Okay, I lied. There are going to be nine parts, not eight. And this is the last one. <sob I‘m gonna miss this series! :+( Thank you all for the wonderful feedback! I really, really, really, really appreciate it! And thank you to Serena, for posting for me, and to Jessica, Lauren, Claire, Erin, and Kirsten for hanging in there while I tortured them mercilessly by leaving them hanging! And, I feel that I must explain something. Back in part 5, I said that B‘Elanna and Tom were dating. That means they were dating. They weren‘t boyfriend/girlfriend yet, they were just dating. Okay, does everyone understand that they were just dating? <grin And, if everyone under 17 will forgive me for being indelicate, no, they hadn‘t gone to bed together in part 5. (Or 6, 7, and 8, for that matter) So, here you are. I hope you enjoyed all nine parts of "Love Is Blind"!

Love Is Blind: Seeing Is Believing
by JoAnna Walsvik
part 9/9

"Tom Paris, if you ever do that to me again," B‘Elanna Torres said, shaking her head at him, "I‘ll—"

"I know," Tom said cheerfully. "You‘ll stuff me in a photon tube and shove me out the nearest airlock."

"That‘s right," she agreed, playfully tossing a pillow at him. Closing her eyes, she rested her head in her hands. "Gods, I‘m so embarrassed. I can‘t believe I actually fainted."

"Hey, it‘s okay," Tom said consolingly, patting her arm. "The doctor said it was because you had been working yourself too hard since that concussion you got when the ship was attacked, plus my surprise, that did it. I can understand that. Besides, the captain gave you a couple of days off duty, so it‘s not a total loss."

B‘Elanna opened her eyes and glared at him. "Yeah, well, the captain didn‘t yell at you because you hadn‘t been taking care of yourself."

"You have to admit, you deserved it, Torres," he pointed out, leaning back against the cushions of her couch. "Besides, the captain was just worried about you. You scared her to death when you passed out like that. Nearly gave her a heart attack."
"Oh, and you didn‘t?" B‘Elanna retorted.

Tom grinned. "You should have seen your face. It was a once- in-a-lifetime expression."
"I suppose it‘s all over the entire ship now."

"B‘Elanna, the entire ship was there. Everyone knows already."

"Don‘t remind me," she said darkly. "I‘m never going to hear the end of it from my staff."

"Oh, cheer up, B‘Elanna. They‘ll only tease you for—oh, the next sixty years or so."
"Can we change the subject, please?"

"Okay. Hey, I‘m going on duty tomorrow."

"Tom Paris!" B‘Elanna stared at him. "Why didn‘t you tell me earlier?"
He shrugged. "It‘s no big deal."

"Yes, it is a big deal," she disagreed. "You haven‘t flown the ship for—what, nine months? And now you‘re going back. Tom, I‘m so happy for you."
"Thanks. I couldn‘t have done it without you, you know. Being blind, I mean."

"Sure you could‘ve," B‘Elanna said dismissively. "I didn‘t do anything."

"Yes, you did," he objected. "You helped me see that I could still contribute even though I was blind. I probably would have done something drastic—like attempt suicide—if you hadn‘t of been there for me."
"You wouldn‘t have, Tom. You‘re stronger then that."

"Yes, I would have. It was the end of the universe for me.
Being blind meant I couldn‘t fly anymore. But you helped me see that there were other things I could do, other ways I could help, that I didn‘t need my eyes for. And you didn‘t just help me while I was blind, you saved my eyes completely. Had you not acted so quickly after that lizard attacked, I would have lost my eyes for good. Don‘t try to deny it, Torres. I asked the doctor."
"You saved me from that falling container," she said quietly.

"But you saved more then my life, B‘Elanna. You saved me," Tom said simply. "I don‘t know how I can ever repay you."

"You already have, Tom," B‘Elanna murmured inaudibly, but Tom heard it just the same.
"Oh, yeah? How?"

B‘Elanna‘s dark brown gaze met his bright blue one.
"Remember that day in the holodeck when I told you about Benjamin?"

"I had never told anyone before because I was afraid that they would say the same thing I did—that it was my fault that he died. But I told you, and you didn‘t say that. You said just the opposite. And, suddenly, all of the guilt I‘d been carrying around with me since Benjamin‘s death was gone."

"When I told you about my dad," Tom said slowly, "I was able to get rid of a lot of anger I had carried around with me. I‘m—I‘m not as mad at my father now. It doesn‘t matter anymore. So I guess you helped me in more ways then one."


"Don‘t say anything, B‘Elanna. For once, just accept some honest thanks, okay? Don‘t be modest, don‘t try to deny it. Just accept it. Please."

B‘Elanna looked down at the floor, conflicting emotions playing across her face. Tom reached over and slid his index finger under her chin, forcing her to look up at him. When she did, he leaned over and kissed her.

The kiss was warm and tender and full of promise. When their lips finally broke free, B‘Elanna was staring at Tom in something that could only be described as utter shock. "I‘ve—no one‘s ever kissed me quite like that before."

"No one‘s ever loved you enough to kiss you like that before," Tom told her, pulling her close and kissing her again.

Inexplicably, B‘Elanna pulled back, her eyes fervently searching his. "Loved?" she asked tremulously.

"Of course," Tom said simply. "I love you, B‘Elanna. How could you ever doubt that?"

"It‘s not that, it‘s just—" B‘Elanna‘s eyes had filled up with tears.

"No one has ever said that to me before."

"No one has ever told you that they loved you?" Tom said incredulously. "Not even your mom? Or your dad?"

B‘Elanna shook her head. "Klingons never show any expression of affection, and my father—if he did say it, I can‘t remember it."

"Well, that‘s going to change right now," Tom said firmly. He wrapped his arms around her waist and looked her straight in the eye. "I love your hair, your lips, your forehead, and your eyes. I love the part of you that‘s kind, caring, and compassionate. I love the way you scream and throw things when you lose that Klingon temper of yours. I love the way you scream at me when I act like a jerk. I love the way you call me a pig. To sum it all up, B‘Elanna Torres, I love you. And I will love you forever." He planted his mouth on hers and kissed her with all the love he had in him. And this time, B‘Elanna didn‘t pull back.


Tom awoke early the next morning to find B‘Elanna snuggled in his arms, looking more peaceful then he had ever seen her look before. She looks so innocent when she‘s asleep, Tom marveled silently, gazing down at her. Innocent and pure and—and vulnerable, even. He smiled at the protective feelings she was stirring up in him even while she was sleeping.

His life had irrevocably changed now—for the better, of course. Not only was he finally able to do what he loved best, flying—no, that was right. Piloting had just become his second love. He had thought that nothing would ever change his love of flying, but something had. B‘Elanna had. She had unconsciously taken that special place in his heart. He didn‘t know when it happened—just exactly when B‘Elanna had become his first love, and not his second—but it had happened. He could do what he had previously thought was impossible—live without flying.

As long as he had B‘Elanna, of course. He couldn‘t live without her, that much was certain. That‘s why he had been so terror-filled when he had heard that container begin to fall. He had instinctively known that he had to save her, or his life would be over along with hers..

And now he was able to fly again—just the thought of sitting at his old station on the bridge and letting his fingers run over the smoothly familiar console was so exiting he shivered in anticipation.

He gently eased himself out of B‘Elanna‘s arms. As much as he hated to leave her, the chronometer read 0610. He had promised the captain he‘d be on the bridge by 0630, and it wouldn‘t look good for him to be late on his first day on the job after nine whole months. B‘Elanna didn‘t even stir as he quietly dressed and ran a comb through his blond hair. Poor thing, he thought with a sympathetic pang.

*She must still be exhausted. She‘d been working herself so hard—I‘m glad the captain gave her a couple of days off.*

He slipped out the door, first making sure there was no one in the corridor. He didn‘t care about gossip, but he knew that B‘Elanna did, and if someone saw the pilot sneaking out of the chief engineer‘s quarters at six in the morning the gossip mill would go into a frenzy. Even though the crew already saw them as a couple, there were a few people on board who would spread a dirty rumor just to be mean.

"Tom!" Harry Kim called, jogging to catch up with the pilot in the corridor. "Welcome back, buddy."

The two friends stepped into the turbolift. "Bridge," Harry said.

"Thanks, Harry," Tom smiled, referring to the ensign‘s earlier comment. "I hope the bridge hasn‘t changed much?"

"Nah," Harry assured him. "We‘ve kept it waiting for you. Say, what‘re you doing on this deck? Your quarters are on deck 8, aren‘t they?"

Tom decided to tell him. Harry was B‘Elanna‘s best friend as well, and it wouldn‘t be long before everyone found out anyway. Besides, Harry wasn‘t the sort to spread vicious gossip. "I, um, just came from B‘Elanna‘s quarters."

Harry stared at him for a second, then slowly his face broke out into a grin. "B‘Elanna‘s quarters?"

Harry raised his eyebrows at the pilot‘s dreamy tone.
"Congratulations. You know, it‘s about time you two got together."

"Thanks, Harry," Tom said, rolling his eyes. The turbolift stopped and it‘s doors swished open. Harry entered the bridge first and then, slowly, Tom stepped out.

A wide, blissful smile spread across his face as he gazed around. The bridge crew was standing up in silent acknowledgment, with Captain Janeway wearing a grin as big as his own. "Welcome back, Mr. Paris," she said warmly.

"Thank you, Captain," he responded, savoring every step as he approached his station. "Permission to return to duty?"
"Permission granted."

Although that little ritual had been unnecessary, he had wanted
to go through it simply to recognize the face that he had finally returned to active duty. The captain had agreed with him.

Then, finally, for the first time in a long while, Tom slid into his chair at the helm. He slid his hands over the keypads on the console, savoring their familiar feeling once again. Gods, it had been way too long.

"Set a course for the Alpha Quadrant, Lieutenant Paris," Janeway announced. "Warp 6."

Tom punched in the coordinates, pleased to find that it still came naturally to him. It was like he had never been gone. "Course laid in, Captain."
"Then, Mr. Paris," Janeway said grandly, "engage."

"You wanted to see me, Captain?" Tom asked later that day, breezing into her ready room.

"Yes, Tom," Janeway smiled, standing from her chair behind her desk. She extended her hand out to him. "First off, I‘d just like to say congratulations. Your first day back on the job went excellently."

"Thanks, Captain," Tom said proudly, shaking the proffered hand.

"Secondly," the captain continued, sitting back down as Tom did the same, "I‘d like to ask you a question—off the record, of course."
"Anything," Tom said, wondering what she was talking about.

Janeway‘s eyes glittered mischievously. "I know this is none of my business, and you have every right to tell me so, but is it true you spent the night in B‘Elanna‘s quarters?"

Tom‘s mouth dropped open in utter shock. "How did you find out about that?" he demanded.

"Good news travels fast," Janeway responded. "It‘s all over the ship, from what I heard. I didn‘t want to say anything about it until I was sure it was true."

"Who did you hear it from?" Tom asked, afraid that B‘Elanna was going to skin him alive. He had told one person, only *one person*, and now it was all over the ship.

"I heard it from Chakotay," Janeway answered cheerily. "He went down to see B‘Elanna today—as per my orders, of course, I wanted to make sure she wasn‘t sneaking in any work when she wasn‘t supposed to be—and she mentioned something about it."

Tom relaxed visibly. If B‘Elanna was telling people, then it must be okay.

"Chakotay‘s overjoyed and frankly, I am too," the captain continued. "We were wondering when you two were finally going to get together."

Tom stared at her in stupefaction. "That‘s exactly what Harry told me this morning."

Janeway merely grinned. "I can‘t help but see the irony of the situation. I mean, if you hadn‘t of had that accident, you two might have never gotten together."

A smug look crossed the pilot‘s face. "Well, you know what the say, Captain," he said. "Love is blind."

The End

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.