Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres woke up with Lieutenant Tom Paris' arms around her. Why didn't I tell him the truth before now, she thought. Warning oxygen level at 104 milibars.

"Tom. Come on, open your eyes," she said. Warning oxygen level at 87 milibars.

"I was having a dream," Tom said.

"There's something I have to say," she replied.

"Me too. I'm glad the last thing I'll see is you," he cut in.

"I've been a coward about everything, everything that really matters," she said.

"Now you're being a little hard on yourself," he replied.

"No. I'm gonna die without a shred of honor, and for the first time in my life that really bothers me. So I have to tell you something, I.." Warning oxygen level at 71 milibars.

"I have to tell you the truth," she finished.

"The truth about what?" he asked.

"I.... I love you," she said. B'Elanna watched as Tom opened his eyes wider at what she said.

"Say something."

"You picked a great time to tell me," he replied. With that he wrapped his arms around her and prepared to die.

Voyager to Tom Paris. Tom do you read me? Respond, Captain Kathryn Janeway's voice said over the comm system.

"We're here," he said weakly.

Prepare to beam aboard, the Captain said. Tom felt himself begin to be beamed aboard the ship. The next thing he knew he was looking up at the ceiling in sickbay. He looked over at B'Elanna's prone figure and saw her chest rise and fall slowly.

"Lieutenant Torres is asleep, Lieutenant," the Doctor said coming into sight. He inject a hypo-spray into Paris' neck and Tom felt better.

"Since you are awake and are now breathing better, you may return to your quarters to rest there," the doctor replied looking away.

"What about B'Elanna?" Tom asked. Before the doctor could reply, Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay walked in.

"Lieutenant Torres will rest here and when she wakes up I will allow her to return to her quarters," the doctor replied.

"How are they, Doctor?" Janeway intervened.

"Except for exhaustion brought on by oxygen deprivation, they should both be fine," the doctor replied. Janeway nodded. She and Chakotay walked over to Paris as he was getting out of his environmental suit.

"Tom, how are you?" Janeway asked placing her hand on his shoulder.

"Fine just a little groggy. I think I'm going to go to my quarters," he said hopping the bio-bed. Janeway and Chakotay watched Tom walk over to B'Elanna's side. Her environmental suit had been taken off a few moments earlier. He reached down to touch her cheek and felt that it was cold. He sighed and turned and left to leave sickbay. Janeway looked at Chakotay and smiled sadly. He touched her shoulder lightly and the two gave one final look at Tores' sleeping form and left sickbay together. [ [ [

"Computer locate Tom Paris," Ensign Harry Kim said three hours later.

Tom Paris is in his quarters came the reply. Kim headed directly for that destination. When he stepped in front of the door, he sighed. He had heard that Tom seemed sullen since he returned from a near death experience. He reached out and pressed the door chime.

"Come in," a muffled voice said.

"Tom? What are you doing?" Harry asked when he walked in and found many different things on the floor, Tom in the middle of them.

"These are things my mother collected. After she died I took them as a memory of her. A lot of them are from the 1990s. I don't know how she kept them in such good condition. So what brings you here Harry?" Tom asked looking up at the man.

"I'm heading to the resort on the holo-deck. Wanna come?" Harry asked looking at the clutter.

"Nah. I think I'll just stay here and reminisce," Tom said smiling at his friend. Harry nodded and turned to leave. He gave a final glance at the man and sighed. He left without a backward glance. Tom continued to look through the items He picked up a plastic case and looked at the young woman on the front. She had blonde hair and looked young. The name next to her read Leann Rimes and the words below said How Do I Live. I wonder if this is a song, he thought.

"Computer search through the database under songs for How Do I Live by Leann Rimes," he said. He heard the chirp of acknowledgment.

Song as been located, the computer replied.

"Play it," he said getting up from the floor. As he walked to his sofa and sat down, the notes of the ballad drifted through the air of his quarters. [ [ [

Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres sat in her room looking at a picture she had of her and Tom. It was taken at the resort program Neelix set up. They had just got done swimming and water glistened off of them. That was the first time she ever saw Tom without a shirt on and she had been astonished.

"Computer locate Tom Paris," she said.

Tom Paris is in his quarters.

"What is he doing?"

He is listening to a song from the song database.

"Play the same song from the beginning in my quarters," she said. The computer chirped in reply and soon Leann Rimes' melodious voice filled her room. As she listened to the words her eyes began to fill with tears.

"How do I, get through one night without you, If I had to live without you What kind of life would that be, oh I, I need you in my arms, need you to hold Your my world, my heart, my soul If you ever leave, well baby you would take away everything good in my life And tell me now How do I live without you, I want to know How do I breathe without you, if you ever go How do I ever, ever survive How do I, How do I, oh How do I breathe Without you, there'd be no sun in my sky, There would be no love in my life, There'd be no world left for me. And I, well baby I don't know what I would do I'd be lost if I lost you, If you ever leave, Well baby you would take away everything real in my life, And tell me now How do I live without you, I want to know How do I live without, if you ever go How do I ever, ever survive How do I, How do I live, please tell me baby How do I go on, If you ever leave, Well baby you would take away everything I need you with me, Well baby don't you know you're everything good in my life, And tell me now. How do I live without you, I want to know How do I breathe without you, If you ever go How do I ever, ever survive. How do I, oh How do I live How do I live without you, How do I live without you, baby, How do I live."

B'Elanna sighed and wiped away the tears streaming down her face. As she listened to the words of the song, she replayed every moment that occurred while she and Tom dangled in space on the brink of death. When she woke up in sickbay earlier that day, she contemplated what she had told Tom and wondered if she would regret it. Until she listened to the song she did somewhat regret it. But now she realized, even if Tom didn't love her as much as she loved him, she would never regret telling him. Now he knew and they could take it one step at a time.

She wondered if he even realized how much she had changed since she joined the Voyager crew three years ago. She realized Tom's insistence on being involved with her, and his insistence on delving into her Klingon heritage to help her come to peace with it, helped her become much more likable over these past years. Tom didn't turn away from her temper, she realized Chakotay was the only man who ever did that, but he was more like her older brother, than someone she would consider a suitable person to possibly spend the rest of her life with.

Torres' thoughts stopped at that one. Am I really looking at Tom as someone I could be with forever? Someone I'd be willing to have a family with? she thought. She came to the conclusion that the answer was yes. But she still wanted to take it slow, unsure of Tom's feelings. Oh, she knew he wanted her, but was that all it was, or did his feelings go deeper? She would have to talk to him to find out.

[ [ [

B'Elanna stood in the briefing room listening to the Captain and Lieutenant Tuvok as they explained about Chakotay's accident on the planet below. She felt Tom's presence behind her. She tried to focus on the situation, but was startled when she heard Tom say he should have gone with Chakotay. She realized she was glad he didn't go. Even though she was worried about Chakotay, the song she heard yesterday made her realize how much she truly loved Tom, and the thought of him hurt, missing, or even worse, dead, frightened her beyond belief. She snapped back to reality when the Captain dismissed them after explaining what they would do.

[ [ [

He is so handsome, she thought. B'Elanna tried not to stare at Tom as he and Harry related the story of how they played a very discreet practical joke on Tuvok. When the Captain took over, B'Elanna tried to focus on her but, her gaze and thoughts traveled to the blonde man sitting across from herself and the doctor.

"Live long and prosper," she heard Tuvok say. She applauded for him as she got up to leave.

Tom saw B'Elanna get up and he followed her needing to talk to him. He found out she had accessed the song he was listening to yesterday.

"B'Elanna," Tom called. She stopped and turned around. They both laughed softly.

"This is ridiculous it's been three days and we haven't said a word to each other," Tom continued.

"I know, we have to talk," she said.

"About what you said. I mean the part about being in love with me, I realize you were suffering from oxygen deprivation, and we were literally seconds away from death, so I know you probably didn't mean it," he said.

"Oh no, no I meant it," she stammered, "but I don't expect you to, uh, reciprocate, really you could pretend I just didn't say it, in fact let's just forget..."

"Shut up," he said, cutting her off before pressing her against the wall and capturing her lips with his. She was surprised but soon relaxed and enjoyed the kiss. Maybe I was wrong, she thought.

"Mr. Paris?" the doctor's voice broke into their thoughts.

"I was just leaving. Lieutenant," B'Elanna said hurriedly waking away. As she did she smiled to herself. We'll continue this later. I promise, she thought. The Beginning