The Letter
By Jane Griffen

Author’s Note: Okay. Lt. Heather Whitney is not in this, just to let you know. I decided I’d give her a break. Anyway, this is a sequel to the episode "Hunters". Sorry it took so long to come out! (after 2 weeks after the episode was first aired!) Hope you like it.

Disclaimers: Paramout owns everything, I own nothing (except for the junior officers I created and the story). Okay? Good. Now on with the story.....

Lt. B’Elanna Torres walked into the turbolift, her mind still echoing from what Tom Paris had said when she’d told him that the Hirogen network had deteriorated before she’d been able to download all of the letter from his father, Admiral Owen Paris. She shook her head, but had to smile when she remembered the look on Harry’s face when she’d given him his letter. Then she frowned again.

When the computer beeped, reminding her that she hadn’t given a deck number, she offhandedly said. "Deck 5."

Soon she got off and headed for the Astro Metrics lab. When she got there, she found the door unlocked. Better than the last time. she thought as she walked into the lab, remembering the time when she’d come down to get a device Seven of Nine had borrowed and found the doors to Astro Metrics locked.

Seven of Nine worked methodically at a console in front of Astro Metric’s view screen.

B’Elanna walked up to her, but before she had even said anything, Seven immediately acknowledged her. "Lt. Torres." without even looking over her shoulder.

B’Elanna paused, a little startled. She raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. "Seven." she replied.
"Lt. Torres, I require your opinion." Seven continued.

"Oh?" B’Elanna asked, curious as to why Seven wanted her opinion.

"Is it necessary to tell the captain everything connected to your work?"

"That depends." B’Elanna answered slowly, not wanting to give Seven the wrong impression but since she wasn’t exactly sure where Seven was getting at, she didn’t see why her answer would throw her off.

"Why do you ask?"

"Astro Metrics scanned much of the text left in the Hirogen transmitter before it collapsed."
"Really?" B’Elanna asked.

"Yes. However, I am debating whether to tell Captain Janeway now or unscramble the letters and information and surprise her and the rest of the crew." Seven explained.

B’Elanna raised an eyebrow, then smiled. "Surprises are always nice."

"Then you think I should decode the messages and surprise the crew." Seven asked, turning the question more into a statement as she looked over her shoulder, eyeing the chief engineer. B’Elanna smiled. "I do."

"I shall require your assistance then. The block of data would take me forever to download it on my own."

Seven then stated.

Normally B’Elanna would be annoyed at the way Seven said it, but her mind was working too fast to care. She nodded and smiled. This was going to be good.

Lt. Tom Paris walked down the corridor on Deck 2, headed for the Mess Hall. Since B’Elanna had just gotten off of her shift as well and it was 2400 hours, he was confident she’d be in the Mess Hall.

He walked in, greeted Neelix, and got some of the Talaxian cook’s latest creations. Looking around, he spotted B’Elanna sitting at one of the tables near the windows and went over to her.

B’Elanna sat working, oblivious to what went on around her. She and Seven had decided to split the work evenly, and hoped to get it done in time for the Valentine’s Day party Neelix was planning. However, that was only two days away, and B’Elanna seriously doubted that they’d be able to have all of it decoded and rearranged, if just half of it.

B’Elanna looked up and smiled when she saw Tom.
"Yes, Tom?" she asked, quickly covering the padd since she and Seven had decided to keep their work a secret.
"Mind if I join you?"

B’Elanna smiled and motioned to the empty seat beside her and Tom sat down. B’Elanna hoped he hadn’t seen the padd.

However, Tom quickly spotted the padd. "What’s that?" he asked, his eyes sparkling with curiosity.

B’Elanna raised her eyebrow. "Nothing." she replied evasively. It didn’t work.
"Why can’t I see it?" he asked. "Because its a secret." she replied, "From who?"
B’Elanna grinned. "You." she stated firmly.

Tom reached for the padd quickly but she pulled it away.
"Aww, come on, ‘Lanna! Why can’t I see it?"

"Because..." B’Elanna tried to think of a good excuse, but didn’t find one so she shrugged.

"Why, is it the sequel to ‘Women Warriors of the River of Blood’?" Tom asked jokingly.

B’Elanna tried not to laugh but Tom could see she was amused. "No."
"Then why can’t I see it?"

B’Elanna bit her lip, trying to find a good excuse.
If she told him it was a surprise, he’d only be more curious. She wanted to tell him, she really did, but she’d made a promise to Seven. *Not that that matters.* she thought, but a promise was a promise.
"Because its classified." she finally stated firmly.
"Nobody on board can see it."
Tom eyed her suspiciously. "Not even the captain?"

"Nope." B’Elanna took a sip of coffee and held the padd out of Tom’s reach when he tried to get it.

The two were still playing keep-away when the ship suddenly rocked violently. B’Elanna, who was on the edge of her chair, fell to the floor. Tom quickly helped her up.
"Janeway to all hands. Battle stations. Janeway out."

Tom and B’Elanna quickly exited the Mess Hall, B’Elanna grabbing the padd before they left.

"What do you think’s wrong?" B’Elanna asked, bracing herself in the turbolift as another torpedo rocked the ship.

"I don’t know. Maybe another Hirogen attack?" Tom shot back.

B’Elanna sighed. "I’ll be so glad when we exit their space." she said as the two got off at the bridge.

"Yeah, me too." Tom replied, and the two headed for their stations.

Kathryn Janeway stood up. "Harry, try hailing them!" she told Harry Kim.
Harry quickly tried. "No response." he replied.

Just then, another one of the Hirogen’s torpedoes rocked their ship.

"Shields are down to 42%." Tuvok stated from his station.

"We’re not going to be able to take much more of this." Commander Chakotay spoke up.
"Warp core’s off-line." B’Elanna called.

Captain Janeway shook her head in frustration. "We need options, people."

"Captain, there’s an astroid field not far from here. If we can make it there, we might be able to loose the Hirogens ship." Harry said from his station.
"Tom?" Chakotay asked.

Tom nodded. "I think that’ll work." he replied.

"Then do it!" Captain Janeway replied, sitting down, and Tom quickly piloted Voyager towards the astroid field using impulse engines.
"We’ve entered the astroid field." Harry called.

"What about the Hirogen ship?" Captain Janeway asked.

"They’re retreating." Tuvok said.

B’Elanna let out a sigh of relief as she sat back.

"Talk about running the gauntlet." Tom said, glad that it was over.

Captain Janeway smiled. "B’Elanna, how long will repairs take?" she asked.
"Two days, three at the most." B’Elanna replied.

"You’ve got two days. The Hirogens aren’t that stupid. They’ll come in looking for us." Captain Janeway said.

"I could pilot Voyager inside one of the larger asteroids. Make it harder for the Hirogens to find us." Tom suggested.

Captain Janeway nodded. "We can use every edge." she said.

Harry stopped red alert and everyone quickly started repairs.

B’Elanna walked tiredly down the corridor. It had been two hours since the Hirogen attack, and sensors hadn’t picked up any more Hirogen ships. For now, they were safe in the asteroid field.

But for how long? B’Elanna asked herself, entering Engineering, padd in hand.
Around her, engineers were working furiously.

Lt. Joe Carey came up to her.

"How much longer till the warp core’s running again?" B’Elanna asked him.

Joe frowned. "The Hirogen’s torpedoes hit the core pretty bad. I’d say at least another seven hours."

B’Elanna frowned as well. "What about the other systems?"
"We’ve got transporters back online as well as the comm system. And-"

"I just got the turbolifts running again." Jane Marlett called as she and Morgan Chesly walked hurriedly past them.
"Good. Start on the weapons array." B’Elanna called.

"Sure." Morgan Chesly replied, and the two ensigns practically disappeared from sight in the crowd of engineers busy working.

"All right. Start on the shields. I’ll work on boosting the matter-anti matter containment field. God only knows what’ll happen if that suddenly starts to shut down." B’Elanna ordered, and she and Joe got to work, the only thing on their minds being that they had to fix the ship’s systems. And fast.

Ten hours later, B’Elanna walked tiredly out of Engineering. Almost half the systems were off-line still, but that was better than having almost three quarters of the systems down. She nodded to fellow crewmembers and entered the turbolift.
"Deck 3." she said tiredly, stifling a yawn.

The computer complied, and the turbolift soon moved up the shaft.

When it stopped, B’Elanna nearly groaned. All she wanted to do was to go back to her quarters, take a nice long hot shower, and go to bed.

Any annoyance she had vanished when the doors opened and Tom stepped in. Although B’Elanna was extremely tired, she smiled.

"So, how’re things going in Engineering?" he asked, standing next to her.

B’Elanna groaned and shook her head. "Don’t even ask." she said, yawning again.
"Tired?" Tom asked.

B’Elanna turned to him. "What do you think?" she asked.

Tom smiled and didn’t say anything. B’Elanna inched herself closer until she finally was able to rest her head on his shoulder. Tom glanced down at her and smiled. B’Elanna closed her eyes, hoping and praying at the same time that nobody would enter the turbolift until they reached Deck 3.

Thankfully, her prayers were answered and the turbolift didn’t stop. The doors soon opened and they walked out.

B’Elanna stopped at her quarters. "Good night." she said sleepily.

Tom kissed her. "Night ‘Lanna." he replied. "Don’t fall asleep before you reach your bed."

B’Elanna kissed him back and went into her quarters. She took a shower, got changed into her pajamas, and went to bed. She fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
The next day, repairs continued throughout the day.

Kathryn Janeway glanced up when she heard the turbolift doors open. Chakotay stepped out and sat down beside her, padd in hand.
"Didn’t get much sleep?" he asked jokingly.

Kathryn laughed. "How on earth did you guess?" she replied.
"Well, for starters you’ve got dark circles under your eyes-"
Kathryn shook her head but had to smile.

"-And I caught you yawning at least nine times
earlier this morning."

"Well, at least repairs are almost done." Kathryn replied, ignoring Chakotay’s comments.

"I know. B’Elanna tells me that almost all the-" Chakotay was interrupted by Harry, who was at his post.

"Don’t count on it staying like that." the ensign warned, a grim look on his face.
"Harry?" Kathryn asked, her smile vanishing.

"Long range sensors detect a Hirogen ship entering the asteroid field. It’s headed in our direction."

Harry explained.
Kathryn frowned. "Is it-" "It’s the same ship." Harry said. "How much longer until it comes within range?"
Chakotay asked.
"One hour, seventeen minutes." Tuvok said.

"Bridge to Torres." Kathryn said.

B’Elanna’s voice came over the comm system. "Yes, Captain?"
"How much longer until all of the repairs are done?"

"Uhh..." Everyone could practically hear B’Elanna working out the results and Tom had to smile. "An hour at least."

"You’ve got an hour. Max. Long-range sensors detect a Hirogen ship. It’ll be within targeting range in one hour, seventeen minutes." Kathryn replied.
"Yes, sir. Torres out."

"Well, they’re looking for their prey. What do we do now?" Chakotay asked.

"This prey isn’t going to give them the satisfaction of being their dinner." Kathryn said, standing up. "Can we go further into the asteroid?"

"We could, but it’d be too dangerous. If the Hirogens realized we were in here, they’d close up the opening. There’d be no way for us to get out." Harry replied.
Kathryn sighed and sat down. "Can we outrun them?"

"We could try." Tom suggested.

Chakotay shook his head. "They’d get us in no time."

Kathryn at in her chair as everyone called out suggestions, only half listening. Then she reopened the comm system, only this time it was too the Astro Metrics lab. "Seven, got any suggestions on how we can overpower the Hirogens?"

There was a pause on the other end, for Seven had been busy uncoding the letters. Then she spoke up. "It may not come down to overpowering them, Captain Janeway. If we reconfigured the deflector shields to emit a high solar pulse, it would conceal Voyager from being detected."

Kathryn sat back. Now we’re getting somewhere. she thought, a bit relieved. "But Seven, how long would it take?"
"Two hours at the most." Seven replied.

"You’ve got an hour."

Down in Astro Metrics, Seven of Nine raised her borgified eyebrow. "But Captain Janeway-"

"That’s an order. A Hirogen ship is going to be withing range in an hour and right now, Voyager’s a sitting duck."

"Sitting duck?" Seven replied, making more of a statement then a question.

Captain Janeway rolled her eyes. "Forget I said anything. You’ve got an hour. Janeway out."

Seven sighed. She would never understand the higherarchy on Voyager. Defeated, she stopped working and headed for Engineering.

An hour later, Seven of Nine looked up from a console in Engineering. "I have finished reconfiguring the deflector array." she told B’Elanna, who nodded and tapped her commbadge.

"Torres to Janeway. The deflector shield should be on now."
"Well done. Let’s just hope it works. Janeway out."

B’Elanna turned to Seven. "Nice job."

"Thank you. I shall be in Astro Metrics if you
require my assistance." Seven replied.

B’Elanna nodded and turned back to her work, but Seven stopped. "Lt.?"
"Yes?" B’Elanna asked, looking up.

"May I ask you a question?"

"Well, you just asked me one and I don’t think
anything could stop you from asking another one."

B’Elanna replied.

Seven paused, puzzled, then continued. "What does ‘a sitting duck’ mean?"
Her reply was laughter.
B’Elanna walked down the corridor half an hour later. All of the repairs were finished and the Hirogen ship had flown past the astroid without detecting Voyager, hopelessly searching for the ship a few parsecs away at the other end of the astroid field.

B’Elanna turned and Tom nearly ran into her.

"What?" B’Elanna asked, a soft smile on her face as
Tom paused for a breather.

"It’s okay. I’d just like to stay on my feet for a
little while longer. At least until the next Hirogen attack."
"Yeah. Like that’ll take long."

B’Elanna laughed.

"But still, I was wondering. You free for dinner
tonight?" Tom asked, stopping.

B’Elanna stopped too. The truth was, she’d love to have dinner, but she had promised Seven she’d finish the letters. And she still had a lot left to decipher.

"I’d love to, but I’m busy. There’re a few repairs that still need to be done, and..." B’Elanna sighed inwardly. She hated lying, especially to Tom, but one little lie couldn’t hurt, could it? Besides, she did have a lot of work to do, and the letters could be put under repairs. She knew that was pushing it, but it was the truth, though stretched.
"’Kay. I’ll see you later, all right?" Tom asked.

B’Elanna smiled and nodded. She could tell he was
disappointed, although he was doing a pretty good job trying to mask it. "Sure. Bye!" she called, and headed for her quarters.

B’Elanna opened her eyes and sat up. Pulling back the covers, she got out of bed. She then took a shower, got dressed and headed for the Mess Hall, planning to get something to eat before her shift in Engineering started.

An hour later, B’Elana dashed to the far side of Engineering, where Ensigns Vorek and Sam Atwood were realigning the plasma relays. A high, loud pitched whining drifted through the air.
"What’s going on?" she yelled, trying to be heard.

It was no use. She wasn’t heard.

Running over to them, she tapped Sam Atwood on the
shoulder. He turned and his green eyes fastened on her. Without being asked, he explained. "There’s something wrong with the plasma grid. We’re trying to realign it properly."

B’Elanna sighed and flailed her arms exasperatedly, but didn’t say anything. Instead she nodded, and went back to the console where she’d been working on. She’d finished most of the letters and only had a few left.
Seven of Nine entered Engineering, a padd in hand.
She went over to B’Elanna, wincing at the noise.
"What is that noise?" she asked.

B’Elanna shook her head without glancing up. "Don’t
ask, Seven."

"I am done my half of the letters. Are you done yours?"
B’Elanna looked up, annoyed. "No, I’m not."
"If you require assistance-"

Seven was broken off by Ensign Sarah MacArthy, a young woman from security.

"Sorry to interrupt, but Tuvok sent me down here to report that the force fields on Decks 3 through 10 are malfunctioning." she said breathlessly.

"And why would we need force fields?" B’Elanna asked, rolling her eyes. Trust Tuvok to care about that.

"Perhaps he was thinking along the terms that the Hirogens might board Voyager and there would be no way to sufficiently stop them." Seven said.

B’Elanna turned to Seven, raising her eyebrow. "And that’s hilarious, Seven." she said sarcastically. To Sarah MacArthy, she asked. "Why didn’t he just contact Engineering through the comm system?"

"Because the comm systems aren’t working!" Harry Kim called from the entrance.
"Great! Just what we need! More malfunctions!"
B’Elanna said, really annoyed.

"I’m sure we’ll get them fixed." Joe Carey, another engineer, said, coming up. "I’ll get started on the comm system." he volunteered.
B’Elanna nodded and smiled tightly. "Thanks, Joe.
And Harry, can you start on the force fields?"

Harry smiled and nodded. "Sure." he said, and the two disappeared.

B’Elanna turned back to Sarah MacArthy. "All right. That’s taken care of. Tell Tuvok that they’ll be fixed soon enough."

Sarah nodded and ran off. B’Elanna turned back to Seven. "Fine. Seven, can you help me finish the letters, because there is no way I’ll be able to finish them all in time." she said breathlessly.

Seven nodded and took the padd B’Elanna had given her. Then she went over to another part of Engineering. B’Elanna followed suit and went over to Joe, and started helping him.

Ten minutes later, Tom entered Engineering, holding a bouquet of flowers behind his back. He winced as soon as he heard the high pitched whining. He jumped back to avoid Ensign Morgan Chesly, who was dashing to the other side of Engineering, yelling over her shoulder and her red hair flying. He paused and surveyed Engineering. Something had to be wrong, for everyone was running everywhere. He went over to Ensign Jane Marlett, who was busy talking and working at the same time, discussing something with Ensign Melissa Paso, whom he recognized as a fill in for Harry for Ops.

"Uhh, Ensign Marlett?" he asked, tapping her on the shoulder. The two ensigns stopped talking and turned, but that didn’t even dim the noise in Engineering by a fraction of a decible.

"Yes, Lt.?" Jane Marlett asked. *Please let it not be another malfunction.* she thought desperately. That was the last thing she needed. Supposedly, Voyager’s shields had malfunctioned, causing the deflector shield to fluctuate. In other words, that caused most of the systems to start malfunctioning.
"Have you seen Lt. Torres around?"

Jane Marlett opened her mouth, then shut it, her
brow furrowed. She narrowed her eyes, deep in thought. Then she turned to Morgan Chesly, who had come back to that side of Engineering.
"Morgan, where’s the chief?" Jane asked.

Morgan shrugged, then called to Linda Hanson, who
was busy working. "Have you seen Lt. Torres?"

Linda Hanson glanced up, then shrugged. Jane tried not to laugh. In a crisis, nobody could find anybody. "I think she was helping Carey fix the comm system." she suggested.

"That’s not true! She and Carey finished that awhile ago!" somebody called out.

"Yes, it is! Because Ensign Kim came down to report that they weren’t working properly!" Linda replied.
"I think I saw her near the Jeffories tube hatch."
Natalia Pretani called.
"No, she was near the turbolift!" Linda yelled back.
"Either way she’s over on the far side of

Engineering?" Jane Marlett asked, waving her hands about and yelling to be heard.
"Sounds right." Morgan Chesly replied.

"Okay. Lt. Torres is over behind the warp core with
Lt. Carey helping fix the comm system which mysteriously broke about five mintues ago. All right?" Jane asked, turning back to face Tom, who was trying not to smile at the way the junior officers figured things out.

"Thanks." he called, and started for where Jane had said B’Elanna would be.

B’Elanna sighed. "Will somebody please stop that noise!" she yelled.

Sam Atwood looked up, then pushed a button on a console.
The noise stopped.

"Thank you." B’Elanna said, shaking her head tiredly.

"We’re never going to finish." Joe Carey muttered,
turning back to his work.

"At this point, I agree with you." B’Elanna retorted tiredly.

"Let me guess." B’Elanna said before Tom could say
anything else. "You’re here to report that the conn’s not working properly, the navigational systems are screwed, Captain Janeway sent you down here to report that she can’t access any of Voyager’s logs, the holodecks don’t work, or, oh, let me guess. Neelix is stumped because his gas oven overloaded and burned dinner, so now charcoal is on the menu, which wouldn’t be so bad because that would just give everybody an excuse to use the replicators, except that the replicators are broken. Right?"

Tom opened his mouth to reply. *Why is she so upset?* he wondered. "Can I talk to you?"

Joe Carey glanced up, raised his eyebrows, and then turned to Ensign Julia Shannon, who had just run up. She shrugged and handed him a padd. Joe started to read it absentmindedly. Julia Shannon just stood there, waiting for him to finish.
"In private?" Tom continued when B’Elanna looked up.

B’Elanna eyed him, but before she could say
anything, Ensign Beth Carmen, Tom’s replacement for the helm, came running up. Beth Carmen nodded to him, then turned to report to B’Elanna. "Long range sensors have picked up four Hirogen ships headed our way."

"Damn." B’Elanna muttered under her breath. She looked up at Beth Carmen, who was shifting her weight from foot to foot uneasily. "Tell the Captain that we’re going as fast as we can and if her coffee doesn’t taste right, suggest she switches to tea. It has less caffine anyway."

Beth Carmen nodded and turned on her heel and left, her black hair in a flip-through.
B’Elanna turned to Tom. "Look. I’m sorry. Can we
talk later? ‘Cause right now-"

She was interrupted again by Selene Morrison. "Sir, we’ve got the deflector shield working and the force fields back online, but now the main weapons array is offline and since the aligners aren’t working, the only way to fix it is to send a team to manually repair it from outside of Voyager."

"In other words: It’s time to get out the EVA suits." B’Elanna said.
Selene Morrison nodded reluctantly.

B’Elanna shook her head. "Harry. Feel like putting
on an EVA suit and going to fix the weapons array?" she called.
Harry looked up and shrugged. "Sure."

"All right. Vorek, Jane Marlett, Joe, go with Harry.
And please hurry." B’Elanna called. "Oh, and Ensign Chesly? Can you run up to the bridge and tell the captain that we’ll need to stay in the astroid for at least another hour?"

Morgan nodded wearily and without another word jogged out of Engineering.

"Good luck!" Tom called as Harry left Engineering with Joe Carey, Jane Marlett, and Vorek.
"We’ll need it." Harry replied, but he smiled.

B’Elanna turned to Tom, who was still waiting there.
"I’m sorry. Can it wait?"

Tom nodded reluctantly and left without giving her the flowers. He decided that it was not a good time to give them to her.

Harry Kim fastened the EVA suit helmet over his head and secured it. Then he turned to Joe Carey, Jane Marlett, and Vorek. "You guys ready?"
"Sure." Joe Carey replied.

"Yes, sir." Vorek added.

Jane Marlett shook her head. "I’m gonna have a
major headache." she complained, but then smiled.

"Yes, I’m ready."

"All right. Let’s go." Harry replied, and the four opened the hatch and walked out onto Voyager’s hull.

Tom sighed and continued down Deck 7. He’d been ordered by the Captain to check on Astro Metrics. He was sure that her hidden agenda was to make sure that Seven of Nine wasn’t going anything she wasn’t supposed to be doing. He sighed and shook his head.

Entering Astro Metrics, he glanced around. Seven was nowhere in sight.
"Seven?" he called.

"I am here." Seven replied, standing up.

Tom raised his eyebrow, for she had been lying under
a console.

"I was remodulating the scanning sensors to output a higher frequency." Seven explained.

"Oh." Tom wasn’t sure what else to say. "Everything okay down here?"
Seven gave him a puzzled look. "Okay?"

"Is everything running smoothly down in Astro
Metrics?" Tom asked.

Seven’s brow furrowed. "Everything is ‘okay’. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, just wondering."

"The captain sent you down here to check in on me."
Seven said, turning back to her work.

"Fine, fine. You win." Tom said, exasperated. He himself had nothing to do, since there was nothing in his range of expertise that needed fixing. Harry was gone and B’Elanna was too busy. Plus the Holodecks were malfunctioning. He’d already tried the Mess Hall. No luck. Neelix was fussing over his latest recipe.

Seven said nothing, still working. She stopped and raised her eyebrow. "Peculiar."

"What is?" Tom asked, walking over to her console, curious.
Seven moved so he couldn’t see. "Nothing."

"What is it?" Tom asked, more suspicious.

"It is merely a malfunction in the scanners." Seven
said, her mind quickly trying to make up an excuse.

Tom went over to another console and pushed a few buttons. Then he turned to Seven. "Everything is perfectly fine. What were you doing?" he asked, more forceful.
Seven eyed him. "I was doing nothing."

Tom scrutenized Seven, who was trying to think up of
a reason why.

Seven, inspired with an idea, spoke. "I was merely stating that Neelix’s cooking is rather....peculiar."
Tom nodded. "I guess you could say that."

Seven sighed inwardly and turned back to her work.
Almost all of the letters were finished.
"What are you doing?" Tom asked.

Seven didn’t answer. Instead, she turned to Tom and
looked disdainfully at him. "Surely you can spend your time doing a more productive activity than questioning me about my work. You can tell the captain that I have merely been reconfiguring the sensors. If you check, you will find that I am telling the truth. Is that understood?"

Tom winced sligthly, for she almost sounded like his father lecturing him about how he spent his time.

"Sure." he said softly, and left. As he picked up the

boquet of red roses, which were already beginning to

wilt slightly, he sighed and left. *Now what can I do

with these?*

Two hours later, B’Elanna decided to go to the Mess Hall and get a quick snack. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and that seemed like an eternity ago. She sighed and waited for the turbolift to get to Deck 2. Engineering and finally gotten everything fixed, and the five Hirogen ships hadn’t detected Voyager.
Yet. B’Elanna thought as she got off at Deck 2.

She would have rounded the corner, but she saw Tom
talking anxiously to someone she couldn’t see. Playing it safe, she stepped inside an alcove and continued to listen. She couldn’t hear anything so she peered around the corner. All she saw was Tom handing Ensign Jenny Delany a boquet of red rose. She sucked in her breath, not trusting herself to speak or act. Tom said something, but she couldn’t hear him. In response, Jenny sighed and shrugged. She said something else, then laughed softly. Nodding, she turned and left. Tom turned and headed in her direction.
B’Elanna ducked into the nearest room.

"B’Elanna?" a familiar voice asked, concerned.

B’Elanna turned, her eyes glistening with tears.
There stood Harry Kim, Jane Marlett, Joe Carey, and Vorek.

Jane, unawares that B’Elanna was upset, spoke up. "Well, we fixed it. It’s as good as new." she didn’t wait for the chief to reply. "Oh, gosh, I always hated those tests at the Acadamy!"
"Which ones?" Vorek asked, raising an eyebrow.

"All of them!" Jane exclaimed.

Joe laughed softly.

"But seriously, I hated the ones with the EVA suits.
You know, the ones we had to pass in the third and fourth years? With the space walking?" Jane Marlett didn’t wait for anybody to reply. "Ughh!"

Vorek raised his eyebrow and stood up from the bench he’d been sitting on. He put his EVA suit away and nodded to everyone. Then he exited the room.

"We’ll be in Engineering." Joe told B’Elanna, well aware that she was upset.
B’Elanna nodded, her face in her hands.

Jane Marlett looked at B’Elanna, who was obviously
upset. She opened her mouth but Joe Carey took her arm and led her firmly and quickly out of the room.

"What was that all about?" Jane asked, pulling her arm away and looking at Carey disdainfully.

"I don’t know, but I do know this. We’d better get back to Engineering."

"Fine." Jane Marlett said, still puzzled. "I’ll meet you there."
Carey gave her a quizzical glance.

"I’m going to go to Sick Bay. Like I said earlier, I
have a major headache."

Carey nodded and headed for the turbolift. Jane shook her head and headed for Sick Bay.

Back in the room, Harry got out of the EVA suit and went over to B’Elanna.
"What’s wrong?" he asked, concerned.

"I saw..." B’Elanna didn’t finish. She just
continued to cry.

"You saw what?" Harry asked, so B’Elanna explained everything to him.

Harry shook his head. "But B’Elanna, Tom said he only gave them to Jenn because you were too busy in Engineering and the flowers were starting to wilt anyway."
B’Elanna looked up, her eyes full of hope.

"That’s what he told you?"

Harry nodded. "That’s what he said. You still going
to the Valentine’s Day party?"

B’Elanna shrugged. "I don’t know. I don’t really feel like it."

Harry raised his eyebrow. She was sincere, and Tom had been just as sincere when he’d said he didn’t feel up to going. Then he smiled. They both felt neglected by the other.
"What?" B’Elanna asked.

Harry stopped smiling. "Nothing. Where were you

"The Mess Hall. I figured I might as well grab a bite to eat before going back to my quarters to work."

"What’re you working?" Harry asked as they walked down the corridor.

B’Elanna sheilded the padd from his view. "Nothing that would interest you." she commented.

Harry raised his eyebrow but didn’t say anything. As they entered the Mess Hall, he snatched it out of her hand.
"Harry!" she cried, trying to get it back.

Harry merely held it over his head. B’Elanna
couldn’t get it, no matter how hard she tried. Defeated, she grabbed an apple and sat down, where Harry was busy reading the padd. His eyes lit up, interested. Then he glanced up. "This was the stuff Seven downloaded from the Hirogen database before it exploded."

B’Elanna nodded, lowering her eyes to the table. Then she leaned over and snatched the padd away from Harry, who laughed and reached for it. B’Elanna giggled and thrust it to Seven, who just so happened to be walking past. Seven took it and glanced at it, then threw it back to B’Elanna when Harry got out of his seat to get it.

B’Elanna laughed and darted around the other side of the table. Harry chased her.

Everyone else in the Mess Hall glanced up and watched the three senior officers play a game of keep-away. Even Seven was amused and smiling as she and B’Elanna tossed the padd back and forth.

Harry finally grabbed it out of B’Elanna’s hands, but B’Elanna wasn’t about to let him read any more of it. She pulled back. Harry pulled harder, and she let go. Harry fell to the floor, holding the padd, which Seven soon grabbed.

Harry got up, rubbing his side and laughing. B’Elanna just shook her head as he tried valiently to get it.

"You’ll never get it, Starfleet." she called, laughing.

Meanwhile, Tom had been watching all this from the door to the Mess Hall. He wasn’t about to join them. They’d have more fun without me anyway. he thought morosely, and exited the Mess Hall.

B’Elanna turned when she heard the doors open and close, and saw Tom’s retreating back. She dropped her arm, which had been holding the padd, to her side and watched him go.

"What’s wrong?" Harry asked, grabbing the padd away from her. When she made no attempt to get it back, he repeated the question.

"Nothing." she said softly. Harry thought he heard a touch of sadness in her voice, and followed her gaze. He didn’t see anything so he sat back down and continued to read the padd. Before he had read the first line, Seven had grabbed it and they played a game of tug-of-war.

B’Elanna shook her head and sat down, her head resting on her hands as she watched Harry and Seven play tug-of-war. She got up and headed for her quarters.

B’Elanna stood in front of a mirror. After moping about her quarters for ten minutes, she decided to go to the party anyway. She crossed her fingers, hoping that Tom would be there. She had on a dark red velvet dress with off-the-shoulder sleeves. She put on some dark red shoes and stood up. Brushing her hair one last time, she headed for Holodeck 2, where the party was. It would start in ten minutes. As she walked out of her quarters, she grabbed the padd with Tom’s letter on it. She’d finally downloaded and decoded it. She hadn’t read it, knowing that it was a personal letter, and was eager to know what it said.

A minute later, B’Elanna entered the holodeck. She couldn’t help but smile at the way Neelix had decorated it. As always, he had gone overboard. Very overboard. Hearts were streaming everywhere from the ceiling, and there was soft red lights glowing from the plant beds. As usual, he had used the tropical resort program, and she had to admit she was impressed.

"Lt. Torres, have you finished the letters?" Seven of Nine asked from behind her.

B’Elanna turned around and smiled. "Nice dress." she commented. Seven was dressed in a stunning light blue dress.

Seven raised her eyebrow. "I will never understand the concepts of ‘parties’." she said.
B’Elanna laughed. "Well, yes, I did finish."

"Can I see your data?" Seven replied.

B’Elanna nodded and handed one of the padds she was
carrying to Seven, who skimmed it over.
"This will suffice." Seven commented.

B’Elanna nodded. "I’m glad you think so." she
replied, with a touch of sarcasm.
Seven nodded.

Tom and Harry walked up to them, Tom following
Harry, which was a change.
Nobody said anything.

Seven looked from Tom to B’Elanna, then raised her
eyebrow. Even she could sense the uneasyness. Then she glanced at Harry, who slightly shrugged.

"What do you say we find a table?" Harry asked, not so sure about whether Tom and B’Elanna were on good terms. Thankfully, everyone agreed.
"Tom?" B’Elanna asked, pausing in mid-stride.

Tom stopped and turned to her while Harry and Seven
went on, unawares that they were alone for the moment.

"Yes?" he asked expectantly, his blue eyes looking deep into hers.
B’Elanna bit her lip. "I’m sorry."

By now the two had walked onto the beach.

Tom’s brow furrowed. "For what?"

"For everything! I’ve been really busy lately and I
thought..." B’Elanna’s voice trailed off. "I thought you were mad at me."
"Why would I be mad at you?" Tom asked.

B’Elanna paused. "When I saw you give the roses to
Jenny Delany-"

"Hold it right there." Tom said, putting a finger to her lips. "I didn’t know what to do with them and you were so busy I knew you’d never get them if I left them in your quarters. And when I ran into Jenny, I just gave them to her. It was nothing more than that. I love you more than anything in the world, ‘Lanna.

Nothing could stop my love for you."

B’Elanna looked into his crystal blue eyes, which looked at her worriedly. She knew he was telling the truth, and she loved him more than anything. She kissed him. "I’m sorry."

"I am, too." he said, his arms encircling her waist. He glanced down the beach, which was deserted. The sun was beginning to set. "How ‘bout we take a walk down the beach?"
B’Elanna leaned back. "I’d like that." she said.

Tom bent down and picked up the padd, which she’d
dropped. "First things first You are not going to get away with doing any work tonight." he said, lifting his arm back to throw it. into the ocean surf.

"No, Tom!" B’Elanna cried, trying to get it. "It’s important!"

"It’s so important you can’t stop for just one night?" Tom asked incredulously. He looked at the padd. "What is it?"

B’Elanna paused. "It’s the letter to you from your father." she said softly.

Tom stopped, not believing her. His blue eyes bore into her, puzzled. "What?"
"As a surprise Seven and I were finishing decoding
the messages. We finished today." B’Elanna explained

softly. "I was planning on giving it to you earlier,

but I didn’t have the time-"
She stopped as Tom kissed her.

They were both so engrossed in the kiss that they
didn’t hear Morgan Chesly, Scott Harmenit, Jane Marlett, and Michael Smith walk down to the beach from the party. When Morgan - the one leading the way - spotted the two senior officers, she stopped abruptly. Still the two senior officers didn’t see nor hear the four junior officers.

Jane Marlett covered her mouth, trying not to laugh. Michael and Scott tried not to smile, but she could tell they were amused.
"Why don’t we just leave the two of them alone?"
Michael quietly intoned.

"Good idea." Jane replied, still watching the two lieutenants.
"There’s a side of her we never see in Engineering."
Morgan whipsered.
Jane’s hazal eyes widened and she tried not to
laugh. "Except for stardate 51244.3 when those

aliens were experimenting on everyone and-"
Morgan interrupted. "And Lt. Paris came down beacuse
she asked him to because of some reason or another-"
"You could tell it was so fake." Jane muttered.

"-and the two went to her upper work station. God,
it was so funny! Even though we couldn’t see them it was obvious that they were kissing and stuff. They didn’t even realize anybody knew!" Morgan said, her eyes dancing.

Scott shook his head in amusement. "You’re kidding." he implied.

"We are not! Ask Lt. Carey or Lt. Nicoletti! They were there, too!" Jane put in.
"Still, I think we’d better go." Michael pointed out.

Morgan took one last glance at the two lieutenants,
oblivious to her, and turned her back and walked swiftly back to the party. As soon as she was out of ear shot, she burst out laughing, as did Jane, Michael, and Scott.

Back at the party, Seven finished telling Harry about decoding the messages.

"Why don’t you show it to the captain now?" Harry asked.
Seven raised her eyebrow. "I was going to when Lt.
Torres was here."

Harry nodded, his mind working fast. "I don’t think she’ll be back soon." he commented.
"State your reasons." Seven replied, puzzled.

"She and Tom aren’t here." Harry said.

"And what does that have to do with it?"

"Everything, Seven. Everything."

Seven still didn’t understand, but she went off to
find Captain Janeway. Hearing a shriek, she went over to the water’s edge. Chakotay had picked the captain up and was theatening to throw her in the water. Everyone rooted him on.
Harry laughed. "Way to go!" he called.

"So, should I throw you in the water?" Chakotay
asked, turning to face Kathryn.

Kathryn’s eyes widened. "You wouldn’t dare." she muttered, her blue eyes wide.
"You want to bet?"

"Please Chakotay, please!" Kathryn called.

Meanwhile, the crew was laughing hard.

Finally, Chakotay relented and set Kathryn back down
on the ground, but everyone could tell they were both enjoying themselves immensely.

After everything had settled down, Seven went up to the captain and held out the padd. "Captain Janeway, here is the remaining data that Voyager was not able to recieve from the Hirogen transmitter. Lt. Torres and I were able to decode the rest of the messages."
Everyone became silent.

Kathryn took the padd. Everyone could tell she was
shocked, as was everyone else. She scanned it and looked up, then smiled. "Thank you, Seven." she said, overjoyed.

"But where’s B’Elanna?" Chakotay asked from Kathryn’s side.
No one had an answer.
Tom and B’Elanna walked down the beach hand in hand, just enjoying their time together. They sat down on the sand together farther down the beach. B’Elanna closed her eyes in pleasure as she listened to the sound of the surf lap at the beach.
"Look." Tom said, pointing.

B’Elanna opened her eyes. The sun had just set in
the horizon, and the sky was a mixture of dark purple, blue, and black.

"It’s beautiful." she commented, laying her head on Tom’s shoulder contentedly.

Tom glanced down at B’Elanna, who was gazing up into the sky. In the early moonlight, she was as gorgeous as ever. He glanced at the padd, which lay on the sand a few feet away. He’d read it later in private.
"Thanks." he said softly, kissing her.

B’Elanna pulled back and smiled softly. Then she
kissed him back. "Anytime." she muttered, then added.

"You know, we really shouldn’t."
"Who cares?"


"What if the captain catches us?"

"We’re off duty."

B’Elanna smiled as she leaned in to kiss Tom. Things
couldn’t be better.


Copyright 1998 by Jane Griffen. Original disclaimers apply. I know I could have written a little more, but at the rate I was going, the story would be 100 pages and I still wouldn’t have been near the end. Please send all feedback to :-)