by J.A. Toner

The rhythmic sound of pounding surf sifted though the open window. It was not perfectly even. Every now and then, a wave curling its way up the sands might be just enough out of synch to save the listener from classifying what she was hearing as monotonous. That slight hesitation before the holographic waters crashed on the edge of the beach made the illusion complete. Instead of flying through the Delta Quadrant, far from everyone's home, it was as if Voyager were sailing the seas of Earth, in the Alpha Quadrant. The salty womb of all life on that planet (and the majority of others, as it turned out, once humanoids began to explore the cosmos to discover such things) seemed to be outside the window of a simulated beach house on the Holodeck.

Tonight, the beach house was a honeymoon cottage for two people who had consummated their marriage a few hours before, not that this consummation had been the first time the couple had known each other in a carnal sense. That first time had taken place months ago, on a desolate, inhospitable planet named Tantrum IV by the inhabitants of the starship known as Voyager.

As she pulled the satin sheet and soft blanket higher over her naked form, the chief engineer's thoughts drifted back to what had happened on Tantrum. In a natural cave, to help each other survive, B'Elanna Torres had seduced Thomas Paris. B'Elanna accepted that as truth, now. Despite her own qualms about his intentions and her uneasiness about how her forehead ridges made her look to someone with classically handsome human features, B'Elanna had asked her only companion on that desolate planet to "keep her warm."

That he did. Repeatedly. Throroughly. Deliciously.

And today, he promised to continue to keep her, in good times and in bad times, for as long as they both lived. To be one blood, in the Klingon reckoning.

B'Elanna snuggled a bit deeper into the bed, against the toasty warm body of that same Thomas Eugene Paris, Lt. j.g., and chief helmsman/flight controller/pilot/resident hero of Voyager, soundly sleeping with his arm thrown casually over her stomach, within which dozed another life form. B'Elanna guessed her daughter-to-be was dozing. What else would a foetus do in the womb most of the time? It was pretty wet with all that amniotic fluid sloshing about her, but it's not like she would be swimming around in there. Or would she? Babies kicked in the womb when they got to be a certain size. Is that because they were used to having lots of room to swim around, and when they got too big to do that, they'd kick to try to free themselves so they could swim again? To have a temper tantrum, in other words?

Temper tantrum. Tantrum IV. B'Elanna's thoughts had been circling around like this for a while now. With a sigh, she wiggled her butt against Tom's stomach, hoping that he'd wake up again and treat her to another session of love making. He was good at that, and whenever they were involved in bringing each other to a sexual frenzy, B'Elanna didn't have to think about cold caves, misunderstandings, words of love, marriage vows, tantrums (planetary or emotional), amniotic fluid swimming pools or what a baby thought about before she was born. All B'Elanna would think about was how great she was feeling and how good she could make Tom feel.

After several more deliberately provocative movements failed to change the even pattern of Tom's breathing, B'Elanna used the one last tactic she was willing to use in her arsenal of methods for arousing her sleeping mate. To encourage him to engage in some marital fun and games with her, she stretched her petite but strong frame from the top of her fingers to the tips of her toes, then lowered one arm to her side to allow that one hand to creep down to about hip level and explore a bit behind her. She was in luck. Her fingers encountered a nice patch of wiry hair and a fleshy appendage that began to stiffen the more she played with it. It wasn't the only part of his body moving now, either. His arm began to tighten around her, and another hand, not attached to her, was on the move. As his hand reached breast level and began to squeeze gently, Tom's lips, likewise, grazed against her shoulder.

"Okay. I'm up. You can have your way with me if you want to."

"I do."

"Not surprised."

B'Elanna rolled over, quickly engaging Tom's mouth and body in joining with her in the kind of pleasures they had come to expect from each other over the past few months.

One thing B'Elanna could always count on. Once you woke the man up, you knew he'd be enthusiastic about whatever it was you wanted him to do--especially if the whatever was sex.

Tonight was no exception, even if this wasn't the first time tonight. The man was good, there was no question about that. Every touch was calculated to induce the most wonderful feelings inside her. B'Elanna sighed into his mouth as he drew his lips against hers, his hands busily stroking over her pregnancy-enhanced breasts before slipping down to the swell of her belly.

By the time she was on top of him, enjoying the feel of him within her while her hands felt the outside of him, B'Elanna found herself thinking this being married wasn't so bad at all. Not at all.


"After is a good time, too, you know that, don't you, B'Elanna?" His arms cradled her body, his shoulder pillowed her shoulder, and his breathing rocked her gently as she lay sated in his arms.

"Pretty good. I still like during."

"My wild Klingon beauty, always ready for battle."

"Tom, cut the Klingon crap for one night, okay? It's my wedding night. I don't want to fight with you tonight."

"I don't know. A fight might be nice, too. Break that clavicle. That'd please the Doc."

"No, thanks. I'd rather all four of our clavicles stayed in working order without the Doctor weaseling into my honeymoon cottage."

He laughed, then held her in silence for a while. His breathing got so even that she thought he might have drifted off to sleep again. She was about to turn over and throw her arms around him to try to go to sleep herself when she heard him murmur, "I wonder what it's going to be like?"

"What's going to be like?

"Being a father. Parents. I was talking to Chakotay today at the wedding. He said I'm going to have to be responsible. Hope I can manage it."

"As long as you aren't expected to keep your mouth shut, I think you'll do fine."

"Thank you so much for that vote of confidence."

"You're welcome."

"I will have to talk to her sometimes, you know."

"Of course, Tom. I was joking. You're going to be a wonderful father. You're really good at telling little stories about your life that help people get through some bad times. I'm sure you'll do the same with her."

"Thanks, I hope so," he murmured, shifting his weight around underneath B'Elanna. She mentally shook her head. As usual, as much as the man talked, paying him a compliment about his more sincere tendencies was obviously making him uncomfortable.

"And if you don't have any little life lesson of your own, you can always study up on the standard Mom and Dad lectures. I'm sure the database is full of them."

"Oh, man. Lectures. I hope I don't ever give the 'just think what this will look like to the general public, Thomas,' speech. Or the 'Thomas, how come this grade is a B, not an A?' speech. I really hate those."

"I don't think you'll have to give your daughter any lectures that have you calling her Thomas. All we have to do is not name her Thomas."

"Very funny, Lieutenant. Don't you have a list of things you don't ever want to hear yourself saying?"

"You mean, the 'your behavior has been dishonorable' speech? How about, 'That is not the Klingon Way!' Or all those lectures when I argued about how I wouldn't need to follow all those Klingon traditions in Starfleet. 'Who needs the Day of Honor, anyway, Mother?' "

He tightened his hold on her, obviously thinking about what had happened only a few weeks ago, on the Klingon Day of Honor. "I thought we were goners, then, B'Elanna. Here we had just made up and then we manage to blow up the Cochrane."

"We didn't blow up the Cochrane; the Caatati did."

"I'm not sure the captain much cared who did the actual blowing up. We lost another one. And I thought, for a moment, I would never be able to touch your face again. Or ever see our daughter's face."

The slight choke in his voice made her snuggle her face against his chest before murmuring, "It turned out okay, Tom. We're okay. You'll see her."

His grasp around her shoulders tightened a moment before he whispered back, "Sure."

They were silent for a moment more, lost in their own thoughts about what had happened so recently. So many dangers, yet they were still here, together. No guarantees about tomorrow, though. That was one thing that both had learned to accept. Today's wedding was just the final acknowledgement. No matter what happened now, there was one thing that could not be taken away. Tom Paris had taken B'Elanna Torres as his wife, and she him for her husband. Death could not change that.

"This is a pretty morbid subject for a wedding night, isn't it, Tom?" B'Elanna finally said, breaking the spell of silence--or perhaps it was a pall--that had fallen over them.

"Yeah, I guess. Let's talk about something else."

"Okay. What do you want to talk about?"

"Well--I don't know. What about Janeway and Chakotay? Do you think they're going to do it?"

"Do what?"

"Become lovers, what else?"

"Tom, why does everything have to center on lovemaking with you, anyway?"

"Everything doesn't. I like to talk about flying, too, but we promised no shop talk, remember?"

Shaking her head, B'Elanna started to chuckle, then started. That strange feeling was back again. She wondered if it was what she thought it was.

"What's the matter? B'Elanna?"

"Oh, nothing's the matter. Not really. I just . . . "

"What?" She immediately detected the note of concern in his voice as Tom propped himself up on his elbow, the better to see B'Elanna's face in the faint light of the stars.

"Oh, it's just this little fluttering I'm feeling. Here." She took his free hand and pulled it to her lower abdomen, over the swelling of her belly that was becoming noticeably more pronounced every day, in B'Elanna's eyes, at least.

"Flutter, huh? Is Baby Girl making herself a part of the festivities?"

"Maybe, you never know."

"It's about time for it." He softly moved his hand over her stomach, so lightly that she shivered.

There was another flutter. No, this time, it was more than a flutter. Most definitely like a jump. Or like a swimmer, taking a turn against the far wall of a pool. "There it is again. Think it's a tic?"

He shook his head in the dim light, his teeth reflecting just enough light so she could tell how broad his smile was. "Not a tic. The real thing. The girl."

She covered his hand with her own and moved it to the spot where she had felt the movement. This time, she was certain, he was right. Baby Girl. There wouldn't be any way for him to feel it, yet, but from the way his hand was grazing her skin, she knew he understood what she was indicating.

Tom moved his hand away from her before lifting his elbow from the bed, balancing himself on his hand. Carefully, he bent down and kissed the spot she had shown him. As his lips broke contact with her skin, he rested his cheek upon the place he'd kissed. Dragging her hand through his hair, she encouraged him to stay where he was. She felt it only fitting that on this night, of all nights, she should feel life for the first time.

"I wonder what she'll be like."

"Don't know, B'Elanna. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess."

"I wonder what her life will be like?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows. I just hope that she'll be happy."

"Me, too. As happy as I am now."

He nodded his head in agreement, then turned his eyes down to the spot again. Gently, he kissed her again. Both of them, really--his wife and his child-to-be.

B'Elanna sighed as she felt his arms settle about her. She was content, yet filled with curiousity and a sense of wonder, too. There were so many things that could go wrong. So many dangers. So many. Yet, with Tom's arms around her and his face pressed against her belly, as close to the third member of their family as he could get, she felt that somehow, it would come out all right. Somehow.

Outside the window, the surf continued to pound, as restlessly and as unceasingly as the real seas of Earth.