By Erin (aka Jane Griffen)

Author‘s Note: Just a li‘l...addition...to Infinite Regress. Paramount owns ‚em, I just borrow em. I have copyright on the story and Lieutenant Heather Whitney (as well as Ensigns Marlett and Chesly). Please send feedback!!!

B‘Elanna Torres eyed Seven of Nine from across Engineering warily, then went over to her.
"Don‘t worry, Lieutenant. The son of K‘Vor will not be joining us." Seven said apologetically.

"So, would this qualify as our second date?" she questioned, trying to sound serious. She found the whole ordeal revolting, but she pitied Seven for having to go through so many different personalities. It did not sound like much fun.

"And I‘ll be your chaperone tonight." the Doctor commented dryly, observing Seven work as he stood by with a medical tricorder in one hand.

Joe Carey looked up from his work and teased, "Ooh, Lieutenant Torres is having an affair." He smirked at B‘Elanna‘s annoyance. He had been in Engineering when it had happened, and he found B‘Elanna‘s comment ‚Tom put you up to this, didn‘t he?‘ hilarious.

Torres just rolled her eyes. "Very funny, Joe." she shot back sarcastically. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ensign Vorik looking at her strangely.

What? she thought. Vorik was about to say something when Seven spoke up. The former drone raised an eyebrow. "Your comment is not amusing; it is just another show of human immaturity." she said, deadpan.

Heather Whitney had walked into Engineering a few minutes earlier, just in time to hear the conversation. She had heard about the incident between B‘Elanna and Seven from Sue Nicoletti, who had been on duty at the time, and found the whole thing wildly amusing. She busied herself working next to the Doctor, creating a new set of algorithms to input into the computer. Now the science officer laughed. "Oh, really. Is that the Borg‘s opinion or yours?" she asked Seven of Nine sweetly.
"It would undoubtedly be both."

If he hadn‘t know Seven better, the Doctor would‘ve thought that the former drone had sighed.

"So, B‘Elanna. Does Lieutenant Paris know about this?" Joe asked innocently.
The chief engineer tried hard not to laugh at Carey‘s innocent tone. When a familiar voice from behind her asked, "Know about what?" she gasped. Turning around slowly, she came face to face with Tom Paris.

"N-nothing." she stammered, brown eyes wide. She heard Joe make a strangled sound; Seven of Nine turned back to her work; the Doctor raised an eyebrow; everyone in Engineering turned to stare at the two lieutenants. She heard a thud, and pivoted around to find Heather leaning against the wall shaking. Her blue eyes sparkled as she looked at B‘Elanna.

Tom Paris was silent. "Here are the reports on the Flyer, Lieutenant." he said, handing the chief engineer a datapadd. Then he quickly left the Engineering.

"What the-" B‘Elanna gasped. "He didn‘t hear that whole conversation, did he?" she asked incredulously to no one in particular.

"He walked in right as the Doctor commented on being your chaperone." Vorik replied. "I was about to tell you when Seven of Nine spoke up."
Torres closed her eyes as if in pain.
"Tom knew we were kidding, right?" Heather asked. When B‘Elanna didn‘t answer, her hand flew to her mouth. "Right?" she demanded.
B‘Elanna‘s eyes opened. "Oh, my gosh!" she said, then ran out the door after Tom.
"Trouble in paradise?" Ensign Jane Marlett asked, looking up from her work. She was just thankful that this time she wasn‘t walking in on the two lieutenants kissing like she had the last time they had both been in Engineering.
Her friend Ensign Morgan Chesly frowned. "Uh oh." she commented.
Meanwhile, Heather was watching the open door. "You mean to say he hasn‘t heard about that yet?" Seeing the startled look on Seven‘s face, she elaborated. "Seven, I hate to break it to you, but like Tom once said: It‘s a small ship; word gets around quickly."
Seven of Nine sighed inwardly. She was beginning to find out how true that was.
B‘Elanna jogged down the corridor, scanning the small groups of offduty officers gossiping and talking for Tom. Not seeing him, she headed for the turbolift. She caught a glimpse of him right before he turned the corner. "Tom!" she called, rounding the corner. The turbolift doors were just closing when she frantically pressed the control panel on the side. The doors opened. Tom Paris stood there reading a padd. He looked up, and frowned. "It‘s you." he said, then went back to his reading.

B‘Elanna felt like her heart was breaking. "Computer, halt turbolift," Torres ordered. Seeing that Paris was still reading the datapadd, she grabbed it from him. "Tom," she said.

"Yes?" His blue eyes were troubled, and that quickly disappeared. But it wasn‘t to quick that B‘Elanna didn‘t notice.
"Tom, don‘t play stupid. That never works." B‘Elanna said in a quiet voice.

"So, who is he?"

Torres made a face. "What?" she asked, bewildered.

"The guy you‘re having an affair with?" Paris asked, a demanding expression on his face.
"But it wasn‘t a guy..." B‘Elanna gasped when she realized how bad that had sounded. Hadn‘t he heard any of the gossip lately? "Tom! We were only kidding!" she cried. "If you don‘t believe me, ask Heather, Joe, Susan, Vorik, or any other engineer! We were all fooling around!"

From the look on the pilot‘s face she could tell he didn‘t believe her. He didn‘t meet her gaze.

B‘Elanna grasped his hands. "Tom, I care about you. And that can never change. I would never do anything intentionally to hurt you. Don‘t you know that by now?" Her brown eyes gazed up into his blue ones worriedly, but he pulled his hands away. "Tom, I love you so much. I swear, that whole conversation in Engineering was based on Seven‘s multiple personalities. We were in Engineering running subspace scans, and then Seven suddenly turned from Seven to this Klingon who wanted me to be his mate. At first I thought that you had put her up to it, but when Seven bit me-" B‘Elanna made a face and rubbed the spot on her cheek. She looked up at him.

"Really?" His voice was doubting, but she didn‘t hold that against him. If she had walked in on him having a similar conversation, similar thoughts would be running through her head.

"Really." she said softly. "Tom-"

He put a finger to her lips, then reached out and took her hands. It was a small gesture, but it was intimate nonetheless. "You don‘t know how relieved that makes me feel." he whispered hoarsely. "Because for a second there I thought I‘d lost you."

B‘Elanna dropped the datapadd and wrapped her hands around hsi waist, gazing up at him. She shook her head. "Tom, when I realized you thought we were all serious-" Her voice broke and she gazed down. When she looked up, her brown eyes were sad. "I felt terrible. I don‘t want our relationship to change; I love you so much."

"Shhh." Tom murmured. He was going to say more, then thought the better of it. Instead, he leaned down and they kissed.

A few minutes later, when they pulled away gasping for air, Tom‘s blue eyes were sparkling. "So does this mean I have competition?" he teased.

The look on B‘Elanna‘s face was truely priceless.

The end