Title:  Ordinary Life
Author:  Julie Evans
Email:  Juli17@aol.com
Series:  Voy, "Scenes From a Marriage"
Part: 1/2
Rating:  PG13
Codes:  P/T
Date posted: 01/01/01
Summary:  Could Tom and B'Elanna possibly live an ordinary life some
day?  Would they want to?  Set post "Flesh and Blood" and shortly
before "Shattered."

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

Archiving:  This story can be archived to the ASC, PT Collective
archive, and the BLTS.  All others please ask author for permission.

Notes:  Since the end of season six letters have apparently been traveling
back and forth between Voyager and the Alpha quadrant once a month.
Yet we've heard very little about their content, and nothing at all about
any of Tom or B'Elanna's letters to or from the Alpha quadrant.  I've
made a few assumptions for this story, including the status of B'Elanna's
mother (dead or alive), which surely B'Elanna would have learned by
now.  My assumptions may be proven wrong in a later episode, but until
then I'll just have to work with what little (or nothing) that we've been

Ordinary Life
by Julie Evans

B'Elanna woke slowly and stretched.  She flung her arms out and her
eyes focused on the ceiling--not the white duraplast bulkhead she was
accustomed to on Voyager, but a line of light pine wooden beams
crossed by thicker support beams.  At the same time her mind registered
the emptiness next to her that her hand encountered.  She turned her
head and looked at the rumpled sheets, realizing simultaneously that
Tom wasn't here, and that she wasn't in their quarters.  She pushed the
sheets and the heavy blue and yellow patterned comforter away as she
sat up and adjusted her sleepy gaze.

Though the room was dim in the diffuse early morning light, it was still
cheery with its light wood furnishings and blue and yellow accents in the
chair coverings and curtains.  B'Elanna rubbed her hand absently over
the smooth finished wood of the headpost as she swung her feet over the
side of the bed and stood.  She walked over to the wide french doors that
opened to a small veranda and pushed back the curtains, and the silk
sheers beneath.  She'd awakened to the sound of rain a few hours earlier,
and though she didn't mind rain as much as she minded snow, when
she'd lived planetside, on Kessik and on Earth, she'd generally thought
of it in no other terms than an inconvenience.  Yet snug under the covers
with Tom's warm body curled around hers, the sound of the rain beating
steadily down on the roof had been...soothing, almost like music.  Much
as the pulsing of the engines beneath her in Engineering soothed.

B'Elanna shrugged away her odd reaction.  She'd been half-asleep, and
she hadn't experienced rain in awhile.  Maybe it wasn't the annoyance
she remembered, as long as she wasn't out in it.  The storm had passed
now anyway, though the blue sky was still dotted with scattered clouds.
The wet sand on the beach glistened in the early morning sunshine like
an endless stretch of tiny diamonds, and the ocean beyond the white surf
was a deep indigo blue all the way to the horizon.

B'Elanna saw that Tom had been right when he'd told her last night that
the view was beautiful.  But he would know.  After all, this was his

Or, rather, one day it might be his house if he wanted it.  Their house by
implication, if she wanted it.

B'Elanna shivered a little and turned away from the window.  The room
wasn't cold, but she was naked.  That must be the reason she felt a chill.
She rubbed her arms as she moved toward the bathroom that connected
to the master bedroom.

Technically this was all a recreation on the holodeck of course, not an
actual wood and durabrick house on a beach just south of San Francisco.
Despite the popularity of the date, New Year's Eve by the Earth
calendar, Tom had managed to reserve holodeck two for twelve hours,
from twenty-three hundred hours to eleven hundred hours.  She knew
the doctor had contributed several hours, partly out of lingering guilt
over her abduction by the holograms almost four weeks earlier.  She
hadn't personally held a grudge against the doctor since she'd come to
sympathize with the plight of at least some of the holograms, but she
knew Tom had been a little slower to forgive the doctor's actions, as had
many others on the crew.  The doctor had been uncharacteristically
meek as a result, obviously intent on making amends where he could.
Though B'Elanna knew her husband never held a grudge for long, she'd
been glad to see the doctor make a particular effort to mend his
relationship with Tom since they worked together so often in Sickbay.

When Tom had told her a couple of days earlier that he'd reserved the
holodeck, he hadn't shared anything about this program except that it
was place for them to spend some private time together, and that it was a
surprise.  They'd spent most of the previous evening at the captain's New
Year's Eve party--which had taken place in the Mess hall this year--
partaking of food and drink, dancing, and joining periodically in the
flow of conversation with the rest of the crew who'd wandered in and
out at a steady pace.  It had actually been more subdued than Neelix's
Christmas celebration the previous week, and B'Elanna had enjoyed it,
but by the time they'd left the party she'd been ready to spend some quiet
time alone with Tom.  Since he'd implied an intimate setting she'd
expected that he would have chosen something cozy and in keeping with
the season, perhaps a ski chalet.  They'd certainly enjoyed a private
evening or two in that scenario in the past.

A part of her wished now that this was an anonymous ski chalet.  Then it
would be nothing more than what it appeared, a place for them to spend
a few intimate hours in each other's company, without any deeper

As she stepped into the bathroom B'Elanna's eyes fell on the large
whirlpool bath with its sky blue tiles.  It had looked tempting last night
but she'd been too tired--though pleasantly so--to bother.  She was
equally tempted this morning, but Tom was somewhere in the house,
and she wanted to find out what he was doing.  Last night she'd also
noticed the two robes hanging on the back of the door, and now she
pulled the green one that was still there off the hook and wrapped it
around her.  She wasn't surprised at the perfect fit, and a brief smile
lifted the corners of her mouth.  Tom rarely missed even the smallest
details in his programs.

B'Elanna pressed the indicator over the marble sink and splashed cold
water on her face.  She stared at her reflection in the mirror, and
admonished herself silently at the apprehensive expression she saw in
her eyes.  There wasn't any reason for her to feel uneasy because Tom
had chosen this place to share with her.  He'd shared places from his past
before--Lake Como and Lake Maggiore in Italy where he'd visited
frequently with and without his family, the ski chalet in Switzerland, the
little restaurant in Laguna Beach, the lighthouse at Pigeon Point, and
others.  Last Christmas Eve he'd recreated the mountain lodge where his
family has spent some Christmases when he was young and he'd shared
it with the whole senior staff.  Then there was Sandrine's, a program that
everyone on the crew still visited on occasion.

B'Elanna pulled a yellow hand towel off the rack by the sink and dried
her face as the obvious distinction forced itself on her mind.  This wasn't
a rented chalet, or a beach, or a bar, or some place Tom had visited
transiently.  It wasn't even a family holding where he'd stayed a couple
of times when he was a small child.  This was his great-grandmother's
home, a place where he'd undoubtedly spent a lot of time.  It was part of
his history, and it had a place of permanence in his life.  However far
away he'd traveled away from it, this house and its familiar trappings,
material and symbolic, were part of him.  And totally alien to her.

B'Elanna dropped the towel on the counter.  She picked up the
toothbrush and glared at her reflection as she pressed the toothpaste
dispenser.  Tom was sharing more of his life with her, and wasn't that
exactly what she wanted from him?  She determinedly pushed away her
vague misgivings as she brushed her teeth.

Two minutes later she walked out of the bedroom and down the short
hallway.  Several doors led to other bedrooms Tom had showed her
briefly during the quick tour that he'd given her last night.  She bypassed
them and walked into the large front room.  Her eyes were immediately
drawn to the wide, plush rug in front of the large durabrick fireplace, the
reason Tom's tour the previous evening had been so abbreviated.  She'd
hurried him back here, intent on one thing.  And in the heat of the
moment between them she'd successfully avoided thinking about
anything else.  Her black dress and his white shirt and black pants were
still on the floor beside the rug where they'd left them.  A log was
burning as brightly now in the fireplace as it had been while they'd made
love on the rug last night.  Tom had obviously started the fire again,
since it would have burned down to embers.

In the midst of their specifically focused activity last night B'Elanna
hadn't paid all that much attention to the room, but she took a closer look
now.  It was furnished with several low chairs and a couch in neutral
beige tones, accented with pillows in shades of blue and green.  Tom had
mentioned that his great-grandmother was a "no-nonsense" woman, and
B'Elanna could see that in the decor throughout the house, which was
eclectic but devoid of excess frills and fussiness.  Here the light
weathered wood of the end tables and high-beamed ceiling, the brass
lamps, and the several prints of seascapes on the walls were reflective of
the ocean visible through the large bay window that faced the beach.

B'Elanna wondered absently if Tom had acquired his love of the sea
from this side of the family--this was his mother's grandmother from her
father's side, who had Irish roots as she recalled from his quick and
slightly convoluted explanation.  Though Tom hadn't spoken of his
family often enough or in sufficient detail for her to put together a
complete picture of all the connections, she'd gotten the impression from
his occasional recollections that both sides of his family had strong
bonds with each other.  It was just the opposite of her family, two sides
that had remained completely separated, and had never initiated any
contact with each other.  And she'd been stuck in the middle, not fully
part of either, and not able to create any real connection between them.

B'Elanna turned abruptly away from the fireplace, took a deep breath--
and smelled coffee.  She gratefully focused her mind on that pleasant
aroma.  She'd only seen the kitchen in passing, but she knew where it
was.  She moved across the room in that direction and the smell of
coffee grew stronger.  She also heard a low, tuneful sound coming
through the partially closed door and knew then where to find her

She couldn't help smiling as she pushed the door all the way open.  Tom
was standing at the small butcher-block table in the middle of the
kitchen wearing a royal blue flannel robe much like the green one she
had on, only larger.  He was chopping away with a knife and singing,
swaying a little to the music in his head.

"--sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a
bit like you and me."  Tom pushed the chopped mushrooms next to a
small pile of chopped tomatoes and picked up an onion, oblivious to her
presence.  "Nowhere man, please listen, you don't know what you're
Tom stopped singing as he finally saw her, and the knife paused in mid
slice.  "Hey."  He leaned over as she moved next to him and pecked her
briefly on the lips, their regular morning greeting.  "Sorry, did I wake

B'Elanna shook her head.  "I couldn't hear you from the bedroom.  That's
a charming song by the way."

"The Beatles," Tom said in way of explanation.  B'Elanna knew that was
one of the twentieth-century "rock" groups he favored.  He smiled at her.
"It's an interesting song, but those particular words don't have any
significance to me anymore."

B'Elanna understood his meaning and she smiled back.  "Glad to hear
it," she said lightly.  She glanced at the coffeepot on the counter.  "I
actually smelled the coffee before I heard you singing."

Tom dropped the knife on the table.  "I just made it."  He moved over by
the coffeepot and pulled a mug off the wooden rack.  "Though I can
replicate some raktajino if you want--"

"Coffee's fine," B'Elanna said.

"I'm just making breakfast," Tom said as he filled the cup and handed it
to her, and then poured one for himself.

B'Elanna could see that.  Besides the chopped vegetables, there was
bacon in a pan on the stove just starting to sizzle, and a bowl with eggs
already mixed and waiting.  "You could have just replicated it," she
pointed out.

Tom set his coffee aside and picked up the knife again.  "And miss the
fun of cooking the old-fashioned way?" he asked, giving her a quick
grin.  He started to chop the onion.   "Besides, I'm pretty good at this."

"Yes, I know, you're a great omelet chef," she said dryly.  "Your one

"Hey, that's one more special than you have," Tom said, his voice

B'Elanna leaned against the counter and shrugged, unoffended.  He was
right.  She wasn't even sure how to make toast, and didn't care if she
ever learned.  And he did make a pretty fine omelet.

"Besides, I do have a few other specialties," Tom said as he chopped the
onion.  "Chili, for instance."  He flashed her another grin.  "So don't
worry, I can always do the cooking so we won't starve."

B'Elanna frowned at that implication.  "We have replicators for that, and

Her voice was a little sharper than she'd intended and Tom glanced at
her.  "I meant someday in the future, when cooking might be a regular

B'Elanna knew Tom meant someday when they weren't on Voyager
anymore.  He said it in passing, as if it wasn't a particularly momentous
concept, as if it would be just a minor blip in their lives.  But everyone
on Voyager seemed to have that mindset lately, along with a sense of
certainty that they would get back to the Alpha quadrant soon.  A week
ago during Neelix's Christmas breakfast the captain had announced
cheerfully that it might be their last Christmas in the Delta quadrant, and
there had been little more than a trace of regret in her voice that
B'Elanna could ascertain.  She'd probably said the same thing at Neelix's
party last night in her traditional midnight New Year speech.  With the
large human population on Voyager, Earth's New Year had become
synonymous with the beginning of another year on Voyager--another
year that might just be the year they'd get home, as the captain always
proclaimed optimistically.  With the letters coming monthly from family
now, most of the crew looked forward to going home without
reservations, and with little regard to how it would change the lives
they'd forged for themselves over the past seven years.  Or, like Joe
Carey and Michael Ayala, they were more than willing to give up
whatever connections they'd established on Voyager to be back with the
families they'd left behind.  Not that she could entirely blame them.
After all a part of her *did* want to get back too--


B'Elanna pulled her fixed gaze away from the small pile of diced onions
Tom was now pushing aside.

"Something wrong?" he asked.  "Are the onions chopped too small?"

He said that jokingly but he was looking at her closely.  B'Elanna shook
her head, and managed an easy smile.  "I was just thinking that you have
too much energy in the morning.  I guess I'm not quite awake yet."

Tom's eyebrows rose at that explanation but he didn't say anything.
Instead he leaned forward and brushed his lips over hers again, more
slowly this time, then pulled back and gave her his most irresistible
smile.  "There. Did that wake you up?"

B'Elanna arched an eyebrow.  "If I remember those old fairy tales
correctly, that only works if you're Prince Charming and I'm Sleeping

Tom frowned.  "Hey, are you saying that I'm not a prince, or that I'm not

"Well, you do come from royalty, at least as far as Starfleet is
concerned," B'Elanna said.  She'd meant that as a joke, but it came more
caustic than facetious.  When Tom gave her an odd look, she added
lightly, "Though sometimes you do act more like a pig than a prince."

"I think you mean a frog," Tom corrected her.

B'Elanna patted his arm.  "Nope, definitely a pig in your case.  Though a
pig with charm."

"As long as I have charm," Tom said, smirking unrepentantly.  "But it
just so happens I am taking a stab at the prince role right now," he added
as he turned to the stove and poured the eggs into a pan.  "So why don't
you go sit by the fire and relax and I'll bring breakfast to you in a few

B'Elanna noticed now that he hadn't set the table in the adjoining
breakfast room.  "Is that the next best thing to being served breakfast in
bed?" she asked drolly.  "Breakfast on the rug where we made love last

"It's a variation of the concept," Tom said with another grin before he
turned his concentration to his cooking.

She watched him for a few moments longer as he scooped the vegetables
and several small chunks of cheese onto a plate, and set the plate on the
counter next to the stove.  As he worked he hummed the tune of the song
he'd been singing earlier.  His hair was still mussed and spiky since he
hadn't bothered to comb it yet, and the brilliant blue of the robe
complimented his coloring and matched his eyes.  He looked rumpled
and appealing --and he looked content, as if this domestic routine came
naturally to him.  Naturally to a man who'd spent much of the past
fifteen years as a wanderer, first by choice, and then by circumstance.
She knew that Tom was nothing if not adaptable, but he'd purposely
designed this program.

An image of this being a part of their life one day entered B'Elanna's
mind.  It wasn't unpleasant, but she pushed it away as she slipped out of
the kitchen.  She moved across the front room to the fireplace and sat
cross-legged on the rug where she and Tom had undressed each other
last night and then had made love by the heat of the fire.  She could still
detect the scent their bodies had left on the furry material, and her lips
curved upward again.  Then she wondered what his great-grandmother
would think and her smile faded.

B'Elanna sipped her coffee, staring unseeing into the fire.  She'd
overheard someone say once in the Mess hall that Tom and she were a
lot alike, probably right after their tempers had clashed once again over
some trivial difference of opinion that they'd both refused to back down
on with equal stubbornness.  Yet in as many ways as they were alike, in
other ways they were very different.  She knew there was a core of
romanticism deep in Tom's soul.  Despite his surface cynicism, and the
knocks he'd taken, he was the one who chased dreams and imagined
unlikely possibilities.  In contrast it was practicality that lurked at the
bottom of her soul.  She saw facts and probabilities, and preferred to
focus on the hard face of reality.  She'd learned long ago not to put any
stock in dreams.

Though Tom hadn't said so--and maybe it was more unconscious than
conscious on his part--he'd created this particular program for a reason.
His romanticism extended to his family.  Despite the bad history
between them, despite his love of flying and his urge to follow the lure
of the "next adventure," underlying it all in his heart was that connection
to family.  He couldn't change the way he'd grown up, surrounded by
parents and grandparents and dozens of other relatives--or the weekend
barbecues, school recitals, weddings, graduations, holiday celebrations,
summer vacations--all with his family at the core.  She had a few good
memories from her childhood but it had been nothing like Tom's, just a
handful of treasured moments she still had a hard time recalling without
the pain of her losses bleeding bittersweetly into them.  He'd
experienced an ordinary life she'd only had glimpses of as a child, and
no matter where his life had taken him, it had left its influence on him.

B'Elanna couldn't deny that on occasion she'd contemplated having a
real home of her own one day, maybe even a family.  But it had always
been some distant, intangible musing, something that had remained far
removed from reality and thus had passed as quickly from her mind as it
had come.  After Tom and she had become a couple they'd spoken of
having a home once or twice, but it had been in a brief, abstract way, not
with any serious consideration.  After all, they'd been stranded on a ship
decades away from the Alpha quadrant, and they hadn't even made a
firm commitment to each other yet.  Now they were married, and the
chances of getting back to the Federation sooner rather than later were
improving monthly.  Where they would live might be a consideration
one day in the near future, when they didn't have Voyager anymore--

"Breakfast is served."

B'Elanna looked up as Tom crouched in front of her and set a large tray
between them.  On it were two plates with omelets, bacon and toast,
along with two glasses of orange juice.  A tall crystal vase held a single
red rose.  She dismissed her pensive thoughts and raised her eyebrows.
"Wow, I'm impressed.  It looks wonderful."

Tom gave her a pleased smile as he sat down across from her.  She
picked up one of the napkins and spread it across her lap, then leaned
forward and sniffed the rose.  Its scent was full and heady.

"My great-grandmother always grew roses along her front walkway,"
Tom said as he retrieved his own napkin.  "I assume they're still there,"
he added as he picked up his fork.  "You looked lost in thought when I
came in."

It wasn't a question but Tom was looking at her curiously as he cut his
omelet and put a bite into his mouth.  "I was feeling faint from hunger
and wondering what was taking so long," B'Elanna said, following his
lead and sampling her omelet.  "Mmmm, this is very good."

"Thanks," Tom said.  "And I'm sorry I nearly starved you."

B'Elanna smiled at Tom's mock contriteness.  "I'll forgive you this time."

They ate in companionable silence for a few minutes, the only sounds
the cracking of the fire, and the distant thunder of the surf.  Finally
B'Elanna spoke again.  "This really isn't your usual style of
holoprogram, Tom," she said, nibbling a piece of bacon.  "No fast
engines, no role-playing heroics..."

Tom smiled at her sardonic tone.  "It must be this time of year.  It makes
me more...mushy."

B'Elanna's lips curved.  "So I've noticed."  She'd noticed since that first
year on Voyager that Earth's holiday season was one of the things that
brought out the sentimental in Tom.  "I suppose that's why we spent
Christmas Eve watching that sappy old movie on the television."

"It's a Wonderful Life?  It was a classic in its time."  Tom saw
B'Elanna's incredulous look.  "I know it was a little mushy, but you like
that stuff--"

"A little?" B'Elanna interrupted.  "It was downright maudlin."

"Maybe," Tom conceded.  "But it did have a timeless message that could
apply to anyone."

"Really?" B'Elanna asked dryly.  "So you think if you hadn't been here
on Voyager all our lives would have been so much more bleak and
hopeless without you, especially mine."

"Nope, I think if *you* hadn't been here on Voyager all our lives would
have been so much more bleak and hopeless without you, most
especially mine."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes at Tom's smooth return, and he gave her a
guileless smile.  It was true that the movie had been maudlin, but
surprisingly she'd enjoyed it.  She fingered her robe.  "I guess you were
still feeling a little sentimental when you decided to create this

Tom shrugged.  "I do have fond memories of this place.  I used to spend
a lot of time here."  His lips curved into a small smile and his expression
went distant with memory.  "When I was a kid my great-grandmother
had a Great Dane named Buster.  Whenever I came here the first thing I
always did was get Buster and head straight to the beach.  We used to
run up and down the shore for hours."

B'Elanna immediately pictured a tow-headed little boy running out there
on the beach with a Great Dane at his side, laughing and shouting, his
hair flying in the breeze.  "Even when it rained?"

Tom's lips twitched.  "My great-grandmother always said I wouldn't
melt.  I hope you didn't mind the rain by the way.  It's part of the weather
pattern in Northern California this time of year."

"I wouldn't want you to compromise any authenticity, Tom," B'Elanna
said dryly.  "But since we were inside it didn't bother me."  She decided
to leave it at that.  "Anyway it's just holographic rain."

"Right," Tom replied.  "Living on a ship you tend to forget what real
weather is like."

"Real weather?" B'Elanna asked brusquely.  "What about ion storms?
Solar winds?  Gravimetric shears?"

Tom shrugged.  "Okay, planetary weather," he conceded.  He was silent
for a moment, looking at her searchingly.  "You haven't really told me
yet what you think of this program, B'Elanna."

"It's as beautifully detailed as everything you program..." B'Elanna
hesitated, feeling Tom's intent gaze on her, and added a little
impatiently, "I said last night that this house is...nice."

"Uh, huh," Tom agreed.  "You did say that, exactly.  That this house
is...nice, with just that little hesitation."

B'Elanna gave him an irritated look.  "Isn't that enough?  If you
remember we got a little busy with other things.  It is nice.  What more
do you expect me to say?"

"I don't know," Tom replied.  "But if you really don't like it you just
have to say so.  I could have programmed someplace else for us to spend
a few hours.  I still can."

Tom sounded more confused than angry, and B'Elanna shook her head.
"I do like it," she said, trying not to sound defensive.  "If I didn't want to
be here I would have told you so."  She picked up her glass of orange
juice.  "But this is more than just a place to spend a few hours."

Tom frowned.  "Because it has a history for me?  I've shown you places
from my past before.  You've never acted...uncomfortable, but you've
acted that way several times this morning."

B'Elanna hadn't realized her discomfort was that apparent.  It was
certainly true that Tom had shared some of his past with her--more than
she'd shared of hers--but this was still different.  "This is a little more
significant than a bar in Marseilles you frequented for a while, or a ski
chalet in Switzerland you visited once on a ski trip, or even the lodge
you recreated last Christmas."  She frowned.  "And it's not the history
that makes me uncomfortable, it's the future."

"The future?" Tom echoed.  He looked at her silently for several
moments, comprehension dawning on his face.  "This is because of what
I said last night."

"That this will be your house someday?" B'Elanna asked bluntly.

Tom shook his head.  "B'Elanna, I didn't say that.  I said that when I was
accepted to the Academy my great-grandmother told me she was going
to bequeath it to me.  That was a long time ago."  His lips twisted a little.
"There's been a whole lot of water under the bridge since then.  I haven't
even seen my great-grandmother in over fifteen years."

B'Elanna heard the mixture of sadness and regret in Tom's voice and her
own discomfort faded a little.  "Did she refuse to speak to you?"

"No," Tom said softly.  "I left without even trying to see her."

B'Elanna knew that not everyone in Tom's family had reacted as harshly
to his expulsion from Starfleet as his father had.  Several had tried to
maintain contact with him, but Tom had made his own choice to break
all his ties to his family, partly out of bitterness, though mostly out of
shame.  She wondered if his great-grandmother had been one of those
who'd tried to reach him without success during those years when he'd
effectively separated himself from everyone who might care about him.

"I still don't know how I'm going to be received by my family."  Tom
gave her a rueful smile.  "My great-grandmother may one of many who
won't want to have anything to do with me at all."

B'Elanna shook her head.  "I don't think so, Tom.  She's the one your
father mentioned a couple of letters ago, isn't she?  The one who lives in
San Francisco now?"

Tom nodded.  "She got tired of living alone in a big house, so she moved
into a place in the city a few years ago that she shares with several of her
friends."  His smile was affectionate.  "She's ninety-six now, so I guess
she's slowing down a little."

B'Elanna remembered after they'd read that letter Tom had told her that
his great-grandmother had lived alone for the past thirty years, ever
since her husband had died during a Starfleet mission they'd been on in
the Orion sector, though she'd had the frequent company of friends and
weekend visits from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  "Your
father said she was happy to hear from you and to know you were doing

Tom shrugged.  "He said everyone in my family was happy to hear from
me and sent their best wishes."  His lips twisted again, wryly.  "But
under the circumstances my father probably wouldn't tell me if half of
them were still cursing me to hell.  I'm still not sure how *he* really
feels.  We haven't exactly exchanged any meaningful words."

It was true that the letters from his family were more chatty than
substantial, filled mostly with news from the Alpha quadrant and
questions about his experiences, and Tom's letters in turn were in the
same superficial vein.  "Letters once a month aren't exactly the best way
to discuss anything meaningful, Tom," B'Elanna said.  "I know there are
some past feelings and issues to be resolved, but even I can tell that your
family will welcome you with open arms."

She said it to reassure him, though she knew despite his occasional
voiced doubts that Tom had come to terms with the idea of seeing his
family again, so much so that he genuinely looked forward to receiving
letters from home each month.  But right now he was looking at her
closely, as if he'd read something else entirely in her words or tone that
had alerted him.  "They'll welcome you too, B'Elanna," Tom said

B'Elanna looked away from Tom's astute gaze.  He'd told his family
about her and about their marriage in his first letter home after the
wedding.  In reply Admiral Paris had relayed his family's
congratulations and regards.  It had been a very cordial response, but
hardly revealing.  There was no telling how they really felt about her, or
would feel about her once they met her.  "I'm sure they will," she
murmured quickly as she downed the last of her orange juice.

"B'Elanna..." Tom's fingers touched hers and she looked at him
impatiently.  "They will."

B'Elanna nodded.  Despite his occasional qualms, she knew that once
they got back to the Alpha quadrant Tom would restore his relationship
with his family, and she'd never expect him to give that up.  She just
wasn't sure how she would fit into that equation, and it wasn't something
she wanted to think about right now.

"My great-grandmother in particular will welcome you," Tom told her.
He gave her an impish smile.  "She'll appreciate you just for the fact that
you managed to make a responsible man out of me.  As for this house, I

B'Elanna cut him off sharply.  "It's too early to plan anything, Tom."

Tom shook his head.  "There isn't any plan.  I just wanted to share it with
you because...well, you're my wife and I thought you *wanted* me to
share everything."

"I do," B'Elanna said, feeling a little guilty at Tom's baffled and slightly
frustrated expression. "So you don't have some thought of this as our

"I haven't thought that far ahead," Tom said.  "Sure, this could be one
possibility, and maybe that is part of the reason I wanted to share it with
you, but it's not part of any plan.  Besides the fact that I wouldn't plan
anything without you, nothing is certain right now, not even that we'll
get back to the Alpha quadrant."

"But it is looking more and more likely," B'Elanna said.  "And there will
be issues to face when we get back.  Like the Maquis."

"That's an old issue, B'Elanna," Tom said.  "Starfleet hasn't even
mentioned it in their communiques."

"Do you think they'd tell Captain Janeway if they *did* intend on
forcing the issue?" B'Elanna asked.

Tom frowned.  "Maybe not."

"Some people hold a grudge for a very long time, and Starfleet has
always been a little...unforgiving."

"There may be a hothead or two who will push for a hearing just to
throw their weight around," Tom admitted.  "But once they've been
given their due, and Captain Janeway has had her say, it will all fade
away.  Public opinion is on our side after all."

B'Elanna knew from Admiral Paris's letters, and the letters from Harry's
parents among others, that Voyager had taken on something of a heroic
status--a ship on a great adventure into the unknown manned by a crew
of intrepid explorers who'd beaten incredible odds--and that their
discoveries and accomplishments had been disseminated throughout the
Alpha quadrant, even in schoolrooms.  But when push came to shove,
would the Maquis really be considered fully part of the crew or just
interlopers who'd been dragged along for the ride?  Public opinion was
easily manipulated, and if Starfleet wanted to pursue a vendetta--

Tom's hand closed over hers.  "Stop it, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna gave him an annoyed look.  "I didn't say anything."

Tom rolled his eyes a little.  "You didn't have to.  Not everyone in
Starfleet Command is vindictive.  I admit we may have to endure a little
bureaucratic idiocy to satisfy a few narrow minds, but in the end
Voyager's Maquis will be vindicated, because its the right thing.  I do
know how Starfleet works."

B'Elanna knew how her husband's mind worked.  He played the
pessimist with Harry, but when it came to her he was suddenly an
optimist, trying to assuage her doubts.  She also knew he did believe
deep down that it would all work out, if only because he wanted it to.
She'd learned long ago not to believe in too much, and she particularly
thought it was a bad idea when it came to Starfleet.  At the very least
Starfleet would probably want some return for any largess on their part,
and she would never apologize for fighting for a cause she'd believed
was just.  "Even if they don't actually press charges, that doesn't mean
I'll ever be welcome on a Starfleet ship again."

"I'm not sure how welcome I'll be in Starfleet either," Tom said.  He
shrugged and a smile tugged at his lips.  "But if they're smart they'll take
me despite my bad record just so they can keep you.  They'd be idiots to
lose your talent.  That's if you even want to remain in Starfleet."

Despite his past and his occasional chafing at rules, Starfleet was in
Tom's blood.  If he had a choice, B'Elanna was sure he'd want to extend
the second chance Janeway had given him.  "Don't you, Tom?"

"I wouldn't expect you to stay just because of me if it wasn't what you
really wanted," Tom said without hesitation.  "There are plenty of places
we can go besides Starfleet.  You're a beautiful, brilliant engineer and
I'm a dashing ace pilot.  Who wouldn't be lucky to get us?"

B'Elanna sighed at Tom's impudent grin, knowing she was fighting a
losing battle, though she couldn't find it in herself to be too angry with
him.  "You're taking this too lightly," she said crossly.

Tom squeezed her hand.  "And you're taking it too seriously, B'Elanna.
This is all moot right now.  When we do get back someday--sooner or
later--does it really matter where we end up as long as we end up there

B'Elanna shook her head slowly.  As long as they ended up there
together, no.  That was the crux, and Tom seemed to have no doubts.

"As for where we'd live, even if it's just a home base between missions,
we'll have dozens of options.  I don't care whether it's a house, or a ship's
quarters, or a cave, or a grass hut on a tropical island."

"A grass hut?" B'Elanna asked dubiously, though she knew Tom was

Tom shrugged.  "Sure.  I'd even be willing to relocate to Q'onos--"

B'Elanna snorted.  She might have become more amenable to some
elements of her Klingon heritage, but she certainly had no intention of
ever living on Q'onos.  "That's definitely not necessary."

"Okay, we can just visit occasionally."

B'Elanna heard the resolution in Tom's voice and gave him a piercing
look.  Though she'd been relieved to find out that her mother was still
alive, the couple of letters they'd exchanged had been even more
inconsequential than those between Tom and his family.  Their civil
words to each other were a start, and B'Elanna truly hoped they could
mend their rift when they met again.  But she hadn't exactly cultivated
close relationships with the rest of her Klingon relatives, so that was
another matter entirely.  "Maybe," she finally told Tom noncommittally.

"You'll want to see your mother at the very least," Tom said with
certainty.  "You can always visit alone if I don't pass your mother's
litmus test."

B'Elanna frowned.  She had told her mother about Tom and their
marriage in her last letter home.  She wasn't expecting any
congratulations in the return letter, or even any reference to the
marriage.  Her mother would no doubt seethe privately at her daughter's
questionable judgment, though she'd keep her disapproval to herself
until she met Tom.  She'd take a hard, opposing line with him, but in the
end she'd make her final decision whether to grudgingly accept him
based on how he handled her verbal assault, which was sure to be fierce.
Her mother was a Klingon through and through, after all.

"I'm not worried about it, B'Elanna," Tom assured her, reading her

"I know."  She'd told Tom what to expect, and he'd accepted it as if he'd
anticipated nothing less.  He had taken her mother's likely disapproval as
lightly as he took anything else on the surface, though B'Elanna was sure
he had every intention of overcoming her mother's objections.  She knew
Tom was less intimidated at the idea of confronting her mother than he
was at reuniting with his own family again.

"Besides, it's not anything we have to think about right now," Tom said
quietly.  "We're getting way ahead of ourselves here.  We may be on
Voyager for many years yet."

B'Elanna nodded.  Tom was right.  "I'm not sure I'm in any hurry for that
to change," she said honestly.  On Voyager she knew where she stood,
with her work, with herself, and with Tom.  She had a measure of
security; they both did.

"Whatever eventually happens, you know you don't ever have to be any
place you don't want to be B'Elanna," Tom said softly.

"I know," B'Elanna said.  She looked at the crackling fire.  "And I do
like this house."  She smiled ruefully at Tom.  "I'm just not sure this
domestic home and family stuff will ever really be me."

"I didn't used to think it was me either," Tom said.  "Even though I grew
up with it, I never really appreciated it that much.  Maybe getting
married has made me reevaluate the concept.  Even though I discounted
it for a lot of years, I do remember now that home and family aren't such
a bad thing."

B'Elanna shook her head at Tom's wry tone.  "So you really see *us*
living an ordinary life some day?" she asked.

Tom's lips twitched at her skeptical amusement.  "Well, maybe not on a
regular basis," he admitted.  "But we could try it out on occasion.  We
might be better at it than some would suspect, and it would be a change,
wouldn't it?"

"I suppose it would," B'Elanna conceded with a small smile.  Maybe a
nice one in some ways, though she didn't say so.

"We can deal with all of that later though," Tom said.  "Right now we
still have some time left here before we have to go to work, so why don't
we concentrate on that."  He looked at her curiously.  "Do you want me
to fix you another omelet?"

"What?" B'Elanna asked, startled by his unexpected question.

"You cleaned your plate," Tom said.  "You really were starved."

B'Elanna saw the gleam of amusement in his eyes.  She shrugged.  "I
told you I was hungry."

"I'll say."  Tom looked at her empty plate again.  "You've been eating
more than I have lately."

It was true that her appetite had increased just recently.  She noticed that
her clothes were also just a bit more snug...  B'Elanna's eyes narrowed.
"Are you trying to imply something, Tom?"

Tom chuckled.  "Hardly.  I was just thinking that it must be a symptom
of your marital bliss."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes at Tom's complacent grin.  "Maybe I'm eating
away my marital misery," she suggested sardonically.

Tom shook his head.  "I don't think so."  He leaned over the tray until his
face was close to hers.  "I'm happy to say that you act anything but

Tom's lips were millimeters from hers and she moved back slightly.
"There can't be anyone else in this galaxy who has a husband with such a
swelled head," B'Elanna said, glaring at him for effect.

Tom smiled, unabashed.  "I am happy to add that I'm anything but
miserable too," he said softly.

B'Elanna looked at him thoughtfully for several seconds.  "Computer,
how long do we have left in this program?"

"Fifty-seven minutes," the computer responded immediately.

"Almost an hour," Tom said.  "How should we finish ringing in the New
Year?  Resolutions maybe?"

B'Elanna shook her head.  "When have we ever made resolutions?"  Any
resolutions she might have made to herself over the years she'd never
spoken out loud anyway.

"It is kind of hard when we have no clue what will happen next," Tom
said.  "By the time the next New Year rolls around who knows where
we'll be celebrating, or what new things may be a part of our life."

"I kind of like our life the way it is now," B'Elanna said.

"Not all changes are bad."  Tom gave her a meaningful look.  "For
instance, we didn't know last year that this year we'd be celebrating our
first New Year's together as a married couple."

That was true.  B'Elanna smiled.  "Speaking of celebrating, we're not
done.  We still have some time left in this program, and we haven't tried
out that whirlpool bath yet."

A slow answering smile spread across Tom's face.  "I think we do have
just enough time left to take a nice, relaxing bath," he said as he got to
his feet quickly.  "But we'd better start right now so we can have plenty
of time to...get clean before we start our shifts."

B'Elanna chuckled as she stood and joined him.  As they walked toward
the bedroom she remarked casually, "I wonder what your great-
grandmother would think of all this?"

Tom understood her meaning and he grinned wickedly.  "This is only a
holoprogram, but even if it was the real thing, she'd be thrilled for us to
put her Aubusson and her whirlpool bath to good use.  My great-
grandmother is definitely a life is for living kind of person."

"Hmmm," B'Elanna murmured.  "I think I'll like her."

B'Elanna was rewarded by Tom's broad smile as they entered the
bedroom.  They quickly discarded their robes on the bed as they passed,
and in the bathroom they barely took the time to let the water get going
before they slipped into the filling tub.  B'Elanna settled herself on
Tom's lap, pressing her thighs around his waist.  She reached for the
soap but he pushed it away, and then slipped a hand into her hair and
pulled her mouth down to his.

As the water swirled slowly up around them B'Elanna forgot everything
but the present moment.  They'd soap each other a little later, and as for
whatever the future held, ordinary or otherwise...that they would deal
with much later.



Song credit:  "Nowhere Man" written by John Lennon, copyright 1966
by Capitol Records.