This is an "Alternate Universe" story, featuring Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. *Warning* it carries a lotta Tommy-angst, so if you don't like that, you know the drill.
This is my very first fanfic, so be kind. Emails gladly responded to and flames consigned to the nearest airlock. Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the folks at Paramount: Star Trek and all its incarnations belong to Paramount and TPTB. I'll clean them up when I return them. No copyright infringement is intended...Hey I'm just a fan.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, BLTS, & PT Fever. Please notify me if posting anywhere else...I love to see my name in lights!
Gallantry Part 2 - By Annette Welsh-Shinya ©1997
P/T, J/C, K/7...oh it's a loooove fest!
Seven of Nine paused as she entered the Messhall. She could see Lt. Torres and Ensign Kim sitting at table, and Lt. Paris was standing in front of it. The expressions on their faces was tense, and there appeared to be some sort of confrontation. Then, abruptly, Lt. Paris left, an arrested expression on his face as he passed by her, unseeing. She moved over next to the bulkhead, watching Torres and Kim. Their discussion became even more intense, then Torres got up, said something to Kim, Kim replied, and she left. Kim remained sat at the table, a thoughtful look on his face.
Seven took a tray, and went over to obtain nourishment. Neelix greeted her, "Seven, so nice of you to come this evening! It's getting rather late, but I think I have something to tempt you with. I might even say, the taste is delightful!"
"Unnecessary. I require nourishment; taste is irrelevant. I will have what you are serving the others."
Neelix, looking only a trifle deflated, said, "Very well. I hope you enjoy your meal." He smiled pleasantly as he ladled up the dish of the day, some sort of stew. It was yellow.
She obtained a spoon and a napkin from their stack. She looked up at Neelix, "Thank you." She said gravely. "You're welcome," said Neelix gently, watching her walk away. He shook his head. *She's working on her manners, but she certainly has a long way to go.*
Seven scanned the room. Ensign Kim was still seated at the table he occupied before. He was sitting, looking at his meal, and stirring it with his fork. He was not eating. She approached.
"This space is unoccupied, I will sit here," as she sat down.
Harry looked up as Seven sat down her tray and sat in the seat B'Elanna had recently vacated. "Uh, sure Seven. Have a seat. I was just leaving anyway," Harry made to pick up his tray and was getting up when Seven said, "Sit down. I wish to speak with you."
Harry, a looking trifle exasperated and nervous at the same time, replied, "I really don't have the time right now, Seven. I've got a lot of things on my mind. I'm sure you could talk to Captain Janeway if you have a problem."
"It is not my problem."
"You want to discuss somebody else's problems?" Harry couldn't keep the incredulous rising tone out of his voice.
"You doubt my intention?"
"Noooo. But it seems just a little out the, uh, ususal behavior you exhibit." Harry wondered if they had raised the ambiant tempreture of the ship, because he was beginning to sweat.
"I have observed that Lts. Paris and Torres had engaged in what is termed a 'relationship'."
Harry looked at her. "And if they are?"
"Ensign, I am not asking for confirmation. I am stating it as a fact. I have observed this behavior in them. They are showing all signs of mating behaviors. I am not the only member of this crew to have seen this."
Harry sighed. "Well, if they are, *I* don't have an objection."
"I am not raising an objection. I am observing," Seven paused and looked at Kim. "Are you ill? You appear to be flushed."
"I'm not ill," said Harry emphatically, then looked down, and he muttered, "just uncomfortable." He looked up at Seven. Her face registered a slight degree of surprise. This was quite an emotional display for her.
"I am making you uncomfortable?"
"Truthfully? Yes, a lot. I mean, a little. Oh shit, I don't know what I mean," Harry rolled his eyes and put his face in his hands. What a day. First Tom and B'Elanna, and now acting like a 15 year old with a crush around Seven. He wondered if there were any novas or subspace rifts they could encounter now. It would finish the day off with such flair.
Seven's voice softened a little, "It is not my intention to make you uncomfortable. I wish to discuss Lts. Paris and Torres' situation."
"You want to gossip about Tom and B'Elanna?" Harry didn't bother to try to keep the disbelief out of his voice.
"Gossip? I am unfamiliar with that concept. I wish to relate to you my observations on their behavior in an attempt to analyze their situation and possibly come up with a hypothesis for their recents aberrant actions."
Harry just looked at her. "You mean, you want to talk to me about what they've been doing recently, and help you understand their actions, so you can figure out what their problem is?"
"Yes." Seven looked straight at Harry. She could see the puzzlement in his eyes. They were brown. Strange, they appeared to have great depth.
*Careful Harry* He felt that trecherous region of his heart that had already been piqued by Seven awake. A self-absorbed Seven was easier to ignore than one that actually was beginning to care about others. Seven continued to just stare at Harry intensely. He couldn’t seem to do anything else but look back.
Harry did not seem to have the ability to stop looking at Seven. He knew that he looked like an idiot. Yet, she was doing the same thing. And it was different, not like she was looking at a bug under glass. Her face was slightly tilted, puzzlement in her eyes. She seemed about the speak, then stopped, looked down, and then quickly up again at Harry. Her hands. He looked at her hands. They were resting on the table. The silence between them streched even further. What were they talking about? He had lost the point entirely.
"This is Cpt. Janeway. All senior staff to the Briefing Room." Janeway's voice over the intercom shattered the silence between them. Never had Harry ever been more glad to interrupted, or was he?
"I guess we better go," said Harry, rising from the table, looking directly at Seven again. He was surprised to see her look a trifle annoyed, then her face smoothed over, and she said, "agreed."
They walked out of the messhall toether, unaware of the stares they were receiving from the crewmembers there. A low buzz of conversation rose higher as they left. Neelix could hear snatches of it as he went quickly about his business of securing the kitchen so he could leave for the meeting. Predominent was curiosity over the newest challenge that had undoubtedly come up that required the presence of the senior staff. The other, he was to note, was the decided glee with which the crew speculated at just what Ensign Kim and Seven of Nine had to say to one another for such a long time. The lengthy stares they'd been giving one another had not gone unnoticed. Neelix pondered the strange ways of the Universe, that the *nicest Ensign in Starfleet* was going to end up with that she-cat of a former Borg. He hadn't any doubts about it. "Do Harry some good," he said to himself, as he turned to go out the door.
Tom looked up at the ceiling in irritation, then gathered himself mentally. Janeway would not call the entire senior staff together just to ruin a pretty darn nice moment between B'Elanna and him. He looked down at the woman in his arms and sighed. She looked so beautiful. His mouthed quirked, then he said, "looks like we get to finish our talk later." He looked directly at her, "And we will talk more later." The last was accompanied by a look that was as intense as the blue of his eyes.
B'Elanna looked up at him, meeting strength with strength, then she made a rueful sound. "I don't know what it is about my timing. I swear I'm going to go crazy if this keeps up."
"The Delta Quadrant doesn't run at our convenience, B'Elanna." he said, amused.
"Well, not a lot seems to run at our convenience," she grumbled, irritated that this special moment was spoiled. Probably by something that was going to damage her warp core too, she could just sense it.
Tom took her face in his hands, kissed her soundly, and said, "Let's go, B'Elanna. We don't want to be late."
B'Elanna nodded and followed him through the door. She was still rather out of sorts, and truth be told, feeling a little queasy. Her stomaches were trying to dance with one another. She thought longingly of the dry crackers she had replicated and stored in her quarters. She wasn't going to be able to get to them anytime soon.
Kathryn Janeway paced. It was not something she enjoyed. She just felt the need to burn some energy off, waiting for the rest of the senior staff to arrive. The news she had was big, and it wasn't good. Tuvok just stood and watched. Chakotay sat at the briefing table, his eyes watching Janeway, concerned.
"Tuvok, are you sure of your figures? I mean, there is no room for error?"
"No Captain. I have done the calculations three times, and the computer has reached the same conlusions as myself."
"I'm afraid I have to agree with Tuvok. There's just no way of getting around it."
Janeway sat down, her shoulders sagging just a trifle before she straightened herself up. Chakotay could almost feel the mental shake that she gave herself. He knew that she would never let the strain show or relax, would never cut herself a break. That's why long ago he had appointed himself the person to do that. He liked the job. It was just a hard one to succeed at. Now, it was going to be even harder.
Kathryn looked up as the door opened and Harry and Seven walked in together. She mentally raised an eyebrow at the two of them. Close on their heels were Tom and B'Elanna. They walked in talking quietly and took seats next to each other. Harry and Seven had carefully taken seats as far away from each other as they could. Kathryn felt that she had just observed an elaborate quadrille. The doctor was next, and Neelix came in last, a little breathless from hurrying.
She didn't quite know where to begin. It was an odd predicament for a Starfleet ship to be in. But then again, they weren't exactly a regulation ship. They were an amalgom of different peoples and ways of doing things. They were doing their best. *Face it, Kathryn, we're making it up as we go.* Again, she felt the need to mentally take herself in hand, then she began.
"I have called you all together today because I have received some news from Tuvok. It's not precisely urgent, but it is something that we need to get going on immediately."
All eyes were on Janeway as she pushed herself up from the table and walked over to the display screen. She nodded to Tuvok, who depressed some keys and a projection ran on the screen. Graphics appeared with a running tabulation of figures.
Tuvok motioned to the figures, "This depicts the population of Voyager at the beginning of our journey, the subsequent loss of personnel after the Entity transferred us to the Delta Quadrant, the infusion of Maquis members, and the accumulation of various beings we have encountered along the way. You will note that there are considerably less members of the crew now than at the beginning of our journey. At the rate we have been losing crew members, it is a high probability that we will be unable to make it home more to a lack of crewmembers to run the ship than equipment failure." He pronounced the last and sat down. He had given his facts, it was up to the Captain to tell the others the ramifications. It was simply too personal a matter for him to be involved in directly.
Janeway looked over all of her senior staff. She then said, "To be absolutely blunt, people, we are running out of warm bodies to run the ship." She walked over and thumped the screen. "These projections place us going below the optimum level of personnel to run this ship in less than seven years. Even if we get going on replacements now, they won't be ready for at least ten years."
"Replacements, Captain?" Harry said, who looked like he *thought* he knew what she was saying, but couldn't quite believe it.
"Progeny," Said Seven, nodding.
Tom and B'Elanna looked at each other, and burst in to low laughter. Janeway looked a trifle incredulous, then in a stern voice, "I fail to see anything amusing about this situation, Lieutenants. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me?"
Tom and B'Elanna looked at each other, then quickly shifted their eyes to the floor, like school children caught doing something naughty. Tom looked up again, and said,"It's nothing, Captain. Just a private matter between Lt. Torres and myself."
Janeway's left eyebrow raised, and she said, "Well, let it remain private, Tom, we have other matters to deal with now." Tom nodded and she looked around the room at her people, her friends. "As amusing as this may sound to you, it could spell serious trouble for us if we don't face it head on now. If we ignore it, later could become quite a problem."
Tom felt sheepish. He stole a quick look at B'Elanna to see if she was mad at what he said. She was looking directly at the Captain, but must have felt his gaze, because she gave him a quick look of *what the hell do you think you're doing?* before returning her full attention to Janeway. *Way to go Tom Terrific. Real suave. Neelix was right. He had lost his touch. And now you've got the Captain thinking that your being a screwup again.* He mentally sighed then; he knew that B'Elanna wasn't really mad. She was embarrassed as much as he was. He wanted to slump in his chair and brood, but he had promised himself that he wouldn't sulk anymore. What had happened had happened because he had wanted it to, one way or another, and he was going to have to deal with it. He just felt that announcing their impending parenthood in the middle of a briefing just wasn't the way he wanted to go about it.
Tom focused in on what Janeway was saying. "...we can project so far, but then the random factors of emotion and attraction take over, and all bets are off." He just looked at Torres, who was arguing with Kim, she glanced over to him, raised her eyebrow. Tom jumped into the conversation. Oh boy.
Chakotay just watched Kathryn lead the meeting. He was amazed that she was just boldly going forward with this. She was never one to sugar-coat anything, but to take something so personal, and just, well, put it out there as a ship’s problem to be solved. Well, that was going to take some getting used to. There was a great swell of conversation, some discord and an occasional loud remark from all of the staff members. He alone remained quiet.
Kathryn had fallen silent also. She felt extremely odd. No matter how she had approached this matter in her mind prior to the meeting, she still felt the old taboo’s coming out. You don’t talk about sex out loud. You don’t mention conceiving children outside of medical discourse. You don’t ....She had convinced herself that she was a professional, and that these were just old conventions of behavior. Yet, being that she had never had any children, she felt a certain awkwardness pervading this whole scenario that was as deeply felt by her as it was irrational. She was the Captain; she had to lead. It was that simple and complicated at the same time.
Chakotay looked up at Kathryn. She was looking directly at him. The others were still conversing amongst themselves, ignoring the two of them. Her face was flushes yoer eyes were almost, well desperate, and he could tell, she wanted bailing out, but couldn’t ask directly. She was trying to convey that she wanted him to understand her position, without having to spell it out. Then Chakotay got it. He grinned. He couldn’t help himself. Kathryn was embarrassed! Starship Captain, brave new world explorer, defeater of bad aliens, didn’t like to talk about the birds and the bees!
The Doctor stood, cleared his throat politely, then when he got no reaction, cleared it rather dramatically. “I have something to say,” he intoned in his most pompous voice. “It concerns the facilities for childbirth and care of young children.” This achieved its desired affect, as the whole room quieted down immediately. “That’s better,” he said, sitting down. He placed his hands on the table. “As you may well know, there are limited sickbay facilities on ship of this size. Not to mention lack of medical staff. With the exception of Mr. Paris, the amount of back-up medical staff I can provide would be marginal at best in dealing with the number of pregnancies you would be projecting.” At this last, the Doctor directed a look at Janeway, eyebrows raised. “I assume that your desire to ‘get started’ on this project right away means that it about nine to ten months, you would be needing some laying-in facilities for a good number of crew, not to mention a nursery and caregivers for multiple infants.”
Here Chakotay decided to jump in. “Doctor, I see your point, why don’t you work up some figures on the space, supplies, and personal required, in case you would need to handle an increase in our population.” The Doctor smiled and appeared satisfied that he had made his point.
Seven then spoke up. “Will you be assigning personal for replacement procreation according to duty roster, Captain?” Chakotay heard Torres growl softly, and Harry developed a sudden fit of coughing that had Seven looking at him, puzzled. Chakotay would have liked to have had a picture of the expression on Kathryn’s face at that moment. She looked like she was about to say something, but Tom spoke first.
“Seven, you just don’t assign people to have kids together.” Tom had turned to look at her from where he had been talking with B’Elanna and Neelix. “It’s like the Captain said, you have to take into account the factors of emotion and attraction, as well as a lot of other things before you can even begin to think about having a child with someone. You have to have an established relationship and a commitment to each other before you can ever hope to raise a child.” Tom leaned forward, his hands pushing on the edge of the table as he tried to make his point. This had suddenly become so important. “There’s also something else. An old Earth saying states, ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’. We need to make sure that our environment shows that we have children and treat them with love and caring, not just consider them ‘replacements’. I know how important that is,” he looked at B’Elanna as he took her hand, not caring that anyone could see. “Both B’Elanna and I know that.” Tom looked directly at B’Elanna, his eyes asking the question, while he could see what the answer was. B’Elanna looked back in wonderment, and nodded, close to tears and in public, too!
Tom smiled at B’Elanna and then stood up. Their hands still clasped, B’Elanna rose with him. She stood proudly, watching him. Tom knew what he had to say, “B’Elanna and I would like to make an announcement, but first I would like to volunteer, Captain, to be head of this new project.” B’Elanna turned and looked at him, a slightly amused yet proud look on her face. Neelix grinned and nudged Tuvok. Tuvok looked pained, in a Vulcan sort of way. The Doctor and Kim glanced at each other, wondering in their faces, also a bit of proud amusement in Harry’s.
The Captain, who had figured out a while back that Mr. Paris was going to never cease to amaze her said, “All right Tom, you’re in charge. That is, when we hn anfigured out how we are going to approach this, uh, delicate matter with the crew that is.” Tom gave her the Paris Grin, and said, “Don’t worry, Captain, I have some ideas.” “That’s what I’m afraid of, Mr. Paris.” Janeway cleared her throat, “What was the announcement the two of you wanted to make?”
Tom looked again at B’Elanna, his face extremely serious again. She nodded, her mien proud and forthright. She was not going to skulk around any longer. She had a mate, and she was going to have his child. If other people didn’t like, too damn bad. Tom watched the emotions play on her face and felt an amazing sense of rightness within him. It was the same feeling he had felt when he had been talking about having children a few minutes ago. He had not known where he found the words to say what he had said, they had just come out of his mouth. He figured that this announcement would have to come from the same place. He looked at B’Elanna one more time, a question in his eyes. Did she really want him to say it? He did not want to take away anything of hers, and this was quite a moment. B’Elanna just shook her head and said, “Just say it, Tom.”
Tom drew a deep breath, then decided that she could only kill him once. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet my mate, and the mother of our child, B’Elanna Torres.”
Tom looked at his friends and companions. The congratulations and happy surprise made the volume in the room escalate. He felt a sense of well-being, and it was corny, but a sense of love also. There was a lump in his throat. He looked at B’Elanna, who appeared to be experiencing the same sensations. Good Lord, thought Tom, I finally did the right thing. He gave her the patented Paris-Grin and she gave it right back at him. Come to think of it, declaring their “togetherness” after a few mutual bites in strategic locations could be construed in more conservative Klingon circles to be as good as a formal marriage ceremony. Huh, he was an old married man. Not so bad after all. There was gonna be a baby Paris, too. He knew that it would be a girl, and he wanted her to look just like B’Elanna, although he knew better than to tell her that.
Tom leaned over to B’Elanna, speaking softly into her ear, “I love you.” She turned to him rapidly, growling low, “Save it for later, Paris. Then you can let me know how much you love me. Right now, I’d kill for some of those crackers I have in my room.” B’Elanna wondered if it were possible for a half Klingon to turn green, she certainly felt like she was. Tom cranked out a “Yes, Ma’am” at her, then spoiled it by smiling. She grimaced in return, then shook her head and smiled back. Who would have thought.
Tom made his way over to Janeway, who was deep in conversation with Chakotay. When was the Captain ever going to admit the way she felt? For that matter, when was Chakotay? Tom knew that the subject would have to be tabled for another day, but made a mental note to follow-up on it. Now that he knew what love and really being together was like, he didn’t want anyone else wasting their time on how the *thought* that they should behave. He knew that there were going to be tough days for B’Elanna and him, pretty bad ones if their past history was any indication. Also, there could be great ones. Those were what made it worth it. It was so simple, yet so true. He had wandered around so long, lost in himself, when it was there all the time. He wondered why it was so easy to forget it.
“Captain, I’d like to take B’Elanna back to her quarters. She’s, well, she’s not feeling quite up to par, and she has a plasma manifold teardown on the docket for tomorrow. I’d like her to get some rest before then.”
Janeway looked up at Tom, and said, “Sure, Tom, I think we’ve finished up here.” She rose to her feet and gestured with her hands. “That’ll be all for now people. Doctor, coordinate with Tom with the results of your research. Harry, you and Seven did such a great job on the Astrometrics Lab, you’re the logical choice to design and build our nursery/child care facilities. Start looking into it, and get back to me the beginning of next week. Any questions?” Harry shook his head and said no, Seven didn’t say a thing. Harry turned and looked at Seven, a sense of resignation filling him. Seven just raised her implant/eyebrow and looked back. It was deja vu all over again.
Janeway turned to Tom, “Do you want to have Chakotay look into finding larger quarters for the two of you?” Tom looked nonplused for a moment, then said, “I guess so, Captain. I haven’t really thought about it too much. I don’t think B’Elanna has either. Things have been moving rather fast recently.” He looked ruefully at the Commander. “Do you think I could get back to you on that after I’ve had a chance to talk to B’Elanna about it? I don’t want to make any decisions without her input.”
Chakotay grinned, “I know what you mean, Tom,” as he rose he put a hand to Tom’s shoulder. “I know what you mean. Talk to me later this week.” He turned to Kathryn and said, “I’ll see you later?”
Janeway responded, “About 2300,” a slight rosy glow tinged her face. As she turned back to Tom, she added the don’t ask and I won’t have to rip your heart out through your nostrils look. Chakotay’s grin became even wider, if that was possible, and he strolled away. Tom just smiled innocently at her and wished her a good night.
They all filed out of the room, relieved that there wasn’t another alien race intent on destroying them tonight, nor was there a mechanical crisis that would jeopardize their journey. It was a problem all right, but one that wouldn’t be so bad to implement a solution to.
B’Elanna was in the bathroom, trying to decide if she really needed to throw up, or if it just was a false alarm, when a hand bearing a package of salt crackers came around the doorjamb. She turned around and said, “All right, you might as well let me come out. I’m obviously not going to get any privacy in here.” She made her way out of the batry."m, grabbing the crackers out of Tom’s hand. She stuffed a couple in her mouth, and managed to get out despite the crackers, “Where did you find them, I looked everywhere.” “I didn’t find them, I replicated a new box.” Tom had been concerned, she’d been looking extremely unwell. The crackers seemed to help. He knew where his replicator rations were going to be going to for the appreciable future.
B’Elanna came up to Tom and said, “You know, Paris. Sometimes I don’t know why I keep you around, and other times, I just know.” Tom put his arms around her waist and cradled her to him. B’Elanna leaned back and looked at him. “You just love me for my replicator rations, is that it?” he mocked. “You bet, Helm-boy, that, and well, let’s just say your non-replicatable qualities.” Their heads came closer together. Tom said in a soft voice, very serious now, “I love you for being yourself, B’Elanna,” and their foreheads gently touched. B’Elanna looked into his blue-blue eyes, “Tom,” she said trailing off softly. Their mouths met in a kiss that was sweet and enduring.
The End...for now...More to follow on all fronts! Live Long & Prosper!
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