This is a coda for "Warhead," but only contains minor spoilers.  It's on the warm fuzzy side, but I enjoyed writing it. Paramount owns the characters, I own the story. Please ask permission before archiving or linking.

Feedback is appreciated, my email is   -- AC


The Only Gift I Need

Tom Paris strode down the corridor at as fast a pace as his long legs would take him.  In one hand, he held a bottle of wine, in the other, a long-stemmed red rose.  As he got closer to Section Twelve of Deck Nine, he increased his speed even more.  An objective observer might have pointed out to him that he should just go ahead and run, since he looked a bit silly speedwalking, but as he passed some of his crewmates, they merely smiled and nodded at him, and made mental notes to themselves that they would probably need earplugs again tonight.

Skidding to a halt in front of B'Elanna Torres' door, he rang the chime.

"Open," a sleepy voice commanded.  The doors parted with a swoosh, and Tom walked into the room.

"Hi, Tom," B'Elanna smiled at him, and tried smoothing down her hair, which was sticking out in many directions as a result of her napping face down on her couch.  She had a red crease on one cheek which matched the seam of a cushion.  After the futile effort to get her hair under control, she yawned and rubbed at her eyes, which were feeling a bit sticky.  "What's up?"

Tom gaped at her in confusion.  "B'Elanna, I thought we were having a romantic dinner tonight! Don't tell me you forgot?"

B'Elanna stretched, then stood up, letting a blanket and cushion fall to the floor, where she kicked them aside.  "Tom, I had an eighteen-hour shift in Engineering today.  I wasn't thinking about much apart from a level one warp core diagnostic. What is the occasion?"

"The second anniversary of our first date! This morning you were mad that I didn't remember! I expected you to be ready to celebrate," he informed her, looking somewhat hurt.  He walked over to the table and put down the bottle of wine.

B'Elanna walked over to Tom and gave him a quick kiss.  "I didn't forget, Tom. I just didn't realize that you wanted to do anything special tonight.  I told you this morning at breakfast that I'd be working at least a double shift.  I was just going to  sleep."

He sighed with exasperation.  "B'Elanna!  I spent this afternoon planning our evening, then had to go begging and crawling to Neelix for replicator rations for our dinner, and you forgot all about it." Finally, with a martyred expression, he wrapped his arms around her and rested his head upon her shoulder.

B'Elanna patted his back, and grinned.  Tom Paris was an incurable romantic.  If she's let him give full reign to his impulses, he would make every other day a special holiday for them to celebrate.  She would never forget how one evening, upon returning to her quarters, she'd found him lighting dozens of candles and running a hot bath for her to relax in.  When she asked him why he'd gone to all the trouble, he'd told her, very seriously, that it was one month since they'd made love for the first time, and he wanted to do something special for her.

"So, Flyboy," she drawled, shaking off her fatigue, "what are our plans for tonight?"

He pulled away from her and gave her a brilliant smile.  Handing her the rose, he clasped her other hand and kissed it slowly.  "For you, my lady, a sumptuous dinner in the company of your devoted slave."

"And Neelix let you have the rations?  You told me that he wasn't giving you any advances on credits anymore."

"Well....I let him know that I couldn't just show up at your door empty handed," Tom purred, leaning in to kiss her throat.

B'Elanna stepped back, and he was left trying to kiss the empty air. Her brow furrowed in suspicion.  "Let me guess. Neelix thought that if you didn't show up bearing extravagent gifts, your demanding, volatile girlfriend would throw a fit and you would end up in Sickbay."  Her voice grew flat and unexpressive, a sure sign that she was on her way to being angry.

Tom hadn't caught on to her mood.  "Worked like a charm, too. We've got Terrellian pheasant, and--" his description cut off as she stuffed a handful ofrose petals into his mouth.  Sputtering, he spit out the petals, and demanded, "What's wrong now, B'Elanna?"

Her eyes narrowed.  "You let Neelix think that I'm a demanding, greedy witch that won't even let the man I love spend time with me unless he showers me with presents?"  She turned away from him and stared out the window at the stars.  "Thanks a lot, Tom I thought you knew me a bit better than that by now."

"Oh." Tom's face fell.  "Oh, gods, B'Elanna, I never thought of it that way."  He came up behind her and hesitantly placed his hands on her shoulders.  "I wanted this evening to be special for both of us.  I thought the dinner would be nice after you'd worked so hard today.  I never meant to imply that--"

She turned to him and kissed him softly.  "Tom, every day that we're together is special to me.  You don't have to keep using up all your replicator rations on gifts for me."  Gently, B'Elanna ran her fingers through his hair, then kissed him again, nibbing on his lower lip. "Look around my quarters, will you? They never used to be this cluttered, until every away mission or shore leave seemed to make you think that I needed some souvenir."

Tom gazed around the room, and smiled slowly.  "Am I going overboard, B'Elanna?"  His voice was warm and full of self-deprecating laughter.

She leaned against him, appreciating his warmth.  "Just a bit, Tom."

"Well, you can rest assured that I haven't brought you anything tonight that will clutter up your room, since it's all meant to be eaten." He dropped a quick kiss onto her hair.  "Forgive me?"

She paused just long enough to make him nervous, then smiled, "Of course. Forgive what?"   Crossing the room to the replicator, she instructed it, "Computer, transfer the cost of this meal towards Lieutenant Torres' replicator rations, and return the original rations to Neelix's account."  The computer beeped in acknowledgement, and their dinner materialized with a soft whoosh. "I'll get this on the table, Tom.  Why don't you open the wine and let it breathe?"

The cork came out with an audible pop, and Tom retorted, "We've got all night to let it breathe, B'Elanna....."

She snorted in amusement at his echo of her words from an earlier dinner.  "Don't go trying to seduce me just yet, Flyboy.  We don't want dinner to get cold, do we?"

Tom's lips on her tasted pleasantly of the wine.  "And after dinner?" he raised his eyebrows suggestively.

"I'm going to demand a present from you, of course."  She stood on her toes and nuzzled his neck.

"What present would that be, my greedy, avaricious darling?"

She moved her mouth to his ear, and nibbled the soft skin.  He shuddered slightly, and closed his eyes.  "Your love, Tom. What else could I want?"


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