This part is dedicated to Sarah and Julia, who are always telling me to write more! This part is copyrighted March 1999 by Jane Griffen. All feedback welcome at JaneG100@rocketmail.com. Paramount owns Rikki, Tom's former fiancee. See the main page for the rest of the disclaimers.
CHAPTER TEN: JIBING
Tom Paris breathed in the salty sea air with a grin as he stood on the long wooden dock behind his parents’ house, raising a hand to shield his blue eyes from the bright sun as he gazed out at the bay. A dinghy tied to the end of the dock bobbed up and down in the slightly choppy waves as the wind blew softly over the water.
Paris turned around to see Heather, donned in short blue jean shorts, a purple swimsuit, and an unbuttoned sleeveless white blouse. She had on 20th century Teva sandals. Her brown hair was pulled back in a french braid and black sunglasses were perched on top of her head. Her blue eyes sparkled merrily as she walked up to him.
“Hi, Heather,” Tomm called out as he smiled at one of his oldest friends. Through everything Heather had stood by him. He owed her everything.
“Hey! Everyone else is still getting ready,” she explained, rolling her eyes. “They are *so* slow!”
Tom laughed and they stood side by side in silence looking out into the bay. “What do you think of Lisa?” he asked suddenly, slightly earnest.
Heather looked at him curiously. Then she grinned mockingly and teased, “Since when d you care about *my* opinion, Flyboy?”
Rolling his eyes, Paris shot back, “I’m serious, *Helmgirl*.”
At the use of her much unwanted nickname she had been given at the Acadamy, Whitney stopped grinning teasingly at her friend and it was *her* who rolled her eyes. Then she smiled softly up at Tom, because even though she was 5’10”, he was still slightly taller than her. “She’s perfect, Tom. Absolutely perfect. And she’s nothing like Rikki, either.” she added with disgust, referring to the slightly over two-week stand engagement with Rikki Lake he had had during the Academy days.
Tom gave her a look. “Geez, thanks,” he commented sarcastically.
Whitney mocked surprise. “What?” she asked innocently, then shook her head. “She really is perfect, Tom.” At the back of her head, she heard a little voice nagging, *Yeah, but B’Elanna’s his perfect *match*, and you know it.*
“Shut up,” she growled at the voice.
“What?” Pairs asked, startled.
Before Heather could explain about the ‘voices’ in her head and get Tom to thinking she was even more crazy than he thought she was, Lisa, Harry, and B’Elanna walked up to them. “So, ready to go saling?” Tom asked, deadpan.
Torres shot him a look. “You can’t be serious.” she said.
“Why not?” Tom asked, his brow furrowed as he scrutenized the chief engineer.
B’Elanna put her hands on her hips. “Because, if I remember correctly, the *last* time we went sailing-” She stopped suddenly, a wistful look fluttering across her face. Then it was gone. Torres gazed down at her hands, not knowing whether she should continue or not.
*Becuase, and yes you did remember correctly, the last time the two of us went sailing it was on Talos IV, and I accidentally capsized the boat when jiving and ended up getting both of us soaking wet. But then again, that night we...* Tom’s thoughts trailed off as soon as he realized what he was thinking. *This is not good.*
Harry frowned as he realized the other two Lieutenant Commanders’ thoguhts. he specifically remembered B’Elanna going on and on about how Tom had capsized the boat during one of their holodeck dates. *This is just great,* he thought sarcastically, rolling his eyes slightly. Seeing the look on Heather’s face, he knew she felt the same way. Thankfully, Lisa didn’t seem to notice anything was amiss.
“So, who’s going to go first?” Doav questioned, deciding to not pressure Torres into continuing. She glanced around. “Anybody?”
“B’Elanna,” Tom smirked.
“No way are you getting me in the same boat as you,” declared B’Elanna, shaking her head and crossing her arms against her chest for further emphasis.
Heather laughed at her outright indignation. “Lisa, why don’t you and Tom go. There’s only enough room in the dinghy for two people anyway.”
“Why don’t we just use the motorboat?” Harry asked, remembering the large motorboat in the boathouse from the day before.
“Because going sailing in the dinghy is so much more fun than steering a boring old motorboat.” Whitney explained, making a face.
Tom first took Lisa out, then Heather and Lisa went together. Then Tom and Harry sailed around the bay. B’Elanna was reluctant, but Tom finally managed to convince her that he wouldn’t capsize the boat. Getting in, she shook her head one last time as Tom pushed the boat away from the boat. He waved to Lisa, Harry, and Heather, then turned around to focus on the sailing.
Feeling the boat curve slightly, B’Elanna unconciously tensed her arms and legs. Tom, seeing her do so, laughed goodnaturedly as he steered the small dinghy out into the large Pacific Ocean bay. “I promise I won’t tip the boat over.” he assured her, mastering the sails until the wind blew them out just right.
“I’m just remembering some of your other promises,” B’Elanna muttered, then smiled to make sure Tom knew she had meant the comment lightly.
Tom’s face fell slightly. “I’m really sorry things turned out the way they did.” he said quietly, suddenly very intersted in which way to sail as he reverted his gaze from hers.
B’Elanna cocked her head slightly to one side, scrutenizing theh pilot as she spoke, “Really Tom?” in a slightly amused tone.
“Well,” Tom’s voice trailed off. “I mean...”
B’Elanna laughed shortly, leaning forwrad slightly to cover up her true emotions. “Tom, you’re about to marry a beautiful and wonderful woman and you’ve got a great future ahead of you,” she told him, letting a bit of incredulous creep into her voice. This was definetely not what she had thought the two of them would be talking about.
Tom gave her a look she knew too well. “You know exactly what I mean,” he pointed out.
“Do I?” Torres asked, suddenly serious. “Because if I remember correctly, there were plenty of times when I didn’t know.” Paris turned away, and she sighed. “Tom, if we had stayed together we’d have killed each other by now.”
“You really think so?” he asked, turning to face her. A serious look was on his face as well, and she wasn’t sure how to go about replying.
“Tom, you love Lisa, right?” she asked, an idea popping into her head.
“Yes,” he immediately replied, looking over at her. “Why?”
B’Elanna smiled and shook her head slightly. “Then why are you asking me these questions?” she asked teasingly.
Tom had to laugh. “Sorry, its just that I’ve been thinking a lot on what could have happened-”
Smirking, Torres interrupted. “What if Voyager had been destroyed in the Delta Quadrant? What if Voyager hadn’t even gotten to the Delta Quadrent in the first place? What if we’d never been born? Tom, there are so many ‘what ifs’ its not even funny!” she exclaimed.
Paris smiled. “Actually, I was thinking along the term of what if I had never met you,” he said quietly.
Torres stopped smiling, her brown eyes wide. The next thing she knew, the boat jerked and she heard Tom yell out, “Duck!”
It was too late. The boat capsized. Kicking her legs, B’Elanna propelled herself to the surface and grabbed ahold of the boat. Glancing around her, she yelled, “Tom?”
The pilot surfaced next to her a few seconds later. “Sorry,” he apologized, gasping for air.
B’Elanna was about to explode at him for getting both of them soaking wet and capsizing the boat when she realized how ridiculous their situation was. She started giggling hysterically, treading water to stay above the water. Then an idea came to her and she ran her arm along the water, sending up a stream of water in Tom’s direction. Caught offguard, Tom soon found himself being thoroughly splashed by B’Elanna. Once he caught his bearings, he dove in her direction. Torres was too quick for him, and swam underwater to the other side of the boat. He grabbed her by the arm and soon they were twirling around in the water, trying to dunk each other.
Five minutes later -- after both had cerimoniously dunked each other more than once -- Tom held up his hands. “Truce?” he suggested before he realized how close a proximity their faces were to one another. If either of them moved an inch towards each other, they would be in a lip lock.
B’Elanna didn’t seem to notice; her brown eyes were shining and she grinned coyly. “Truce?” she asked in mock surprise, about to splash him again.
Tom was about to retort when she grinned at him and let go. Then she sighed. “I guess we should better try to right the boat and sail back to your parents’ house,” she suggested.
“Yeah, I guess we’d better,” replied Tom, a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
B’Elanna shot him an innocent look. “Don’t look at me! *You’re* the one who capsized the boat!” she reminded him.
Tom had to smile. “You’re right about that.” He glanced down at the water. “I’m going to dive down and see how deep it is here. It shouldn’t be more than seven or eight feet at most. This entire bay is filled with sandbanks.”
Torres nodded. “Okay,” she said, then watched as Tom dived down. Her thoughts were whirling around. That had been too close. Another second like that together and she would have had to kiss him instinctively. *How come this has to be so hard?* she whined in her thoughts, sighing. She didn’t want to ruin Tom’s life with Lisa, but it was getting harder each moment she was with Tom alone. She couldn’t help it that she was falling in love all over again with Tom Paris, could she? *Yes, you could.* a voice inside her head reminded her.
Her thoughts were interrupted with Tom surfacing again, his blue eyes blinking as he tried to get the water dripping from his hair out of them. They stung like crazy, and it didn’t help with the salty sea water. “I was right. Its about eight feet down.” he told her.
B’Elanna nodded. “All right.”
The next few minutes were spent trying to right the boat. Once Tom was inside, he held out his arm and helped her into the boat, careful to balance his weight just right so they didn’t tip over again. The *last* thing he wanted was for B’Elanna to lose her temper. Glancing down at his clothes, he realized that they were both drenched. “I guess we’ll have some explaining to do,” he commented, flashing her a smile before righting the sails so they were just right again.
B’Elanna laughed and talked with Tom for the rest of the sail back to the senior Paris’ house, but her mind wasn’t really on the conversation anymore. Instead her brain kept on replaying what had happened. *Today, then tomorrow, then the wedding. Only three more days,* she told herself, but she knew it was no use consoling herself. *Maybe Heather’s right. Maybe I should tell him...* She was jolted out of her reverie as Lisa and Harry hurried down the dock to greet them as they sailed in.
Heather waded out into the shallow water; now B’Elanna could see why Heather had chosen to wear such short shorts. She could walk out into the sandbars and not have to worry about getting her clothes wet. She took one look at the two lieutenant commanders and raised an eyebrow. “Well?” she questioned, helping to guide the boat over to the dock.
Tom and B’Elanna looked at each other, then burst out laughing.
“Its a long story,” Tom supplied, looking over at B’Elanna out of the corner of her eye.
Torres couldn’t have agreed more -- for more than one reason. *****
To Be Continued...