Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Paramount/Viacom. I am just borrowing them briefly, for fun not profit.

Synopsis: New Year‘s Eve on Voyager. P/T, rated NC17 for sexual content. Do not read if you are under 18 or averse to detailed descriptions of heterosexual lovemaking. This story takes place sometime between the episodes Mortal Coil and Message in a Bottle, at about the time I am randomly designating as the "holiday season" on Voyager.

"New Year‘s Resolutions" by Julie Evans (comments to Juli17@aol.com)

"Nice party."
Tom nodded at Harry‘s comment. It was a nice

party. Not that he‘d been here very long. And he told himself that it was early yet. He tipped the glass he was holding to his lips and took a sip of the champagne. Synthenol, but a pretty authentic replication of Dom Perignon 2341, which had been an excellent year.

"This is pretty good stuff," Harry said, tipping his own glass. "I think Neelix outdid himself this time."

"Have you tried the hor d‘oeuvres yet?" Tom asked, his mouth curving into a wry smile.

"Hmmm, no. I‘m still working up the courage."

Tom chuckled, and sipped his champagne. He would have been surprised to know that Harry was looking at him with more than a hint of exasperation. But then he hadn‘t looked at Harry for several minutes. Or at the marble pillars and gold leaf that lined the faux ballroom, also known as holodeck 2. Or the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling, their dozens of crystal teardrops reflecting dancing prisms of light off their surface. Or at the white linen covered tables laden with hor d‘oeuvres and champagne bottles. Or at the dozens of crewmembers already gathered around him, outfitted in their dressiest attire. All the time he‘d been carrying on a casual conversation with Harry, his attention had been focused on the door.

"Tom, are you trying to burn a hole in that door by staring at it?"

"Huh-no..." Tom turned to look at his friend sheepishly. "Sorry, Harry."

"I‘m sure she‘ll show up soon," Harry said. Then he looked at Tom searchingly. "Unless there‘s trouble in paradise already?"

Tom shook his head. "Like I said, something came up in Engineering. She‘ll be here." At least that was what she‘d told him. B‘Elanna was good to her word. Although if she was still mad at him about the other night...

The main door opened, catching both Harry and Tom‘s attention. But it wasn‘t B‘Elanna who entered. It was Seven who walked into the room, dressed in a long black form hugging sheath. She strode coolly toward the middle of the room, her long stride accommodated by the slit in her dress that ended at her upper thigh. Tom could swear he heard Harry‘s intake of breath as she passed through the crowd.
"Hey, Seven."

Seven stopped and turned at Harry‘s greeting.
Tom had watched a few others murmur a polite greeting as she walked by, but no one else had offered an invitation to stop and chat. Captain Janeway, and Tuvok also, had taken Seven under their wing. But she still hadn‘t quite grasped the concept of making friends. Harry was perhaps the closest she‘d come thus far.

"Ensign Kim. Lieutenant Paris." Seven stopped in front of them and greeted them in her formal manner.

"Seven." Tom smiled in greeting. He felt for her, because he knew how it hurt to be on the outside. Even if she pretended it didn‘t matter, somewhere deep inside he thought it must. As she stared expressionlessly at him, he refrained from telling her that she was looking lovely tonight. Once those words had fallen off his lips to virtually every woman he met. And in this case it would be the complete truth. There was no doubt Seven was a gorgeous woman, in every sense of the word. There wasn‘t a physical attribute missing. Not all that long ago just looking at her would have set his pulse racing, his mind calculating. But now he felt no reaction at all.
"Uh, you‘re looking lovely tonight, Seven."
Tom grinned. Obviously Harry felt a reaction.

"Thank you, Ensign Kim," Seven replied somberly. She glanced around the room. "This is quite...ostentatious."

Tom chuckled. "Welcome to Neelix‘s annual New Year‘s Eve party. A Voyager tradition since last year."

Seven raised an eyebrow. "What is its purpose?"

Harry shrugged. "It‘s an Earth tradition. A way of celebrating the accomplishments of the past year, and ringing in the beginning of the next year, when you hope that even better things will be accomplished. Even though we‘re on a starship we‘ve taken to celebrating it in conjunction with Earth‘s calendar, and Neelix has really gotten into it..."

Tom was only half listening as Harry continued into a more lengthy explanation of the concept and the various celebrations that took place on Earth at the turning of the year. He glanced at the door again. Last year at Neelix‘s inaugural New Year‘s Eve party, B‘Elanna had been wearing her sleeveless black dress, the one that hugged every delicate curve. And Tom had been trying valiantly to flirt with her, to pick her up. It was just around the time when he‘d realized that he was attracted to her. She‘d rebuffed him repeatedly, almost good humoredly, making it clear that she didn‘t take him seriously. And wisely so, since his only thought that night had been how good they would be together in bed. He hadn‘t looked any further at the time, he hadn‘t wanted to.

"Excuse me everyone. Your attention, if I may."

Tom attention turned to the captain, who been standing on the other side of the room talking with Chakotay and Tuvok. She‘d moved to the center and her quick glance around the room encompassed the entire gathered crew.

"I‘d like to say a few words. We‘re gathered here tonight to celebrate, and to remember everything we‘ve learned and accomplished this past year..."

Tom heard the door open and his attention was immediately diverted. This time his wish was answered, and B‘Elanna walked into the room. She must have replicated something new, because he‘d never seen the dress she was wearing tonight. It was a sleeveless glittering sheath in a warm bronze color that lent an even more golden tone to B‘Elanna‘s smooth skin. The scooped neck line dipped just low enough to hint at the swell of her breasts. It was short, ending at mid thigh and revealing her slim legs. And the fit was...snug. Tom felt his mouth go dry and his gut tighten as if he‘d just been kicked. But then, looking at B‘Elanna often did that to him.

She glanced around the room once and their eyes locked. She didn‘t smile, or frown. She just stared at him, and her lips slightly parted. Then she turned and said something to the several Engineering crewmembers who were greeting her. Tom thought he saw her tongue dart out and moisten her lips right as she turned away.

"We‘re on a journey- not of our own choice, I know- but we‘ve made new discoveries, learned more about ourselves, even as we‘ve encountered a few bumps along the way..."

A few bumps. Tom smiled wryly at the captain‘s words. He felt as if his whole life had been turned upside down this past year. Not that getting his life turned upside down was a new experience for him, and since landing on Voyager, the upheavals had generally been positive. Only this time the changes scared him a little. He had wanted it for so long, and then somehow it had happened so quickly. It seemed so new, and so fragile...

"We‘ve overcome so many obstacles, and we‘ve moved closer to home, much closer. We‘ve lost friends in the process, but still we have much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is each other, and the bonds we‘ve made..."

Bonds. He glanced at B‘Elanna again, but she was watching the captain speak. It was the Sakari world. That‘s when he‘d realized the depth of his developing feelings for her. She‘d offered him exactly what he‘d thought up to that point that he wanted from her- hot, sweaty, uninhibited sex, with someone he was most definitely attracted to, hell, even fond of. He‘d looked at her closely at that pivotal moment- flushed, willing, aggressively eager to have him- and nakedly vulnerable. And he‘d been almost as surprised as she that he‘d rejected her offer, refused to take advantage of her while she was under the influence of the pon farr. That was when he‘d realized that he didn‘t just want to have sex with her. He wanted to make love with her. That‘s also when he‘d realized that he was beginning to love her. And that had shocked him to the core.

"Next year may be the year we get home. The year we all see our families in the Alpha quadrant again. But in the meantime we have our family here, because that is what we are now. We‘re all in this together. No matter what happens in the coming year, what new challenges we face, that one thing will remain constant. We have each other, and that is a lot. Cheers to a new year, and to all those resolutions we‘ll be trying not to break."

As Janeway raised her glass and wished everyone a Happy New Year, Tom‘s gaze returned to B‘Elanna. He raised his own glass absently, joining in the general well wishing, but never taking his eyes off her. B‘Elanna‘s gaze finally locked with his for a moment, then she turned away to once again respond to someone next to her. Freddie Bristow, who‘s gaze on B‘Elanna had drifted to a spot well below her face. Well, THAT was more than enough.

Tom clapped Harry on the back. "Harry, Seven, have a good evening."

"He is heading straight for Lieutenant Torres," Seven observed dispassionately as Tom strode across the room.
Harry chuckled. "Of course."
Seven cocked an eyebrow. "Are intimate relationships generally so...volatile?"

"It depends on who‘s involved in the relationship," Harry said. And in the case of his two best friends volatile was the operative word. Yet somehow they were so right for each other, no matter what some people might say or think. He wasn‘t sure they could see it yet, the bond that connected them, that they had forged with their hearts and souls, more so than most people could understand, more than perhaps even they realized. He smiled as he watched Tom stop abruptly in front of B‘Elanna and her entourage, before turning back to Seven.
"Hello, Joe. Vorik. Freddie."
B‘Elanna had seen Tom approach out of the corner of her eye. She suppressed her amusement as she listened to his greeting. After all, she was still really annoyed with him. His tone to Joe had been friendly enough, but his voice had cooled when he‘d gotten to Vorik, and just about iced over when he‘d greeted Freddie.

"B‘Elanna." Tom looked straight at her while he drawled her name in a low voice. He stood right next to her, she could feel his body heat pressing against her bare arms. Then she felt his hand touch her wrist and his fingers trailed lightly up the sensitive skin of her forearm. She shivered. "Cold?"

He had a smirk on his face when he said it, and B‘Elanna pulled her arm away. Dammit, it was so hard when she wanted to ravish him and smack him at the same time.

"B‘Elanna, I want to talk to you." Tom‘s voice was low and close to her ear. "Let‘s get out of here."
"I just got here, Tom."

Joe took the hint immediately. "Tom, B‘Elanna, have a good evening. I‘m off to mingle."

Vorik quickly followed Joe into the crowd, and after a reluctant glance at B‘Elanna and a cool stare from Tom, Freddie did the same.
"Let‘s go," Tom cajoled again.
"Tom, I don‘t know why you think I‘d want to leave when I just got here." B‘Elanna gave him an obstinate look.

"Okay, we can...talk here." Tom touched the lowest part of the neckline of B‘Elanna‘s dress as he spoke, and his fingertips barely brushed the soft skin the swelled along the silky material. He raised his eyes and looked right at her.

Tom‘s fingers were warm, but not as warm as B‘Elanna‘s suddenly heated skin. She automatically grabbed his hand with every intent of pushing him away. But a jolt of desire swept through her, and she had a sudden urge to press his hand harder against her skin, against her breast. How quickly she reacted to him both excited and dismayed her. Her dislike of feeling out of control constantly warred with her desire- her love- for Tom. She stared into his intense blue gaze and her grip on his hand tightened considerably. Tom winced but his gaze didn‘t waver from her flashing eyes as she spoke.
"Let‘s go."

"Okay, we‘re here. What do you want to say?"
Tom turned as B‘Elanna stalked into the room

behind him. The flame that had threatened to momentarily consume them a few minutes before had apparently faded for the moment. But it always came back. So far. "B‘Elanna, why are you still mad at me?"

B‘Elanna stopped in front of Tom and frowned at him. "Why do you think I‘m mad at you?"

Tom stared at her, then moved back as she brushed past him. "Maybe because you‘ve barely talked to me for three days."

B‘Elanna shrugged, then sat down on her couch. "I‘ve been working overtime upgrading the gelpak relay system in Engineering. You know that, Tom."

"You have to eat, B‘Elanna," Tom said walking around the other side of the couch. "But I haven‘t seen you in the mess hall at meals." He picked up her discarded uniform and draped it neatly over the back of the couch so he could sit down. It always amazed him that she couldn‘t tolerate a tool out of place in Engineering, yet her quarters were often a scene of haphazard disarray. There was a certain charm in it. "You also have to come back to your quarters sometime to sleep, yet you haven‘t answered my calls."
"I‘ve been getting in late." B‘Elanna
shifted on the couch. "I have a job to do, I can‘t always be at your beck and call-"

"Excuse me?" Tom stiffened and dropped his arm from the back of the couch where he‘d casually draped it. He crossed both arms over his chest. "Do you really think I‘m trying to control you, B‘Elanna?"
B‘Elanna could see she‘d irritated him.
Maybe that comment had been unfair. "I didn‘t mean it that way, Tom. Sometimes I just need some space-"

"Okay, message received." Tom rose from the couch. "I‘m bothering you. I won‘t call you, you can call me."

"Tom, now you‘re overreacting-"

"Maybe I am." He stood looking down at her. "So tell me, do you want me to stay right now, or do you need some ‚space‘?"

B‘Elanna didn‘t answer, she just stared at him with a blank expression on her face. Tom decided he could read the answer for himself.

"I see-"
"Tom, why do you want to be with me?"

Tom stopped in the process of turning away, baffled by her unexpected question. "What?"
"Why are you with me?" B‘Elanna was frowning at him. "I‘m not a quiet, demure, even tempered woman who follows all the rules. It‘s generally an occasion when I‘m even able to be reasonably nice-"

"B‘Elanna, what are you talking about? I don‘t want..." Tom stopped in mid sentence. He took a step toward her and crouched down in front of her. "You‘re talking about the Iliad program, aren‘t you? That‘s what this is about?" He took her hand. "I knew you were annoyed with me when we ended the program, but I didn‘t realize you were this annoyed."

"I wasn‘t annoyed exactly. I was..." B‘Elanna shook her head. "Never mind, it‘s not that important."

"Yes, it is." Tom wrapped his other hand around hers when she tried to pull away. "When I said that stuff, B‘Elanna, I wasn‘t talking about you. I was talking about how the character was supposed to act."

B‘Elanna looked at him questioningly. "Tom, why would you want me to be Helen of Troy? I‘m not anything remotely like her."

Tom studied her for a moment, then rose to sit on the couch next to her, keeping her hand held between his. "Two reasons, I guess. One, because you are like her in one aspect. In her own time, Helen of Troy was the most beautiful woman in the world, maybe even the universe. Just like you."

B‘Elanna found it hard to pull her eyes away from Tom‘s gaze. She‘d tried to learn to accept Tom‘s compliments graciously, but she still fought the urge to dismiss them. "Not exactly like me."

"No, not exactly," Tom agreed. He leaned over and kissed her ridged brow lightly. "She was actually something of a bore. No strong opinions, no fiery temper, no passion, certainly not much loyalty. Not my type at all. In fact, now that I think of it, she had absolutely no redeeming qualities. Well, maybe one."
B‘Elanna‘s gaze narrowed. "What was that?"
"She didn‘t warn the Trojans that the Greeks were hiding in the wooden horse."

B‘Elanna caught Tom‘s sly grin and snorted. "I was just correcting a ridiculous moment in history."

"Excuse me, you morons, but don‘t you think you should thoroughly check out a gift horse before you accept it?" Tom mimicked.

"Tom, you were one of the Trojans," B‘Elanna pointed out. "You should have been grateful."

Tom shrugged. "You can‘t mess with history, B‘Elanna. My namesake was slated to die a noble death." He managed to look bothered that he‘d survived.

"Tom, don‘t take this the wrong way, but your namesake was an idiot."

Tom mouth quirked. "Actually, besides being fated from birth to bring about the destruction of his people, Paris was basically a coward, a chronic screw up who was perpetually out of favor with his family, and probably deserving of his ignominious end. It was hard to resist the irony, at least the irony that it once was."

B‘Elanna shook her head. She much preferred Tom‘s cocky demeanor, act though it mostly was, to his self depreciating disparagement of his past. "Resist it next time."

Tom smiled. "Okay. I‘m sorry about the program. I thought you might enjoy the Greeks and Trojans. They somehow reminded me of Klingons."

B‘Elanna raised an eyebrow. "Constantly taking offense when their honor was marginally impugned, engaging in fights empty of any real meaning except as a way to release their testosterone surges..."
Tom laughed out loud. "Exactly."
"You‘re right, most of them were just like

Klingons. Except for Paris and Helen, the two people who‘s deceit caused the whole bloody episode. I still don‘t know if I should keep being offended that you see something in me that reminds you of her."

Tom shook his head. "You‘re nothing like Helen in character. The only thing I was thinking when I programmed it was that just looking at her was reputedly enough to make a man‘s knees tremble. Particularly one man named Paris. And B‘Elanna," Tom brushed his hand across her mouth in a feathery caress, then touched his lips to the soft corner of B‘Elanna‘s slightly parted mouth, "There‘s only been one woman who has ever done that to me. Who still does that to me."

B‘Elanna stared at Tom for a moment, her eyes darkening. Then she dropped her hands to his thighs and slid them slowly down to his knees, while she pressed her mouth lightly against his and traced his lips with the tip of her tongue. "Are your knees trembling now, Tom?" she whispered.

"Hell, yes." Tom‘s voice was soft and throaty, and his breath mingled with hers as he scraped her lower lip softly with his teeth.

"Luckily I‘m not standing up or I might just fall-"

Tom didn‘t get a chance to finish his thought before B‘Elanna threw her arms tightly around his neck and her mouth engulfed his. He wrapped his arms around her, only too happy to lose himself in the sensation of B‘Elanna kissing him until his blood throbbed against his temples. He only pulled back from her urgently plundering mouth when he was desperate to gulp in some air. B‘Elanna was straddling him, her hands tangled in the soft hair at the base of his neck, and her dark passion filled eyes boring into his.
"What?" Tom looked at her, confused by her soft, breathless affirmation.

"Yes. To your question. Tom, I want you to stay."

A slow smile spread across Tom‘s face. "I was hoping you‘d say that. Now the question is, do I want to stay?"

B‘Elanna‘s eyes narrowed. She shifted slightly, pressing herself closer to him. "Ummm, Tom, I think you do."

Tom managed a small chuckle. Hell, yes, he did. So much that it was beginning to hurt. He gritted his teeth as B‘Elanna moved even more deliberately against him, then gave him an wicked smile. His hands skimmed past the edge where her dress had rucked up around her hips and gripped her bare thighs almost without volition. "B‘Elanna, don‘t torture me."

"But I though you liked it," She drawled, gripping his hands with her own, and pulling them roughly up her body. Tom willingly complied, pressing his palms along the slender contours of her ribs and stopping to cup her breasts possessively. He could feel the heat of her skin radiating through the silky material of her dress and her heart beating furiously against his hands. She shuddered slightly, and he smiled at her small intake of breath as his thumbs caressed the tight peaks of her nipples through her clothing.

B‘Elanna pressed Tom‘s hands tighter against her breasts for a moment, then pushed them away long enough to reach down and pull her dress over her head. She tossed it behind her where it landed in a small glittering heap on the floor.

Tom stared at her as she stretched sinuously to toss the dress away, throwing all her beautiful curves into lush display. Not that she was naked under her dress, that wasn‘t B‘Elanna‘s style at all. Instead she was wearing a deep blue satin form fitting camisole with matching panties. It was neither frilly nor particularly racy, since the top dipped just low enough to reveal the shadowy cleft between her breasts and the lower edge of the panties brushed along the curve of her hips. Despite its almost chaste simplicity, on B‘Elanna the ensemble was incredibly, mind numbingly erotic.

"Did I thank you for this, Tom?" B‘Elanna asked softly. They had exchanged small Christmas gifts several days ago, despite the fact that Christmas wasn‘t a holiday either of them thought of with much fondness, nor celebrated with ease. Her own involvement with the holiday had pretty much ended when her father had left, other than participating in the well-wishing those around her in Starfleet and later in the Maquis, considered polite during the "season".

Actually she‘d almost blushed and had seemed a little annoyed with him at the time, as Tom remembered. And that was before the Iliad holoprogram. Now he just smiled slowly, wolfishly. "Not properly."

B‘Elanna gasped as Tom gripped her shoulders and pushed her backward onto the couch, following her down. He was careful not to land on her too hard, even though he knew she could easily take his weight, despite her deceptively small frame. He pulled up slightly so he could unbutton his shirt, but B‘Elanna beat him to it, her hands popping several of the buttons as she pulled it off him and tossed it carelessly over the back of the couch. He shucked off his own pants and shoes and socks quickly and threw them over the couch to join his discarded shirt. B‘Elanna was urgently pulling him back down on her, and he didn‘t protest as their mouths and tongues met in a deep, bone melting kiss.

Tom jerked when B‘Elanna‘s hand slid between them and firmly cupped his erection through his briefs. She could do that in a way that was both pleasurable and slightly painful, in a way that excited him all the more. Trusting her to deliberately hold him so near the edge of agony was incredibly stimulating. He couldn‘t stop the moan that issued from his lips, then was quickly silenced by her plundering mouth. He responded by moving his hand between her legs to cup her. She was already wet through the smooth satin of her panties.
"B‘Elanna," Tom murmured against her mouth as he pulled the damp material down and she raised up just enough to allow him to remove it. He quickly inserted his fingers inside her, knowing she was more than ready, and felt her body arch against him in response. Their mouths were still interlocked and her teeth sank into his lower lip hard enough to draw blood as he moved his fingers rhythmically inside her. Her hand tightened perceptively over his erection and he moaned, the pain and pleasure of her touch colliding in one swelling sensation, and his teeth sank into her lower lip in turn. A small growl issued from B‘Elanna‘s throat and she loosened her grip and pulled his briefs roughly down, exposing his erection. He moved enough to help her pull the

garment off, and in the process tore his mouth away from hers, still tasting their mingled blood on his tongue. He trailed his lips along her soft heated skin toward her breasts, and took one erect nipple in his mouth, alternately sucking and lightly biting it.

"Now, Tom," B‘Elanna moaned urgently, grinding hard against his hand as his fingers increased their rhythm inside her. Her hand had wrapped around his erection again and she guided him quickly to her. Tom removed his fingers and quickly thrust his shaft deeply into the welcoming warmth of her body. He stilled his own body for a moment, enjoying the feeling of just being inside her, of being enveloped by her- that precious anticipatory moment before their mutual passion engulfed them.

"Tom..." B‘Elanna‘s urgent plea and the feel of her slender legs wrapping tightly around him sprung Tom into action. He pulled out of her slightly and then thrust deeply into her again, his mouth moving to her other breast to lave and nip, while he closed his hand over the firm, warm breast his mouth had just dampened and kneaded it roughly. His other hand, still trapped between their joined bodies, stroked her clitoris, bringing her toward the edge with him. B‘Elanna‘s hand tugged at Tom‘s hair hard enough to bring tears to his eyes as she met him thrust for thrust in a building wave of passion. She pulled his head up almost forcibly and their mouths met in a rough tangle of tongues and teeth as the movements of their bodies against each other reached a frenzied peak. B‘Elanna‘s nails raked hard down Tom‘s back, leaving thin scratches where the blood welled to the surface.

"B‘Elanna!" Tom thrust into her one final time as she uttered her own keening wail, plunging so deeply that he felt he was reaching all the way into her soul, or bringing her into his, and they both soared as one over the edge. As the dizzying waves of passion slowly subsided, Tom collapsed on top of B‘Elanna and they lay in each other‘s arms, unable to do more than breathe raggedly for several moments.

Tom finally had the presence of mind to roll off B‘Elanna, holding her closely between him and the back of the narrow couch. He could feel the stinging of the scratches she had inflicted on his back, intensified by the salty sheen of perspiration that covered his body. And the aching of his scalp where she‘d practically pulled the hair out of his head. And the dull throbbing of his lip, raked by her teeth. All the exhilarating sensations of loving B‘Elanna.

B‘Elanna snuggled up to Tom, enjoying the feeling of their sweat slicked bodies resting against each other. She had almost protested when Tom rolled off her. She liked the feel of him inside her, even after they had come, and the weight of him pressing on top of her. And she reveled in the feel of the other after effects of their lovemaking on her body, the throbbing of her lip where Tom had marked her with his bite, and the sharp tingling of her nipples where his hands and mouth had been pleasantly rough. A lethargic glow suffused her limbs, and they lay with their arms and legs entangled around each other for several minutes before she spoke. "Tom, what was the second reason?"

"The second-? Oh." Tom realized she was talking about the holoprogram again and smiled at her sheepishly. "I wanted to see how you looked in a peplos."
"A what?" B‘Elanna looked at him, then frowned. "You mean-"

"The white gown that hung along your curves so provocatively, B‘Elanna."

B‘Elanna raised herself up on one elbow. "You‘re lucky I agreed to wear it. White is not my color."

"B‘Elanna, you look positively stunning in white." Tom ignored her dubious expression and spoke again before she could get an objection out. "But since you didn‘t like it, maybe next time you can be Penthesilea, the equally beautiful warrior queen of the Amazons. Now you do have a lot in common with her."

B‘Elanna looked thoughtful for a moment, then her eyes narrowed. "Wasn‘t she the one wearing the skin tight leather?"

Tom smiled widely. "Why, yes, I believe she was."

B‘Elanna gave him an exasperated look. "Tom, you‘ve got to get over this urge to create holoprograms just so you can dress me up. I‘m not some Barbie doll you know."
Tom threw back his head and laughed.
"B‘Elanna, how do you know about Barbie dolls?" Then his expression became thoughtful, but as he looked at her speculatively, his eyes sparkled. "Don‘t tell me you played with Barbies when you were a little girl."

B‘Elanna snorted at his suggestive tone. "Don‘t be ridiculous. I can‘t even imagine how that thing has lasted for all these centuries."
Tom shrugged. "She‘s a classic, and classics never die out." A teasing smile was still lurking on his face. "So you‘re telling me
there were no Barbie and Ken weddings, no honeymoon bliss in the Barbie dream house-"

Tom‘s frowned to keep from laughing. "Well, I definitely remember my sisters playing with Barbies. Of course, being daughters of a Starfleet admiral, they had Base Doctor Barbie, Fleet Captain Barbie, Chief Engineer Barbie..."
B‘Elanna groaned.
"I even played with them sometimes," Tom said reflectively.

"You played with Barbies?" Now it was B‘Elanna‘s turn to sound disbelieving.

"Sure. I used to sneak in my sisters‘ rooms when they weren‘t there and undress all the Barbies," Tom gave B‘Elanna a leering grin, "especially Chief Engineer Barbie- ouch!"

B‘Elanna had shoved Tom hard enough to push him off the couch and he banged his head soundly against the edge of the coffee table.

"B‘Elanna...ummph!" Tom‘s protest was cut off as B‘Elanna almost immediately landed on top of him. He reached up and rubbed the side of his head. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"Your head‘s too hard for that," B‘Elanna said dryly. She pushed his hand out of the way and ran her fingers lightly over the small bump on the side of his head, ruffling his hair. Tom smiled inwardly at the contrast between her dismissive words and her concerned actions as she practically caressed the spot where she‘d injured him. "Oh, it‘s just a little bump.

You‘re fine. I-"

"You didn‘t mean to hurt me," Tom finished for her.
"Yes, I did."

Tom sighed dramatically and B‘Elanna smiled,
then leaned over far enough to touch her lips to the injured spot. Far enough so that her breasts came to rest momentarily very near Tom‘s mouth. He pressed his lips into the damp hollow between them and tasted the salty tang of her skin. He murmured a protest when B‘Elanna pulled back abruptly.

"Already, Tom?" B‘Elanna queried. She moved back against him and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I guess so."

Tom slid his hands up her thighs and caressed her bare buttocks as she straddled his lower abdomen, then pressed his thumbs against the soft hollows above her hips and tried to pull her down into a more satisfying position, but she resisted.
"What?" He sighed. "Oh, all right, I won‘t mention Barbies again. And I‘ll even delete my Barbie dream house program. Though I did think we could have some...fun in all those pink rooms."

B‘Elanna just narrowed her eyes at Tom‘s teasing smirk. "And..."

"And...no more holoprograms where you have to dress up like a girl..."

B‘Elanna rolled her eyes but there was a hint of a smile lurking around her lips. "Well, not unless I want to."

"Not unless..." Tom echoed her words, then grinned at his ever unpredictable lover. "Okay, not unless you want to."
"Anything else?"
"And..umm..." Tom expression sobered

suddenly, and he raised a hand to her face and cupped her jaw, then ran his thumb gently across her luscious lips that parted ever so slightly for him. "The truth is, B‘Elanna, I don‘t want you to ever do anything you don‘t want to. If you really don‘t like it, all you have to do is tell me. Tell me a couple of times if I‘m not listening very well. Hit me if you have to. But just talk to me."

B‘Elanna turned and pressed her lips against Tom‘s palm. She understood his meaning. All she had to do was talk to him. Not shout, not stalk away. Just talk. That simple, and that difficult. "I know," she whispered. "We just have to talk to each other."

Tom held her sober gaze for a moment. "I know sharing our feelings is neither of our natural inclinations, but we‘ll get better at it," he promised softly, dropping his hand from her face. Then a small, expectant smile played across his lips. "Maybe even this good at it." And this time, when he grasped her hips to reposition her to their mutual pleasure, she complied willingly.

"New Year‘s resolutions? I never make them," Tom murmured some time later. His arms were holding B‘Elanna close and she rested her head on his shoulder. He pulled the blankets closer around them so the slight chill in the room wouldn‘t reach her. "Or at least I quit a long time ago. I couldn‘t see any reason to set myself up for more failure."

B‘Elanna brushed her hand lightly along the soft hairs on Tom‘s chest. For some reason they never started out there, but they‘d finally made it into her bed. Made "it" in her bed, one last savoring time, to their now equally sated exhaustion. "I never make them either. It‘s not a Klingon New Year custom, which meant my mother didn‘t encourage it. And the way my life‘s gone, just taking things as they come has been enough of a challenge."

"I know what you mean." Tom pressed a light kiss on B‘Elanna‘s forehead, and wondered briefly what had brought this subject to her mind. "Taking things as they come, that‘s pretty much the only way you can live your life. One day, one moment at a time. New Year‘s resolutions are just so many empty promises made under undue pressure, and almost always broken in the end."

"Right," B‘Elanna agreed quietly. "No empty promises. Whatever happens, happens." Tom just murmured an unintelligible agreement, and she sighed softly. Right, she thought. The moment was all that mattered. She didn‘t need anything else. She didn‘t need promises. Just this moment.

Almost all her life, since the day her father‘s arms were no longer there to hold her, she‘d been searching for a place where she fit, just one place in the Universe where she truly belonged. She hadn‘t even realized what she was looking for until she‘d ended up on Voyager, and she‘d begun to feel that she‘d finally found a home. And laying in the circle of Tom‘s arms right now, that sense of was belonging was complete. It was a wonderful feeling, an intoxicating feeling. But sometimes- just sometimes- it made her want to pull away and run.

B‘Elanna‘s hand curled into a tight fist against Tom‘s chest and she consciously relaxed it. She felt Tom‘s arm tighten around her shoulder and his other hand closed gently over hers as if to hold her there. She wanted to tell him she wasn‘t going anywhere, not right now, but she didn‘t speak. She didn‘t want to force any promises from him, or to offer any herself. In case they couldn‘t keep them, in case these moments didn‘t last. In case she let herself really believe in something again, only to watch it slip away from her. Again.

Tom shifted slightly, nudging her tighter against him. B‘Elanna glanced up and saw that his eyes were closed, and his mouth relaxed, in the soft way that made him look so young. She rested her head against his shoulder again, her cheek pressed against his warm smooth skin, her hand held in his against his chest, over the steady comforting beat of his heart.

A New Year‘s resolution. Maybe she could make one just this once, just to herself. No one else had to know. She could resolve to believe, just a little. To ignore the self protective streak inside her, the part that held onto the fear that Tom‘s love would consume her, or worse, that the loss of his love would empty her completely. To try and quench the need to depend only on herself. To really, finally let someone else all the way in. Because being with Tom, admitting her feelings to him, had changed her. But being honest with him, and with herself, had made her stronger, not weaker.

A resolution, she thought sleepily, forming the words in her mind. Yes...I, B‘Elanna Torres, will do everything in my power to make this relationship work. And screw anyone who doesn‘t think I can do it. No matter how much we fight, no matter that sometimes I just want to punch him, no matter if I don‘t always understand what he wants, or he doesn‘t always understand what I want, no matter if I don‘t even completely comprehend the depths of these feeling between us. They‘re real, and for me this is the best it‘s ever been, really the only time it‘s ever been. Even when it‘s hard, even when I want to quit trying, quit believing that I can have something that I‘ve always thought was impossible, I won‘t. I just won‘t. No matter what, a year from now, I‘ll still be here, we‘ll still be here, together. I‘ll make that happen somehow. I will...I promise...

Tom felt B‘Elanna‘s body relax completely against him and heard her breathing slowly fall to a soft, steady rhythm. He‘d been half asleep but something had brought him back to consciousness. He sighed softly, not remembering when he‘d held a woman in his arms and felt so completely...at peace. Which seemed ironic, considering he was holding the most temperamental, passionate, occasionally even hostile, woman he‘d ever known. A woman he loved, more than he‘d believed possible, even if some small, self defensive reaction deep inside kept him from completely admitting the true depth of his feelings to himself, and to her. She wasn‘t the only one who sometimes found it easier to hide behind moments of denial, rather than face down the naked truth.

No promises. He‘d said it, and she‘d said it back. No doubt it was better that way. Making promises was chancy, even without the specter of their individual pasts. In his own darker past the few promises he‘d made had rarely been kept. And he was certain most the promises she‘d received in her life had been broken. He didn‘t want to do that to her again, he wouldn‘t put that kind of pressure on her. Or maybe, a cowardly voice whispered inside, on himself.

No. He could make a promise, if not out loud to B‘Elanna, then silently, to himself. A New Year‘s resolution, for once vowing that he wouldn‘t forget it, or dismiss it, or laugh while tossing down drinks in a bar about how many days he‘d lasted before breaking it. This one, to B‘Elanna, he wouldn‘t break. Not ever.

Tom‘s finger‘s threaded though B‘Elanna‘s and held her hand tightly where it rested right over his heart. I, Tom Paris, he thought silently, resolve to love this woman, no matter what happens. A small snort escaped him. Why was he resolving to do something that he already did every moment of every day?

Okay, Tom amended, I resolve do everything in my power to make this relationship work, to prove to the Universe that love really is enough. And to prove to B‘Elanna that love is enough, no matter what anyone else might think or say.

Tom frowned. He knew that there were some on Voyager- not many, but a few- who were prophesizing the doom of their relationship.

Probably even taking bets on it. He‘d heard the occasional whispers. *They‘re too much alike.* They have nothing in common. *What does she see in him?* *He‘ll just destroy her Klingon spirit, then he‘ll dump her. It‘s what he‘s good at.* What does he see in her?

*With that vicious temper she‘ll end up breaking all his bones.* *What can they possibly see in each other?* *It must just be one of those sexual things, it‘ll burn out soon enough.* They‘ll never, ever last.

Clueless. That‘s what the naysayers are, Tom thought dismissively, if they can‘t see beyond the surface, past their own preconceived notions. Or beyond the past itself, to see that he and B‘Elanna weren‘t the same people they had been when they‘d boarded Voyager. They had changed, but they were more- better- individually and together.

B‘Elanna stirred slightly and her leg inched inbetween his, entangling them closer together. Tom smiled and enjoyed the sensation of B‘Elanna‘s soft skin brushing his. Their hearts and souls were no less entangled now, he thought, even if they both had to fight the defensive urge to pull away from that bond on occasion.

A New Year‘s resolution, the first in...however many years. He would do it. Maybe he couldn‘t predict what would happen during the coming year. Where Voyager would end up, what kinds of challenges the ship and everyone on board might have to face. Being on Voyager was truly the Great Unknown, and nothing could be expected to remain constant. Except one thing, Tom vowed silently, his lips pressing gently against the silky strands of B‘Elanna‘s hair then moving to rest against the soft skin over her smoothly defined brow ridges. When this year was over, he and B‘Elanna would still be together, then and beyond. No matter what obstacles they had to overcome, no matter how many ups and downs they had to face, they would find a way to make it work. Because nothing in his life before had been more worth the effort than the woman now sleeping in his arms.

"I promise you, B‘Elanna," Tom whispered just before sleep claimed him. "We‘ll make it work. We‘ll make it last. I promise..."

The end