CHAPTER FOUR: SWIMMING, BOATHOUSES, and CAPTAIN PROTON
Samantha Paris laughed as she sat on a deck chair on the dock, watching her friends and sister fool around. She herself felt too self-concious in a bathing suit seven months into her pregency, so she had opted for the choice of just watching. Alyssa and Heather had started a major splash fight, and now everyone was involved. Tom and Lisa had subtlely left, leaving thier house guests to finish up the swim. Samantha figured they had had an alterior motive when Lisa had said that Tom was going to show her the old boathouse.
Sitting on the dock, she had a spectacular view of the bay. The dock itself was in the shape of an upside down L, extending about forty feet before turning sharply to the right. Her parents owned a large area of land, and the sandy white beach belonged mostly to them and their neighbors, whose house she could see if she strained her eyes while looking towards San Fransisco. At night, the city's buildings lighted up, creating a spectacular view.
The sea itself wasn't the actual Pacific ocean. Instead, it was a humongous bay. If you stood on one side, you could barely see the other side. If you looked far enough to the right, you could see the entryway into the harbor. During the 22nd century, a new technology was put into the sea, clensing the water of polluting substances. The water was now crystal clear, and just the right temperature to swim in. At first, the ocean floor descended quickly from the beach, going down to about twelve feet around the dock. Ten yards away from the dock, it got shallower, leading out to sandbars. A floating dock was there, used as a marker or as a place to rest after swimming out to it. Whenever there was a storm coming, the waves would get rougher, creating waves. That was when she, along with Alyssa and Tom, would go body surfing in the waves. They had had a blast doing it when they were young. Samantha grinned, remembering the many times their mother had fussed over them before going out before a storm.
Young love, she thought wistfully, thinking of Tom and Lisa, then laughed out loud as she realized what she was thinking. After all, she was only two and a half years older than Tom.
"What's so funny?"
Samantha focused. "What?" she asked.
Heather Whitney repeated her question.
Grinning, Samantha relayed what she had been thinking. In the end, the half-Batazoid was grinning as well. "Oh, yeah, Samantha, you are so old!" she teased.
B'Elanna swam up. "Hi!" she called, resurfacing as she brushed her hair out of her eyes. She glared back at Harry. "Don't you dare, Starfleet."
"But Maquis!" Kim protested.
"What?" Heather and Samantha both demanded.
"He's trying to dunk me." Torres replied.
"So, what do you think of Lisa?" Alyssa asked, getting out of the water. She went over and grabbed some water noodles. Throwing them in, she jumped back in and sat on one. Everyone else - minus Samantha - followed suit.
"She's..." Harry's voice trailed off.
"Lisa's great." Heather commented softly, looking worriedly at Torres was she said it.
B'Elanna merely rolled her eyes. "Will you stop it?" she demanded.
"Well-" Whitney decided not to protest further, but she caught the confused look Alyssa and Samantha shared.
Harry spoke up. "Heather's right. She seems really nice, but she's really talkative."
"Are you saying you don't like talkative women?" Whitney asked, indignant.
Kim sighed. "She's a lot like you, Heather." he tried to explain. "She's nice, outgoing, funny, likeable, to say nothing of drop dead gorgeous."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," Heather teased. Then she frowned thoughtfully. "I agree with Harry." she commented. Sliding off her noodle, she pretended to pose. "After all, I *am* drop dead goreous." she mimicked.
Everyone burst out laughing.
"What about you, B'Elanna?" Samantha asked.
The half-Klingon's brow furrowed. "Lisa is..." she groped for a word and shrugged while trying to stay balanced. "She's-"
Heather smirked, and got splashed as a result.
"Lisa's nice." Torres commented slowly, staring down at her hands. The truth was, Lisa seemed like an all-around great person. Lisa was energetic, nice, smart, talanted, funny, and beautiful, and B'Elanna was finding that she actually liked Tom's fiancee. B'Elanna was reminded of what Heather had told her on the shuttle over. "Wait until you meet her to judge her." That's the truth, she thought inwardly. Of course, Lisa was engaged to Tom, and B'Elanna was still in love with Tom. How come life is so complicated? B'Elanna asked herself inwardly, then turned to Heather. "What?" she cried, for the half-Batazoid was scrutenizing her intently.
"N-nothing." Whitney stammered, but she shared a look with Harry. Samantha and Alyssa shrugged at each other. They had no idea what the other three were thinking of.
"What about you two?" Harry asked curiously. He had noticed B'Elanna's far away gaze. The next week is going to be very interesting indeed. he thought to himself.
"Lisa is wonderful!" Samantha said enthusiastically.
"She's almost one of us." Alyssa commented. "She's not marrying Tom so she can be a 'Paris', she's marrying him because of who he is." she stated firmly, her green eyes intense.
"Just like Ricki." Heather muttered for the second time in a day.
"Hold on a sec." Torres called, holding up her hands while staying balanced on the float. "Just who is this 'Ricki'?"
Samantha, Alyssa, and Heather looked at each other.
"Uhh..." Heather started to say, but shut up as soon as Alyssa shook her head.
"She was engaged to Tom one time." Samantha finally explained. "But soon after the Caldik Prime incident, she called off the whole wedding."
"Yeah, and she was a-" Whitney stopped in midsentence when she spotted Tom and Lisa strolling down the beach hand in hand. "Hi!" she called out enthusiastically. "How was the beach house?"
Kim, Torres, and Tom's two sisters burst out laughing.
"Boathouse, Heather, they went to the boathouse!" Harry reminded.
"What?" Tom asked, confused.
B'Elanna tried hard not to choke on the water she had accidentally swallowed as she fell off her noodle. Alyssa was rolling on the deck, giggling hysterically. Samantha was laughing her head off, and Harry was trying hard not to laugh himself. Seeing the look on Heather's face was enough to get him started.
"The boathouse was wonderful!" Lisa said, looking at Tom coyly.
Gag! Heather said telepathically.
"I never knew we had a boathouse." Samantha said dumbly, a look of fake wonderment on her face.
Alyssa, who was about to dive into the water, heard her sister's last remark and half fell and half dove into the water. When she surfaced, she was laughing even harder.
"I don't want to know." Torres whispered to Kim, who burst out laughing.
"Join the club, B'Elanna. The two of us used to do this all the time." Heather commented softly to the cheif engineer, referring to herself and Harry.
"Excuse me?" B'Elanna asked, indignant.
"Oh, but it was so easy!" Heather stopped when she saw the confused looks she was getting from Lisa, Tom, and Samantha. Because you and Tom were so obvious! she continued telepathically.
B'Elanna glared at the half-Batazoid, then decided to take better action. She dove for the science officer, and the two swam off.
"What was that all about?" Tom asked Harry, who climbed out of the water and grabbed a towel.
Harry just shook his head. "Trust me, Tom, you don't want to know." Thinking twice, he added. "We were just talking about the good old days, right B'Elanna?"
Torres looked up from dunkingn Heather. "Yep!" she called, then a dirty look crossed her face. "Oh, you are dead, Starfleet!"
Kim just tried not to laugh. Everything was almost back to normal. Heather was teasing B'Elanna, B'Elanna was retaliating, and he was the mediator.
Lisa glanced at the three women (Heather, B'Elanna, and Alyssa) in the Pacific. Heather was busy trying to escape the half-Klingon's mock-wrath, and Alyssa was trying to laugh and swim at the same time. Samantha had a strangled look on her face, and Harry Kim was looking anywhere but at them. "The boathouse is down that way." she commented, pointing down the beach to a distant building.
Tom shrugged. "What's so funny about that? I was just showing her where Dad's motorboat is. We can all go water skiing later." he commented. Pointing out to the floating dock in the bay, he added. "When a storm comes, we normally go body surfing. It's so much fun. I hope there's a stormy night while you're here. At night its even more fun."
Harry met the pilot's gaze. And he thought I was neive? He told Tom, "You *really* should read some of your old personal logs, Tom. We weren't even discussing the boathouse!"
Tom and Lisa just gave him confused glances. Harry just sighed. "Forget I said anything." he explained. "But that sounds fun." he added, referring to the surfing. "What's water skiing?"
Soon, the two men were engrossed on discussing the sport, and Lisa quickly jumped into the water again. Try as she might, she just didn't get the joke. *What's so funny about him showing me the boathouse?* she asked herself. Of course, they hadn't just looked at the motorboat, but that was beside the point. After all, how would they know...
"Lisa!" Torres called. "Come help me dunk Heather!"
Heather made trumpeting noises. "No! But I'm Constance Goodheart! You can't kill me! I'm the main character!" she joked as she tried not to go underwater.
B'Elanna let go of Heather's shoulders and shook with laughter. "Whatever happened to Captain Proton?" she asked, incredulous.
"He fell in love with Seven." Whitney said simply, shaking her head. The two looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"I meant Chaotica! Not Captain Proton!" Heather quickly fixed her mistake, but B'Elanna was already laughing.
Alyssa looked at Lisa, who merely shrugged. They didn't have a clue as to what the two were talking about.
B'Elanna moved the food around on her plate as she listened intently to the conversation around her. So far, all anyone had talked about was the wedding. She herself had chimed in a few times, but she had been relatively quiet for the most part. Admiral Owen Paris had come home shortly after they had stopped swimming, and Heather had made the mistake on commenting on the boathouse. For that, Tom didn't push the chair back in when he pulled it out for the half-Batazoid before dinner. Heather had fallen on the floor, only to swear that she would get even with Tom. Dana Paris was a wonderful cook, but Torres didn't have much of an appetite.
"So, B'Elanna, what was the best time on Voyager when you were all stranded in the Delta quadrent? I hear she's a great ship!" Lisa commented brightly, sensing that the half-Klingon was bored with the talk about the wedding. Doav was as well, but she wanted the wedding to be perfect.
Torres looked up, startled.
Harry, who was sitting next to her and Heather, raised his eyebrows.
Whitney looked expectantly at the chief engineer, a wide grin on her face. B'Elanna met her gaze and knew fully well what the science officer was thinking of: April Fool's Day.
"Well," B'Elanna started, noticing the brief flicker of fear pass over Tom's face. "The best time-" She stopped and glared at Heather. "Stop it, Heather."
The half-Batazoid's eyes widened. "I didn't do anything!" she commented, but she stopped anyway.
"The best time would have to be when-" B'Elanna stopped, a frown marring her face. "Umm..."
"When you got incapacitated?" Heather asked brightly.
Torres sent her a withering look, but her friend was already laughing silently. Harry was shaking his head. Tom just looked plain confused.
When you got stranded in space with Tom during your Day of Honor? Heather commented telepathically. When we all participated in that Captain Proton holonovel? What about the '69 Camaro? Or the time when we were all trapped in that 'Killing Game' when the Hirogen took over the ship? How about when we were all put into stasis? Or-
"Heather, first of all, I don't even want to know how you found out about most of that stuff, but no, none of those times were the best." B'Elanna shot back. She turned to Lisa. "Sorry, Lisa, but I don't really have a particular event that I liked the most. The bottom line was: we all had fun. We all got our work done, and we had fun at the same time."
Lisa nodded, amusement plain on her face. Meanwhile, Owen Paris was nodding to himself. Obviously that was the right answer in his opinion. Knowing how much he counted on Starfleet officers to do their work well and excell in their profession, B'Elanna agreed with him.
Heather snapped her fingers. "I got it!" Everyone turned to look at her quizically. "When you had to eject the warp core?"
B'Elanna slapped her forehead. "How could I have forgotten?" she asked.
"But that wasn't-" Tom decided not to comment further when both women turned to him.
"It's called a joke, Tommy." Whitney said sweetly, then frowned. "I'd have to say all those times in Engineering, as well as Sandrine's and at the parties Neelix hosted. After all, we had so much fun teasing you, B'Elanna!"
"What?" Torres asked, confused. She had no idea what the half-Batazoid was talking about.
Apparently, no one else did either. Except for Harry.
"See?" Whitney asked, "That's one of the reasons why we had so much fun!"
Half an hour later, dinner was over. After clearing their plates and helping put away the food, everyone wandered into the living room. There the discussion turned back to the wedding.
"How many guests are coming?" Harry asked, sitting down on the loveseat. Heather, seeing that there wasn't enough room for everyone in the living room, plopped down on his lap. Lisa did the same, since Tom was sitting in an armchair.
"So far..." Tom picked up a padd and read from it. "Five hundred some-odd people have RSVPed, and there are a lot of people who haven't yet."
B'Elanna grimaced. "And you know all of them?" she commented.
"No, but since I'm a Paris, we just have to invite all of the promonint Starfleet admirals down in headquarters." Tom joked, looking directly at her. For the second time that day, he was surprised at how much she had changed. Her hair was longer, and her eyes seemed a bit different. If anything, they were even darker than before. Her ridges were as visible as ever, and all in all she was gorgeous. Stop it, Tommy, this is no time to be thinking about an old flame. After all, you're getting married to Lisa, remember? he chided himself.
A smile brighted up B'Elanna's face. "I guess it helps that they'll be the people who will decide if you get promoted or not." she said, looking over at Tom expectantly.
"Very funny, 'Lanna." Tom shot back.
Heather snickered. "Hey, that's a great idea! How big's that church we're getting married in, anyway, Harry?" she asked.
Harry rolled his eyes and everyone burst out laughing.
Lisa shook her head. "Right, Heather." she commented.
"When does Voyager arrive?" Dana Paris asked, sitting on the couch next to her husband and Samantha.
Tom smiled. "Tomorrow."
"What?" B'Elanna, Heather, and Harry said in unison.
"But they're not supposed to come for another two weeks!" Kim finally commented.
Owen shrugged. "That's not what the latest transmissions said."
"I can't wait till you meet everyone, Lisa." Tom turned so that he could look directly at her. Blue eyes met blue eyes, and they simultaneously kissed.
"Great! We can all go shopping when they get here!" Heather cried enthusiastically.
"Your favorite subject." Tom commented dryly.
Heather picked up a couch pillow and flung it at the pilot, careful not to hit anything. Since she had been the pitcher on the girls' softball team during high school, her aim hit true.
"Hey, watch it!" Tom replied.
The nine talked for awhile, and then Owen and Dana Paris got up.
"I think I'm going to call it a night." Dana said, covering up a yawn.
"I'd better turn in, too. I've got to go to a meeting early tomorrow." Owen added, and the two left.
"Can we turn on some music?" Harry asked.
Soon, music was playing and the seven were busy chatting away. Although they hadn't seen Tom in only four months, B'Elanna, Harry, and Heaher had so much to say. Alyssa, Samantha, and Lisa was also included in the conversation, and the time flew by.
Torres glanced at the chronometer on the wall. It was 2300 hours. "I'm going to go to bed." she commented, standing up.
Tom looked up and gazed quizically at her. "But B'Elanna, it's only eleven o'clock." he protested.
"Precisely." B'Elanna replied. "Good night!"
Everyone bade her a good night in return, and she left the room. Walking up the stairs, she could hear Heather challanging Harry to a game of checkers. Smiling at the thought of Kim being beaten again, she made her way up the stairs. Life had never been more complicated. Why, Tom, why?
Copyright November 2nd by Jane Griffen. Original Disclaimers Apply.
To Be Continued...