By Jane Griffen
Author’s Notes: This story is dedicated to those who brought up the discussion on Tom Paris, B’Elanna Torres, and Harry Kim’s ages on the P/T Collective message board at AOL (BTW: sorry, but I couldn‘t find the old posts so I didn‘t know who you are!!! E-mail me!!!). Using the book Pathways, a Star Trek encyclopedia, and other sources, they were roughly able to determine that Tom was a senior when B’Elanna was a freshman at the Academy. With nothing else to do, I wrote this story for the fun of it :) Hope you enjoy it. All feedback is welcome at JaneG100@rocektmail.com
Disclaimers: Paramount owns the properties of B’Elanna Torres, Tom Paris, "Starfleet Academy", ect. I own the properties of Heather Whitney, Teresa A. Olseca, Cmdr. John Lemmings, and the black-haired cadet who was with T.P. and H.W. Sarah (CRHarmony@aol.com) and I both own the property of the other cadet - Shelly ? Anderson (didya guess who she was? [see: MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING or CHANGING THE FUTURE by Sarah])This story was copyrighted by Jane Griffen on December 26th, 1998.
At 0545 hours, eighteen-year-old B‘Elanna Torres brushed her straight hair, nervously gazing at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. She wore a standard Starfleet Academy uniform - long-sleeve black uniform shirt with gold shoulders, black pants, and black boots - with one golden insignia attached to her collar. With dark brown hair and eyes, B‘Elanna would‘ve fit in perfectly. Except for the fact that she was half-Klingon, and had prominent ridges on her forehead which she had inherited from her mother. I wish you could see me now, she thought, remembering how she had stormed out of the house without looking back after her mother had forcefully told her that she was not allowed to enter Starfleet Academy. But B‘Elanna had done it anyway. Defying her mother wasn‘t something new. I hope everything goes all right today, she worried fervently. There was a knock on the bathroom door, and she called, "Come in!"
The doors swooshed open and a young woman with wavy bright red hair and dazzling hazel eyes entered. She, too, wore an Academy uniform, although instead of gold shoulders she had blue. "Nervous?" she questioned, calmly gazing at Torres. B‘Elanna envied her for her calmness.
"Yes," she replied, setting down the brush.
The two cadets had found out two days ago, during the opening gathering for the 681 freshman cadets, that the would be roommates. Teresa Anne Olseca was an eighteen-year-old human who wanted to major in the medical field. When they first met, Teresa insisted that B‘Elanna call her "Tessa". "All of my friends do," she had added with a smile. Over the past two days, they had quickly become good friends. Tessa had come from Orion III, a planet colonized by the Federation only forty years ago. Having to "rough" the harsh climate and limited supply of technology, Tessa joked that: "If I can survive seventeen freezing winters on Orion III, the Academy will be no big deal." B‘Elanna wished that she had as much confidence as Tessa did.
"Don‘t worry, B‘Elanna! We‘ll have tons of fun this year!" cried Olseca enthusiastically.
Torres bit her lip, and Olseca‘s excitement vanished. "I know its hard to believe, but I‘m probably just as nervous as you are." Tessa said quietly, her hazel eyes sobering. B‘Elanna had to smile at the somber look on her friend‘s face, and the other cadet continued, "We should get going. We can grab a bite to eat at the Cafe Lounge, then find out where all our classes are. I swear I‘m going to get lost today."
B‘Elanna nodded and followed Tessa out of the bathroom, trying to calm down the butterflies that seemed to flutter around in her stomach. It was no use; she was a nervous wreck. C‘mon, she coaxed herself, *The first day can‘t be that bad.*
Six hours later, B‘Elanna couldn‘t believe how she could have been so confident. Although her ‚classmates‘ so far were kind enough, the teachers seemed to think that everyone could just jump right into the work. So far, she had had three projects assigned, two term papers that were due the next week, and five other assignments that would take forever to finish. And now, glancing around at the empty halls, she had come to the conclusion that she was lost.
This is just so great, Torres thought to herself, intently studying the datapadd that had her schedule on it. She was already five minutes late for Physics 101, and she had no clue how to find it. She was so engrossed in trying to figure out where to go, that as she turned the corner she ran right into someone. The multiple datapadds that she had been holding flew out of her hands and scattered across the hallway. She quickly dropped her backpack and knelt on the floor, trying to gather up all the padds quickly. "I‘m so sorry," she apologized quickly, taking a padd from someone‘s hand as she piled them up next to her. "It‘s just that-"
"Why are you apologizing? I wasn‘t looking where I was going." a kind voice commented. B‘Elanna gazed up. "No, I wasn‘t..." her voice trailed off. Before her knelt a man who couldn‘t be more than a few years older than herself. With sandy blond hair and crystal clear blue eyes, he was smiling sympathetically at her. His cadet uniform was incredibly dirty, his hair was messed up, and he had a dark smudge on one of his cheeks. Even so, he was one of the most handsome men she had ever seen before in her life.
The other cadet grinned as he picked up the rest of the datapadds while B‘Elanna quickly gathered up them. They both stood up.
"I‘m really sorry," she said sincerely.
"No problem." he replied, smiling at her as he scrutinized her. "Are you a sophomore?"
"I‘m a freshman." B‘Elanna corrected him quickly. Another young man and two young women, equally dirty, were with him. They all had senior insignias on their collars. The black-haired man was reading a datapadd, and the two women were taking in B’Elanna’s appearance. She felt herself blushing as the auburn-haired one smiled slightly while the brunette‘s blue eyes were sparkling merrily.
"Oh." he paused, then his eyes lit up with comprehension. "Your first day?"
Torres nodded, feeling slightly relieved. "Yes, and I was supposed to be at a Physics class seven minutes ago and I have no idea where that‘s supposed to be." she stopped when she realized that she was babbling.
"The Academy’s a big place." spoke up the brunette with a devilish grin.
The cadet who B‘Elanna had run into shot back, "I seem to remember a certain half-Batazoid brunette getting lost on her first day."
The brunette smiled sheepishly. "Yeah, and I still don‘t know half of the campus. You wouldn‘t believe how big it is!" she swooned.
The woman with auburn hair only laughed. "Just think: only one more year." she teased.
"No!" howled the brunette. "I‘m going to have nightmares for weeks!"
The black-haired man looked up from the datapadd with a smile in the half-Batazoid‘s direction. "I hate to break up this wonderful conversation," he said, "But it appears that we‘re making her even more late for her Physics class and we‘re due in the holodeck for a piloting class in forty-five minutes. I don‘t know about you, but I‘d really like to take a shower and change into a new uniform."
"It‘s going to take forever to get this dirt out of my hair!" muttered the brunette, then she smiled sympathetically at B‘Elanna, who was gazing intently at her feet. "Sorry! If-" She snatched B‘Elanna‘s padd from her and quickly scanned it. She made a face. "Don‘t worry. Tell Commander Lemmings that I made you late. Just mention my name." she assured Torres, handing the datapadd back to her.
"Which is..." B‘Elanna‘s voice trailed off, smiling slightly at the brunette‘s....uncommon sense of humor.
"Whitney. Heather Whitney." spoke up the blond man whom B‘Elanna had nearly knocked over. "Do you know where his classroom is?"
Torres shook her head, at a loss. When he was about to speak, she quickly said, "I‘m sure I can find it-"
"Really?" asked the auburn-haired woman.
"I‘ll show you where it is." offered the blond man, and she gratefully accepted his offer.
"Thanks so much," she replied.
"I‘ll meet the three of you over at Ringly‘s!" called the senior to his three friends, and they nodded their affirmations and turned around, heading in their previous destinations.
"Thanks ever so much." Torres said as they walked down the halls.
The cadet smiled. "You‘re welcome." he replied. They came to a dead end, but he quickly showed her a set of old doors. "It‘s a shortcut I found when I was a junior." he explained, opening them. They found themselves standing behind a large azalea shrub. "Just don‘t let Boothby catch you stomping around in his flower beds." he whispered, scanning the area for the gardener B‘Elanna had met when she had first arrived on campus.
Grinning, she nodded. "Sure," she whispered back. They traipsed out of the bushes and continued down the path, which B‘Elanna saw led to another large silver building.
"So, are you from old Earth?" he questioned.
B‘Elanna shook her head. "No, I‘m from Kessik IV." she replied, knowing that he had probably never even heard of it before.
To her surprise - and inner delight - he replied, "That‘s in the Algova system, right?"
Torres‘s face lighted up. "Right. How‘d you know?" she asked.
"My father once went there for a conference when I was a little boy. He brought me back a rock for my rock collection. I must have been about seven." said the other cadet. She nodded, and looked up to find him looking at her. "Was your father or mother Klingon?" he asked, curiosity burning in his blue eyes.
B‘Elanna‘s brown eyes narrowed. She had been asked that question a lot recently, and she was beginning to resent it. But looking at the other cadet, she realized that he was only asking her out of curiosity and politeness. "My mother. My father was in Starfleet."
He raised his eyebrows. "So it runs in the family?"
Torres gave a bitter laugh. "I wouldn‘t put it that way," she said dryly, and didn‘t relent. Her family life wasn’t exactly a pleasant one - her father had left her mother and herself when she had only been five, and he had never come back. The other cadet didn‘t push her, and the two walked on in comfortable silence. "Does it run in yours?" she asked.
He snorted. "Yes." he replied, a hint of anger plain in his voice.
Now it was B‘Elanna‘s turn to raise her eyebrows.
"Sorry," he apologized. "It‘s just that I‘ve always had to live up to expectations that I would become a Starfleet officer."
Torres nodded slowly. "So," she commented as she looked over at the red shoulders his uniform sported, "What are you majoring in?"
The other cadet looked over at her, and his face seemed to light up. "Piloting. I‘ve always loved to fly. I was the only one in my family who would go on any of the rides at the fairs - both my sisters claimed they‘d get sick. It‘s so much fun, and its a thrill as well. It‘s not easy, either. But flying a ship - its like riding a tiger. Just feeling the controls under my hands and-" he stopped in mid-sentence, and B‘Elanna looked up in surprise.
Seeing he was embarrassed, she smiled. "Don‘t worry. I‘m sure I sound the same whenever I talk about anything Engineering-related."
He laughed and they walked through the glass doors of the large building. After pointing out and showing her things she‘d need to know, he showed her a large hallway. Classroom doors were on either side, and at the end there was a large glass window that had a spectacular view of the San Francisco bay. "It‘s gorgeous." B‘Elanna commented, stopping briefly to gaze out the window.
Her companion stopped as well, following her gaze. "You should see it at night. The view‘s even more spectacular from the fifth floor. That‘s where the three holodecks are. You‘ll start using them at the end of your freshman year. You wouldn‘t believe some of the simulations the teachers will come up with to torture you." he joked as they continued down the next hallway. He stopped outside a door. A sign next to it read: Physics 101/Science Chemistry D. On the next line, it read: Commander John Lemmings. "Don‘t worry. He‘ll seem pretty mean at first, and he tends to be a bit biased towards others at first, but his bark is worse than his bite. He‘s a pretty good teacher - Heather had him for Physics when she first started."
B‘Elanna smiled softly. "Thanks so much for helping me." she said.
"It was nothing." He smiled, and then asked. "By the way, what‘s your name?"
"B‘Elanna Torres." she replied.
"I‘m Cadet Thomas Paris, but everyone calls me Tom. Thomas is way too formal." She grinned and he opened the doors. B‘Elanna stepped into the classroom. A bald man who looked like he was in his mid-sixties was standing in front of the classroom, chalk in hand. About twenty cadets were sitting in rows of desks, trying hard to pay attention to the commander, who was busy lecturing. He used long terms, and B‘Elanna was grateful that she had taken an extra Physics class during the summer before she had left Kessik.
The man stopped in mid-sentence, and Tom spoke up. "I‘m sorry, sir, but I ran into Cadet Torres and I got a little side-tracked showing her around. Its all my fault she’s late; it won‘t happen again." he fibbed.
Commander Lemmings rose an eyebrow, then nodded. "Very well, Cadet Paris. Thank you for showing Ms. Torres to her class. I‘m sure that she no longer needs your assistance, so you may leave. Unless you want to review your Physics again."
Cadet Paris paused and B‘Elanna had to smile at the expression on his face. Obviously he did not want to ‚review his Physics‘, as Commander Lemmings had suggested. "Uhh...I don‘t think so, sir. I have three reports to write on my survival mission and a piloting class in half an hour. I‘ll see you around!" he added to Torres, then quickly left the classroom. The doors closed behind him and B‘Elanna was left to cope alone.
The commander’s gruff manner disappeared briefly as he commented, "You‘re just in time, Cadet Torres. We were just getting into the topic. Please take a seat and begin copying the notes on the board." He then turned back to the blackboard and began talking again.
Glancing around, B‘Elanna quickly took an empty seat next to the windows, which extended the length of one wall and looked out onto the Starfleet Academy gardens and grounds. She spotted a blond-haired cadet walking down the path and smiled. Taking out a pen, she began taking notes.
Copyright 1998 by Jane Griffen. Original Disclaimers apply. All feedback (as long as its constructive) welcome at JaneG100@rocketmail.com