By Liz

~ A short story for all the theatre-lovers among us ~

A hunky-dory coda to "Muse." Tom finds that a walk in the limelight will
change anyone's soulat least for a while. Rated PG.
Thanks again, Briar Roseyou rock.

Disclaimer: This story and website are in no way affiliated with Star Trek:
Voyager, and are in no way meant to infringe on the copyright and trademarks of
Paramount Studios, a Viacom Corporation. All characters, barring those created
specifically by the author for her own sole use, are © Paramount/Viacom and are
used here without permission.


Tom drummed his fingers nervously on the transporter console. It had
been twenty minutes already. Where was she?

"Tom, I'm sure she's fine," the crewman working the transporters said.
"I mean, Lieutenant Torres herself called for the delay, didn't she?"

Tom almost snapped at the guy for having tried to calm him down, but he
kept his mouth shut. Two solid weeks of worrying about Harry and
B'Elanna with no idea if they were alive, dead, or slowly dying had
driven him crazy, and now B'Elanna called for a delay transporting her
up from a primitive, L-class planet? He decided to have a little chat
with her about proper rescue etiquette when she got back. As in, be
grateful to the people who were rescuing you, because chances were they
had worried themselves stupid for your safety.

Well, he had, anyway.

Just then, a signal came in, and Tom nearly jumped at the sound of
B'Elanna's voice over the comm link. "One to beamÉ Er, one to ascend
to the heavens!"

Ascend to the heavens? Tom thought curiously as he watched her form
materialize on the transporter pad. That was one he hadn't heard

Not that he cared. He eagerly hopped up on the platform as soon as the
transport was complete and wrapped her in his arms. "I'm so glad
you're safe," he said into her hair, even enjoying that musky scent of
someone who'd been camping for about two weeks. On her, it was
actually a little sexy.

She hugged him back, the heavy folds of a dark, homespun cloak falling
off her shoulders. "Did Harry make it back?"

Tom nodded, pulling away and helping her out of the garment. "He's in
sickbay, getting checked out by the Doc. Which is where we're going
now. Unless you have somewhere better to be?" he said, noticing the
pout on her face.

She grinned then, a wider smile than he was used to seeing on her face.
"Tom, I HAVE to tell you what happened!"

Tom threw a quick look of confusion at the crewman as he began ushering
B'Elanna out of the room. "Do you want to wait until you see the
Captain? You'll just have to tell the whole story again."

"No, I don't care. I could tell it a hundred times! And you don't
have to hold onto my arm like that. I'm fine." She shooed him away
from her with a flap of her hand.

Tom retracted his hand immediately, wondering what the hell had
happened. She was acting soÉ dramatic. "Sorry."

"Oh, it's all right!" she said delightedly. "But just wait till I tell
you about Kelis and the players, and the show we put on together!"

"You put on a play?" Tom said. Was she delirious? Had she been more
seriously injured in the crash than she'd let on? Harry had said that
B'Elanna had been having a real adventureÉ Tom quickened the pace
toward sickbay just a little.

B'Elanna didn't seem to notice; she was too busy talking. "Oh, it was
wonderful. You should have seen the face of Kelis' patron when we
finishedhe loved the show! And when Lanya ran on stage, trying to
unmask me, oooh! We covered it perfectly! If it wasn't for the
chorus, I don't know what we would have done."

They entered the turbolift. "Do you mind starting at the beginning,
B'Elanna?" he asked. "Like, who's 'we?'"

"The players!" she insisted, tossing a lock of tangled hair out of her
face. "The players of the province! They were trying to stop a war,
and they needed my help."

Tom frowned. "B'Elanna, I'm not trying to stifle your enthusiasm, but
have you thought of what the captain might say? I mean, I may not one
be one to talk, but there is the Prime Directive to worry about."

She shrugged him off as the turbolift halted. "Oh, that's not a
problem. Kelis found me while I was still unconscious and began
listening to the logs then. That's where he got the idea for the first
play. He leads a troupe of players, you know."

"Unconscious? Are you okay?"

"I keep telling you, I'm fine!" She laughed again as they entered

Tom hesitated in the doorway, watching her march happily inside. Mind
control. It had to be mind control.

Harry was sitting on a biobed, wiping grime from his face with a towel
as the Doctor finished looking him over. "There you are," Harry said
to B'Elanna. "Where did you go?"

"I had to help Kelis finish the play!" she said merrily.

Harry shook his head at Tom. "Don't ask me," he said. "We were ready
to leave when a messenger arrived with a note from some poet saying
that he's about to kill B'Elanna. Next thing I know, she tosses me her
phaser and transports away to help out this guy, mumbling something
about 'inspiration.'"

Tom looked carefully at B'Elanna while the Doctor fetched a tricorder.
"Did I hear him right? A crazy poet threatened to kill you and you
dashed off to help him?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "I had to! It was wonderful."

The doors to sickbay opened again, and Captain Janeway and Commander
Chakotay entered. "B'Elanna, Harry," said the captain. "It's good to
have you back."

"We're glad to be here, Captain," Harry said. "Or at least, I am."

Janeway raised an eyebrow at B'Elanna. "Yes, Mr. Kim relayed your
message, Lieutenant. I hope we weren't inconveniencing you?"

"No, of course not!" B'Elanna said quickly. "In fact, your timing was

"Captain," Tom said carefully, "Are you sure we beamed up the right
person? This may look like my girlfriend, but I don't think it's
really B'Elanna."

She smacked him on the arm. "Ow!" he grunted. "Well, she hits just as
hard," he mumbled, rubbing his arm.

"Would you care to give us a report of your adventures?" the captain
asked curiously.

"Well," B'Elanna said, her face more animated than Tom had ever seen
it, "the shuttle crashed in a remote area, just a few kilometers from a
bronze-age settlement. Kind of like, oh, what's that big Earth lake
called, the one stuck between Europe and Africa?"

"The Mediterranean?" guessed Chakotay.

"Right! I was out cold for a while in the Delta Flyer, and a poet
named Kelis found me," she said, pronouncing his name as if he were an
interstellar celebrity. Her hands were even flying through the air to
punctuate each sentence. "At first he had me all tied up, but that was
just a misunderstanding. I mean, after all, some ship comes crashing
out of your sky, you'd probably tie up whoever was on board, too,
wouldn't you? Anyway, he accessed the logs, and while I was still
feverish, he wrote a play and put it on. The first time I talked to
him was when he needed another play to satisfy his patron, who by the
way would be completely useless and disgusting if he didn't pay the
players as well as he did."

Janeway looked at Tom as if to say she held the same suspicions. "This
sounds like a good story, Lieutenant. If a little confusing.

B'Elanna prattled on through the rest of her account, telling of how
she helped the players, and how they created the play to be a message
of peace, and of the last-minute reversal created by Lanya. And how
she, B'Elanna Torres, took the stage herself and saved the day with an
artistic feat worthy of legend.

By the end of her story, her excitement had become infectious, and even
Harry was smiling a little with the energy she exuded.

"I had never pictured you as the performing type, B'Elanna," Chakotay
said, "but it looks like I was wrong."

"Well," B'Elanna said modestly, "it just came naturally."

"I hope you will be willing to surrender the limelight in favor of
engineering once more?" Janeway said. "I'm willing to cross-train the
ship's personnel, but I'm afraid we don't have an onboard theater."

B'Elanna's eyes widened. "Engineering. Oh no! I hope nobody has made
any big changes since we left." Tom knew without asking that she was
thinking of Seven of Nine.

"Joe Carey's been watching things for the last couple weeks," he told
her, glad to finally get a word in. He was baffled by B'Elanna's
monologue; he had seen her excited and happy before, but this was
outrageousnot that he wished to put any kind of damper on her good

The Doctor also interrupted. "Aside from some slight malnutrition, you
are in good health, Lieutenant," he pronounced. "I would like to give
you a little something to get your metabolism back on track as it were,
since your altered diet has thrown your body's expectations a little
off course. I would also suggest a gradual return to your normal
exercise regimen; long-term dieting, inadvertent though it may be,
causes the human body to use muscle fibers rather than body fat for
energy, and your Klingon physiology isn't stopping that." He
administered a quick hypospray. "Check back with me in two days just
to be sure this is working."

"Why don't you get some rest?" the captain suggested. "Come by my
ready room in the morning so you can give me a more formal report,
Lieutenant. Then over breakfast, I'll tell you about my own turn on
the stage."

"You were an actor, Captain?" Harry piped up.

"Of course!" she exclaimed with a little of the same flare B'Elanna had
shown. "You're looking at Queen Titania herself from Midsummer Night's
Dream! Not to mention a few other parts here and there. Lysistrata,
Cyrano de BergeracÉ I did my fair share as a teenager."

"Just the classics?" Chakotay said, clearly surprised.

"They wouldn't let me in the musicals. Couldn't carry a tune to save
my life!" With a smile, the captain clapped her chief engineer gently
on the back. "For now, B'Elanna, take the evening off. I'm sure
you're exhausted. Oh, Tom, can you and Lieutenant Carey start working
on a plan to salvage the Delta Flyer?"

"Already on it."

"Good. We'll set course once we've transported everything we can back
to the ship." With that, she and Commander Chakotay left, satisfied
that their officers were safe again.

Tom turned back to B'Elanna, feeling completely unbalanced. She sat
staring blankly at one wall, obviously caught up in one reverie or
another. "And here I was expecting you to sag into my arms with relief
at the first sight of me," he mused.

She returned to her surroundings at once. "Tom! I'm so sorry. I
missed you so much. It's just that with everything that happened right
before transport, I felt swept away by it all."

"That's good," he said, trying to sound genuine.

She hopped off the biobed and grabbed his elbow. "Wait a minute."


A slow smile spread across her face. "Don't tell meÉ"

"Tell you what?"

"Are you jealous?"

"Jealous? Ha!" Tom barked, leading the way out of sickbay. "Of whom?
A bronze-age poet with a bad sense of interpretation? Are you

"You said it. Not me," she quipped, clearly enjoying this.

Tom then encountered one of those rare moments when he really couldn't
think of anything to say back, probably because she was right. And he
felt ridiculous for it, too. It's not like B'Elanna would ever do
anything like that behind his back, bronze-age or otherwise. Stillit
had been two whole weeksÉ

"Tom?" she said, figuring out his train of thought on her own.
They entered the turbolift. "What?"

"Kelis and I were collaborators. It was a lot of fun. But really, he
wasn't my type. And even if he wereÉ"


"Tom, this is absurd. I missed you, I love you, end of story."

At least she was sounding more like herself again. Tom forced a smile.
"Good. I won't talk about it any more. Do you want to come to my
quarters tonight? You can even use my credits for a meal."

She smiled. "All right," she agreed. "After all, I think I left a
pretty big mess in my quarters. We probably couldn't even find the

"Oh, don't worry about that," Tom said nonchalantly. "I tidied up a

"You did what?"

"Nothing serious! I just picked up all the clothes and tools and
things you had lying around."

"And the bed?"

"I changed the sheets. No big deal." He'd only slept there a couple
times, but he wanted to be a considerate guest. Besides, she probably
would have noticed his scent on her sheets had he not changed them, and
that would have been embarrassing.

"Well, let's go to your quarters anyway." B'Elanna shook her head.
"You know, you really didn't have to do that."

"Hey, I had to do something while you were gone," he said. "I was
going crazy worrying about you. After all, I didn't have any poet to
inspire me and make me fall for" Oops.

"Tom!" she exclaimed. "It was the theater. We were just playing!
What do I have to do to convince you that we were only friends?"

Tom winced. He really hadn't meant to say that. The last thing he
wanted to do was start a fight with B'Elanna the night she got back.
"I'm sorry, B'Elanna. Forget I said anything, okay?"

They reached his quarters, and she stopped in the doorway. He turned
to look at her, almost afraid of what she would say. But she had a
small smile on her face instead.

"Tom, do you know one of the first questions that Kelis asked me?"


"He wanted to know if I was 'in love with Tom Paris.'"

Tom blinked. "How did he know my name?"

"He knew it because he'd listened to my logs while I was still
unconscious, and he heard me talking about you when I was feverish."
She came forward and grabbed him around the waist. "You're at the
front of my mind, Ensign Paris. Did you know that?"

Tom smiled bashfully. "I'd always hopedÉ"

"So does that satisfy your misgivings?"

He saw an opening and took it. "WelllÉ"

"Well what?"

"I could think of a few other things that might help."

She rolled her eyes. "I'm glad you missed me, Tom. Now let me take a

"Alone or with company?"

Ignoring him, B'Elanna headed into his bathroom, peeling off her
clothes as she walked. Tom listened to her from the other room as she
complained about the trials and tribulations of wearing the same
clothes for two weeks straight. He couldn't figure out how B'Elanna, a
woman who loved nothing more than a warm beach or a comfortable bed and
romantic novelwho even carried a stuffed animal on long away missions
had survived as long as she did with the Maquis. They hadn't exactly
been running a pleasure cruise.

He also couldn't quite figure out how she had managed to get herself
embroiled in what sounded like a bronze-age actors' quarrel. B'Elanna?
In the theater? It seemed like every time he found himself taking her
for granted, something else unexpected would come along and interrupt
his complacency. Not that he was complaining; it kept things
interesting. And you never knewshe might actually be pretty good.

One thing was for certain: B'Elanna Torres knew how to enjoy her sonic
showers. He could hear her sighing with pleasure from the other room.
Practically moaning. Tom's ears got a little red from listening to

It was good to have her back.

There was one other thing to clear up, though. "B'Elanna?" he called
into the bathroom.


"I'm really happy that you had such a wonderful time performing on the


"That's the last time I ever let you borrow the Delta Flyer."


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