not the way I meant it. I just invited him
to...well, chase me around the track."
B'Elanna's lips quirked at Tom's grin. "Somehow he got the
idea that you were challenging him over me."
Tom stared at her, confused. "Over you?"
"Yes. But even though he sensed my romantic feelings
toward him, he decided it wasn't honorable to come between
a husband and wife, so he told me that we had to stop
seeing each other."
Tom's mouth fell open momentarily, before he burst out
B'Elanna's eyes narrowed at Tom's incredulous tone, though
there was a hint of a smile around her lips. "Is it so
unbelievable that he would be attracted to me?"
Tom managed to contain his laughter. "No, of course not."
He squeezed B'Elanna's hand. "I can completely understand
his fascination. I just--he sensed your romantic feelings
"He scanned me in Engineering while I was in a particularly
frustrated mood, and he interpreted my heightened emotional
"Oh." Tom pursed his lips together to keep from laughing
again, though he wondered in the back of his mind what the
hell Icheb thought he was doing scanning B'Elanna.
"I was ready to kill him at first," B'Elanna said, as if
she had read his thought. "But then I decided it was
actually pretty funny, and kind of...sweet."
"Hmmm," Tom replied noncommittally. He supposed B'Elanna
would see it that way. Icheb was just sixteen years old
after all, and socially very inexperienced. It was
probably just a momentary overreaction for him to hope the
kid stayed away from Engineering forever. "So what did you
say to him?"
"That I was devastated, but that I would find some way to
accept the truth and go on."
This time a chuckle did erupt from Tom's lips. Then he
cleared his throat "Well, if you're sure about that,
B'Elanna. I wouldn't want to stand in the way of true
"Very funny," B'Elanna said, kicking his leg under the
covers. Then she gave him a smug smile. "Though it is
nice to know that I have a back up now if you don't work
Tom managed to suppress a dismissive snort at the idea.
B'Elanna would probably hit him for being egotistical.
Instead he frowned. "If I don't work out, huh? So you'd
go after a younger man, B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna shrugged. "Why not? Icheb was completely
attentive to everything I said. He did what I asked
practically before I asked him, without a question or an
argument." She gave Tom a meaningful look. "It was an
Tom smirked. "So, you led him around by the nose, and he
followed you like a devoted puppy. We both know that's not
really your type."
"Maybe, maybe not," B'Elanna said lightly, settling herself
against her pillow and returning her attention to her
datapadd. "Blind devotion does have its merits." She
didn't notice Tom's skeptical look. "And he was eager to
go rock-climbing with me."
Tom watched her for several seconds, not sure if she was
still ribbing him. "B'Elanna, if you really wanted me to
go rock-climbing with you, I would have--"
"Tom." B'Elanna looked up from her padd and fixed him with
an admonishing look. "I was teasing." She paused for a
moment, and then admitted, "Mostly. I wouldn't refuse you
if you wanted to go rock-climbing with me. But I know it
isn't your favorite pastime, even if you are the one who
taught me the finer aspects."
When they'd first started dating they'd gone climbing
several times together, since B'Elanna had wanted to learn
more about the sport. She knew Tom had a lot of
experience, thanks in part to the incident on Sikari, so
he'd obliged her. It was only later that he'd told her he
didn't care for climbing much anymore as a recreational
activity. He'd done most of his rock-climbing as a cadet
at Starfleet Academy, scaling several well-known peaks with
a close-knit climbing group, and earning an expert-level
rating. But like many things he'd done during his Academy
years, subsequent events had made the memories of even
those good times with friends painful to recall. Though
B'Elanna knew the deeper reason, Tom preferred to use the
simple and partially true excuse that he'd been there and
done that, and had moved on to other interests.
He looked at B'Elanna now, and saw that she was watching
him intently. "You know me, I always like to try something
new. Besides, rock-climbing makes me all sweaty."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes, but followed his lead. "Getting
sweaty isn't a bad thing, Tom," she told him dryly. She
trailed a finger over his arm. "And I rather like you all
sweaty." She pulled her hand away before he could grab it.
"Anyway, I do know if it doesn't involve something with an
engine, you're generally not interested."
"Hey, I have other interests too," Tom said.
"Right, the twentieth century programs, and..." B'Elanna
wrinkled her nose, "your role-playing programs."
"Well, I can't give up Captain Proton because Harry loves
it so much," Tom said, eliciting a disbelieving groan from
B'Elanna. He grinned. "Okay, so do I. But I think Fair
Haven has run its course."
"Thankfully," B'Elanna muttered, returning her attention to
No one had used Fair Haven in several months, including the
captain, and B'Elanna didn't have to tell Tom how she felt
about the demise of that program. He already knew her
reasons all too well from the previous words they'd had on
the subject. "B'Elanna...do my holoprograms really bother
B'Elanna looked up again, obviously surprised by the
question and the seriousness in his tone. "Why would you
"I know you don't like most of them--"
"I wouldn't say *most* of them," B'Elanna corrected. "I
did enjoy learning to drive a car. And I do like some of
your twentieth century programs, like the movie theatre,
and the Roaring Twenties dance club in Chicago. A lot of
the others don't interest me, but that doesn't mean I mind
you doing them, Tom. After all, I have some of my own
"That's what I mean," Tom said.
"We do a lot of things separately. Maybe we should be
doing more together."
B'Elanna stared at him, uncomprehending. "Tom, we're not
joined at the hip just because we're married. We don't
have to be together every second."
Tom nodded. "I know. But maybe we don't have enough
B'Elanna frowned. "Enough common interests for what? To
"No. I just mean--"
"Is there a rule that we have to have a certain number of
common interests? Or that we're not supposed to have
separate interests or friends because we're married?"
Tom shook his head at B'Elanna's sharp tone. "Of course
"Besides, we do have common interests, even on the
holodeck. What about the beach programs? Or dancing in
Sandrine's, or at the club on Risa? The ski lodge? The
sailboat on Lake Como?"
Tom nodded, surprised by her vehement response. "I know--"
"And there's the wrestling program we did last year." The
trace of annoyance in her expression was replaced by mild
amusement. "I seem to recall you did sweat a little in
Tom smiled at that memory. "Yeah. We should resurrect
that program, only this time I think we should add some--"
"Mud," B'Elanna finished for him, her voice dry.
Okay, so he'd suggested that one before, several times.
She hadn't taken him up on it yet.
"So what's the problem?" B'Elanna asked, her gaze on him
Tom brushed his fingers over hers. "No problem. I just
don't want you to think that we're not spending enough time
together. It's been an issue with us before. And
sometimes we don't see each other all day--"
"But we always see each other at the end of the day,"
B'Elanna pointed out softly. She entwined her fingers with
his. "No matter how we each spend our day, we finish it
together. We sleep together and we wake up together. We
usually eat breakfast together, and dinner more often than
not. When you add it up, Tom, we actually spend more than
half our time together."
Tom's mouth twitched. "I guess I never did the math quite
that way, but you're right." Though he and B'Elanna had
spent plenty of nights together before they were married,
it hadn't been the consistent thing it was now, not
counting the occasional away mission. He knew some married
couples made do with much less, especially those in
Starfleet. His parents had shared far less time together,
with the demands of his father's position keeping him away
for weeks or even months at a time.
B'Elanna held Tom's gaze for several moments before she
spoke again. "That's the difference now, you know. And
it's what I like most about being married."
"What?" Tom asked expectantly at her complacent smile.
"Knowing that no matter what happens during the day--good
or bad--or who else I see or what I do, when it's all over
and I come home, you'll be here."
Tom recognized the sincerity in her quietly spoken words,
and he was silent for a moment. Then he smiled softly. "I
like that about being married too." He kissed her forehead
lightly. "In fact, we should have done it a lot sooner."
"You should have asked me a lot sooner," B'Elanna returned.
"I should have," Tom agreed. Then he looked at her
thoughtfully as something occurred to him. "When we were
discussing who should take whose name you pointed out that
this *is* the twenty-fourth century. So...how come you
never asked me to marry you, B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna looked momentarily nonplused at his question, and
then she gave him a wary look. "I don't know," she said
honestly. She hesitated for a moment. "Would you have
He could see that she meant the question seriously. He
tried to imagine a scenario where B'Elanna might have asked
him to marry her. He couldn't quite envision it, since she
was even more leery of rejection than he was. But he had
no doubt about his answer. "Absolutely."
B'Elanna smiled, satisfied. Then she squeezed his hand.
"I don't think it matters how many hours we spend together,
or how many interests we have in common, Tom. You can
pursue your own hobbies all you want, and I'll do the same.
As long as I have you here with me at the end of the day
that's what matters."
"You don't have to worry about that," Tom told her firmly.
"But I will have you know that I have given up a thing or
two for you."
B'Elanna looked at him curiously. "You have?"
"Sure. Like rescuing slave girls on Planet Ten."
"Slave girls?" B'Elanna echoed. "On Planet Ten?" Her eyes
narrowed. "I don't recall that program."
"That's because I gave up that program quite a while ago,
about the time we got together."
"Really?" B'Elanna's gaze on him was astute. "I assume
these slave girls were very...grateful for your heroic
assistance, and rewarded you appropriately."
Tom cleared his throat. "You could say that."
"I see," B'Elanna said softly. She was silent for several
moments, and then she scowled deeply. "I have a problem
with this, Tom."
Tom's eyebrows rose. He hadn't anticipated that. B'Elanna
wasn't prudish, or judgmental about anything he'd done
before they'd become a couple. "You do?"
"Yes." B'Elanna arched a brow. "You didn't mention the
slave girls on Planets One through Nine. Don't tell me you
just left them to suffer their tragic fates?"
Tom looked at her speechlessly for a moment, and then he
laughed. "B'Elanna, you never quite say what I expect."
"That's good, isn't it?" B'Elanna asked archly.
"Hmmm." Tom watched her drop her padd on the bed. "For
your information Planets One through Five were rocky
planetoids devoid of atmosphere. And Planets Six through
Nine were gas giants. Only Planet Ten was suitable for
"That's not a very likely planetary alignment," B'Elanna
murmured as she rubbed a hand lightly and provocatively
over his t-shirt covered chest.
"I guess planetary physics wasn't one of my priorities,"
Tom said nonchalantly as she closed her fingers in the neck
of his t-shirt. "Speaking of one of our common
interests...horny tonight, honey?"
"Why should tonight be any different?" B'Elanna asked slyly
as she tugged the t-shirt down so she could tweak several
of his chest hairs, hard.
Tom winced. "Ouch!"
"That's for calling me honey," B'Elanna said as she slipped
one leg over him.
"So horny is okay?" Tom asked impishly.
B'Elanna grinned and shifted until she was straddling him.
Then she paused and looked down at him with a curious
expression. "Do you think anyone has more sex than us?"
Tom blurted out the first thing that came to his mind. "On
*this* ship? Hardly."
B'Elanna chuckled. "Good point. But do you think it's
strange that we have more sex now than we did before we
Tom shrugged. "It's relative." He grinned roguishly. "We
had quite a bit of sex before we were married too, you
"True," B'Elanna said as she helped him pull off his t-
In turn he slipped the narrow straps of her gown off her
shoulders and skimmed his hands down her arms. "And we've
only been married for three months, so maybe this is a
symptom of the honeymoon phase."
"You think so?" B'Elanna asked, nibbling at his neck.
"No," he answered honestly, and with no small amount of
B'Elanna chuckled against his throat as she shifted again--
and at that moment the commlink beeped.
"Ensign Bristow to Lieutenant Torres."
"Dammit!" B'Elanna slapped Tom's shoulder hard with one
hand. "Sorry," she said immediately, and rubbed the
offended spot as she answered the call with a soft growl.
"The warp drive efficiency has dropped twenty percent in
the past thirty minutes. We think that one of the new
infuser coils isn't fully aligned--"
B'Elanna slipped off Tom. "Start a level two diagnostic.
I'll be there in five minutes."
"We're pretty sure we've found the problem in the fifth
infuser relay, but we wanted to confirm it before--"
"You can give me the details when I get there. Torres
B'Elanna had already pulled off her nightgown, and Tom
watched her retrieve her uniform from the closet and step
into her pants. "Sorry about this."
Tom shook his head. "I've gotten used to it," he said,
She pulled on her jacket and fastened it, then sat down on
the edge of the bed to put on her shoes. "I'm pretty sure
I know what the problem is. It shouldn't take long to
"I guess this is what I get for being married to the most
indispensable person on the ship," Tom said lightly.
"Hmmm." B'Elanna leaned across the bed and kissed him
quickly on the lips. "I should be back in an hour."
"I'll be here," Tom said softly as she rose.
B'Elanna smiled. "I know."
Tom watched her rush out, and sighed. Then he picked up
her datapadd that was half buried in the sheets, and read
the words on the screen.
"K'Nesa stepped over the bloodied bodies and severed limbs
of the Romulans who'd fallen on the battlefield and raised
her bat'leth. 'I did not need your help at the stream!'
she snarled at Tor. 'I will see you die a hundred thousand
deaths, by my hand!' "
Ah, a Klingon warrior romance. One of B'Elanna's few
vices, or so she thought of her inclination with just a
little embarrassment, though he couldn't see any reason for
it. What fun was life if one couldn't enjoy a self-
indulgence or two?
"Tor swung his bat'leth in a defensive arc, barely
deflecting her frontal attack. Their bat'leths
reverberated loudly, and he gave her a wide smile that
bared his sharp teeth. 'I look forward to surviving every
"K'Nesa lowered her bat'leth glared at him. 'Contemptible
targ," she growled, before she turned and stalked away.
She knew with a mixture of disgust and anticipation that
they would meet again soon."
Tom chuckled. Obviously these two were made for each
other. He made himself more comfortable against the
pillows, and with datapadd in hand settled in contentedly
to wait for B'Elanna.