Veronica Jane Williams



The characters are the property of Paramount; they own them (yawn...!); I just borrowed them to act in my story. They will be returned as soon as as they have achieved that extra dimension. The story dates somewhere between Threshold and mid fourth season. I gave Tom Paris' early womanising days on Voyager a lot of thought and came up with this piece.

I wrote the first part as an independent unit, but my spouse and two eighteen year old daughters berated me, demanding that I redeem Tom immediately. So I followed it up by completing it in parts.

The music I played during the writing of this piece: Mozart: Sonata in C Major - Andante Cantabile; Mozart: Adagio in B-Minor.

The question is always whether a character can take responsibility for his actions, and whether such a person may receive the privelege of pardon.

If you are faint-hearted, simply move on, as this story contains some explicit/erotic scenes between consenting adults. Rating: NC-17

Synopsis: Tom Paris' growing attraction for B'Elanna Torres is met with constant rebuffing; he is falling for her, she is attracted to him, but is scared or does not want to become just another notch on his belt. So she continues to taunt him, particularly regarding his relations with women. He copes with it with less than heroic results.



The door to her quarters closed behind him. Tonight, he decides, I'm going to show her. The small twinge of guilt building up inside him is quickly suppressed, as he sees her coming out of the shower, a thick towel wrapped around her. He feels the anticipation of an enjoyable evening in her company slowly taking hold of him as he looks at her, the towel only slightly slipping over the rise of her breasts. He swallows. She looks at him, her dark brown eyes warm and welcoming and inviting, he thinks, as he stares at her approaching form.

"Hi, you're early."

As she steps closer, he takes in her scent, shower fresh, with a mixture of rose and lavender, it seems to him. Her brown hair hang in wet strands on her shoulders. Altogether, a picture of startling allure. Increasing his resolve to drive her pervasive intrusion on his mind and emotion from his being forever. After tonight, he thinks, I'll be free of her.

"I wanted to make sure that we enjoy maximum quality time," he says with a smirk. He holds a bottle of Terran wine, replicated earlier in his quarters, indicating that they would sometime during the evening probably be drinking a toast, to something as yet undefined. Right now he is more drawn to her closing the gap between them.

"I should probably get into something more comfortable," she says. He smiles at the cliché. She turns, and as she does so, he tugs at the end of the towel, causing it to slip off and revealing her gloriously naked body. A sharp gasp escapes her as she looks at him, the want in her eyes reflecting his own. He stares at her, in blatant appraisal, his eyes moving from her lips, taking in her body, slowly trailing downwards to the cleft between her legs. His open and sensual regard of her leaving no doubt as to his intentions, the bulge against his trousers irrefutable evidence of his arousal. He bends down, taking the corner of the towel. Then he slowly rises, his one hand touching her ankle, then her calf, sliding his palm over her thigh, the thumb only slightly grazing the triangle at her inner thigh, staying there for a second and circling with aching tease, the already swollen labia of her centre. From where he is kneeling, he looks up at her, sees her dead thrown back. He smiles and thinks: I have her at my mercy.

He stands up, and she looks questioningly at him. "Please," her = voice, soft and throaty with desire, "don't stop."

Letting the towel slink to the floor, he stands closer to her, their hips touching. She can feel his erection aganst her stomach. She tries to touch him there, but he holds both hands, lacing his fingers through hers. "What do you want," he asks.

"You. Love me." It is a plea.

He kisses her forehead, his lips warm and sensual, never lifting them from her; her quivering lips slightly open, her breathing becoming shallow. Then his mouth joins hers, moving against her lips, his tongue squeezing between her teeth. He plunges his tongue deeply into her mouth. She responds by opening hers and gasps at the warmth which suffuses her. With dizzying intent he touches her own tongue, moving in little circles around it. Her eyes close at the pleasure, and she realises she is helpless to escape his onslaught on her senses. She feels the warmth reaching her centre, releasing her sweet juices. She is wet and ready for him. His mouth still on her, and cupping her buttocks, he moves, so that she steps backwards, towards her couch, where her trembling knees succumb to the edge of the seat, and he gently presses her down, so that she half reclines. "For God's sake Tom, please, now...!"

"Now don't be so greedy, my sweet," he mumbles against her mouth. "We have time to explore," as he starts trailing kisses, featherlight, down her neck, to the valley between her heaving breasts. Taking hold of both breasts, he starts kneading them, the effect on her exploding with aching want between her legs. She opens her legs involuntarily, as he takes the swollen and erect nipple in his mouth, and sucks hard, while squeezing the other nipple then twisting it betweem his thumb and forefinger.

"Yes...yes..., " she moans softly, as he continues sucking the other nipple, the aureole now a rosy pink. Her hands try to grab at his erection, but he imprisons them with his hand above her head. His other hand trails her lips, allowing her to suck greedily on his forefinger. His sucking of her nipple becomes rhythmical, her legs opening wider, to press against his hardness. She feels herself arching against him, her sleek centre screaming for release. She can feel her core pulsating, the heat searing her sheath. "Please, now..." she begs him. But he is relentless, sucking her breast, then pressing the length of his shaft against her aching centre. Her mewling sounds drive him on, as he continues to rub against her. Inexorably she feels herself reaching the edge as she is overcome by his heat.

Then she screams as she arches one last time, hips and breasts pushing desperately into him, spilling her juices, as release comes to her at last. There is a buzzing in her head as she feels her thudding heart pounding in her ears leaving her dazed.

Letting her sit up, her arms grip the back of the couch. He grips her hips, raises her a little, so that her sex is expose to him. He spreads her legs very wide, then he trails her form with his hands, from her own outstretched arms, along her breasts, down her belly, his thumbs coming to rest against her pubic hair.Pressing her legs even wider, his thumbs opening her inner folds, gently pressing to unsheath her clitoris. It waits there, and quivers, a sharp nub, pink and very erect. He covers her with his mouth, so completely, then sucks her juices, licking, his tongue touching her sphincter, and in an upward movement lapping the length of her vulva. He continues to lick, in long, slow movements, from the bottom to the waiting nub, closing his mouth over it and nipping it with his teeth. She is beyond caring as he moves his tongue over her, caressing her folds, then darting into her. Her breathing is so ragged now, she gives little gasps of pleasure as she feels herself relaxing to let his tongue plunge even deeper, in and out. Then he flicks the throbbing clit, his teeth almost biting it. "Yes... yes..." she sobs as tears start forming at the corners of her eyes. She pants raggedly as she feels the next orgasm approaching. "Oh, God Tom...Please ! now!" she implores, as he rejoices in her squirming body. His mouth covering her, he feels her pulsing against him, convulsively, enjoying the feel of her throbbing vulva in his mouth as she climaxes. Holding her like that he continues sucking her tearing sex, coaxing her again, her hips bucking against his mouth. As he feels her reaching her next orgasm, he releases her.

A victorious, mad gleam in his eyes, leaving her completely deserted, unfulfilled and at his mercy. She pushes her hips unashamedly towards his waiting mouth.

"C'mon, sweetheart, let me see you do it," he commands. He looks into her eyes, challenging her. Spreading her legs wide, he looks at her throbbing vulva, and watches in fascination as she, with frustrating desperation reaches down with her fingers and starts to caress in frantic circular movements her clitoris until she goes screaming over the edge...

"Damn you to hell, Tom Paris, " she pants as she slowly floats down, her face turned away from him in mounting shame, trying to keep the angry tears at bay. But she is too far gone, unable to restrain his complete dominance of her.

Only then does he pick her up, and proceeds towards her bedroom. Placing her face down on the bed, he starts divesting himself of his pants freeing only now his ready and hard penis, a translucent droplet hovering at its tip. Standing behind her, he raises her up on her knees, caressing her back slowly, from her neck down to her raised buttocks, pressing the small of her back down further, so that her buttocks are raised high. Her breasts touching the mattress. Spreading her knees apart, her cente is exposed to his waiting mouth. His hands cover her buttocks, kneading and caressing, then he starts sucking her again, from behind. His tongue tantalising the swollen clit. Grunting, she pushes back into his mouth, wanting him to suck and bite. Helpless,she feels the ignominy he subjects her to, but she has wanted him for a long time. And tonight, tonight, he returned her unsubtle invitation to join him in her quarters.

She feels the climax coming for perhaps the third or fourth time. She has stopped counting. He slides two long and tapering fingers into her, the other hand meshed into her hair, as he bends over her. "Is this the way you want it, sweetheart?" Moving with mounting urgency, as she pushes frantically back into his hands, the friction of his fingers against the walls of her sheath inciting her to push harder into him.

"Yes, oh yes..." she pants.

As he pulls out, he enters three fingers into her waiting centre, and drives, thrusting, until he can feel her slick wetness released again.

As she gasps in release, he drives his fingers one last time hard and deep, then remove them with great speed. She gasps at the sudden freedom. Grabbing her thighs, he holds her legs wide open, over him, his throbbing penis nudging her opening. "Yes... yes... please...oh God ! now! " As he prepares to mount her, he presses the fingers of his one hand, now slick with her juices into her mouth.

"C'mon, baby, lick them clean for me," he commands. As she closes her mouth over his fingers to start sucking he slams into her with such force, she screams with pain and surprise. He is momentarily surprised by the tightness of her sheath, as he fills her with his throbbing sex. He holds his arms along the length of hers, trapping her to the bed.

"Is... it... this... that... you...wanted?" he pants triumphantly, each word punctuated with a heaving thrust as he bucks against her back.

"Tell me to stop, if you can"

"No! no... yes ! Oh please!" she begs as he pounds her without thought, riding her, each plunge lifting her off the bed.

"C'mon baby. Tell me this is what you wanted from me," came his rasping breath against her ear, as he leans forward to thrust harder and faster.

"Yes, yes. Tom. I wanted this, always have," she moans. She is unable to stop the next orgasm, as the inner walls of her vagina widen to accommodate him.

He was fast reaching his own climax, his body sweating, his breathing coming in loud gasps. His face contorts as he bucks wildly into her. "Yes - yes -!" he shouts as his mounting passion begins to block out al rational thought, pushing and pounding as hard as he could. The control he displayed all the time, now slipping, not thinking, his heart pounding against his ribcage, far off hearing her ragged sobs for deliverance as a faint sound buzzing in his ears. With one final thrust he spills his seed into her throbbing and waiting body and screams her name:


He collapses on top of her, her head turned to the side. "Tom," comes the wailing sound softly from her. He looks at her a full five seconds, then, in an agonising whimper of shame,

"Oh, my God, what have I done?" as Jenny Delaney's face swims into focus.




As Tom Paris left the quarters of Jenny Delaney, he slowly traced his steps down the corridor towards the turbolift. His mind was a chaotic accumulation of abject shame and guilt, which, try as he might, he was unable to check. He saw her bleak face again, her hollow eyes - and for a second he stood still and placed his hands over his eyes, trying to shut out the image. But the image bore into his closed lids, as blindingly clear and terrifying as if he had still been there. It was a gesture of disconsolateness, the picture of her body curled into a fetal position, staring eyes as bleak as the moors of England on a misty morning, every inch of her stance screaming at him in accusation. He had known with complete certainty then that any words or action would be inadequate, even profane, if he wished to offer any explanation or apology. So, without a word, his face now contorted with shame and guilt, he left, leaving a quietly sobbing, helpless, sweet and gentle girl.

As he entered the lift, he thought of something Tuvok had said once about humans. He had approached the stoic Vulcan at his usual table in the mess hall, to thank him for saving his life. He remembered saying: "There are some who say you risked my future on the eyewitness identification of a dog." The Vulcan replied with his cold logic that if he had been found guilty, he would not have hesitated to let the rules of that society apply, and let Tom relive the memory of his victim's death.

Tom felt he wanted to pursue the matter, but Tuvok merely said, something which he curiously seem to remember now:

"For Vulcans, if you are guilty, you are guilty. Extenuation is no motivation for the lessening of that guilt. Humans, by nature, it seems, tend to rationalise their guilt and their complicity to the point that the same guilt and complicity lessen and pale. The perpetrator can then safely declare that his actions were justified. In Earth's past, governments declared war, killed millions, then justified it through rationalisation. In the same way, poverty, genocide, the shameful laying waste of entire planets, could be rationalised, so that somehow, one could expiate that guilt, that shameful past, and even feel that your actions were justifed, that it was the right thing to do. Then you would not feel so bad about what you did. In fact, many humans were not averse to apply this kind of rationalisation, since they found it to be a convenient tool of atonement for their deeds. They felt relieved to be free of the burden of guilt."

He, Tom Paris, was no stranger to guilt, he mused as he exited the turbolift on deck four and proceeded towards his quarters. The guilt of his own shameful past had come and rested on his chest like some huge boulder that refused to budge, no matter how hard he tried to remove it. It lay there, everyday a reminder of all the times he had screwed up, been an unworthy son, the death of three collegues never leaving his conscience. How he had tried in the past to find expiation, rationalisation as Tuvok put it, knowing intrinsically that he would never be free of it. It was always there, in his sleeping and waking moments, albeit in his subconscious, the smallest incident or reminder that would awaken a memory... too terrible to entertain. He would try and find refuge in Sandrine's Bar, consume banned Romulan ale and hoped no one would notice. Or he would engage in high risk physical activity on the holodeck with the safety protocols off; climb the North Face of the Eiger, or a ritual combat with a Klingon; just to drive the awful memories from his mind. It never worked, he sighed. So he would keep up the pretense that nothing bothered him; be funny and crack jokes. Inside he was bleeding.

And now this.

Jenny Delaney did not deserve this treatment. He had wanted to punish B'Elanna, to teach her a lesson, to drive her maddening scent and presence, her jibes and constant taunting, her loveliness, her Klingon beauty which had - when did it start? - begun to captivate him, to drive her from his mind forever. He was slow in recognising the signs, but he knew now, without a doubt that he loved B'Elanna Torres like he had never loved any other woman. It crashed on him like a tidal wave, and he was powerless to stop it. In the subsequent months he tried with desperation to hide his feelings from her, and everybody else. But she had sensed how he felt, perhaps not the depths of his feelings for her, but his furtive glances when he thought no one noticed, the way he would suddenly stiffen the moment she entered a room. He was unable then to cloak the flash of desire in his eyes. He cursed himself for this new and alien weakness, giving in to his senses whenever she came near him. It made him vulnerable, and he hated it. She, he knew with disgust, had noticed this subtle change in him, could sense the second he would give in to his want of her, making him sickly open to her taunts. It was then she would pounce on him, and like a vixen would lay to waste his feelings, as yet too fragile to withstand her jibes. She would say things like: "I see you've been to visit, fly-boy"; deliberately emphasizing the word fly, while at the same time appraising his body as if he were naked. He felt naked then, exposed to her scrutiny, unable to look away from the cruel twist of her mouth or the disgust so plainly evident in her eyes. Or she would say something like:"who you're taking for a ride this week, Helm Boy?" Her cruel retorts would smart for days, for he had grown tired of sparring with her, or playing down his play-boy status.

He had not, since he had known for certain his feelings about B'Elanna, wanted to be with any woman on Voyager in the way she spoke of so derogatively. He would hide his hurt by uttering something inane and sardonic: "I thought you might like a ride on the holodeck, then dinner in my quarters. But", he would sigh with exaggeration, "perhaps another time will do." To which she would with monotonous regularity answer that, as friends go, they are fine, as for any romantic interest he might harbour, she would take her chances with someone else. It frustrated him no end, making him jealous as hell of her friendship with Harry, with Bristow, with Chakotay - hell ,with most of Voyager's male crew. Just not with him, Tom Paris. And how he wished he could take her to have fun with him alone on the holodeck, or simply have dinner with him in his or her quarters. No strings attached or ulterior motive. He simply wanted to enjoy looking at her, drink in her scent, her hair, admire her Klingon ridges, her eyes, her pouting lips, and kiss them, so they could open under the insistence of his, flicking his tongue between her teeth and taste her. And taste her. He realised with a sense of despair, that B'Elanna Torres had done what no other woman had done before: ensnared him, tied his heart in knots, and held the threads so tightly, he knew he would never be free of her. He closed his eyes for a moment, feeling his eyes fill with the tears of helpless rage. In her hands, he knew, she held his future, his very peace of mind. And telling her how I feel about her scares the hell out of me. Tom Paris, scared to expose his feelings and make himself vulnerable.

He wondered achingly if there will ever be a time that she will need him the way he needs her. The way she dominates every aspect of his mind. He knows his very soul belongs to her.

And last night, last night she had dealt his manly pride another blow. While half of Stellar Cartography was at Sandrine's and looking on. He had been vain enough to notice that Jenny Delaney was interested in him. He was aware of her appraisal of him, and he wondered idly if she wasn't half in love with him. In fact, he and Harry took turns dating her and her sister, Megan, going for holodeck rides in gondolas. They had great fun then, when his life seemed to be so uncomplicated, free of emotional entanglements. It was when B'Elanna vented her full maidenly ire on him, making him feel small, like a heel who couldn't control his libido, that he took up Jenny's earlier invitation to join him for a drink in her quarters. He had recognised that spark of desire in Jenny's eyes, had wanted to refuse the invitation, thinking only of wanting to be invited to B'Elanna's quarters, that she started at him again. He could never be sure, even now, whether he had seen a look of hurt in B'Elanna's eyes, or whether it was just a flash of anger. He hoped aganst hope that she was jealous or even hurt by his lurid response to Jenny's invitation. It seemed anyway, that he had made a commitment he could not back out of. B'Elanna had walked right up to him, her scent invading his nostrils, he could feel her breath in his neck, her lips almost touching an aching spot there when she whispered: "Happy hunting, fly-boy." He felt her nails, scoring his thigh as she leaned into him, could feel the heat of it right through his trousers...

He had become unreasonably angry then, vowing to empty his mind of her, to drive her out of his system. And he was going to use any means to do so. The holodeck risk- taking games did not seem to work anymore for him. So what the hell - if he was going to drown himself in the arms of another woman to purge himself of B'Elanna Torres, that was exactly what he was going to do.

It turned out to be an exercise in futility. He thought he could use poor Jenny to purge his mind of another. So he used her, his fundamental aim to control her, to be in total dominance over someone he knew, was weaker. He imagined at times it was B'Elanna gasping at his ministrations, unable to participate or fight back. He just knew, in an elemental way, that he had to drive home his complete power over her. He had become almost objective, the way he triumphed over her, making her beg and beg, the way he had imagined B'Elanna would beg.

But he knew the moment he lost control, at the height of his passion, when he screamed B'Elanna's name, while spilling his seed into another, that he would never be free of her. Two points were driven home to him in the seconds that followed: What he had done served only to emphasize his need of B'Elanna, and following from that, the way in which he sought to do it, was indefensible - his conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. In that moment, he felt he had lost - in a big way.

He reached his quarters, but hesitated to enter, knowing his turbulent thoughts, now governed by his guilt, would not leave him once he entered the relative privacy of his cabin. So he stood, hand raised above his head and resting against the bulkhead, his face against his arm, a gesture of quiet capitulation. He heard the silent footfall of someone approaching, and knew without looking up, it was her. He had become so attuned to her, her scent becoming all pervasive, she could all but be in the same room not ten metres away, and he would know. He stiffened. Sighing, he knew what was coming, and right now, he was in no mood to spar with her.

"So, Lieutenant, I hope you had a rousing evening with Ensign Delaney," she said with something akin to a knowing smirk. Only then he turned to look at her. His first response:

"Not now, B'Elanna."

"Didn't you have a good evening?" she continued, ignoring his plea. "Did your legendary sexploits suddenly desert you, or did Ms Delaney kick you out of her quarters. You seem to be home too early for a fly-boy like Tom Paris."

"B'Elanna," came his quick retort, "don't. Right now I don't have the inclination to spar with you. And notch that as a record. Now, will you let it rest?" His knew his eyes were reddened, feeling on the verge of tears. But B'Elanna was rolling now. She sidled deliberately closer to him, seeing his eyes close. "Dammit B'Elanna."

"Now wouldn't you have loved being in my cabin making love to me, instead of some sick puppy too happy to want to be seen with Tom Paris?"

Tom thought of the way Jenny had suffered at his hands, and nearly died of mortification. Instinctively, he knew making love to B'Elanna would be a complete sharing, giving in to the total freedom to possess each other's bodies, a union of mind, heart and soul. It tore at him that B'Elanna could reduce him to the level of someone interested only in satisfying an animal lust. He could feel her breath fanning his cheeks as she stood provocatively against him, letting her tongue graze his chin. In a sudden burst of anger, her grabbed her by the shoulders, and pushed her against the bulkhead, almost knocking her breath away.

"Damn you, B'Elanna, I said stop it." He looked at her with feverish eyes, the shame of what he had done, now burning his very being, yet curiously very aware of her nearness. "You have no idea what happened. No idea at all." For a moment she appeared frightened, then gathered herself, realising she had pushed Tom too far, this time.

"I =85 I'm sorry if I touched a nerve," she said, for once without rancour. She had not failed to see the desperation in his eyes, and thought that for once Tom Paris looked sorry about something he had done, and a hell of a lot ashamed, she added. "Look, if you'll let me go, I'll leave you alone."

He realised by this time that he gripped her shoulders so tightly, it must have hurt. Slowly, keeping his eyes on her all the time, he released her, his hands sliding down her arms. He paused, then said curtly: "Good night, B'Elanna." As she left to go to her own quarters, he whispered: "sleep well. . ."

My God, Tom thought, as he stood under his shower. I almost kissed her there in the corridor. She was so close to me, I only had to reach out, and touch her hair with my lips. He imagined her, trapped against the bulkhead, his arms holding hers, leaning into her and brushing his lips against her ridged brow, her eyes, her cheeks, the rounding of her jaw, the tip of her nose, to rest softly against her lips. He could feel her responding as she parted her lips, her breathing becoming shallow. He would move his lips, tug her lower lip between his teeth gently, their breath mongling, feeling himself drowning in the taste of her. He would slide his tongue insistently along her teeth, then press gently so that she opened her mouth fully to him, inviting him to partake of her sweet scent, suck the nectar she was so willing to give. His tongue would probe deeply, finding more hidden treasures in her mouth. He imagined her, overcome with want, surging against him, pressing her hips to his, to feel his. . .

In horror he woke from this reverie, realising with a sick dread that he was aroused, his sex so erect and hard, he felt its pain. And the cold shower did nothing to relieve him. He remained that way, a long time,willing the cold water to relieve him, looking in fascination at his body's inability to listen to him. Bracing his hands against the wall of the shower, his feet slight apart, he cried in desperation: "B'Elanna, damn you to hell!" But he knew, he knew as he lowered his hand to his waiting and throbbing sex, that B'Elanna had won.


The door closed behind B'Elanna Torres as she entered her cabin. She turned round and beat with both fists against it.

"Damn !" she rasped. "Damn...!"

Angry with herself for lashing out at Tom in that way, she felt it was the last thing she needed, or he for that matter. She behaved like a tart, degrading herself like she had seen so many of the females on Voyager do. I'm not like them, she tried to convince herself.

I'm not like them. I don't throw myself at him. But tonight it was too much. Seeing how Jenny Delaney all but licked him into her quarters, struck a raw nerve. She had wondered for a long time these last months just why she sought to needle him at every opportunity. To see him squirm. And every time I did, she realised with dread, I seem to alienate him further. I don't have too many close friends on Voyager, she mused. And Tom at least, had sliced through those defences, and refused to be intimidated.

She reflected on their easy cameraderie that used to underscore their arguments and sparring in the past. How did this change? she mused. And when? Why? From the deepest recesses of her heart, she had to let the knowledge surface, painfully: when I started to envy the way in which the other women could so easily chat Tom up, be open about their motives; when I started to feel the jealousy well up in me every time he would take one of them on a date. She wished every time it had been her he would date, her he would accompany to her quarters. She experienced a fierce pain in the region of her heart as she wondered what they would be doing, knowing that those women thought an evening with Tom would be rounded off with an amount of intimacy.

She closed her eyes at this, feeling to resign herself to the fact that she could never be as open as others about her feelings. She cursed the Klingon half of her, for knowing that to expose that side of herself would scare others off. She hated it. It was a moot point whether she hated her heritage per se, or scaring others off. Especially where Tom was concerned. Especially him. Hadn't she always felt that he, never averse to cast a dig at her, would jeer? They were sometimes at each other's throats, Harry oftentimes had to act as referee. It made her vulnerable, knowing that if she exposed herself in that way, particularly her proclivity for sexual voraciousness, he would laugh at her. It didn't bear thinking.

As she slipped the silk nightie over her, the flowing folds of it slinking to the shape of her body, and falling over her hips, she thought with agony: Come on, B'Elanna, why don't you just admit it, give in? Slipping under the bedsheet she lay back against the pillow, covering her eyes with her hand. I love him. The admission at last bringing to conclusion the ambivalent feelings she has exprerienced of late - that those feelings had at last crystalised into a single fact- that she loved him. That was what she knew now. Now, she expelled a shuddering breath and let the fact that she loved Tom Paris, at last fill her with a peace she had not known in a long time. It brought the tears, so long kept at bay, now flowing silently dow her cheeks. How she fought against it. His reputation the overiding factor which prohibited her from enjoying the luxury of loving him. And I can never let him know this. Never. He would laugh and sneer. Think that B'Elanna Torres, half Klingon, half human, is incapable of such noble feelings as loving someone so much, your heart could break of it.

How this feeling had stolen upon her, so insidiously insinuated itself upon her very being, she contemplated. She thought of the number of times the two had been together. Once, when they had been captured by the Vidians and she had been split into a separate Klingon and human half. She had experienced such an abnormal distress that they would kill him, when he had tried to defend her and Durst. He had seen her cringe in fear against the wall of the prison cell, had held her hands in his, refusing to let go of her, and spoke so calmly to her, with none of his usual lighthearted humor. She took comfort then. Had been glad that he had seen her at her most vulnerable then and had not jeered. She remembered how patiently he spoke and listened to her, when she felt responsible for the Dreadnought incident, the distress of Chakotay's disappointment in her. He listened, and understood, saying how he envied the fact that she had fitted in so well with the crew. It also shocked her, seeing him lay dying after completing his warp 10 flight. She had half challenged him to do it, knowing that the risks were unknown, and knowing that he thrived on challenges. There were so many occasions when he had just been there, sensing her fear of being vulnerable and gently steered her away from it, without others also sensing it. Understanding her need to protect herself from derision. Yes, he had always been there. And she had stupidly rejected all advances he tried to make in the past, to become a greater friend than mere colleagues trapped on a starship in alien space. Thinking he never meant any of his good natured invitations. She had been scared as hell of being just one of a number of women competing for Tom's condescension. She did not want to be another notch to him. Another possible conquest. She would lash out every time, calling him an arrogant pig. All sorts of negative adjectives, but pig remained the constant whenever she felt the need to protect her feelings from him.

I was not fair to him. She thought of her confrontation with him outside his quarters. He looked so distraught, so distressed about something she did not know about. He looked close to tears, and for a fleeting moment she wondered if anything had gone wrong in Jenny Delaney's quarters. Then, stupid, stupid! She allowed her jealousy to surface, and distressed him even more. When he retaliated, she thought he was going to kiss her. Heaven knows, she gave him enough encouragement to do so. Closing her eyes in sudden shame, she remembered how she rubbed herself against him. And I wanted it. His kisses. So badly, she acknowledged to herself. So badly. It made her so jealous, wondering about him making love to Jenny Delaney and wishing that she had been the willing recipient of his masterful ministrations. He only had to close in on her and kiss her. She realised she would have responded instantly. She felt her body burning at the thought. And imagined him doing to her what he had done earlier in Jenny's room.

She imagined opening her mouth to invite him in, letting his tongue probe deeply into her mouth. She felt her breathing becoming rapid as she thought this. His hands on her breasts, gently caressing her nipples to a searing peak, wishing he would cover it with his mouth, and suckle the way a baby would, taking each nipple in turn. She felt a familiar heat between her legs, the juices beginnig to flow, making her wet. His hands would slide against her burning skin from her breast down to the flat plains of her stomach, and follow it with his lips, burning a path down in searing agony, her sex blossoming into fullness, becoming so swollen and releasing her juices, inciting him to kiss her navel, dipping his tongue into it, then following with his tongue, to where his hand came to rest on her waiting and pulsing sex. She felt her body contract and lift in anticipation to his waiting mouth, opening her legs wider. Letting him see how ready she was for him.

"Oh, yes," he would say, "You are ready for me." With his knee he would nudge her legs open wider, exposed to his open scrutiny. "Yes..."

She had by this time run her fingers over her swollen vulva, relishing the feel of her pubic hair, running her fingers through it, then unsheathing her clit, which by this time was pink and erect, and throbbing with want. She imagined Tom's mouth dipping between her legs. Giving an audible gasp of pleasure, she started rubbing her clit gently, in little tiny circles, two fingers sliding into her moist slit, moving in slow and lazy motions in and out. She felt herself starting to buck against her hand as she thought of Tom's tongue sliding into her opening, darting in and out, rubbing the inner walls of her sheath with the tip of his tongue. But she wanted more, she thought as her own movements became more frantic, a low growl escaping from deep in her throat. I want all of him him in me. "Please Tom, do it. Now! Please!" she would beg him. He would cover the length of her body with his, she would feel his thick, throbbing sex sliding along her entrance and up gainst her stomach, in maddening slowness, until she begged him to make their coupling complete. She probed her fingers deep into her vagina, using her thumb to rub in circular motions the pink nub, as she felt Tom's hard shaft press against her opening, then slowy, oh, so slowly fill her tight sheath, moving deeper into her, until he has filled her so completely, feeling her muscles close possessively and tightly around him, and then slowly he would start moving into her, the feeling so burningly erotic, searing her with passion. She started panting raggedly as she felt him thrusting, pulling out almost completely, then thrusting harder everytime he filled her.

"Yes, Tom. Now! Do it... please! Oh, God... do it now, please!

She felt herself raging out of control, bucking furiously against her own hand, her fingers thrusting deeply into her, before climaxing and crashing over the edge. Her body was drenched in sweat as she came down, realising as she did so, that her need had been so great, she sought to relieve herself of this tension. Slowly her breathing came back to normal, and with it the humiliation.

B'Elanna Torres, for the first time since her father deserted her when she was five eyars old, cried herself to sleep that night.

Jenny Delaney cried herself to sleep that night.

In his quarters Tom Paris found, as on so many occasions, sleep eluding him.




During the weeks following Tom's night of what he privately called, his indiscretion, the undercurrents of enmity between certain members of the Voyager crew became apparent. Moreover, they all, Tom, B'Elanna and Jenny, that is, displayed some outward signs of troubled emotions, sleepless nights, obvious avoidance of one another. A certain furtiveness about being seen in unguarded moments.

Jenny Delaney, who shared most things with her sister Megan, since they were little girls staring up at the skies, trying to count stars, became almost reclusive. She did not want anyone, least of all, Megan, to know how Tom had humiliated her that evening. Most of Stellar Cartography had seen her openly inviting Tom to her quarters. It was not necessary that they know what had happened there. She, after all, least expected Tom's bloodless seduction, the almost clinical way he went about reducing her to a whimpering, begging woman in need of his touches. He was simply bent on control, on dominating her. That much she knew now. Why he did it, was as yet a mystery to her. Or was it?

So she did not confide in Megan, who usually listened to her with the patient regard of an older sister. She clamped up, her message clear: don't ask me now. It might have helped, however, had she thought to speak to someone about her problem, since it could perhaps have placed the incident in perspective. Now, the humiliation and pain inflicted was still too raw, too close to her to see it in a different light. She knew she wanted to steer away from using stronger terms for what Tom had done, for she was after all, a willing participant. Albeit one who at the end could not refuse a single command he had given. Who was like putty...

She kept away from the holodecks these days, particularly Sandrine's where she might run into Tom. She still did not know if she could face him. He had left numerous messages on her vid-com, which she ignored. She had little inclination to respond, to listen to apologies or explanations. She kept to herself, did her work, and went to her quarters. There to spend yet another sleepless night. Pondering over what she now came to term as her moment of weakness when she invited Tom to her quarters. Her thoughts were her constant companions, always letting the events of that night surface at inopportune times. Like when she had been sitting alone at a table in the mess hall and Magnus Rollins stopped by to share some humorous incident. She had such a faraway look in her eyes, she failed to notice how he looked at her with great concern. The concern of a man who would have liked to get to know her better. If it hadn't been for her infatuation with Tom Paris.

If anyone at all sensed that her travails had Tom Paris at it core, it must have been Magnus, who had been at Sandrine's that night and witnessed the interplay between them. But Jenny did not want to be near any person, shying away from contact. So continued going about her work and suffered in silence.

B'Elanna Torres handled her troubles decidedly different. All her anger which she usually attributed to the Klingon part of her nature, surfaced. In sudden bursts of temper at her engineering team. If Ensign Latimer did not prepare her report to her satisfaction, B'Elanna's eyes would bore into her:

"Ensign, a junior in high school could have written this report better." While the hapless ensign would splutter, B'Elanna would add: "Have this ready for me at 1600. Don't worry, you can do it," B'Elanna would say through clenched teeth, as she notices the poor girl's distress at having only forty five minutes to prepare a full report.

On another occasion Crewman Kapp dropped a tricorder. B'Elanna blew her top then. Threatened to have Tuvok restrict him to quarters, as he was a danger to himself and the rest of engineering. The one person not fazed by her bursts of temper, was Joe Carey. He said: "Go ahead, B'Elanna, punch me on the nose. Break my nose in three places, if it will make you feel better." She would glare at him, her nostrils flaring. He would look her straight in the eye as he said that, not budging. Because he knew the longer he stood his man against her, the more time it would give her to cool off.

And it worked, but not before she added: "Someday, Joe Carey, I will break your nose."

She felt herself driven these days. Her work in engineering of such a nature that it kept her from dwelling on Tom Paris. But she knew her behaviour was extraordinary. She had found in both the Starfleet and Maquis members of her department, a fine team, one of which any chief engineer could be proud of. If they thought her temper outbursts, which had been mostly absent in the last years, unusual, they accepted it. She had gained their respect, and they knew if something was troubling her, it had to be something quite important, something of a personal nature, some of them suspected.

Therefore they thought it wise to perform an egg dance around her, careful not to invoke her ire. It can safely be declared that the performance rate in engineering had improved dramatically in these last weeks.

She tried desperately not to dwell too much on Tom. But how could she not? Her feelings for him still so new, it scared her. How could she not think of him when their work required sometimes that they be in the same company? During meetings of senior officers, she felt dead sure that he could see how she feels about him. She was certain her feelings sat upon her like a cloak, there for all to see. She would always be the first to leave the meeting, always claiming to be needed somewhere else. To escape Tom's scrutiny. She would feel her face suffusing with red as she left, certain that Tom was looking and laughing. At all costs, she avoided his gaze, always facing the others if what she had to share was directed at him. She felt her heart thudding so loudly, her ears would buzz. Can they hear it too? That as soon as Tom has to address her, she has to force herself to be calm and look at him. She longed for these meetings to end, so her discomfort could end.

She no longer joined him and Harry for their regular holodeck adventures, something which Harry obviously noticed. She had almost bitten his head off when he pried, the inquisitive fool. Sometimes Tom would walk into engineering, to do work on the navigational systems. She would beat a retreat, keeping conversation strictly along business lines. She spoke to him only when it was really necessary, and then with such fierceness, any retorts cut off.

"B'Elanna." Did she hear a plea in his voice?

"What is it you want, Tom?" looking down, feigning interest in her console.

"B'Elanna, look at me. Please. "

Only then did she look up. She saw the old smirk on his face and cringed. But his voice was friendly enough. He is standing too near me. I can see the dark circles under his eyes. He is tired, she thought, her heart suddenly going out to him. He smells of musk, and his maleness is intoxicatiing. She has difficulty concentrating.

"We'll be on this starship a really long time, B'Elanna. If we're to have at least a reasonably amiable working relationship, we should be talking. Look, I know it's not easy right now. There are some things I must work through. But talk to me at least." He gave a twisted little smile then as he said that. "I never thought I would say this, but I miss our sparring sessions. Anything, as long as you don't avoid me."

He regarded her with serious blue eyes, waiting for her to answer.

"Tom," she suddenly felt shy, her lashes fluttering uncertainly. "I=85 I know I haven't been the best of company lately." Smiling a little derisively, "I haven't been company at all." What would he say if I told him I love him? Her heart gave a sudden lurch at the idea, making her stance again aggressive. Tom sighed, knowing he was getting nowhere. He made to move away, looking suddenly little dejected.

"No ! no, please. Don't go. I'm sorry." She looked at him uncertainly before she continued. "I hope we can remain friends, Tom. Don't be too angry with me. I want to say I'm sorry I baited you like that that night. I'm not sure myself why I did it."

Liar! Liar! she screamed silently. I love you and I was jealous, that's why. I can't bear the sight of you in another woman's arms. It tears me apart.

"Fine. Then hopefully you will look at me when you address me in meetings, or when you just talk to me." With that he turned on his heels and left for the bridge.

Nothing is ever easy, B'Elanna decided as she allowed herself the luxury of watching Tom's retreating figure. There are still too many unresolved issues. I'm not sure if the parameters for friendship between a ship's chief engineer and a very attractive and eligible ship's pilot with whom she is in love can ever be based on the platonic.


If anyone on the Federation Starship Voyager can have her finger directly on the pulse of the goings on among the crew, it is the Captain. In a hundred different ways she gets to sense the things that trouble them, when they get homesick, when they suffer from cabin fever, when they are romantically involved. It is her business to know what goes on around her, she always said to Chakotay, her first officer. I mean to keep my crew happy and satisfied, and ensure that their working conditions are optimal, her words would sing in Chakotay's ears. Now it has come to her notice that certain members of her crew are troubled.

Jenny Delaney, for instance, looks like the walking dead. Her drooping, unhappy look a marked difference from her usual sunny disposition, always the first to try Neelix's awful cooking. Who could program and chart star systems like a wizard. She must remember to have a chat with Jenny before the poor girl expires from dropsy. Something must really be troubling her, Kathryn Janeway decided. I'll get to the bottom of this, she thought.

She was going to ask Chakotay to have a talk with B'Elanna, before the good Captain throws her in the brig the rest of the journey home. She didn't break Carey's nose. But Crewman Kapp bore the brunt of her attack this time. She broke his nose. She always felt that Chakotay could calm her fiery chief engineer; B'Elanna had a great regard for Chakotay, she would listen to him. No doubt, she would listen to the Captain too, but her first officer's calm strength, his protectiveness over B'Elanna, would be best suited to deal with that lady. She knew Chakotay felt a great responsibility towards the young engineer, had fought her cause when, soon after they were whisked into the Delta Quadrant and she had to appoint a chief engineer. Their experiences in the Maquis forged a special bond between them, she looking up to him much as a kind older brother, who could, if required, temper her fierce outbursts.

But it was her helmsman who worried her most. He became quiet, unwilling suddenly to pass his normally quirky wisecracks she came to expect from him and which was so typical of him. He was problably the only officer on Voyager from whom she could tolerate his lack of deference sometimes. He was outwardly smart-mouthed, irreverent, cocky. But it was what she liked about him. Something would be very wrong with him if he acted otherwise. Now he had a haunted look about him. Not only that, he looked like he did in the early days on Voyager, when she suspected he slept on the floor of his cabin, not being accustomed to sleep on the softer beds after his time in prison. She doubted he was sleeping on his floor now, but he was definitely having sleepless nights. Though he was no slouch when it came to work, or doing extra shifts, he was taking almost no free time now. Sometimes putting in twenty out of twenty four hours. At times he would work for thirty six hours straight. And it was taking its toll on him. His eyes were sunken. He was tired, that she could see. Before it was going to have a very real effect on his piloting, she would have to pull him off duty. He seemed a deeply troubled man.

She had always felt a special affinity for Tom Paris. He had, more than any other crew member, redeemed himself, become a respected officer. More than anyone she knew, he had changed the most, from a cocky smart-mouth rebel to one of her most responsible officers, always dependable in a crunch. She knew instinctively when she sought him out at the penal colony in New Zealand that he had potential, saw the hunger there, too, to be of service again. To be needed. And it seemed to her now that what Tom needed was some counseling.

The door of the ready room closed behind Tom Paris. "You wanted to see me, Captain?"

"Tom," the captain said after she beckoned him to sit, "you look like hell." She had been studying the duty roster, and now she looked at him again. "The past month you have put in so many hours, your off duty and sleeping hours are negligible. I'm afraid I'll have to take you off duty for the next forty eight hours. I need an alert pilot to steer us through rough patches, and the way you look right now, that may not happen."

Janeway enjoyed the shock that registered on Tom's face, as if she suggested something ludicrous. He blanched when she talked of his effiency or lack thereof, knowing that he would never want to let his Captain down. It hurt him that she thought that about him, that he could be failing in his duty.

"Er... captain, please. Don't take me off duty now. I have to work. I have to." He looked away, not wanting to see sympathy in her eyes.

"Tom," she countered, "I can see something serious must be bothering you. I have never seen you like this." Her kindly, almost motherly regard was his undoing. He covered his eyes with his hands, suddenly defeated.

"Captain," Tom began, "I did something about a month ago. To a girl. I'm not proud of what happened Captain. I - I've been trying since to talk to her, but she's ignored all my messages. I realise, Captain, how this must sound to you, like some silly lover's quarrel. I somehow wish it had been, it would have been easier. I can' stop thinking about it, how she must still be hurting."

All he time Tom spoke, he looked at the Captain, in a very direct manner, not wanting to back down like a coward. The was a look of desperation in his eyes. Almost as if begging her to understand.

"Tom," she leaned forward to touch his hand. "I know there are things happening on my ship among crew members. Normally I don't interfere, if such couples are discreet. But I suspect what you did has hurt not only the girl, but yourself too. That is the most positive thing: That you are showing remorse. I can see it's eating you up. Your desire to make amends is commendable. That is why I have instructed her to talk to you, = and give you at least a hearing. It might clear the air between you. She is really a very gentle person, with a big heart, a heart big enough for understanding."

Tom looked at the Captain, slightly stupified. "Captain, you know?"

"Tom Paris, what I know, is that you are not afraid to face this thing, you are no coward. Use the time I've given you to clear things between you. Good luck."

Kathryn Janeway imagined his old spark was back, it was almost pathetic to see the wavering smile lighting up his bleak face. They were entering a new star system, of which the fourth planet held rich gallicite deposits. She would send her chief engineer and her errant pilot on an away mission so that they could settle their differences.


Jenny Delaney had been shocked when she saw Tom Paris. She had agreed to meet with him in the doctor's office. Her first thought was: I am not suffering alone. It's eating him up too. She was fascinated. Tom Paris feeling bad, ashamed and looking deeply remorseful. It was all there for her to see. In his eyes, their sunkenness, the haunted look. His whole stance was one of dejectedness. She felt a momentary pang of sympathy, but resolved herself, thinking that he deserves to suffer as she did. She had liked him so much, believed herself in love with him. So much so that where he was concerned, she had no pride. That was what initiated her invitation in the first place. She wanted so badly that Tom see her as something other than just an object, her words were out before she could retract. Where others may have shrugged off such a treatment as just another bad decision, she felt differently. Almost prudish. It altered her perception of men, which, in the extreme, was not fair. Perhaps it was just Tom.

Their conversation had been painful, neither of them wanting to rake up the incident again. Tom looked at Jenny, the first time now after that night. And he could see the lines of suffering on her face. She was still hurting, he thought with a quiet despair. How can I ever atone? She did not look at him, was too mortified to do so. It was he who spoke first.

"Jenny, there are so many things I need to say." He saw her back away as he held out his hand in entreaty. "No, please. Just hear me out. I did you a terrible injustice, and I am sorry. So sorry."

She looked at him then, as if waiting for him to continue. "I have never stopped thinking about what I have done. It was not fair to you. I used you and I'm deeply sorry."

"Tom," she replied. "I know now you were taking something out on me. I'm not sure if it will make you feel any better, but I did invite you in. Having said that, I knew I must take responsibility for that. I was a willing participant. Only, I didn't. . . I didn't expect things to happen in the way it happened." She looked at him, her light brown eyes sober. "And perhaps if I understood what motivated you, it might put a different perspective on things."

She knew she was not completely over Tom. She gave a wistful sigh, realising that she would not be the one to whom he would give his heart.

They talked, long, the initial painful exchange between them now somewhat lighter. Her eyes filling with tears as he told her of his feelings for another, and how it was not working between them. She understood the desire to hurt a person out of pique or jealousy or spite. Hadn't she felt like that herself? Like she wanted to hurt those around her. Even her sister whom she loved dearly, and Magnus. . . poor Magnus, whom she knew harboured a tenderness towards her. She rebuffed him, thinking herself in love with Tom Paris. Yes. From the perspective of a woman, she was certain that B'Elanna felt more than just friendship for Tom. But she was not going to tell him that. He had to discover that for himself. Right now he was confused and angry. He had been angry a month ago, retaliating by taking it out on her. She and Megan were raised by a set of very level-headed, and traditional parents, who taught them so many things about life. She would for instance never experience inner peace, if she could not find it in her heart to forgive Tom. That was after all, what he has begged her for. And she would hate not imparting this precioous gift to him, so he could have peace of mind.

He had held her hands in his, she could swear there were tears in his eyes, and thanked her for her greatness of heart. He realised that Jenny Delaney was one very special young woman. One whom it would be a peasure to know in different circumstances, and not always, mistakenly so, as a possible conquest. She was intelligent, gentle and kind and generous. He felt again the shame of what he did to her, now that he is belatedly realising her worth as a friend.

The two of them felt the beginnings of a fresh start - a new friendship being forged. She was glad of that. Tom too. He suddenly felt a surge of protectiveness over her, and wondered how he could ever have missed such an opportunity of a great friendship. How he could ever have abused her so. She told him she was keen to see how his attempts to woo the fiery Klingon developed, and he told her he was keen to see her friendship develop with Magnus.

It seemed the air was indeed cleared between them, although Tom told her it would take him a while still to get over what happened. She assured him that those things were now in the past, it was time she got on with her life and duties. He felt considerably more relieved, and they were talking and laughing at some joke, which caused the doctor to frown: humans! He could never understand their vicissitudes. They were exiting the sick bay, Tom's hand still on her arm, when B'Elanna approached. She opened her mouth to say something, saw Tom's hand on Jenny's arm, and closed up again. Excusing herself to go into sickbay.

Jenny had a slightly alarmed look on her face, knowing how it must have looked to B'Elanna, but Tom merely assured her that it was something he will cope with.

I hope, B'Elanna Torres, that the day that you will need me, will come soon. I will not stop what I feel for you, and I will not stop attempting to reach you. I love you too much. He entered his cabin, threw himself on his bed, and sank into the glorious oblivion of sleep.




Three things dominate the room. The first striking thing is the wooden beams overhead, lending an old world grace to the room. A huge, overstuffed sofa in gold and autumn tones, is placed strategically in the centre, but more towards the front, of the room. The room is large, and shaped rectangular, from the double doors at its one end, to the brick wall at the other. A massive fireplace graces that wall, and its glowing coal throw a muted light over the area in front of it. Halfway along the left wall is an arch, flanked by two ornate wooden columns. The arch leads to the foyer and front of the house, opening on to a long end to end porch. On the floor in front of the fireplace, is a lage square rug, with a deep fawn shaggy pile. Its plushness inviting one to recline on it. On the wide mantlepiece are old fashioned framed photographs of people, single or in groups. In keeping with its surroundings, a lampshade perches on a wooden chest in the corner. A leather easy chair stands to the left of the sofa, a small square table between them. The table is graced by a vase containing an arrangement of deep red roses. To the right of the sofa, which appears to the the centre item of furnishing, is another small table. On it rests three ornate silver candlesticks, holding long burning candles, which add to the soft glow of the room. It is a restful room, warm in its ambience, and cosy in its warmth.

Upon closer inspection, two large golden labradors recline on the sofa, tongues hanging out and panting, with watchful eyes cast at the two figures lying on the deep rug. The luminous glow of the fire warming their naked bodies. The woman appears to be asleep, and resting on his elbow, studying the sleeping form of his wife, Tom Paris.

Tom Paris looked at B'Elanna and wondered, for the umpteenth time how he could ever live without her. She had entered his life, a life that was empty until she completed it. He never knew such a complete feeling of oneness with another being. Although he always sensed when their relationship was still one of friendship that with B'Elanna he could find that spiritual and emotional fullfilment he could not find with any other woman he dated before her. More than a year had passed since her experience on Sakari, and only a few months since she had at last declared her love for him. Openly and without fear. It was what he had hoped and prayed for, all these months. He knew that with B'Elanna, her emotions in disarray after that pon farr experience, would need time to explore her feelings, her heritage. And time was what he had. He knew that she was drawn to him, and he tried never to impose on her, to pressure her. He thought of Sakari.

Sakari. The planet with the gallicite deposits the Captain sent them to. The events there became the turning point in their relationship. He had been witness to the full extent of B'Elanna's Klingon rage and voraciousness. Something she had tried to repress for years, unwilling to expose that side of herself to anyone, became available for his scrutiny. He had seen her at her most vulnerable then. Open to his scoffing, if he so pleased, and the core of her greatest fear.

He remembered how she collapsed into his arms. Her soft, fragile body, shaken after her fight with Vorik, held comfortingly by him.

Seeing her like that brought tears to his eyes. Whispering over and over to her that was was safe, that he would protect her always. He felt the glorious bliss of holding her like that in his arms, the peace that suffused him, her softness and fragility belying her incredible strength and courage. He had held her so possessively, knowing how it must have appeared to Chakotay, but he didn't care. At that moment he felt B'Elanna needed him. For hadn't she chosen him as the one to be her mate, even if what was happening to her, was pon farr. She chose him, and for that he was inordinately glad.

The air between them afterwards was nothing if not strained. She, trying to rationalise that she was not herself, he trying to convince her that something did happen between them. That subconsciously she sought him out as the person she would want to mate with, something he new now, she would never lightly give to just any other person. He had been comforted by that knowledge, knowing that, after he assured her that he was not repulsed by her showing her big scary Klingon side, and that she should be proud of it, turned the tide in their friendship. He smiled now as he remembered her veiled promise to him.

He had guided her, encouraged her to explore some of the Klingon traditions. She had drawn the line at eating rokeg blood pie, gagh and other traditional Klingon foods. Saying she would rather take her chances with Neelix's Leola Root Stew. Sometimes they would come to blows when they engaged in Klingon ritual battle and games. The games were always intense in typical Klingon warrior tradition. He would drive her insane sometimes, goading her to take up the challenge. And she would square her shoulders, her eyes shooting daggers, bare her teeth and and growl at him.

Advancing on him, forgetting her holographic foe, she would thrust the bat-telh against his chest: "Damn you, Paris. I'm only half Klingon, remember? Right now I'd like to bash your skull in."

He would look at her, she would give him a death stare, reply:

"Hey, even non-Klingons find some of your rituals interesting and honourable."

"Fine. Then you take this and fight Rork over there. He's not much of an adversary anyway. How did progam him to get beaten every time? Did you think I can't do it?"

B'Elanna would then stalk right out of the holodeck and leave the giant Rork to him to finish off.

One evening, he had been in his quarters, preparing his conn reports when his door chimed. She came in, and by her dress was apparently also off duty. He had been surprised, thinking it must have cost her a great deal of courage to look him up. She looked so beautiful to him, her satin knee length top over a pair of trousers enhancing her curves, oblivious of the effect she was having on him. His heart started pounding rather erratically, all he could see - her lips he wanted to kiss, her waist her wanted to enfold with his hands, holding her against him, feeling the intoxicating nearness of her, her scent, his chin on her brown hair. He shook himself mentally to rid him of this seductive image. Hell, didn't she know the effect she was having on him?

She was clearly wanting to say something to him, he could see her preoccupied look, the worry in her eyes. And the uncertainty.

Without preamble, she started:

"Tell me about Jenny Delaney."

He sighed. He had known that at some point he would be confronted about this. It was the underlying barrier to their relationship developing into something more intimate. He had sensed that she wanted at times to be closer to him, but had also seen her withdrawal. Jenny, dear sweet Jenny, who couldn't hurt a fly, stood between him and his ultimate peace of mind where B'Elanna was concerned. He still felt those twinges of guilt every time he thought about it. It must have shown in his eyes, because she added, rather fiercely, her defences going up again:

"Or, if you'd rather not. I'd better be going then."

He got up hastily then, to stop her from leaving. He bit back an involuntary retort. Was going to ask her if she was jealous. But before he was going to ruin his chances forever, knowing that she would bolt out the door first thing, he answered, truthfully:

"Jenny is a friend, B'Elanna, like most other members of this crew." He knew that wasn't what B'Elanna wanted to hear.

"About that night," came her quick retort. "What happened that night?" It seemed to him that she felt embarrassed to ask him. Also, she looked wary, uncertain, afraid of his answer. He felt instinctively that B'Elanna needed some reassurance, some indication that he was over that unpleasant experience, which appeared to rise like Colossus between them.

He knew she deserved an explanation.

"B'Elanna . . . it's not something I feel comfortable telling. I have been looking for the right time to speak to you about it. You have pre-empted it, it seems." He was stammering, saying this to her. Now he was afraid. Afraid that if he told her, she would feel it was her fault. If her told her, she would condemn his actions and him, like he deserves.

"Please, Tom. I - I need to know." Her eyes were pleading.

"I uh . .. I did something that night I'm not proud of, B'Elanna. Because what happened, you. . . you were at the heart of it." He could see her imperceptible nod, as if affirming it. She must have thought about it, and come to her own conclusions. He closed his eyes, momentarily reliving that evening in Sandrine's Bar.

"Believe it or nor, I - I wanted to punish you. I kept thinking I wanted to get you out of my system. I got tired of your constant taunting." He was now gripping her shoulders, as tightly as he did that night, almost hurting her. "I doubt very much you had any idea how I felt. How I feel. About you."

"What - what did you do, Tom?"

Tom was quiet a long time. He closed his eyes, the despair washing over him again. "I - what I did was tantamount to raping her, B'Elanna. Yes, don't look so shocked," he added angrily, seeing the surprised look registering on her face. His voice was rising now, the anger mounting in him. "What did you think I did there? Make sweet love to her?" Shaking her, he continued: "I wanted to forget the things you said to me, to forget what I felt for you, to deny what I knew was my love for you. So I subjected poor, sweet Jenny Delaney to the most awful bloodless experience, sexually dominating her and breaking her spirit. Yes, brutalised her sexually. Made it obscene. All because I wanted to purge myself of you. Yes, you. I thought if made love to someone else, I could get you out of my system. But it didn't work. It didn't work. Because B'Elanna, I cried out your name. Yours!"


"You love me?" She spoke as if his great confession mattered little.

"If I could erase that evening," Tom continued, without hearing her. " I would. But it happened. Yes, I love you B'Elanna. More than life itself. But I hurt someone that night, and I hurt you too, I think."

"You love me?" she repeated almost comically.

"I don't know why you are so surprised. I have known for a long time how I feel about you. That's why it hurt much so whenever we fought." He touched her cheek then, and she clasped her hand over his. His eyes were fevered, his voice impassioned.

"You love me," she said a third time, after which her face puckered and she burst into tears.

He gathered her closely in his arms . So protectively, much like he did on Sakari. He drank in her scent, touching her hair with his lips, so softly, almost reverently. With trembling fingers he was stroking her hair , relishing the feel of her, at last in his arms, free to love her openly. He knew he was taking a huge leap of faith declaring his feelings for her. She may not love him the way he loves her, but her faith in him, the knowledge that she was drawn to him, gave him courage. And he prayed that she would not reject him. Have understanding for what happened that night. It had taken him long, longer than it did for Jenny, ironically, to come to terms with what happened. It was only Jenny's constant reassurance that bolstered him. Now the woman he had been dreaming of for so long, who invaded his senses, who made him think of commitment and marriage and babies, was wrapped in his arms. He expelled a deep shudder and felt a peace flow through him: all the anger, all the frustrations, all the yearning replaced by one feeling - he has come home.

She looked up at him. There was a sadness in her eyes, a sadness that somehow, her behaviour towards him had spurred him to an act of indecency. Her arms closed tightly around his waist. She snuggled her chin in his neck, enjoying at last the freedom to hold him, her heart starting to beat faster, thudding against her chest. When she lifted her head again, he bent down at last to kiss her. It was a benediction. Brushing her lips softly, she moaned as he urged her to open her mouth. Gently he flicked his tongue inside her waiting mouth, she tasted his tongue, biting his lower lip gently. She had waited so long for this. She felt she was drowning in the way he kissed her. He felt little shivers of pleasure at the touch of her mouth. Leaning into him, she could feel him hardening against her.

"Tom," she gasped. "Love me."

"I thought you'd never ask," came his ragged reply. And he proceeded to show her just how much he loved her. Wildly, at first, their bodies hurrying towards completion. Claiming her in the Klingon way, tasting her blood, she tasting his. It was wild, painful, wonderful and free. Their bodies raged out of control. He had thought at the time, with B'Elanna, he would never be in control. He had wanted her for so long, yet he took her even while impatiently tearing their clothes off. There had been no time for pleasantries, but the immediate satisfying of an intense hunger. He held her buttocks and raised her high against him , impaling her on his waiting, throbbing sex. They stood right there, inside the door of his quarters, and he pounded into her, until seconds later, completely and utterly out of control, screamed her name as they both went crashing towards their first climax. It did not bother him that he was out of control when he made love to her. It was glorious, to him, the freedom with which he could claim her. He marvelled at the way she responded to him. It showed her mastery over him, and his over her. Like he had always known, with B'Elanna, making love would be just that. A sharing of each other's bodies, giving each other pleasure. They made love all night, slaking a long endured thirst. Discovering each other. Their kisses and touches burning each other's skins, crying, whispering hoarse endearments, paying homage to their newfound feelings. They never made it to his bed. Each feeding off each other, their hunger only increasing each time they reached their pinnacle together. Much later he carried her to his bed and made love to her so gently, langorously, so sweetly, they both cried as they reached their climax. "I love you, B'Elanna, heart of my heart."

Now Tom looked at his wife. All the love in his eyes. Unable to keep his eyes off her. Her stroked her cheek softly. She stirred, mumbled something, then nestled closer to him. "Love you. . . " Smiling, he kissed her ridged brow, then her cheek.

Tom looked around the room. It was a holographic recreation of the greatroom of his family home. He remembered the first time he brought B'Elanna here. It was a few weeks after their shuttle exploded and they drifted in space in their envirosuits. Their oxygen supply had been low, and drifting into unconsciousness, B'Elanna has admitted her love for him. Saying everything she did, the Klingon stuff, was for him, to make him proud of her. He had always been proud of her. Admiring her courage, her strength, her fearlessness. She didn't have to prove anything to him. "I love you, Tom," she whispered. Having long admitted his own feelings for her, he felt the peace as unconsciousness encroached upon him. And all he could damned respond was something silly. Like choosing such a fine time to tell him the most important thing he wanted to hear.

When they recovered from that ordeal, he kissed her silly, and from that point on, their love flourished, blossoming brightly for all to see. Happiest was Jenny Delaney, who could at last see how happy Tom was.

B'Elanna was wearing a silk scarf and he covered her eyes before they entered the holodeck. It just fanned her curiosity, but Tom, she had come to know, was full of surprises.

When they were inside, he took the blindfold off. "My home on earth, he said to her."

She looked around her, fascinated. Two huge dogs came running up to them. B'Elanna back a little, but Tom soothed her. "Meet Bligh and Nemo, my golden labradors. That's the name of their breed. They're very friendly." Then he said, close to her ear, "if they growl at you, just growl back." He got a withering look from her, but he just smiled that winning smile of his. He knew she would some time later get her back at him for that barb.

They walked to the large fireplace, and she asked about the photographs. He showed a picture of himself at fifteen, one of his two sisters, Caitlin and Larissa. There was one with the four of them, his mother with her three children. One picture was of him in his cadet uniform. Then there was a picture of an older man and woman, the man in admiral's uniform. "My mother and the Admiral," Tom said. Her name is Elizabeth Rowena. It's a family name. She knew better than to pursue the question of his father. He invariably referred to him in the third person or just 'admiral'. It surprised her a little when she saw a picture of the two of them, courtesy of Neelix and his journalistic enterprises. He knew she was pleased and impressed with the place.

"It's where I thought I could bring you from time to time, if we needed to get away. It's my own programme, not for general use by the other crew. Kissing her on the mouth he said: "However, I'll give you the code. You can come here anytime, B'Elanna. I know sometimes you like to be alone."

"Tom, it's beautiful." She picked up a bottle from the small table, looking questioningly at him.

"Chardonnay. My favourite earth wine."

He pulled her into his arms, and kissed her. On her ridged brow, her nose, brushing her cheeks, her lips. Feeling her responding, her plunged into her mouth with his tongue, deepening the kiss. His hands cupped her full breasts, stroking her nipples through the fabric, an extremely erotic sensation overpowering her. She leaned into him, wanting him to make love to her. But Tom, it seemed, had something else on his mind. He broke off the kiss, and held her to him, one arm around her waist.

He looked at the dogs and said: "Go get it, boys." In fascination B'Elanna watched the two dogs diving under the padded cushion of the easy chair. It seemed they were fighting over a bone. Finally, it was Bligh, she thought, who surfaced, a packet lodged in his mouth. And bringing it right to her. She looked at Tom, who said: "Go ahead, open it."

Very carefully she opened the packet, to reveal a little black box. She opened the box, showing no surprise at the magnificent ring lying nestled in the velvet folds. She looked at him, her eyes misting over.

"I love you, B'Elanna Torres. Marry me. . . Please."

She buried her face in his chest. Then she cried. And cried and cried. She held out her left hand to him, and taking the ring from its bed of black velvet, slipped it slowly on her finger. Then her took her hand and held it against his cheek. He kissed her palm and said: "I'm yours for life."

It was a wonderful evening. They forgot, of course, all about the Chardonnay, and made love while the dogs looked on.

Tom looked at his wife, then his hand went to her cheek, and started a stroking action, from her cheek, the rise of her breasts, resting briefly on her nipples, then reverently rested his hand on her stomach. He felt a fierce tenderness welling in him, for the love of this woman, and their child she was carrying. He could not have asked for more. He felt his life was complete.


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