Gee, that was fast! Part three and four simultaneously. Can you tell I had some free time this weekend? :)
Well, I‘ve done it. I‘ve resurrected Sandrine‘s! I have and will always prefer it to the beach resort program, especially since Sandrine‘s was the brainchild of none other then Tom Paris himself. So, if you are heavily infatuated the beach resort and cannot stand Sandrine‘s, you have been warned. <grin

Oh, yeah, one more thing. I love all the feedback I‘ve been getting, so thank you all! I‘d wouldn‘t mind!!!
Okay, that‘s enough of my ramblings. On to the story...
Without further ado, I give you:

Love Is Blind: Love At First Sight
by JoAnna Walsvik
part 4/?

"...and then he dumped the entire punch bowl on my head. It took me weeks to get all of the cranberry juice out of my ears!"

B‘Elanna burst into laughter. "Somehow, Paris, I‘m not at all surprised."

"The prom chaperones certainly were. They never thought that shy little Louis Adolph would ever do something like that."
"You shouldn‘t have flirted with his girlfriend."

"Thanks for the advice, Torres. Why didn‘t you tell me that fifteen years ago?"
"Tom Paris, you‘re incorrigible."

"Thank you." A smug look settled over his face at the two of them entered the turbolift.

"Good evening, Ensign Barlow," B‘Elanna said to the other occupant of the turbolift.

Tom vaguely recognized the name. Ensign Nelson Barlow, a plain, rather nervous man from Stellar Cartography. Tom had only met him a few times, and he seemed like a decent guy. "Hi, Ensign," he said in the general direction of the passenger.

There was short, uncomfortable pause. "Ah—good evening, Lieutenants." The mumbled reply was painfully polite. "Um—I—er, that is, I—this is my deck. Good-bye." As fast as he could manage, the ensign dashed off the turbolift.
"Computer, what deck is this?" Tom requested quietly.

"Deck 6," the computer‘s monotone voice replied.

"Tom—" B‘Elanna tried to say, but he cut her off.

"What was Ensign Barlow‘s destination?"

"Deck 10."

Tom‘s jaw set into a hard line. He knew all too well why Barlow had gotten off at the wrong deck.
"Tom, he didn‘t mean to be rude."

A frosty silence was the only answer she received.

"It‘s only natural that some people feel uncomfortable around you."
"I don‘t like being treated like a freak," he said harshly.

For a moment, nothing was said. Then—

"I know exactly how you feel," B‘Elanna said softly.

In an instant, Tom felt horrible. Why had he said that? He had only been blind a few months and was lucky enough to live on a ship full of understanding people—well, most of them. B‘Elanna, on the other hand, had probably lived with prejudice and discrimination her entire life. Not that many people liked Klingons, and the fact that she was also half-human probably repulsed some bigoted, biased people in the Alpha Quadrant. No doubt she had experienced it all. And he had to go and whine about how one person--*one person*--had felt uncomfortable around him. Hell, if their situations had been reversed and Barlow had been the one who was blind instead of him, he would have acted the same way.

Besides, it wasn‘t hard to imagine how he must look through the eyes of another. Blue eyes staring sightlessly off into the distance—it was enough to make anyone on edge. He had no right to complain and, in the process, accidentally insult a person he cared about a great deal.
"B‘Elanna, I‘m sorry," he said as they stepped off the holodeck.

"For what?" she asked carelessly, but in a slightly subdued voice.

"For what I said. It was in bad taste."

"Don‘t worry about it, Paris," she said dismissively. Tom recognized her "I-don‘t-want-to-talk-about-it" tone and didn‘t say anything more.
"Uh-oh," he heard her murmur.

"What?" he asked.

"The holodeck‘s already being used. The program running is— Sandrine‘s," B‘Elanna said in surprise. Sandrine‘s had been used less and less frequently since Neelix‘s resort program had gained popularity among the crew.
"Computer, who is in the holodeck?" Tom asked.

"Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, and Ensign Kim," the computer answered.

"Let‘s go in," Tom suggested. "At least we know we‘re not intruding on anything private."

"Sure," B‘Elanna agreed, unobtrusively slipping her arm through Tom‘s to guide him through the holodeck.
<She‘s so nonchalant about helping me, Tom marveled as they entered Sandrine‘s. <She has no idea how much I appreciate it.

Harry, Captain Janeway, and Commander Chakotay were sitting at a small table in the center of Sandrine‘s, laughing heartily. When they saw their visitors, the laughter ceased, but surprised expressions and delighted smiles lit up their faces as Tom and B‘Elanna approached the table.

Janeway noted with pleasure the protective hold B‘Elanna had over Tom, and the way Tom seemed to be enjoying it. <Could these two actually be heading towards romance? she thought hopefully. <They were in the holodeck together for quite an amount of time yesterday...
"Hi, Tom. Hi, B‘Elanna," Harry greeted them lightly.

"Mind if we join the party?" Tom asked cheerfully.

"Go right ahead," the captain said warmly, watching as B‘Elanna quietly guided Tom to a chair and sat down herself. "We were just doing some reminiscing. Chakotay was telling us about his first date."

"I‘ve heard that story before," B‘Elanna grinned, winking at the commander.
"I haven‘t. What happened?" Tom asked interestedly.

"As I was saying," Chakotay said, smiling at B‘Elanna, "I was thirteen and I asked a girl named Narra to go hiking with me. She was the cutest girl in my class—long blond hair, big blue eyes, that sort of thing.

She also had a beautiful voice—she was going to sing a solo in our school concert the next day, in fact. Well, the first mile or so of our hike went all right, but then, disaster struck." Chakotay paused dramatically. "It started to rain—and I mean rain. By the time we got back home, we were both drenched to the bone. The next day she woke up with an absolutely horrible cold—she could barely talk, let alone sing—and she blamed me. Needless to say, we didn‘t go out again."

Sympathetic chuckles came from around the table. "If you think that‘s bad, Commander," Harry Kim told him, "wait until you hear the story of how I met my girlfriend, Libby."
"This should be good," Tom joked, leaning back in his chair.

"It all started at the Kterian Music Festival," Harry continued.
"I came late and sat down in what I thought was an empty chair. But a few minutes later, this stunningly beautiful young woman—long, curly brown hair, big brown eyes, and a smile that would make a Ferengi turn honest— walks up to me and says, ‚Excuse me, but I think you‘ve got my chair.‘ I can‘t remember what I said—I think I stammered an apology—but I got out of there as fast as I could. The next day, I found out her name and where she lived from a friend of mine who had been sitting next to her. Her name was Libby Andrews, and she lived just a few blocks away from me. It took me three weeks, but I finally worked up the courage to ask her out. I had meant to call over to her house, but the next day I met her at a coffee shop called Cosmo‘s. I figured it was my chance, so I walked up to her, gathered up all my courage, and said, ‚May I drink you a buy?‘"

Laughter rang out from his friends. "Oh, Harry, you didn‘t," Janeway giggled.
"I did," Harry said ruefully. "I tell you, I was so embarrassed I wished I could crawl into a hole and never come out. But Libby just started laughing and then she said, ‚That is the most sincere pick-up line I have ever heard. And yes, I‘d be delighted if you could get me a Vulcan mocha, extra sweet.‘ So, I got it for her, and we started talking, and I eventually managed to ask her out again—and this time I didn‘t screw it up.

She accepted, and the rest—" Harry shrugged his shoulders, "—is history."

"‘May I drink you a buy.‘ Harry, that is priceless," Chakotay said, shaking his head in amusement. "But, you have to admit, it worked."

"A smile that could turn a Ferengi honest," Tom mused. "She sounds like a gem, Harry."
"She is," the ensign agreed wistfully. "I really miss her."

"I promise you‘ll see her again," Janeway vowed softly.

"You know, I remember when I first saw the girl of my dreams,"
Tom said, tactfully changing the subject. "She was with my best friend at the time."

"Your best friend? Were they dating?" Janeway asked sympathetically.

"No. They were on a—an away mission together, and they became trapped on a planet by a group of aliens," Tom said vaguely. "I was part of the team that went down to rescue them. Well, we eventually succeeded, but not before getting caught in a nasty rockslide. I remember that—" a slow grin spread across his face, "—that she looked absolutely horrible. She was covered with dirt and grime, her clothes were filthy, and she looked like she had been trampled by a herd of elephants. She had been slightly injured and was a bit weak, so I had to support her weight as we got out of danger. Her arm was around mine, and she was leaning against me, and all I could think was that it was love at first sight. Of course, as the months went on, I tried to deny it—I pursued other girls, I tried to tell myself that it was just a harmless infatuation, but I knew it was different then that."

"Did you ever go out with her?" Janeway asked, completely spellbound by his story.

"Eventually, yes, we did go out. Nothing became of it—at least, not yet. But, maybe someday..."

"Someday," Harry echoed, smiling at his friend. "Well, sorry to dash, but I have an early shift tomorrow."

"So do we," Janeway added with a glance at Chakotay, who nodded in confirmation. "We‘d better get going."

"We might as well leave, too," B‘Elanna said. "Computer, end program."

The black-and-yellow holodeck grid replaced the lively French tavern, and the five friends took their leave of each other, bidding cheerful good-nights.

It was later, when B‘Elanna had escorted Tom back to his quarters, that she asked curiously, "Tom, you know that girl in your story?"
"Yes?" he asked, pausing outside the doorway to his quarters.

"What was her name?"

"Her name?" Tom paused slightly, an odd smile tugging at the
corners of his mouth. "I‘ll tell you a bit more then that. The planet was the Ocampan homeworld, my best friend was Harry, and the girl...was you."
B‘Elanna was dumbstruck. "Me?"

"Yes, you." Tom reached down and gently caressed her cheek with his hand. "Good-night, B‘Elanna." He disappeared into his quarters.

B‘Elanna stood staring at the closed doors, her jaw dropped in amazement. The girl in that absolutely beautiful and touching story was...her? No one had ever said such sweet things about her...and she had certainly never expected Tom Paris to be the one to say them. What was it he had said...when he saw the girl, it was love at first sight?
"Love," she murmured out loud. "He said love at first sight."

B‘Elanna‘s mind was whirling with astonishment and stupefaction when she turned to go to he quarters. As she walked numbly through the corridors, a dazed expression on her face, she could only think one thing:
He said love at first sight.
It was going to be a long night.

Go to Part Five: Love Is Blind: An Eye For An Eye

Legal crapola: Paramount ------ god. Star Trek: Voyager ------ owned by Paramount.
Copyright 1997 by JoAnna Walsvik; all rights reserved and most of the lefts, too.
Archive, distribute, etc.; but keep my name and the disclaimer attached.