FORMERLY KNOWN AS It‘s All In The Hormones

B‘Elanna rubbed her low back. It was aching so bad. She hated being on her period. It had never been this bad before. She knew her control had slipped several times during her shift. Her engineering staff had tried very careful not to irritate her today, sensing she was unusually tense. She was annoyed with herself for letting the hormonal mood swings affect her so badly. She felt she should have had better control of herself today. She had finally finished briefing the Beta shift on their duty assignments. Now, all she wanted to do was return to the peace and quiet of her quarters and soak in a tub of hot water. That would certainly ease her backache, not to mention the cramps that had been plaguing her all day. She entered the turbolift with a sigh. She just couldn‘t understand why she felt so crappy. It had never been this bad before. She leaned wearily against the wall as the lift surged upward to her deck. She concentrated on attempting to calm herself, she was not going to let her hormones control her reactions. She was not going to let her period rule her body. She would overcome it.

When she got to her quarters, she didn‘t bother to engage the privacy lock. The only person who ever entered her quarters unannounced was Tom, and he was on duty in sickbay with Doc. Sighing, she dimmed the lights to one-quarter and filled her tub with hot water. She had been soaking in a steamy hot tub for about 20 minutes when her door chime sounded. Frowning, she decided to ignore it. Tom was on duty in sickbay, and she did not want to see anyone anyway. She still felt miserable, and the thought of visitors was unappealing. The chime continued to be sounded a few more times, then the door slid open. Surprised that someone had the audacity to enter her quarters uninvited, she leaped out of the tub in shock and fury, grabbed a towel, and stomped to the bathroom door.

"B‘Elanna," called Tom as he gazed about her dimly lit quarters. "I know you‘re here. Guess what? Doc let me off early. I scored really high on my tests, so he gave me a break from my studies. He said we deserved to have a little time to ourselves." He grinned as he searched the room for her. He had ideas on how to spend this unexpected free time. He loved B‘Elanna so much. It had been a hectic week, and they‘d hardly seen each other. He planned to spend some "quality time" with her.

"Tom," shouted B‘Elanna angrily. "What are you doing here?" He turned toward the bathroom door. She stood in the doorway of the bathroom wrapped in a fluffy towel, dripping wet, her skin all rosy from the warm bath water. Tom felt a wave of hot desire wash over him as he gazed upon her lovely form. She is so beautiful. he thought. Maybe I‘ll just join her in the tub. Then, we could..... "Tom, I asked you a question." snapped B‘Elanna impatiently her dark eyes flaring with anger.

"You don‘t usually expect me to get permission to enter your quarters, Bella. What‘s wrong? Did you have a bad day in engineering?" asked Tom gently, seeing the the fire in her eyes. Flames of anger, not passion flared in her eyes.

With a grimace, she touched her stomach. "No, it wasn‘t a bad day, it was a terrible day. I feel like crap, and I don‘t want to be bothered by anyone. I want to be left alone." snapped B‘Elanna irritably. She grimaced again this time touching her low back. This intense confrontation with Tom was making the pain worse. All she wanted was to retreat to the soothing warm water in her tub. She felt her control slipping, and struggled to maintain her composure. She was determined not to lose it again. If only Tom would leave her alone.

"I know just what you need." Tom said softly. "A long massage will make you feel much better." He flashed her his most charming, endearing smile.

Normally, she loved that smile. Today however due to her tension and moodiness, she found it highly annoying. "No! That‘s not what I need. I need to be left alone so I can get back in the tub and soak! That‘s what I was doing before you came barging in and interrupted me." she snapped, her body tensing like a panther ready to spring.

"B‘Elanna, what‘s wrong with you? You‘re cross as a targ with a thorn in his rear. I finally get some time off this week. I come here to spend that time with you, and you jump all over me. Earlier this week, you were complaining because we weren‘t getting any time to spend together. Now that we both have some free time, you don‘t even want me here." snapped Tom in an annoyed tone.

"I already told you hotshot, I feel like crap. Now get your butt out of here and leave me alone." she ordered. She advanced a few steps toward him with her fists clenched. She was shaking with pent up anger.

Tom‘s patience had finally reached its limits. "All right! Fine! I‘ll leave you alone! I finally get a chance to spend some time with you, and you kick me out. You don‘t want to spend time with me tonight, that‘s fine with me too!" snapped Tom angrily. He whirled around, missing the tears had begun to well up in her soft brown eyes. Fury and sorrow battle within her. As the door closed behind him, she grabbed a vase and hurled it toward the door. It crashed loudly, shattering into tiny pieces.

Afterward, she slowly walked back to the bathroom trembling with pent up emotions as yet another hormonal mood swing hit her. Her mood shifted from fury to shock and sorrow. What had she done? Tom, the love of her life, had come to spend time with her, time that had been sorely missed due to hectic work schedules, and she had screamed at him and had kicked him out of her quarters. Dropping the damp towel, she sank back into the steaming hot tub of water. How had things gotten so out of hand. Her damn hormones were making her so impossible to get along with. No wonder Tom, who was usually so easy going, had gotten so mad. They had had some pretty intense fights before, but this was the worst they had ever had. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Suppose he couldn‘t or wouldn‘t forgive her this time? How could she survive the next 60 or so years with him hating her. She loved him so much.

In his quarters, Tom put his fiery anger to good use cleaning. He had been so excited to be free of sickbay this evening. Finally, he had some time to spend with B‘Elanna, the love of his life. There hadn‘t been many chances to do that over the past week. Just a few days ago, she‘d lamented that they had no time for each other because their respective workloads had been much heavier than usual. Women were so damn confusing sometimes. What on earth had gotten into her. She had acted so irritated and irrational. Then, it struck him. She had also appeared to be experiencing pain in her pelvic region. He knew now exactly what was wrong with B‘Elanna. His lessons of the past two weeks came back full force, along with bitter childhood memories. His mother and sisters often went through wild mood swings during their periods. They were also nearly impossible to live with during that time. He was now positive that was why B‘Elanna was so moody tonight. He remembered how his mother and sisters had suffered during their periods. He also remembered how callously his father had treated their distress, yelling at them for something they couldn‘t help. Tears sprang up in his eyes as he recalled how he always vowed he would NEVER be like his father. He had always been kind and considerate of his mother and sisters during that time, hating his father for the way he had treated them. Guilt overwhelmed him as thought of manner he had just treated B‘Elanna. It was almost the exact same way his father had treated his sisters and his mother. He decided to apologize to B‘Elanna immediately, no matter how angry she was with him. If she knocked him into the wall, he deserved it for acting like such a pig. He loved her too much to let her bear this alone. He would not treat her as his father had treated his mother and sisters. With his mind firmly made up, he left to go to her.

He quietly let himself into her quarters. She was sitting on the couch. As he walked over to the couch, she looked up at him with tired, red swollen eyes. Before she could say anything, he quickly sat by her and took her hands in his. "B‘Elanna, I‘m sorry I acted like a pig. It took a while, but I finally figured out what was wrong." He tightened his grip on her hands in a comforting fashion. "You‘re on your period aren‘t you." His tone was soft, compassionate, and very matter of fact.

She nodded slowly. "I‘ve tried all day to stay in control. It‘s just so hard. You must think I‘m so weak." It was clear to Tom that she was embarrassed about all of this.

"It‘s nothing to be ashamed of B‘Elanna. It‘s a normal biological function. It doesn‘t embarrass or bother me. Remember, I grew up with two sisters and a mother. They all had a hard time with their menstrual periods." She saw a bitter expression momentarily flood his eyes. "My father used to be so callous in the way he treated them during that time. I hated the bastard when he treated them that way. A few times, I really wanted to beat the hell out of him. The only thing that stopped me was they needed me, and a fight only would have made matters worse for them. So you see, Bella, you don‘t have to be embarrassed or ashamed, I understand."

She looked into his beautiful blue eyes and saw nothing there now but sincerity and compassion. Suddenly feeling a need to comfort and be comforted, she snuggled into his shoulder nodding her head. He wrapped his arms around her trembling body, drawing her close. "I feel like a real heel. I knew you couldn‘t help it. I love you too much not to help you now. It doesn‘t mean you‘re weak. Helping each other is part of what having a relationship is all about."

She smiled weakly at him. " I know, old habits are just so hard to break. Thank you for understanding, Tom......" Suddenly she wanted his comfort. "Stay and hold me tonight, Tom, please." Her voice trembled ever so slightly. He tightened his hold on her. "I‘ll stay here with you, love." he whispered softly. "I‘m going to replicate you an herb tea that will make you feel better. It‘s one of the things I‘ve studied with the Doc in the past two weeks." She nodded against his chest. After hugging her tightly to reassure her, he walked over to her replicator unit and ordered up the special blend of herb tea, charging it to his account.

He walked back over to the couch and handed her the cup as he sat down beside her. "This should help ease your cramps and the tension you‘ve been feeling." he whispered softly, slipping his arm around her. She took the cup and sipped cautiously. Herbal cures sometimes tasted worse than the Leola Root Neelix was so fond of preparing. Upon tasting it, a surprised smile flickered across her face. "Mmmm, this is good." she sighed as she snuggled against Tom. "Sip it slowly, but drink all of it, Bella." encouraged Tom gently. He was so happy to see her calming down. It had really hurt him to see her so stricken by the hormonal problems.

They sat in silence as she sipped the tea. He could tell that she was getting sleepy. His medical studies with the Doc were really paying off tonight. Just a few weeks ago, he had began to study herbal medicines for women‘s hormonal problems. Tonight,it was that series of tests that he had passed with flying colors. It had been those studies that introduced him to this herbal tea he had replicated for B‘Elanna. He was so happy he was able to use this knowledge to help the woman he loved more than life itself.

He noticed her cup was empty. He took it from her and sat it on the low table in front of the couch. Gently stroking her cheek he asked, "Feeling a little better now, Bella?" She nodded against his chest. "Yes, Tom. Thank you." Her voice was drowsy, and her eyelids seemed to be too heavy for her to hold open. "You‘re sleepy, love. Why don‘t you go lay down and see if you can fall asleep?" Tom kept his voice soft, gentle, and soothing. He did not want to upset her, now that she was relaxed and calm.

She nodded sleepily. "Stay with me, Tom. I....I...."

"Shhh, I‘ll stay." he whispered ever so softly. He lifted her in his strong, capable arms and carried her to her bed. First, he got her settled, then, he quickly stripped down to his tee shirt and briefs and climbed in beside her. She cuddled against him as he pulled her into his arm. "Lights out." he ordered quietly. Only when her breathing told him she was asleep, did he allow himself to go to sleep.

Early the next morning, Tom woke when B‘Elanna began to stir restlessly in his arms. He gently stroked her back trying to soothe her back to sleep, only for her to awaken and push him back. Seeing her face contort, and realizing her painful cramps had returned, he responded quickly. "Let me get you some more herbal tea." he murmured softly. She nodded, heading for the bathroom on unsteady legs. In the time they had been together, he had never seen her have this much trouble with her period. As he waited for her to return, he contacted the Doctor and informed him of the situation. The Doctor agreed with the herbal tea as a treatment, and instructed Tom to add a supplement that would also help. Doc told him that the recent stresses they‘d been under were probably causing the increased levels of discomfort B‘Elanna was experiencing. He also relieved both she and Tom of duty for the day, realizing that B‘Elanna would greatly benefit from the rest, and that Tom could care for her easily in her quarters, since visiting sickbay was likely to stress her even more.

B‘Elanna crept slowly out of the bathroom and back to her bed where Tom sat holding a cup. Sitting the cup down, he helped her back into her bed. At first she stiffened at his attempt to help, but seeing the firm, but gentle expression on his face, she realized it was only because he cared and wanted to help. "Here," he said gently as he handed her the cup. "Sip it slowly just like you did last night." She took the cup in her trembling hands. It felt warm and comforting. The aroma wafted enticingly into her nose. "Thank you, Tom." she whispered softly. He nodded. "I talked to Doc, and he‘s put us both off duty for the day. He felt it would be easier on you if I treated you here in your quarters since you dislike sickbay so much.

"Off duty? I‘ve got too much work to do." protested B‘Elanna as she sipped her tea. "I wish I knew why I feel so crappy. My period usually doesn‘t affect me this badly."

"Doc said it was probably from all the stress you‘ve been under these past few weeks. Stress can have a very detrimental effect on hormone balances. That‘s part of what I‘ve been studying with the Doc for the past two weeks. Joe can handle the work load for today. I‘ve already contacted him. I know you feel responsible for the safety of the ship, but you‘re also responsible for your own well being too."

"I know," she sighed. "I just feel like I‘m letting everyone down.

It‘s hard...to admit..to weakness." she confessed looking down.

Tom lifted her face to meet his eyes. "It takes a strong person to admit that they need help too, Bella."

She smiled weakly at him. Seeing that she had drained her cup, he took it and asked her, "Do you feel up to eating some breakfast?" She nodded wearily. "I‘m hungry, but I just don‘t have the energy to walk to the mess hall." Tom smiled brightly. "No problem, I won a lot of replicator rations from Baytart in some rounds of pool, so I have plenty of extras. Name it and it‘s yours."

B‘Elanna smiled. "Some raktajino, and toast would be nice."

"Coming right up." He doubled the order and brought the tray of food over to the bed. "Here‘s our breakfast, love." he said, brushing a soft kiss on her forehead.

He walked over to the replicator and ordered up breakfast for both of them. As the replicator did its job, Tom gazed affectionately over at B‘Elanna, who was sitting up on her bed. Their breakfast tray materialized, and Tom took it over to the bed with a loving smile. "Here you are, toast and a steaming mug of raktajino. He carefully place the specially replicated bed tray on her lap.

"Thank you, Tom." said B‘Elanna softly. They began to eat their breakfast in silence. B‘Elanna was not in a talkative mood, and Tom respected that. When they finished he returned the tray of dirty dishes to the slot and pressed the recycle button. They shimmered out of existence. He turned back towards her, unsure how she‘d take his next offer.

"B‘Elanna, a massage with Essential Oil of Lavender may help soothe you some. It is a recommended aroma therapy treatment for relaxation. I can replicate it with my medic code." offered Tom.

She thought of the previous times he‘d given her a massage when her day had been overly stressful. The man had magic hands. They could dissolve tension better than anyone could dream of. "Yes, Tom, I‘d like that. My back does still hurt. Thank you." replied B‘Elanna. It was hard to accept his help, but she also knew it was offered in love. She also knew he was right when he had told her it was a sign to strength to accept help when it was needed.

Tom quickly replicated the massage oil. It was a few degrees warmer than her body temperature. He walked over to the bed with it. "Okay B‘Elanna, if you‘ll take your nightshirt off, and lay on your stomach, I‘ll give you a back rub." She complied and soon Tom‘s strong capable hands were rubbing the soothingly scented oil on her back. She closed her eyes and let his hands work their magic.

After half an hour, Tom noticed she was dozing off. He slowed the motions of his hands gradually and finally stopped when she had fallen asleep. He gently pulled the covers up over her and walked over to her desk, planning to review his lessons from the Doc while she slept. He thought he was right on something he wanted to do for B‘Elanna, but he wanted to make sure. He smiled, he had remember correctly. Next, he quickly checked to find out just how many replicator rations he had. He would be able to do it. Quietly, as not to waken B‘Elanna, he went to the replicator and made a request.

B‘Elanna awoke from her nap feeling refreshed. Her cramps and tension had faded away under Tom‘s tender care. Rolling over, she sat up and stretched. Tom watched her, taking her perfectly formed body. She smiled at him and slid her night shirt back on. "How do you feel, B‘Elanna?" Tom asked as he walked over to the bed.

"Much better, thanks, Tom." she said with a smile. She looked better too. "In fact, I think I‘m even up to going to the mess hall for lunch. How about you, Tom?"

"Sounds like a great idea to me, and when we get back, I have a special surprise for you." His blue eyes twinkled merrily. He couldn‘t wait to give her his surprise.

"From your expression, it must be pretty special." said B‘Elanna in a speculative tone. "Let‘s go see what Neelix made for lunch."

In the mess hall they were pleased to find that Neelix‘s had actually made something edibile by Alpha quadrant standards. Joe Carey was there, and he quickly briefed B‘Elanna assuring her that everything was fine in engineering.

After lunch, they returned to B‘Elanna‘s quarters. As the door shut, she gazed expectantly at Tom, who was glowing with eagerness. "So, helmboy," she asked with anticipation. "What‘s my surprise?"

"Sit on the couch." He instructed her. Then he went over to her desk and picked up a small container. "Close your eyes, B‘Elanna."

She shook her in amusement, but complied with his request, all the while wondering just what Tom was going to do. Listening Carefully, she heard him walk over to stand in front of her. "Open your mouth," he said in an enticing tone. Curious, she complied, and felt him place something inside. "Now go ahead and eat it, but keep your eyes closed." he told.

One bite on the morsel, and she was in rapture. "Ohhh, Tom, Delavian chocolate, mmmmmmmmm." Her eyes opened and saw Tom‘s pleased smile lighting up the entire room. She swallowed the candy, stood up, and embraced Tom. "You must have spent a fortune in rations to replicate these." she murmured as she looked at the dish in Tom‘s hand.

"I know how much you love chocolate." Tom said matter of factly. "And,Chocolate helps your body produce endorphins to enhance your mood."

She hugged him again. "You are so good to me, Tom. Even when I don‘t deserve it."

He gently cupped her face in his hands. "You always deserved to be treated well, B‘Elanna. I know you think you should be able to control yourself all the time, but no one can."

"Let‘s sit on the couch, and we can share the chocolates." said B‘Elanna. "I feel so much better than yesterday, but I think cuddling with you will make me feel even better."

Sometime later, they were still cuddled on the couch. "Tom," whispered B‘Elanna softly. "Hmmm" he inquired. "Thank you for helping me to see that even I need a little tender loving care sometimes, and that it doesn‘t mean I‘m weak when I do."

He tightened his arms around her. "You‘re welcome, love. We all need a little tlc sometimes."

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