REVELATIONS

Author: Janine

Disclaimer: All of the characters mentioned in this story are the property of Paramount/ Star Trek people and I am simply borrowing them. Don't sue me, I'm a student and as such have no money. This is an alternative timeline story. The main characters are Jadzia Dax from Deep Space Nine, and B'Elanna Torres from Voyager.

Synopsis: What would have happened if Jadzia Dax had been aboard Voyager when they took their 'three hour tour' into the badlands.

The Love Thing: Yes, this is ultimately a love story, and it is about two women. So if this bothers you I suggest you leave now. Not to mention lighten up, 'cause love is good thing. For the rest of you enjoy!

Note: This is the very first story that I ever wrote (probably going on 8 years or so ago) and never posted before. So here it is … my very first story ever finally posted :D

---

PROLOGUE

Jadzia Dax intently studied the cards in her hands. A smile slowly working it's way across her beautiful lips. Turning her attention to the spinning wheel in front of her, she waited. Finally it stopped. Her poker face in place she turned to face the group of Ferengi's sitting around her. Placing her cards down on the table she broke into a brilliant smile.

"Tongo." She called. Quark the Ferengi owner of the establishment, astonishingly named 'Quarks', rubbed at his ears. One little word was the cause of so much pain.

"Perhaps, the lovely Lieutenant would care to play another game." The bartender said with a curve of his lips Dax assumed to be his attempt at a smile, be it somewhat pained. "Play again, double your profits. According to the forty-first rule of accusations it's an offer you can't refuse." The 'Rules of Accusation' were like the Ferengi bible, but the best part was that very few non-Ferengi knew what they were. Unfortunately for him, Jadzia Dax was one who did.

"The forty-first rule of accusation say's no such thing." Dax opened her mouth to continue when her combadge chirped. "Dax here."

"I need you in my office old man." Came the smooth response from Deep Space Nine's commanding officer, and a dear friend of Dax's, Commander Benjamin Sisko.

"On my way." Dax said standing up. To Quark she added, "Sorry, another time."

The doors to the Commander's office opened as Dax walked up. Sliding past them into the interior of the office the first thing she noticed was a woman with auburn hair pulled back into a bun, standing beside Sisko's chair. According to the pips on her collar, she was a Captain. Most likely of the ship that docked a few hours ago at docking port five, Voyager.

"Lt. Jadzia Dax, I'd like to introduce you to Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager." Sisko said rising to his feet. Dax took a step forward and extended her hand.

"It's a pleasure."

"Mine too, I've heard good things Lieutenant." Janeway said with a smile that was almost motherly. Dax took an instant liking to the woman. The trill also noted that the Captain had a rather unique sounding voice, but she liked it, it had... character. "Voyager," Janeway continued, "is equipped with a new technology, called bio-neural gel packs, which are a combination of the latest in organic, and mechanical engineering merging. Commander Sisko informed me that you are familiar with the technology."

"I have an old friend," Jadzia started, he was actually a friend of Curzon, who had the Dax symbiont before Jadzia, but she decided to leave that part out, "who was acquainted with one of the scientists involved in the project. As a result I was able to read up on a lot of the information on the gel packs. I found the subject most... intriguing so I kept up to date." Dax responded. Janeway nodded then spoke again.

"We've been having some minor problems with the gel packs. Nothing serious, but vexing nonetheless. As a result of the gel packs being a new technology my crew is having some difficulty pinpointing what the problem is. Given your knowledge in the area, I would appreciate it if you could work with my crew, and try to find a solution." Once the Captain finished, Dax glanced over at Sisko silently asking for permission. At his nod, she turned to Capt. Janeway.

"When do I start?" Jadzia asked with a smile.

For the next week, Dax worked tirelessly trying to track down, then fix the problem ailing Voyager's systems. A few days into it, they realized that the gel packs compositions were off. After that it was simply a matter of finding the right composition and keeping it there.

---

"Quark. This has gone bad." Dax said pushing her plate away. She had decided to come to Quark's for dinner after a long day on Voyager, and was starting to seriously regret it.

"Surely you're mistaken, there's absolutely no way---" Dax interrupted before he could finish.

"No mistake. Smell it." She pushed to plate up towards him so he could get a good whiff. As Quark lifted the plate up, Dax idly wondered why whenever someone smelled or tasted something bad they wanted someone else to smell or taste it. And why that person would after being told that smelled/tasted bad. It seemed… asinine yet she herself was guilty of it.

"Uh, oh." Quark said pushing the plate away. It smelled foul.

"I don't like the sound of that." Dax commented as Quark walked away to take care of his not so little problem. After sitting on the bar stool for a moment Dax decided not to brave any more of Quarks food, and replicate something in her quarters. Or maybe stop off and get some Klingon. Nothing hit the spot like some good galgh. As she stood and moved away from the bar, her combadge chirped. "Dax here."

"I need you in my office old man." It was Sisko. Dax shook her head. They had had this conversation already.

"I'm on my way Benjamin."

Jadzia considered what Sisko had told her earlier as she stepped onto the transporter pad. Voyager's chief science officer, and the only one besides Dax who had more than rudimentary knowledge of the gel packs, had gotten a bad case of food poisoning after eating at Quark's. As a result she was out of service for the next week. Captain Janeway was still concerned about the gel packs, and didn't want to be going into the badlands without someone who was familiar with the packs onboard. Hence Dax was now transporting over to Voyager to help out with the mission.

In everyone's life there are defining moments, events that change your life. You can either roll with the punches, or let the waves take you down. These are the moments, the events, which define you. Such was this trip for Jadzia Dax. For little did she know it, but this was the last time she would see DS9, and the Alpha Quadrant for a long time. As the tingle of the transporter beam blanketed her body, so began a new chapter of her life.

---

In reality it had only been a few weeks since Voyager was transported to the Delta Quadrant, but it felt like much longer. Dax knew that it was the same for the rest of the crew as well. With the destruction of the array, everything, and virtually everyone they knew was ripped away from them with a savage yank. Hurled halfway across the galaxy they were alone, 70,000 light years from the Federation, and the Alpha Quadrant, in a crippled ship, with a crew comprised of people who only days ago were enemies.

Presently they were in dire need of supplies and desperate to get them. They needed materials, lots of them, and if they didn't get them people were going to have to get out and push. With the replicators down Captain Janeway had to find a way to feed her crew, for reserve rations would only last for so long.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. As a result Dax and an away team were down on a planet that they couldn't scan, with a possible myriad of dangers that they wouldn't know about, trying to find some materials so they wouldn't have to keep the ship together with duct tape. Their mission was to get in, and get out with the supplies, ASAP.

"Lt. Dax, I think we've located some Scandium." Dax turned around to face Ensign Harry Kim. She had taken an instant liking to the young man, and although somewhat naïve she found him to be very capable.

"Where?"

"Down that ridge sir. The other's are already down there." Kim answered.

"Alright. Lead the way Ensign."

B'Elanna Torres stood up and brushed her hands together. Turning to survey the area around her she spotted her target and called out. "Starfleet." She called to Kim. It was a nickname she had come up with when they were in the Ocompa hospital together. Originally she had intended it to be insulting, but he took it to heart, and adopted it as his own.

"What is it?" Harry asked turning to look at Torres. She had taken off her uniform jacket and turtleneck. The planet was a bit warm, but not hot enough to warrant B'Elanna's level of clothing removal. He recognized it as what it was, a subtle act of defiance. B'Elanna had some unresolved anger issues when it came to Starfleet and she made sure they were known.

"Where's Lt. Dax?" B'Elanna asked. She didn't see the Trill anywhere around, and from the time they beamed down to this planet something had her on edge. A nagging feeling that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing.

"She went to the cave we passed on the way down here. Said something about having a hunch." Harry told her.

"When did she leave?" Harry paused for a moment thinking before he answered.

"About half and hour ago." The Ensign said.

"And no one was with her?" B'Elanna asked growing increasingly uneasy.

"No. Why?" The ensign was intrigued now.

"I have a bad feeling about this." B'Elanna answered distractedly. Picking up her tricorder the half-Klingon engineer headed towards the cave.

"We're suppose to stay here Torres." Harry called after her. There was no answer and she didn't come back, so he assumed that if she had heard him she was choosing to ignore his comment.

Dax put down her tricorder with a small smile of victory. The crystalline deposits at the mouth of the cave could indeed be used as a temporary source of energy for the ship, and they needed all they could get. Picking up the tricorder once again she was about to take some more readings when a noise in back of her caught her attention. Turning around Dax saw six very menacing figures she assumed to be the residents of the planet coming out of the bushes. As the tricorder slipped from her hands she thought, 'this cannot be good'. As the natives moved towards her she mentally turned over her situation, and the odds where definitely not in her favor. She kept her posture non-threatening, but she was ready should she need to defend herself. After all, maybe they just wanted to know if her spots went all the way down.

As B'Elanna entered the clearing near the cave, she paused. "Great." She muttered to herself as she took off into the clearing. There were six men, two of whom were lying on the ground not looking like they would be getting up anytime soon. Dax had taken them out, but was now in a little bit of a quandary near the cave wall with one of them. Torres crept up behind the native closest to her then tapped him on the shoulder. "Do you have the time?" She asked when he turned around. He stared at her blankly for a moment as if his brain couldn't process what was going on. When he didn't answer B'Elanna shrugged and socked him in the jaw, watching as he dropped. 'One down.' She thought with a smile.

"Ugh." Torres turned at the sound. It was Dax, she was pinned against the cave wall, and her side was soaked with blood and one of the natives was closing in on her with a knife in his hand. Quickly B'Elanna moved behind him, and once in position grabbed his arm twisting it, then imbedding it in his side. If he were human it would have gone between his ribs, as it was she just hoped it hurt, badly. As he sunk to the ground, out the corner of her eye she saw one of the two remaining natives running towards her. He looked like a bull charging, and she wasn't even wearing red. Side stepping to avoid the intended blow, she grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head into the cave wall. Adrenaline pumping, she quickly turned around to take care of the last guy, only to be greeted by his back as he made a hasty retreat back into the bushes.

She quickly moved over to where Dax was laying. She was breathing, but losing blood fast. "Torres to Voyager." She said tapping her combadge.

"Janeway here." Came the Captains reply. She was mildly surprised to be hailed by Torres. All that she remembered of B'Elanna Torres consisted of their meeting on the bridge, and then it looked like the young woman was going to try and kill her for destroying the array. It wasn't exactly the first impression one would want to make.

"Lt. Dax is injured. Request immediate beam out."

"Acknowledged." Janeway responded. Moment's later Torres felt the tingle of the transporter beam and watched as her leafy surroundings turned into a sea of shimmering particles.

---

Kathryn Janeway shifted a huge pile of data pads to the side, and looked up. "Come." She called. The doors to her ready room slid open, and her newly appointed first officer Commander Chakotay walked in. "How's Lt. Dax?" Janeway asked once he was seated.

"She's doing fine now. The wound wasn't life threatening though she did lose a bit of blood. The EMH says it's a good thing B'Elanna came along when she did."

"I'll make sure to thank Miss Torres myself. Lord knows we can't afford to lose anymore crew members." Chakotay nodded. It was very true.

"Systems report?" The Captain questioned.

"How much time do you have?" Chakotay asked. Janeway frowned.

4

---

Dax walked into the mess hall and headed over to one of the replicators. After ordering one of the many unappetizing reserve rations she headed over towards a table in the corner.

"Mind if I join you?" Dax said upon reaching the table. A pair of luminous brown eyes looked up at her. Dax stayed silent as the eyes took her in. When the chair in front of her was kicked back, the Trill took it as an invitation and sat down. "Jadzia Dax." She said extending her hand.

"I know." Came the reply. There was a moment of silence, then, "B'Elanna Torres."

"I know." Dax said mirroring B'Elanna's earlier reply. "B'Elanna, wasn't that the name of the Klingon patron of 'desperate causes'?" Dax continued after a moment thinking out loud. Looking up she noticed the Klingon's eyes flare with something, most likely surprise that she would know something like that. Then almost as fast as look appeared it returned to steady look of indifference they had before.

"Yeah it is." Torres responded. Putting the data pad she was holding in her hands down she then looked up at Dax as if to say 'get on with whatever brought you here'.

"Just thought I would come over here and personally thank the woman who saved my life." Dax said taking the hint.

"I'm glad I could be of service." B'Elanna said. "Besides," she added with a roguish grin, "I like a good fight." Dax had to smile at that. She could tell it was true, and she was pleased she had gotten a genuine response from the woman.

"Not that I'm complaining, but why did you come to the cave?" Dax asked. It had been bothering her since the attack, there just didn't seem to be a reason for the engineer to have come rushing into the clearing.

"I had a feeling. I've learned to trust them." Torres responded. Dax was about to ask another question when the engineer stood. "It's been nice chatting with you Lieutenant, but I really need to be in Engineering. If you'll excuse me." Dax nodded, as she watched the woman walk out of the mess hall. She had really only came over to thank B'Elanna, like she said, but she now found herself intrigued by the young engineer. Both what she saw, and what she suspected was hidden behind her chocolate brown eyes. There was more to her than a bad attitude, a temper, and studied indifference. Jadzia was sure of it.

Jadzia managed to spot B'Elanna sporadically over the next week, but wasn't able to really talk to her, which was what she wanted. Sighing she stepped off the turbolift onto the bridge just as Capt. Janeway was putting a call through to Engineering.

"Carey here Captain."

"These tremors that keep running through my ship are giving me worry. Do you have a way to stop them?" Janeway asked. Her ship was falling apart at the seams.

"The problem is with the internal dampers. What's happening is that this is causing a feedback loop into the engines, which is why we haven't been able to get the warp drive on-line. Trouble on two fronts. I believe that if we circumvent the plasma flow through the ODM outlet we should relieve the feedback loop, and solve both problems at once." Carey responded confidently though he wasn't nearly as certain about the plan as he sounded. Janeway was about to reply when she heard another voice through the link.

"You're wrong. If you do that it would be the biggest mistake in a history of big mistakes." The Captain recognized it as the disembodied voice of B'Elanna Torres.

"No one asked you Torres." Carey replied tartly.

"True." She answered.

"Then get back to work."

"I would, but I don't want to die." Carey was about to respond when Janeway's voice cut it off.

"What is going on down there?"

"Torres has a problem with the plan." Carey responded.

"And what would that problem be?" Janeway asked glancing at Chakotay. He was going to have to work with B'Elanna. This behavior was not acceptable. However, Janeway had some reservations herself about Carey's plan, and wanted another option.

"My problem would be that it won't work. The problem is with the internal dampers, but if we were to circumvent the plasma through the ODM outlet, it won't relieve the feedback loop, it'll cause the plasma to reroute through the EPG relay causing major fluctuations in the warp core. With half of the ships systems down or malfunctioning, this would cause Voyager to..." She paused here for a moment before continuing. Janeway later realized it for dramatic affect. "It would cause Voyager to go... BOOM." Janeway paused and thought about what had been said.

"What would you suggest?" Janeway asked finally.

"Ochem's razor Captain. All things being equal, the simplest answer is usually correct. We're complicating something that isn't complex. What I suggest is a simple re-calibration of the ODM outlet relieving the pressure we're placing on the dampers. The plasma can stay right where it is." Torres finished. Janeway looked at Chakotay with a raised eyebrow. The first officer could tell she was impressed.

"Lt. Carey?" Janeway questioned. She wanted to know if he had any problems with this plan.

"It should work." He admitted grudgingly.

"Then do it." Janeway ordered. To Chakotay she said. "She's two for two."

"B'Elanna may be a bit rough around the edges, but she's brilliant. Think of her as an uncut diamond." He replied.

"Once you get her cut she'll be an even more valuable addition to crew. Diamond or not, we have rules on this ship that need to be followed." Chakotay nodded. From the science station Dax couldn't hear the Commander's reply, but she was impressed as well, not to mention even more intrigued by this enigma that was B'Elanna Torres.

---

A few days later Dax was called into Captain Janeway's ready room. Once she had taken a seat the Captain began to speak. "I understand you're a seasoned pilot."

"Tobin Dax a former host of mine was arguably one of the best pilots of his day, and I, that being Jadzia before I was joined, was at the top of my classes."

"So that's a yes?" Janeway asked. Dax smiled and nodded.

"That's a yes."

"Our pilot Lt. Paris is busy using all of his considerable skill to pilot the ship through this sector, which is a considerable task with the condition Voyager is in, and with no navigational systems to speak of. I would like for you to work with Lt. Torres to fix the system, so we at least know where we're going." Janeway explained.

"Understood." Dax said, then stood to leave.

Over the course of their assignment Dax got the opportunity to spend some time with Torres, and learned quite a bit about her, while at the same time realizing that she knew hardly anything at all. She had a slight attitude problem, and hair trigger temper. She was also brilliant there was no disputing that. More than once Jadzia had wondered why the woman had left the academy, but whenever she ventured towards the subject, B'Elanna closed up. The Trill noticed that she had a habit of doing this if you broached a subject she was uncomfortable with. She just stopped talking, or ignored you all together. She also learned that the engineer had a dry, subtle sense of humor that Dax found charming when Torres slipped up and let it out. Despite her apparent animosity towards her Klingon heritage, Jadzia learned that B'Elanna had extensive knowledge of Klingon and human history, fables, myths and such things. And every once in while, she would spot a sadness emerge in her eyes that would tug at the Trills heartstrings. When the repairs were finished, B'Elanna Torres was as much a mystery to Dax as before, but Jadzia felt that a bond had been formed between the two. A friendship. And Dax felt somewhat honored since B'Elanna didn't seem to form many.

B'Elanna sat on the window sill of the window in her quarters and looked out at the expanse of stars laid out before her, as she reflected on the past week, and the friendship she had formed with the beautiful, brilliant, and undoubtedly interesting Jadzia Dax. She was smart, funny, fascinating, kind, and there was something about her presence that B'Elanna found comforting. In Dax's company she found that even though she wasn't the best conversationalist around she wasn't a mute either, and there was something in the Trill that called to her, made her, if only a little bit, open up. She decided it wasn't so bad, and that maybe she would give this friendship thing another go.

THE STORY

Three years later...

B'Elanna Torres lay on Jadzia's couch flat on her back as she stared at the ceiling. The look on her face was a cross between extreme boredom, and mild irritation. It was not a good combination for her.

"Aren't you ready yet?" Torres called out. They were already late for the reception.

"In a minute." Came the reply. Torres sighed.

"I could build a Starship in the time it's taking you to get ready."

"I doubt that. It's these damn dress uniforms are impossible to do up. It always takes me forever." Dax called back. That and the fact that she never seemed to manage to be on time for anything. Benjamin had teased her about it mercilessly seeing as it went back to when Curzon hosted the Dax symbiont. He had been late for his 100th birthday party and Jadzia was sure that if she made it to that age, she would be too.

"As I can attest to." B'Elanna muttered loud enough for Dax to hear.

"If you're in such a hurry, why don't you come back here and help me?" Dax called. The frigging zipper was impossible.

"Are you decent?" B'Elanna asked getting up making her way towards the bedroom, even though she really didn't care.

"What do you care? Anyway, besides the spots I haven't got anything you don't." Dax retorted. She knew the engineer was already on her way.

"It's only polite to ask. Didn't want to come back here and find you in a compromising position." Torres said stepping up behind Dax. "How can I be of service?" She asked with a bad British accent. She was going to have to cut back on the holo-vid's she watched with Tom and Harry. A myriad of possibilities flashed through Dax's head in response to the question.

"Can you do up the zipper?" She asked finally. B'Elanna looked at the offending zipper. It had been a course of difficulty to her as well. She had finally got it done up by contorting her body into all sorts of positions she wasn't even aware she could make. Grasping Dax's troublesome zip, she pulled up.

"Done. Now don't say I never do anything for you." B'Elanna said herding Dax out of the room. "Let's go, move it.". Jadzia turned to give her a nasty look to which Torres responded, "I am the ultimate dictator."

"You got the first syllable right." Dax responded smiling internally at B'Elanna frown.

"You know, I've killed people for less than that." B'Elanna said mirroring a threat her mother used to use.

PART ONE

Lieutenants' Dax and Torres were led into a huge room decorated in colorful hues once they beamed down. They were on the planet Alear; Voyager was in the middle of negotiations with a people called the Tolken for materials the ship was desperately in need of. The room itself reminded Torres of the holo-pictures she had seen of Byzantine architecture used on earth after the death of Christ. Dax for her part was captivated by their lovely surroundings. She glanced at B'Elanna who as usual seemed suitably unimpressed by the beauty of their surroundings. Sometimes she wished she could just get the half-Klingon to stop and smell the roses. Spotting the Captain and the rest of the senior officers, she tugged B'Elanna towards them.

Looking up Janeway spotted her missing officers approaching them. Smiling at the Tolken ambassador and their host, Dace, the federation Captain introduced her officers.

"Ambassador Dace, allow me to introduce Voyager's chief engineer Lt. B'Elanna Torres, and science Officer Lt. Jadzia Dax." Janeway said pointing to each respectively.

"It's a pleasure to met you ambassador." Dax said smiling charmingly. The Captain had heard B'Elanna refer to it as her "candy-smile", as in it was so sweet it could rot your teeth. B'Elanna bowed her head and gave a slight smile.

"Glad to meet you." She said. Dace returned their smiles and greeting the stepped into the center of the room. He made a few remarks about how delighted he was at the trade negotiations they were about to undertake, and that this was to be a celebration so everyone was to "eat, drink, and most importantly enjoy!".

PART TWO

Tom Paris sidled up to B'Elanna who was in the food line. He had been unsuccessfully trying to woo her for months now, but that didn't dissuade him from trying.

"You look lovely this evening Lieutenant." B'Elanna swung her head around to look into the smiling face of Voyager's handsome pilot.

"Thank you. You're looking rather... spiffy yourself." She said with a smirk. Paris knew he didn't have a snowballs chance in hell with her, but he always tried. She found it oddly endearing. All things being said and done, Thomas Eugene Paris was a good man, and a good friend.

"Why thank you." He responded as he surveyed the dinner items. "What looks good?"

"I can tell you what looks good. Whether or not it is, is another thing entirely. After all, Neelix's hair pasta looked good." B'Elanna commented dryly picking up what appeared to be some kind of sticky bun.

"I wouldn't know, I ended up wearing it remember." B'Elanna smirked but didn't reply. "Do you get the feeling not even Dr. Suess could have come up with some of these dishes?" Paris asked absently.

"Doctor who?" Torres asked.

"No, he was the guy with the time machine."

"Paris, what the hell are you talking about?" Tom saw B'Elanna's confused expression and realized she had no idea who Dr. Suess or Dr. Who were. B'Elanna was very knowledgeable about earth's history, but apparently he was alone when it came to 20th century science fiction, and bedtime stories.

"Never mind." He said deciding to change to the subject. "So what took you and Dax so long?"

"Dax had some trouble with the dress uniform." B'Elanna said eyeing then dismissing a particular food item.

"Trouble?" Paris asked.

"Yeah, couldn't get the zipper up. But I took care of her." Tom considered the comment for a moment then discarded it.

"I had to get Harry to help with mine. A 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours deal.'". Torres nodded, and they continued through the buffet.

Chakotay noticed Jadzia standing near the bar talking to a young Tolken. Actually from the pained expression on her face he guessed the Tolken was doing most of the talking and Dax could care less about the subject.

"Lieutenant could I talk to you please?" Chakotay asked sending an apologetic look to her companion. Dax excused herself and followed Chakotay. After they were a safe distance away Dax turned to the Commander with a grateful look on her face.

"Thank you." She said gratefully.

"Glad to help." He said with a smile.

"I should have just pulled a Torres." Dax said ruefully as they headed towards the buffet.

"Pulled a Torres?" Chakotay questioned. Dax smirked.

"It would have taken B'Elanna about five seconds to determine that he didn't have anything to say she wanted to hear, and she would have been out of there in no time. I however was busy trying to think of a polite way to excuse myself and ended up trapped."

"Sometimes it pays not to give a damn." Chakotay said.

"She gives a damn Chakotay." Dax said seriously. People were always making little digs like that because of B'Elanna's sometimes icy demeanor, but she cared, and despite the image she projected comments like that hurt her. Dax knew that Chakotay was just joking around however, he loved Torres like a brother. "Most of the time anyway." She added with a smile to take some of the bite off of her earlier words. Chakotay nodded, he had noticed that Jadzia was quick to jump to B'Elanna's defense. Truly he was glad she was such a good friend. Jadzia seemed to be the only person who could get through to the young engineer. The Trill had been a good influence on B'Elanna and he was glad for it.

"What took you two so long to get here?" He asked after a few moments of silence.

"Technical difficulties." She responded. At the Commander's questioning look she elaborated. "I couldn't get that back zipper done up." Chakotay understood. The zipper had been a supreme source of difficulty to him as well.

"Well obviously you got it taken care of."

"B'Elanna took care of it. She's good to have around in a sticky situation." Dax answered. Chakotay nodded though the comment gave him pause. Sometimes he could swear that

B'Elanna sipped at her wine then returned it to the table as she looked at the dance floor. Soon after dinner Dace declared that "it was time to dance!". Paris had asked the half-Klingon to dance more than a few times, but after being politely (at least for B'Elanna) turned down, he had moved onto greener pastures, stating "a man can only take so much rejection". B'Elanna watched now as Paris spun Dax in time with the music. A Tolken approached her asking if she would like to dance, but she declined saying she didn't know how. It was a lie, she could actually dance quite well, but she was enjoying the floorshow too much. The main attraction being one tall, blue eyed, spotted woman who went by the name Jadzia Dax. So, as Jadzia glided along the dance floor, B'Elanna watched her, captivated. The woman was beautiful, astoundingly, inspiringly beautiful. She saw her friend smile, and felt herself mirror the gesture. Sighing she finished off the rest of her wine, and stood. She needed some fresh air. She didn't know when she started to feel this way about her friend, but she did know that at times like this when the feelings started to overwhelm her it was best to remove herself from the source of those feelings.

4

PART THREE

Dax noticed B'Elanna head out of the ballroom. There was nothing particularly peculiar about her manner, but Dax knew that something was wrong. She had become astonishing good at recognizing B'Elanna's moods by noticing the smallest things. She finished her dance then excused herself following the path B'Elanna had taken.

After a few moments of wandering she spotted a figure sitting under an umbrella tree in the garden. Knowing it was B'Elanna she headed over. "What's the matter?" She asked as she sat down. She had learned that Torres didn't care much for subtlety. B'Elanna didn't look over knowing it Dax even before she spoke. Not wanting to talk to about what was truly bothering her she changed the subject.

"They're magnificent aren't they?" The engineer asked staring at the sky.

"What?" Dax asked.

"The stars. I never just look at them anymore. When I was a kid I used to lie on our front lawn with... I used to lay on our front lawn forever, just staring."

"Who'd you used to lay there with?" Dax asked. She had a pretty good idea what the answer was, but she wanted to hear B'Elanna say it. She was beginning to think that the other woman wasn't going to answer when she spoke.

"My dad. We would lay there picking out shapes, then he would tell me stories of times long ago." There was a wistful tone to B'Elanna voice, like she was re-living it all. It was rare that Torres would talk about her childhood, so Dax decided to make use of the opportunity.

"What kind of stories?"

"Of a time when the earth was ruled by gods, warlords, and Kings. Stories of epic battles and heroes and villains. Good vs. Evil. He even told the odd Klingon battle epic though I think he took some liberties with the details. They were the only kind of stories mom would let him tell, though I'm sure he had others." Dax felt B'Elanna shift beside her after she stopped speaking and looked over. She knew there would be no more talk of the past or what was bothering her tonight. "Why'd you leave?" B'Elanna asked, finally looking at Dax for the first time since she came out to the garden.

"Thought you might like some company." Dax told her.

"I'm used to keeping my own company." Torres responded. "But I'm glad you came out." She added with a smile. Dax grinned at that.

"So what do you see?" The Trill asked looking up at the sky.

"A Targ." B'Elanna responded. Dax looked at her.

"A Targ? Where?"

"Right there." B'Elanna said pointing.

"That's not a Targ. It's a wild boar. See there are the tusks." Dax said pointing.

"It's a Targ." B'Elanna said again. There were no tusks.

"Boar." There were definitely tusks.

"Targ."

PART FOUR

B'Elanna skidded across the floor reaching the ball just before it hit the ground and tapped it lightly so that after it hit the panel it died. She turned around and grinned at Chakotay who ran his fastest to get the ball but came up short.

"I see you got that drop shot down." Chakotay observed slightly out of breath.

"Practice makes perfect." Torres said. She seemed to have a natural aptitude for the game. She hadn't played racquetball before coming on Voyager, but since Chakotay introduced her to it she had taken to it like a fish to water. Hand eye coordination, speed, and touch were all involved, and B'Elanna had each in abundance. "That's three games to zero."

"One more." Chakotay practically wheezed. He was in excellent shape, but she was wearing him out.

"You know, I never pictured you to be a glutton for punishment." Torres ribbed.

"Serve the ball." Chakotay told her. He wasn't in the mood for her witticisms. B'Elanna smiled then ran to the right wall jumping up using her foot to propel herself off as she served the ball. After a few points Chakotay turned to his friend. "So where'd you disappear to last night."

"I went out to the garden get some fresh air." B'Elanna replied returning the ball.

"What about Dax I noticed her disappear soon after?" Chakotay asked sending the ball off a side panel. He knew he had to be careful how he went about this.

"She was there." B'Elanna responded stretching to reach for the ball. The point continued in silence for a while before Chakotay broke it.

"So what's going on with you two?" He asked. B'Elanna had been preparing to crush the Commander's last return when he spoke and totally miss hit the ball and had to duck as the ball came flying back at her head.

"What's that suppose to mean?" The engineer asked defensively once upright.

Chakotay sighed, "It means I was sitting next to you last night and I saw how you were looking at her."

"Really. And how exactly was I 'looking at her'". Torres asked testily.

"With this sparkle in your eyes that I've never seen before. With a softness to your face, and a smile on your lips that's only there when she's around." Chakotay said as B'Elanna paced the floor.

"You don't know what you're talking about." She stated.

"I think I do. I think you're feeling more than friendship. I'm your friend B'Elanna, for once just talk to me." He implored.

"What?" B'Elanna asked in agitated voice. "What do you want me to tell you? That when I'm around her my palms start to sweat and my heart beat quickens. That when she smiles and I know I put it there, that another crack appears in my armor. That she keeps me honest, that over the years she's become so much a part of me that the thought of her not being in my life causes me a pain worse then I've ever felt before. And that I have no idea when things changed, when I noticed these things but that there's no denying them, and that I have absolutely no idea what to do about it. Is that what you wanted to know, what you had in mind?" B'Elanna asked.

"Yes." Chakotay answered. He was surprised; he had never seen her display such a wide array of emotions.

"Yes. That's all you have to say? Your pearl of wisdom?" B'Elanna asked incredulously. What the hell did she just do? She wasn't even sure what she was feeling and she was spilling all of this to Chakotay.

"What are you going to do?" He asked.

"I don't know." B'Elanna responded. She had this look of utter and complete loss on her face. Chakotay realized she had no way to reference these feelings. Obviously whatever she was feeling was stronger than anything she had felt before.

"Are you going to tell her?"

"I said, I don't know." B'Elanna said shooting him an irritated look.

"You can't hide from this, or will it away." Chakotay said. He knew how B'Elanna had a tendency to run and hide from emotions, or just bottle them up inside until it became too much and she vented it all.

"What are you some fucking psychologist?" She asked. She had no idea what she was saying anymore. The room was getting smaller. She wasn't having this conversation.

"You can't hide from your emotions. From your heart." Chakotay said. She was heading for the door.

"You're giving me a headache." B'Elanna complained. She was sure her ears were bleeding.

"You can ignore me B'Elanna but you can't ignore the inevitable." Chakotay called after her. She made some reply but he didn't hear it. He considered going after her knowing she had to talk about this, work through it. The funny thing was, normally he would have gotten Dax to talk to her. He decided their talk would have to wait, he was on duty soon.

4

PART FIVE

Captain Janeway put her hands in her head and rubbed her temples vigorously. These negotiations were not going well. For all of the Tolken's hospitably and charm, they were aggravating rigid. It was like trying to negotiate with a brick wall. The thing that really irritated her though was that Voyager desperately needed the magnasite ore the Tolken's had, so she couldn't risk walking away from the table as a bargaining chip. If they refused to let her sit back down, she and her ship would be up the creek. She needed coffee. But could she have some? No. Why? Because until they did get the magnasite she had placed strict regulations use of the replicators. She really, really wanted some coffee. Not the tar Neelix served. Maybe if her thoughts were interrupted by a buzz.

"Come." She called out. Commander Chakotay came in, door shutting behind him. Janeway sighed, she was being to loath the sight of him. It was nothing personal. It was just that every time she saw him lately he brought bad news.

"Don't worry Captain. It's not bad this time." The Commander stated as if reading his superior's thoughts. With this news he saw her visibly perk up.

"What?" There was an almost childlike excitement to her voice that would have made him laugh if it wasn't utterly unacceptable.

"B'Elanna thinks she's located a deposit of ore on an M class planet not far from here." Janeway smiled.

PART SIX

Striding into Engineering Janeway located and headed towards her chief engineer. "Report." B'Elanna turned to look at the Captain then stepped to the side allowing her commander access to the console.

"What has Chakotay told you?" She asked.

"He said you think you've located a source of magnasite ore on a planet close to here." The Captain answered.

"Alright, here's the deal. I think, that means I'm moderately certain but not positive that on a planet approximately three days away by shuttle, that the third planet in a system of five planets has massive deposits of magnasite ore. The problem is there's a meteor belt with internal showers that's fucking… excuse me messing up my readings." B'Elanna amended. She winced slightly at her slip up, but Janeway was amused by the woman's verbal faux pas. "It's this interference which makes me say I'm not one hundred percent sure. However, considering the way these negotiations are going... " She let the sentence hang. Janeway knew what she meant. This planet might be the only way they get the ore, and they had to get the ore.

"This interference, will it affect the shuttle's systems?" They were talking in terms of a shuttle because Voyager could not leave the negotiations to head of to this planet unless they were sure there was ore and they could mine it.

"We'll lose communications once the shuttle enters the belt." B'Elanna answered. She knew the Captain wasn't going to like that but it was the truth.

"I won't lie. I don't like that." Janeway stated her good mood at Chakotay's news rapidly deflating. "But I don't see that I have much of a choice."

"Neither do I captain." B'Elanna said sensing victory.

"Team?" Janeway asked.

"Myself, and Lt. Dax." B'Elanna answered, making a few entries into the console.

"Why not Lt. Paris, if you're going into a meteor belt. Those are dangerous grounds."

"Because I'll need a scientist once we land. Paris is also involved in the negotiations and although I'm no expert on diplomacy I figured that yanking out one of your consular representative's without offering an explanation would be a bad thing." B'Elanna replied. "Besides, next to Paris, Dax is the best pilot on Voyager and once we get down to the planet I've got my scientist." Janeway was silent for a moment as she turned over and examined everything the engineer had said. It made sense.

"Okay. Prepare a mission profile, and inform Lt. Dax." Janeway headed back to the bridge and B'Elanna turned to her console.

4

PART SEVEN

Torres, Dax, and some Engineering personnel had the shuttle the stacked and ready for an early morning launch by 23:00 the night before. At 06:00 the next morning, Voyager's Chief Engineer and Scientist boarded the shuttle named "The Tomorrow". Jadzia Dax sat at the pilot's station running various systems checks while B'Elanna sat at the Engineering terminal doing the same.

"All systems check out." Dax said.

"Here too." B'Elanna responded before tapping her combadge. "Torres to bridge."

"Janeway here." The Captains voice was crisp through the communicator.

"We're all set down here." Torres told her.

"Alright. Good luck." Janeway said closing the signal port.

"She's all yours." B'Elanna said to Dax as she got up.

"Where are you going?" Dax asked as she started to move the ship through the now open bay doors.

"To sleep. I was up all night writing a mission profile." B'Elanna answered from the back room.

"I said I would help with that." Dax called back. She had offered repeatedly but B'Elanna just told her to go to sleep.

"No reason for both of us to be sleep deprived." B'Elanna answered before heading into the back cabin, and lying down on her bed and closing her eyes.

PART EIGHT

Torres sat on her bed with her back leaning against the wall. In her hand she held an intricately constructed silver bracelet. It had an interlace pattern similar to ones used by the nomadic peoples that traveled Europe hundreds of years ago on Earth. The metal was light, but sturdy, and had a unique consistency to it. It was quite beautiful. She had picked it up on Alear a few days before and was planning on giving it to Dax for her birthday, which was in a month. At least she couldn't be accused of procrastinating. She turned it over in her hand wondering if she should put an inscription on it.

"What're you doing?" Dax asked as she walked into the room. B'Elanna scrambled hiding the bracelet under her pillow. Why hadn't she heard her?

"Nothing." She replied hastily. "Didn't your mother teach you how to knock?"

"Someone's snappish. First off it's my room too. Secondly from your reaction you were definitely up to something, and thirdly, there's no door to knock on." Dax voiced crossing over to the other bed.

"Shouldn't you be flying this thing?" B'Elanna asked setting back into the position she occupied before.

"It's on auto-pilot. Clear skies for the next two days. My job doesn't start till the belt." Dax said lying back lacing her hands behind her head. Looking over at B'Elanna she could tell the woman was nervous by the way that she kept running her hands through her hair. Dax had always found that gesture cute. Still she couldn't figure out what could be bothering her friend. She knew it had to do with whatever B'Elanna had been doing before she came in though. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." B'Elanna said. At Dax's non-believing look she decided she better come up with something more substantial. "I didn't hear you come in. You weren't in stealth mode, I should have heard you." That was true enough, she should have heard. Though she knew the reason she didn't.

"Uh, huh." Dax said. B'Elanna was telling those half-truths again, holding things back. The woman really did hear everything, she had ears like a wolf, but that wasn't what was really making her nervous. Glancing over at her companion she saw the poker face and decided to drop the subject for now. "We've got some time. You want to play twenty questions?"

"Yes." B'Elanna said grateful for the subject change. "It's my turn."

"Fine. Are you alive?" Dax asked.

"Yes." Dax rolled her eyes and asked another question.

"Do you serve on board the Federation Starship Voyager?" She had learned to word her questions carefully. Torres was sneaky.

"Yes, yes I do."

"Are you human?"

"No." B'Elanna answered with a cocky smile. Dax was never going to guess this.

PART NINE

Dax took a seat, and disengaged the autopilot. They would be entering the hot zone in about an hour. "Dax?" B'Elanna called. No answer. "Jadzia?", no answer. Smirking B'Elanna called out, "Friend of friends?".

"Shut up B'Elanna." Dax replied. She was still upset.

"Are you still mad?" B'Elanna asked surprised.

"Yes."

"I said I was sorry." B'Elanna pointed out.

"You didn't mean it. Besides what you pulled was low. Even for you." B'Elanna wanted to smile at that but carefully hid it knowing it wouldn't be appreciated. Dax had been mad at her since they played twenty questions, and she was tired of it. She didn't like it when Dax was mad at her. She didn't give a damn what ninety-nine percent of the people she meet cared about her, but did care what Dax thought. It was time to rectify this situation. Swiveling her chair to face Jadzia she spoke.

"I really am sorry. I won't do it again."

"A gel pack is not alive." Dax stated.

"It's organic," B'Elanna said. Then remembering this was an apology added, "but it's not alive, therefore did not qualify." She said seriously while giving Dax a look that could only be described as 'sad puppy dog'.

"Okay, you're forgiven." Dax said. Once she got the puppy face she couldn't stay mad. It always amazed her how B'Elanna was able to get a look that innocent on her face. The woman wasn't that innocent. Dax imagined that there were young children and little puppies that couldn't even pull that look off. She just put it in that 'part of the enigma' category and left it be.

"Okay, then let's go find some magnasite ore." B'Elanna said as swiveled back to her console.

PART TEN

Harry Kim watched as Captain Janeway paced back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. I was a never-ending cycle and he was sure it would drive him insane. The negotiations weren't going well; in fact they weren't going at all. Still that was no reason for the psychotic cycle of pacing the Captain had embarked upon. 'Though,' he thought, 'the unnatural silence that was blanketing the room is just as bad'. Finally, Tom Paris broke the monotony.

"We could always threaten them. It worked for Sean Kramer. He got all the nilla wafers a six year old could want." Janeway fixed the pilot with a look that conveyed she was not at all amused by his suggestion. Stress and no coffee had made her nasty. Paris shrunk back into his chair, and Harry sent him a look which said, 'Nice try. At least she didn't eat you'. It was going to be a long meeting.

PART 11

Sweat was running down Jadzia Dax's face as her hands flew over the console. She just couldn't keep up. For every piece of rock she dodged there were three more were coming at them. The cabin was filled with smoke, blinking lights and things beeping. There were lots of things beeping. This was not going as planned. The readings they had taken from Voyager didn't begin to show the turbulence inside of the belt. This wasn't a meteor shower. It was a meteor monsoon. The sensor's were going crazy alerting her to dangers, so much so it was difficult to make out what they were saying. And the viewscreen was useless due to the rock particles and dust. One thing was certain, if a pilot of lesser abilities had been flying the shuttle they'd already be dead. As things were Dax wasn't certain they wouldn't end up that way anyhow.

"Hit, starboard." B'Elanna called out. She was having a hell of a time just keeping the engines on line. Warp drive had gone off line after a particularly large chunk of rock decided to interface with the side of the shuttle. Not that they were using the warp drive in the meteor belt, it just meant that it was going to be a real pain once they got out. That was if they got out at all. The way systems were crashing all around them and B'Elanna wasn't sure how much longer she could keep the engines going. If they lost the engines it would only be a matter of minutes before the rocks bombarding the shuttle caused the shields to fail completely, and they were reduced to space dust. "How long till we exit the belt?" B'Elanna yelled. She couldn't hear a damn thing with all those warning bells going off.

"Ten minutes!" Dax yelled back maneuvering the shuttle hard to port, and sending B'Elanna who was moving around the cabin tumbling. "Sorry!" She yelled. She heard B'Elanna's voice but couldn't make out what she was saying.

"Shit." Dax turned at B'Elanna's exclamation. Then she saw the fire raging to her left.

"Shit!" Dax yelled.

"That's what I said." B'Elanna called back as she ran to the fire extinguisher. She was going to have to do this the old fashion way. She hoped the thing worked or... well, she'd be dead, and that was never good. Moving to Jadzia's left in front of the fire but far enough away not to get burned B'Elanna turned the extinguisher on. After what seemed like an eternity she managed to stop the fire and headed back to her console. "Shield's are at 28, engines down to 20. If we don't get out of here soon, we're not getting out."

"Three minutes." Dax called back. She was just concentrating on getting them out of the belt now. She didn't even want to think what would happen once they made it out. They wouldn't be able to get back the way they came, that was for sure. And depending on how bad the engines were damaged there was no guarantee that they could land, or if they did land that they would be able to lift off again. And they would have to land to conduct repairs.

Tapping at her key's Dax called out, "Five, four, three, two, one!" They broke free of the belt and into clear space. Dax's sensor's cleared up, and the viewscreen was useable once again. The cabin was still filled with smoke and the beeps and sirens were still blaring. They were no longer in immediate danger of dying, but they weren't sitting pretty either. "B'Elanna. Tell me again how this was suppose to be a cake walk." Jadzia asked pressing some keys. Torres sent Dax a weary grin.

"I said it would be as easy as eating pancakes. Not a cake walk." B'Elanna said sitting at her console.

"Either way." Dax stated.

"Yeah I know." B'Elanna said. She was angry, Dax could hear it in her voice. Dax knew it wasn't directed at her, but at their entire situation and the fact that B'Elanna wasn't able to predict everything, and that she had been wrong about the severity of the inside of the meteor belt. "We've got to get to the third planet and land this thing." B'Elanna said tapping at her keys.

"Alright. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride." Dax said. B'Elanna grunted something in reply that Dax couldn't hear, and knowing her friend she was glad she didn't hear.

PART 12

Janeway listened to Dace carefully before standing up. "Ambassador, those terms are simply not acceptable. We cannot pay what you are asking. Voyager is one ship. We are alone out here." The Captain stressed. She had tried everything else, why not give the sympathy card a go. "I'm afraid once again our reputation has given someone the wrong impression. Voyager is not a miracle ship. While we do have unique technologies we can't just snap our fingers and make things appear. If we could we wouldn't be engaged in these negotiations." Dace considered the Captains words before speaking.

"Perhaps then we can arrange a different sort of payment?" Dace offered. Janeway wanted to sigh with relief but she kept her expression neutral. Maybe they could actually start negotiating.

"Perhaps. What did you have in mind?" She asked.

"Since you arrived I have been most fascinated with your... transporter. I believe that is what it is called." Dace said with a smile. Janeway smiled weakly back. 'Here we go again' she thought.

PART 13

Torres grabbed her head as she slowly sat up. Blood. She could tell the cut wasn't serious and started to review their situation. Dax. The cabin was dark and she couldn't even make out her own hand. Getting on her hands and knees she started crawling towards the navigational console, feeling with her hands. She had to find Dax. When her left hand hit something soft she let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding. She moved so that she was sitting next to Dax.

"Jadzia?" She said settling the Trills head in her lap. "Dax?" She called again in a more authoritative voice appealing to the officer. Finding the Trills neck she checked for a pulse. She hoped to whatever god might be listening that it was there. She couldn't lose her, not now. Feeling a steady but weak pulse, B'Elanna stood regretfully. She knew that she had to get things in order, and that for the time being Jadzia would be fine. First priority would be to get the basic systems on line.

The sun was starting to set as B'Elanna re-entered the shuttle. She could already feel the temperature dropping. If she had had any doubts before about whether or not they could stay in shuttle over night they disappeared along with the sun. She had managed to at least get the lights in the cabin on so she could see where she was going, and what she was doing. She moved over to Dax. The scientist had awoken a few hours before and had been sleeping on and off since. B'Elanna knew that wasn't good but she hadn't been able to find the med-kit.

"Dax?" B'Elanna called kneeling down by the sleeping woman. "Hey, Zia, wakey, wakey." She called again, shaking her slightly. Dax opened one eye groggily and peered at Torres.

"Five more minutes." The Trill said. She couldn't seem to get the two images of B'Elanna to merge and it was making her already epic headache worse. B'Elanna could see that Jadzia was in pain and she would have given her right arm to take it away.

"Five minutes. Then we've got to get out of here." B'Elanna insisted gently.

"Out of here?" Hold on, where are we going?" Dax asked, her mind clearing. B'Elanna looked around, she really had to get the rest of their equipment together and get them out of there, but she knew she had better just explain it all now or Dax would pester her and it would end up taking longer than if she just answered her question.

"The shuttles in pretty bad shape." B'Elanna stated sitting back down beside Dax. "I can't get life support on-line and the temperature is dropping fast. I really don't want to spend the night out here in conditions like that. It's going to be close to freezing."

"The shuttles got to be better than outside." Dax pointed out.

"True, but while you were sleeping I checked out our immediate area and there's a cave about ten minutes from here. It's got a hot spring that serves as a natural heat source as well as fresh water. There's a lot more room in there to set up equipment, and it's easy to defend. Should we need it." B'Elanna responded.

"What equipment?" Dax asked, she was still somewhat out of it.

"Mostly the things you'll need to analyze the soil samples and stuff. Then the medical kit, water purifier and things like that." B'Elanna answered. "But first we treat your injuries."

"Why didn't you do that before?" Dax asked.

"I just found the med-kit a few minutes ago. I told you, the shuttles a mess."

It took B'Elanna about twenty minutes to treat Jadzia's injuries. None of them was life threatening but they had her in quite a bit of pain. She had a few fractured ribs, which were now healed but would be sore for at least the rest of the day. A concussion, which B'Elanna had treated, and was now a dull ache. And a broken wrist, which was healed and in working order. Once done Torres had given her an adequate dose of quartrazine with the hypospray to relieve the pain. Once administered Dax said "Thank god for drugs". A statement that B'Elanna whole heartily agreed with. Seeing Dax in pain was almost as hard on her as it was on Jadzia.

"Are you ready?" B'Elanna asked as she hoisted the bag with their equipment on her back. It was time to move out.

"As I'll ever be." Dax said standing up carefully mindful of her ribs.

"Then let's go." B'Elanna said. She came up putting her arm around Dax's waist to help support her as they headed out of the shuttle.

PART 14

Captain Janeway was sure she was going to have a nervous breakdown, and the rest of the senior staff would have been inclined to agree with her. The Tolken's were being even more impossible than before. Something no one on Voyager imagined was possible. Janeway explained repeatedly why they couldn't give them transporter technology. She even went as far as to show Dace that section of the Prime Directive, and explain the history behind the rule. After that the man asked about the replicators. The longer Voyager spent in negotiations with the Tolken's the more Janeway began to believe that Torres and Dax were their only hope.

PART 15

Dax had to admit that the cave was much better than the shuttle. In fact, as far as caves went it was quite luxurious. She had finally gotten B'Elanna to treat that cut on her forehead and now watched as the half-Klingon moved around the cave setting things up for their stay. To help combat the chilly night air B'Elanna had heated some rocks with a phaser. It helped heat the cave and gave off an orange glow, which lit the cave. B'Elanna was bathed in the golden light causing a slightly surreal affect. Dax didn't think it was possible for B'Elanna to be any more beautiful, but she succeeded. Dax gasped softly when she saw a pair of brown eyes staring at her.

"Are you okay?" B'Elanna asked moving to sit by Jadzia.

"Yeah I'm fine. I was just thinking." Dax replied. She'd been caught staring.

"Are you hungry?" Torres asked. She was starving. It had been almost a full day since either of them had eaten.

"Yeah. What's on the menu?" Dax asked.

"Rations, rations, and more rations. You want silver wrapping or blue?" B'Elanna asked moving over to where was food was. Coming back to Dax she laid out their options. "Take your pick." Dax pulled out the one with the silver package.

"Yummy." She said tearing it open. B'Elanna picked up one without looking at it and ripped it open. They all tasted the same anyway.

PART 16

Dax sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. The temperature had dropped even more since they had settled for the night and she was cold. They had turned in a couple of hours ago but there was no way she could sleep. Knowing Klingon's sensitivity to the cold she was surprised B'Elanna was sleeping. Standing up with her blanket Dax crossed over to where B'Elanna was laying down. When the Trill looked down she meet by a pair of beautiful brown eyes.

"I'm cold." Dax stated. B'Elanna nodded; she had already figured it out by the shivers running through Dax's body. Truth be told, she was freezing.

"Yeah, so am I." B'Elanna admitted. "Lay down." She said patting the ground beside her. Dax looked down questioningly. "The only extra heat we're going to get is from each other." B'Elanna stated. Dax nodded and lay down. It was the heat that B'Elanna generated in her when she was near that worried Dax.

"So how are we going to work this?" Dax asked once horizontal.

"Turn on your side." B'Elanna said. "No the other way, so your back is towards me." B'Elanna instructed. This was going to be taxing enough on her self-control without having to look at Dax's face. Once Dax was turned over B'Elanna moved up behind her and tentatively draped an arm across her waist. "See, it's warmer already." B'Elanna said once they were settled.

"What would I do without you?" Dax asked playfully.

"You'd be warm in your bed, and safe on Voyager." B'Elanna responded. Even though they had just gotten settled when Dax heard the self-depreciating tone in B'Elanna's voice she turned around so she could see the woman's face.

"Don't." Dax said.

"Don't what?" B'Elanna asked avoiding Dax's eyes.

"What happened wasn't your fault." Dax said tilting B'Elanna's face up so she could look into her eyes.

"If I had checked the data again, or run more scans I..." Torres started.

"You still wouldn't have been able to have detected the true conditions inside the belt. I read over all your data Bella, you ran every scan imaginable and triple checked the results." Dax said. Looking into B'Elanna eyes she stressed, "There was no way you could have known. I don't blame you, so please don't blame yourself." B'Elanna was quite for a moment before responding.

"We should get to sleep, we going to be busy tomorrow." B'Elanna said lowering her eyes. Dax may not blame her, but she was sure that if she had prepared better things would have been different. If anything happened to Dax because of this mission, she would never forgive herself.

Dax saw B'Elanna lower her eyes and knew that the woman was still blaming herself. She wouldn't push now, but they would talk about it later. Jadzia turned so her back was facing B'Elanna again. When she felt B'Elanna's arm drape around her waist again she closed her eyes. Despite their situation there was no place she would rather be.

PART 17

Commander Chakotay entered the Captain's ready room. After looking around for a moment he spotted her sitting on the couch looking out the window.

"I take it things didn't go well." He said walking to stand beside the couch.

"That's one way of putting it." Janeway said. Chakotay could see the weariness etched on her face. These negotiations had visibly taken a toll on the Captain.

"Kathryn, I think we have to recognize these negotiations as a lost cause. We should concentrate on B'Elanna's find."

"You're saying we should forget the negotiations and head after Lt. Torres on what could quite possibly be a wild goose chase?" Janeway asked though it was really more of a statement.

"I think we have to admit that we are not going to get the ore we need from the Tolken's. So, we better hope we catch this goose." Chakotay told her. Janeway looked back out the window, the stars had always calmed her. She had made some of her best decisions just staring at the stars.

"You realize that if there is no ore on B'Elanna's planet that that's it. With the energy we expend getting there if we don't get ore Voyager is dead. If we leave these negotiations that planet," Janeway paused trying to remember what B'Elanna had called the planet. "That, Titus could end up being our permanent residence?" It was really more of a statement than a question.

"I realize that Captain. But unless you are willing to give Dace transporter or replicator technology, I don't see that we have a choice."

"Either one of those could dramatically shift the level of power in this sector. It's not even a possibility." Janeway responded. She looked back out the window. "I have many things to consider Commander. I will contact you with my decision when I reach one." Chakotay nodded. The Captain had effectively just ended the conversation. He wouldn't have wanted to be in her position.

PART 18

B'Elanna woke up feeling a strange heaviness on top of her. Looking down she saw Dax's head cradled on her shoulder, and felt their limbs tangled together. She realized that over the night Dax must have turned around and they managed to get all tangled up. Turning her head to the side B'Elanna saw that it looked like just past dawn. She wasn't a late riser, but she usually didn't get up this early. Wondering what rousted her she felt Dax shift burying her face deeper into her shoulder and tighten her hold on B'Elanna's waist. Looking down B'Elanna watched Dax's sleep relaxed face. She looked peaceful. She was absolutely breathtaking. B'Elanna knew she should get up, but the way their limbs were no intertwined there was no way she could get up without waking Dax. Besides, this may be the only chance she got to hold Dax, wake up to see her face. Closing her eyes she decided she would savor it.

Dax woke up and stretched slightly. Odd, nothing hurt. After sleeping on the ground over night there should at least have been stiffness. That's when she realized she wasn't on the ground. She was wrapped around a sleeping B'Elanna Torres using her as a pillow/hot-water bottle. She was laying half on top of the younger woman with their limbs tangled together. She tilted her head so that she could see B'Elanna's face. Her features were relaxed softening her face. She had a content, almost peaceful expression on her face. She looked younger. Dax smiled, B'Elanna always had her guard up, was always tense. She was glad that the woman could at least find some peace in sleep. Carefully she extracted herself from B'Elanna's embrace, then rested her head on her hand and stared at her for a moment before getting up.

Standing up Dax crossed over to where B'Elanna had left their rations. Glancing once more at the sleeping woman Dax knew without a doubt she had fallen, and fallen hard. She was in love with B'Elanna Torres. When they weren't together she felt like something was missing, and when they were together everything in her world was great. And waking up in her arms had felt so right, like home. Her question now was what was she going to do about it.

B'Elanna awoke again when she felt Dax move away. Opening her eyes she watched as Dax crossed over to get their rations. Although her movements were sleepy she didn't seem to be moving with any pain from her injuries the day before.

"Sleep well?" B'Elanna asked when she saw Jadzia moving towards her.

"I didn't know you were awake." Dax said sitting down. She wondered how long B'Elanna had been awake. "I slept fine, you?" She asked tossing a bar towards Torres.

"Surprisingly well." B'Elanna said biting into a completely unappetizing breakfast. Damn, her cooking was better than this crap and she could burn toast. Dax noticed B'Elanna's expression.

"You're just wishing for Neelix's waffles aren't you?" Jadzia asked with a smile. That was one of the Talaxian's concoctions everyone one on Voyager never ever wanted to see again. The scary thing was it was better than what they were eating now.

"Waffles? His Leola root omelet's were better than these things." B'Elanna responded. "Sometime today we've got to try and locate some real food. If not these thing's will kill me before we can get off this planet." Dax smirked.

PART 19

B'Elanna closed her kit and turned when she sensed Dax exit the cave. Like B'Elanna, Dax had decided to forgo the uniform jacket and turtleneck and was clad only in the tank top and pants. Her hair was down and blowing slightly in the wind.

"So what's the game plan?" Dax asked crouching beside B'Elanna.

"I thought I would go check the damage to the shuttle and start repairs, when you tried to locate some of the magnasite ore." B'Elanna answered, finally remembering to take a breath.

"Alright. Call me if you need help. The shuttle has to be our first priority." Dax said standing.

"Agreed. I'll see you later." B'Elanna said heading to the shuttle.

"Stay out of trouble." Dax called after her.

"All I'm going to do is make some repairs." B'Elanna called back. "What trouble could I possibly get into?"

"That's what worries me." Dax muttered.

PART 20

B'Elanna hit the button and watched as the lights to the cabin flickered on. Things looked worse than she remembered and in her mind the place was a disaster area. She didn't even know where to begin, but she did know that they were going to be Titus for while yet. Hauling her kit into the back she decided to start with the engines, after that would be the shields and the rest of the life support systems. Setting the kit down she opened it up and removed her tricorder. Moving over the junction box she popped it open falling back when a barrage of sparks and smoke came flying at her face. When the sparking and sizzling stopped she got up and headed towards the box again, this time managing to take a look inside. Sitting back she almost wished she hadn't looked, the circuits were fried, and some of them burned had together. She now had to add the replicator to the top of the list. She was going to need new parts. This was not looking good, however considering how the rest of the mission had went she couldn't say she was surprised. Hopefully Dax was having better luck on her end.

Dax ran her hands through a substance that looked like shiny black ash. Taking out her small shovel she dug down a few inches finding more of the same. Dusting her hands off she picked up her tricorder and looked over the reading. There should have been ore there. Collecting a small sample of the ash she placed it on the tricorder and waited as the machine analyzed the contents. Oh there was ore in the area all right, according to her tricorder magnasite ore along with iron, germanium and an unidentified substance made up the ash. The contents were divided up 85, 7, 3, 5, respectively. Under different circumstances she most likely would have been able to mine the ore since it made up a large majority of the substance, but in this form, this ash, anything she was able to separate would be useless. If all of the ore on the planet was in this form all of it would be useless to them. Reading over the results again, Dax decided that this was not good. She seriously hoped that B'Elanna was having better luck with the shuttle.

PART 21

Janeway sat regally in her chair as the senior officers, minus Torres and Dax, filed into the briefing room. She had spent most of the night trying to reach a decision, she had few options and the ones she had she wasn't to fond of. Once everyone was seated she addressed the assembled officers.

"As you know the negotiations with the Tolken's have not gone well. In fact, they have failed. After careful consideration I have decided that we will be proceeding to the system beyond the meteor belt and rendezvous with Lieutenants' Dax and Torres."

PART 22

Paris' hands flew over the console as he tried to dodge various rocks. The reading they had taken just before entering the belt didn't begin to indicate the turbulent conditions inside. If they continued on this course not even he could keep Voyager in one place.

"Captain we have to reverse our course. These conditions are to tumultuous, and Voyager is to big." The pilot said.

"Agreed. Reverse course, we'll have to figure something else out." Janeway ordered. Paris nodded and began to navigate his way out. Lucky they weren't in to far thus decreasing their chances of being smashed to bits before he could get them out.

It was decided that they would travel around the belt. Paris had formed a course would take them around the belt in approximately three days. They had found no evidence to suggest that the shuttle had been destroyed, so they were heading around the belt under the assumption that Torres and Dax had made it through. Since the shuttle was smaller and more maneuverable in those types of conditions then Voyager was, it wasn't an unreasonable assumption.

PART 23

B'Elanna sat down on the grass in surrounding the shuttle and leaned against the outer bulkhead, taking in a big breath of fresh air. The planet was actually very nice ascetically, it was just the fact that it was essentially a leafy prison that turned her off it. That was the reason for her immense dislike of Kessik Four as well. Both were in essence tropical prisons. She had been working on the shuttle for hours, had gotten the replicators on-line, and was beginning repairs on the engines. All things considered, things could be worse, though not by much.

"Torres to Dax." B'Elanna said tapping her combadge. If Dax could take a break from what she was doing hopefully they could locate some real food. They should be at least able to find some fruits that would make a better lunch then reserve rations.

"What's up?" Dax replied. She sounded distracted.

"How're things going?" B'Elanna asked apprehensively. She didn't need anymore bad news, but she had to know.

"That's one of those questions you ask without really wanting to know answer." Dax answered. She didn't even want to know the answer.

"That bad huh?"

"Oh, yeah." Dax said with a sigh.

"Well, can you spare an hour or so?" B'Elanna asked.

"Most definitely. What did you have in mind?" Dax asked. She would be glad to get away from this for a while.

"Chef-d'oeuvre. Let's find some food." B'Elanna responded.

"Do you ever think about anything besides your stomach?"

"Sometimes I think about..." Torres stopped. She definitely didn't want to go there, especially after last night. "Are you going to come?"

"I'm coming." Dax responded. B'Elanna looked at the sky before responding. She wanted to hear those words but in a completely different context.

"Meet me back at the cave, I spotted some trees around there that looked promising." B'Elanna responded snapping out of her revere.

"See you there."

Dax looked at her tricorder occasionally, but for the most part she surveyed their surrounding. The planet was extremely beautiful, or at least the part of it they were on was. The weather was warm, but not uncomfortably so, and there was an abundance of trees and other planet forms to provide shade. Up ahead she could see the fruit trees B'Elanna mentioned.

"Let's hope they taste as good as they look." Dax commented as they reached the grove of trees. B'Elanna took out her phaser and fired at the stem of one of the fruits. They were round and had a pinkish skin. As the fruit fell Dax caught it and began to run some tests. After a minute she brought it up to her mouth and bit in. B'Elanna swallowed as she watched Dax lick a bit of juice that had trickled down from her lips. "Tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a strawberry." Dax commented. "Here, have a taste." She said handing the fruit to B'Elanna.

"Good." B'Elanna said with a feeble smile. Why did Dax have to be so damn sexy? "What?" The engineer asked. Jadzia had been saying something to her, but she had been to busy looking at her lips to hear her.

"There are some different trees up there, let's go check them out." The Trill repeated grabbing B'Elanna's hand and leading her towards the other trees.

PART 24

They had found that most of the trees in the grove had edible fruits, and in a stream near by they had found some shiny silver fish which were edible as well. They would check out other options later, but for now this more than satisfied their needs. Since they neglected to bring anything to carry their finds in B'Elanna had returned to cave to get a container.

"Here you go." Torres said setting the container down by Dax. "I'm going to go to the stream and try to get a few of those fish."

"How are you going to do that? Shoot them with a phaser?" Dax asked in jest.

"No smartass, I'm going to spear them. Once I make a spear that is." B'Elanna responded. Then moved around looking for a stick that would make a suitable spear. Picking up a stick that was just over a meter in length she walked back over to where Dax was collecting the fruits. Removing her knife from its holding place in her boot she started to sharpen the end of the stick. When she was satisfied with her make do spear she stood up.

"Aquatic life of Titus look out, a mighty hunter is on her way. There's no place to swim, there's no place to hide." Dax said ribbingly as B'Elanna practiced her jabbing motion.

"You're a laugh a minute." B'Elanna stated not seeming at all amused. "I'll be back." With that the engineer/hunter headed off in search of her prey.

Dax finished loading the fruits into the container and sealed the top. Seeing as there was nothing left for her to do at the grove, she decided to head down to the stream and see if B'Elanna needed any help. Breaking through the foliage Jadzia stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the image before her. B'Elanna was waist deep in the water standing perfectly still with the spear raised ready to strike, and naked as the day she was born. She looked like some mythical goddess of the hunt. As Dax watched, in a lightening fast move B'Elanna brought the spear down. When she raised it back up there were two silver fish on the end. Seeing B'Elanna start to turn around, Dax backed up. When she started moving again she made lots of noise as to alert B'Elanna to her presence. When she exited the foliage she was surprised to find the area empty. She was even more surprised when she felt the barrel of a phaser against her head.

"Dax." It was B'Elanna.

"You want to put the phaser down Bella?" Dax asked, her breathing just starting to return to normal. As the phaser was removed and threat of losing her head going with it, Dax sighed and turned around. When she faced B'Elanna that breathing she had just gotten under control stilled, and her mouth dropped open. The engineer was still naked, and standing in front of her dripping wet.

B'Elanna looked at Dax with concern. She had a strange expression on her face and she kept opening and closing her mouth but no sounds came out. Then she looked down.

"Sorry about the informal attire." B'Elanna said sheepishly realizing that her nudity must have been the cause of her companion's flummoxed state.

"What attire?" Dax coughed out as she tore her gaze away from B'Elanna before her eyes revealed too much.

"You kind of took me by surprise." B'Elanna answered moving to her clothes and hastily pulling them on. Having Dax that close to her naked body was not a good idea. As B'Elanna pulled her pants up she noticed Dax wander over to the pile of fish she had collected.

"I apologize for my earlier cynicism. You are a superb fisherwoman." Dax said.

"I'm multi-faceted." B'Elanna responded looking at the pile of fish. Surveying the area she spotted a tree with wide leafs, and walked over to it after picking up her tricorder. Once sure that the leaves weren't poisonous, she pulled off a leaf and brought it over to fishes wrapping them in it.

They returned to the cave for a late lunch of fish and fruit. It wasn't a cream of the crop, but it was better then what they had been eating. Over lunch they discussed what they had done in the morning. When Dax had told B'Elanna about the magnasite ash she could tell that the other woman was as worried about the possibility of all of the ore on the planet being in that form. They decided that Dax would go with Torres to the shuttle, and while B'Elanna worked on the engines some more Dax would try to get the sensors on-line so they could scan for other deposits.

Dax studied the display in front of her frowning slightly. She had been at it for hours, and still hadn't managed to get the sensors on-line. Taking a look outside she saw that the sky had darkened completely.

"B'Elanna let's head back to the cave. We're not going to get much more done tonight anyway." Dax said. B'Elanna agreed but continued tapping at the keys in front of her. "I'll cook dinner." Dax offered. She wanted to get out of here. At the mention of food B'Elanna moved over to kit and packed up. With Torres food was always a powerful motivator.

PART 25

Dax moved over to the makeshift bed and watched as B'Elanna poked at the heated rocks warming the cave with a stick. As they came back from the shuttle they could feel the cold. By the time they arrived B'Elanna was shivering and Dax was covered in goose bumps. They set up their beds together knowing that they would need the body heat again tonight.

"If we don't find a solid form of magnasite ore this whole mission will have been a waste of time." B'Elanna stated abruptly not stopping her poking. Dax looked up at the sound of her voice. B'Elanna had been quieter than usual since they headed for the shuttle after lunch, Dax contributed it to the fact that she was concentrating on her work, but on the walk back to the cave and all through dinner when the silence remained she started to worry.

"We'll find another form. All of the magnasite on the planet can't be confined to that ash." Dax responded watching B'Elanna's reaction carefully.

"You don't know that for sure. And if it is all in the useless form, then I would have destroyed one of our shuttles, almost killed my best friend, and promised the Captain something I can't deliver." B'Elanna muttered darkly. "If anything happened to you because I screwed up," B'Elanna left the sentence hanging and stared at the rocks. Dax stood up and moved over to where B'Elanna was sitting.

"This is not anybody's fault. And if it is, it's as much mine as it is yours." Dax stated. B'Elanna opened her mouth to respond but Dax quieted her. Reaching over and picking up the half-Klingon's hand, Dax continued, "I won't have you taking all the blame for this. I helped collect, and went over all the same data you did, and if there was something there that could have indicated the true conditions of the meteor belt then I missed it too." B'Elanna looked at Dax and their linked hands, listening to what she said. She didn't know what she had done to gain this woman as a friend, but she thanked Kahless everyday for it. "Besides, I'm not going anywhere." Dax added seeing the still worried expression on B'Elanna's face.

"I've heard that before." B'Elanna whispered getting up. The comment was made softly, but Dax heard it.

"Bella?" Dax questioned. "What's that suppose to mean?"

"Nothing gold lasts." B'Elanna said sitting down on her makeshift bed. She shouldn't have said anything, she didn't want to talk about this, but Dax was going to question her now.

"I'm not going anywhere." Dax repeated. She knew that because of her father's departure from her life B'Elanna had abandonment issues. In fact Dax guessed that it was at least part of the reason B'Elanna worked so hard to keep everyone an arms length away. If you don't give it out, you don't have to worry about getting it back.

"Sometimes you don't have choice." B'Elanna said laying back. Dax recognized something more in B'Elanna's tone. She was talking from personal experience.

"Who didn't have a choice?" Dax said moving over to where B'Elanna was laying. B'Elanna closed her eyes.

"Can we just go to sleep please?" B'Elanna asked in exhausted voice.

"Who didn't have a choice?" Dax repeated looking into B'Elanna's eyes. She was close to something here, the answer to this question was important. B'Elanna looked up into those eyes and was lost. She would answer she couldn't not answer.

"Felicity." B'Elanna answered softly, picturing the girl's face in her mind. They were just kids. No matter what they thought then, they were only kids.

"Who was she?" Dax asked gently.

"When I was growing up she was my closest friend. We meet when I changed schools when I was twelve. She was probably the first person I meet on that planet with the exception of Ms. Kitean who didn't ask me what I was within a minute of meeting me. Who didn't care. It endeared her to me immediately." B'Elanna related with her eyes still closed.

"What was she like?" Dax asked. She wanted to get as much information out of the woman while she was willing to talk.

"She was funny, caring. She was brilliant, almost as smart as me." B'Elanna said with an impish grin. "She just didn't care what anybody thought, she had to have that kind of mentally to hang around me." The engineer continued. She had once told Dax that she was like a leper growing up on Kessik Four. "Anyway, all the things I liked about her made her a misfit on Kessik too. I guess we bonded in our mutual outcast status. But it was okay, I didn't like any of the other kids anyway."

"What happened?" Dax asked. She knew this story didn't have a happy ending.

"We went to the academy together when we were seventeen. It was good. She kind of anchored me I guess. They would have kicked me way before my second year if it weren't for her...calming influence." B'Elanna paused in her oration, and Dax saw her face darken. "Our astrophysics' class went on a field trip, there was a star in the Orion system which was going supernova and our teacher arranged for us to go. When we got there we took all the reading and things that you do when on a research mission, when the pilot decided to go in for a closer look. The students weren't told what happened, but systems started failing, and we were told to get into escape pods. Ci and I were in the lab, and beams started collapsing. She was pinned down. I wasn't able to lift the beam up myself, but I found this bar I could use as a lever, and managed to move it enough to get her out. I could tell that she was bleeding internally, she was coughing up blood. I was almost to one of the escape pods when she started convulsing and stopped breathing. I stopped and tried to figure out what was wrong, but I was no doctor and didn't know what to do. I picked her up and carried her to the escape pod. She still wasn't breathing and they wouldn't let me bring her in, said the pods were for the breathing. So I got out, I told them she wasn't dead and tried CPR. Mr. McDonnell our teacher came by soon after, he had been checking on the cadets. When he saw that Ci wasn't breathing he ordered me to get into the pod, when I didn't he got a few of the other students to physically pick me and place me in. I tried to get back out, but he closed the hatch and launched the pod. My relationship with my mother had deteriorated by then. She was all I had." B'Elanna said. She shifted her position and prepared to tell the rest of the tale. "When I got back to Earth, to the academy I didn't give a damn."

"About the academy?"

"About anything." B'Elanna stated. "Anyway, I had spent about week attending the funerals of students who had died on the mission. I had a class the next day, and when I got there I heard one of the students making some crack about the accident. I went up to him and one thing lead to another and we ended up fighting." She paused. "I almost killed him, and I didn't care. It took ten bystanders to pull me off him. Understandably I was kicked out."

"Couldn't you have argued distention. Considering the mental strain you must have been under after the accident, you would have had severe restrictions placed on you, but been able to remain a cadet." Dax pointed out.

"Maybe, but I didn't want to stay. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I didn't want to stay at the academy." B'Elanna admitted. Dax picked up her hand and held it in a silent offering of support and understanding. B'Elanna rubbed her thumb over Dax's hand before releasing it and lying back down. "Can we please go to sleep now. I've had all the heart to heart chat I stand for one day." B'Elanna said lightly. Dax nodded and lay down beside B'Elanna on her side.

"Good night Bella." Dax said once she felt B'Elanna's arm settle around her waist. B'Elanna smiled. She loved it when Dax called her that though she would never admit it.

"G'night Dax." B'Elanna responded closing her eyes.

PART 26

They headed to the shuttle early the next morning after eating a breakfast of the fruits Dax had collected the other day. The morning air was chillier than the day before and the sky looked slightly overcast. Though they couldn't be sure what that meant on this particular planet, on 98 of M class planets it meant rain. Dax hoped it would hold off, because once she got the sensors on-line if she located any ore near by she wouldn't be to go investigate.

"Looks like rain." Jadzia commented.

"Hmmm." B'Elanna agreed. She had noticed that too.

"Let's hope it's not corrosive like the rain Meridean IV." Dax added. B'Elanna looked over at her for a second before returning her gaze to the path and responding.

"And people say I'm a cynic." The half-Klingon quipped. "However considering the way this mission has gone so far I'd suggest you test the precipitation before you go traipsing around in it." B'Elanna caution.

"If it rains I'm not traipsing anywhere, corrosive or not." Dax replied.

"Baby. I thought you were big, and bad. You're not scared of a little rain are you?" B'Elanna teased knowing it would get a rise out of Dax. Jadzia spun around mouth open ready to retort when she saw the look in B'Elanna's eyes.

"Trying to provoke me huh? I'm on to you." Dax stated. She was not going to jump through B'Elanna's well placed hoop like some big dumb circus cat. B'Elanna just smirked and continued walking. Dax followed behind her watching the sway of the engineer hips. That's what she liked about this planet, its breathtaking views.

PART 27

Janeway entered Engineering searching for Lt. Carey. Spotting him near a console under the catwalk she headed over. She needed to know that status of the engines. Only the senior officers, and now Lt. Carey seeing as how he had assumed B'Elanna's duties, knew how desperate their situation really was. Most of the crew assumed that things were bad but presumed that they would go on, just like they had all the other times. Moving behind Carey, Janeway tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow her into Lt. Torres's office. She didn't want to take the chance that someone would over hear their conversation.

"Status?" She asked once the doors closed.

"Unchanged Captain." Carey said with a sigh. "I've done everything I could think of, and even tested a few ideas Lt. Torres had left behind, but all of the theories if put into use would buy us days only." The engineer said.

"Let me guess. Not even enough time to get back to Alear and try dealing with Tolken's again." Janeway predicated.

"That's right ma'am. If we don't get some magnasite ore on this planet B'Elanna took off to then we won't be able to leave the system." Carey confirmed.

"Thank you Lieutenant." Janeway said, then left the office and headed out of engineering. She was certain that that was the answer she was going to get before she came down, but she had hoped that by some miracle they had found alternative.

PART 28

B'Elanna heard the thump, thump of raindrops as they dropped on the shuttle. When the rain had started falling, Dax had indeed run some tests to see if the precipitation was acidic. The rain ended up being fine, so the possibility of the hull eroding away was vanquished. B'Elanna had always found the rain to be comforting. She loved it. If she were a psychiatrist she probably would have chalked it up to her identifying with the stormy, dark side of herself. But she wasn't a psychiatrist and choose to believe that she liked the rain simply because.

"You got something?" B'Elanna asked when she heard some beeping starting from where Dax was.

"Sensors." Jadzia confirmed happily, as she started scanning the planet for ore.

"So we'll find out whether this mission was a bust soon." B'Elanna said, voicing Dax's own thoughts.

"Uh, huh." Dax agreed before returning her attention to the console in front of her. The shuttle became silent save the pitter-patter of raindrops, as each woman was lost in their thoughts, and their tasks. Soon they would know.

PART 29

There was nothing for Dax to do while the computer ran the scans. Her job would start once the results were in. Getting up she walked into the back of the shuttle which contained their living area hearing B'Elanna moving around in there. Entering the room she stopped dead in her tracks and watched in some kind of state of stupefied astonishment as she watched B'Elanna dismantle one of the beds. Her bed she realized.

"What are you doing?" Dax asked stepping completely into the room.

"I need the parts." B'Elanna stated as if that explained everything.

"You're going to use parts of a bed to fix the engines?" Dax asked incredulously.

"I need the metal to make a boxed multi-plexor." B'Elanna said removing the final metal panel from the bed.

"I thought you got the replicators on-line?"

"I did but it's draining on the systems. With you running the scans I didn't want to risk using it. Besides we need to save all the energy we can, and these," B'Elanna said gesturing to what remained of Dax's bed, "will do just fine. No need to replicate."

"Why couldn't you take apart your bed?" Dax complained. B'Elanna shrugged.

"What does it matter?" The engineer asked.

"What matters is that once we get off this planet I'll have no place to sleep." Jadzia stated. B'Elanna looked over at the Trill seriously.

"If that's our biggest problem from now on then I'll be grateful." The engineer admitted. "Besides what's it matter, your bed, my bed, it was only slightly better than the floor anyway."

"That's easy for you to say. You still have one." Dax retorted, though she really didn't care about the bed.

"I'll take the floor. Strong Klingon back you know." B'Elanna answered mildly as she began to weld the box together. Dax moved over to her and sat down picking up a tool out of B'Elanna's kit and helping her make the box.

"Considering our sleeping arrangements of late, I think it would pretty foolish for one of us to sleep on the floor." Dax commented after a few minutes. The beds on the shuttle weren't big, but the way they seemed to huddle together when sleeping, the bed wouldn't have trouble accommodating the both of them. B'Elanna didn't respond right away and Dax was beginning to think she delved into an area that didn't want to be delved when the engineer spoke.

"You're probably right." Turning her head to the bed in question B'Elanna nodded to herself before continuing. "Yep, plenty of room. My back and I thank you for your astute appraisal of the situation." B'Elanna continued giving Dax a little grin.

As they were finishing up the multi-plexor B'Elanna heard some beeping coming from the front of the shuttle. Picking up her package she looked at Dax.

"I think your scans are done." She told the scientist. Her voice was flat. Dax nodded and got up, they both knew that this was the moment of truth.

Torres installed the box, and continued working on the engines, glancing up every once in while to look at Dax who was analyzing the scans taken. She hated waiting. Patience wasn't amongst her sparse list of virtues. Finally not able to take anymore of the suspense B'Elanna walked over to Dax.

"Well, what have you got?" She asked trying to look over the blue eyed woman's shoulder. Dax studied the screen for a moment longer before answering.

"That is the question." Dax said, her brow scrunched in concentration. "You see this," she said pointing a blue blotch on the screen. B'Elanna nodded, "Well I think this is our best bet for ore. The problem is that the computer had trouble identifying the ash, as the ash. Now I added some more perimeters to the search, and after it all that I figure that the blue patch is solid ore, or has a high percentage of solid ore in it."

"You're not sure though?" B'Elanna asked studying the image.

"I can't be until I get there." Dax responded truthfully.

"Where is it?" B'Elanna asked. She only had a partial view of the screen.

"In a heavily wooded jungle region in the mountains. Here." Dax said enlarging the map so B'Elanna could see. "How long it takes us to get there depends on when you'll get the engines up."

"I should have impulse on-line by the end of the day." B'Elanna responded.

"What about life support?" Dax asked.

"A few hours work in the morning, and it'll be good enough for inner planetary travel." B'Elanna answered.

"Okay, so if we leave tomorrow morning we should reach the area in two or three days." At B'Elanna's questioning look she brought the engineers attention to a particular area of the map. "When I said heavily, I meant it. The foliage gets so thick there isn't anyplace to land the shuttle. We'll have to hike for a day or two depending." Dax explained. She saw B'Elanna face tighten momentarily then relax.

"Alright." Was all the engineer said before moving back to her engines.

PART 30

As she predicted, by the time that they returned to the cave for dinner the impulse engines were on-line. B'Elanna had gone back down to the stream and speared a few more fish for dinner. While she was doing this, Dax had started to pack up the cave. They would be returning all the stuff to the shuttle for their trek. Once they left the shuttle behind they would really be roughing it.

"What are you thinking about?" Dax asked. B'Elanna had seemed worried since the results of the scans came in.

"I ran some scans of my own, trying to locate animals." B'Elanna started.

"You are planning on using the phaser right?" Dax asked holding back a smile as an image of B'Elanna chasing after a wild pig buck naked with a spear in her hand popped into her mind.

"On what? That's what's bugging me. I can only get readings on the animals occasionally. They fade in and out. It's like there is some sort of natural dampening field all over the planet which is messing up our sensors. It's probably why were can't get any definite readings on the ore either." B'Elanna paused taking a bite of the pink fruit before continuing. "I don't like the idea of going into a foreign jungle not knowing if we're going to be able to detect any dangerous animal life coming our way, or other hazards which might be out there. It's not smart." B'Elanna said.

"What choice do we have. We have to check out the site." Dax said. She wasn't particularly fond of the idea either.

"I know." B'Elanna said. She didn't sound happy about it at all.

"I thought you were a risk taker."

"I am. But I don't take stupid risks, that's why I'm still alive." B'Elanna responded. Dax considered that comment before speaking.

"We have to go. We'll just be careful." Dax said.

"We're always careful." B'Elanna responded. "Stuff happens, no matter how careful you are. I don't want to get stuck out there with you if it starts raining shit without an umbrella." B'Elanna continued. She wasn't so much worried for herself as for Dax, but she knew that they did have to go, and it annoyed her.

"We'll take every precaution imaginable." Dax started. "But like you said, stuff happens, no matter how much you plan, how careful you are. The question is are you going to let the possibility of something happening stop you from getting the job done?" Dax asked. She knew B'Elanna was worried about her, but they mission to complete. B'Elanna looked into Dax's shining blue eyes, and sighed.

"No, we'll go. I just want you to know that I have reservations." B'Elanna said finishing the rest of her dinner and heading out of the cave.

"Where are you going?" Dax called.

"Nature is calling." B'Elanna responded peevishly.

"Snappish." Dax called after her.

When Torres returned they decided to head to sleep seeing as it would be busy day. When B'Elanna settled down, Dax lay beside her and placed her head on the Klingon's shoulder, and felt B'Elanna drape her arm around her waist. Dax briefly pondered how they became so comfortable with their sleeping arrangements in a matter of days. It was almost like it was meant to be. Dax smiled and closed her eyes at the thought. It was an excellent note to go to sleep on. B'Elanna raised an eyebrow wondering what the cause of Dax's smile was. Mentally shrugging, the engineer closed her eyes. She had never slept better then when in this beautiful Trills arms. Like this was were she was suppose to have been all along.

PART 31

After they moved all of equipment back into the shuttle, B'Elanna started work on the life support systems while Dax went back to the fruit tree grove to collect some food for the voyage. They didn't want to use the replicator for something like food, and since they would eating rations for days after they left the shuttle, Dax decided lunch could at least be something decent. Besides it gave it gave her something to do while just enjoying the splendor of the planet. She knew that once they entered the mountain/jungle region, the safety they had enjoyed in the clearing with the cave would be gone and she wouldn't be able to just relish her surrounding like she was doing right now. B'Elanna was right they would need to be on guard.

When Dax returned to the shuttle with the fruit B'Elanna was just finishing up. They would be ready to leave shortly.

"All set?" B'Elanna asked, taking her seat at the engineering console.

"Yep. You?" Dax asked. "Then let's go get some ore." She said beginning the start up procedures at B'Elanna's nod. This mission just kept getting more and more interesting.

PART 32

Spotting a clearing as close to the mountains as they were going to find, Dax landed the shuttle. B'Elanna had spent most of the ride preparing the packs they would need to take with them. Inside B'Elanna's pack was the tent they would be using, the med-kit, the water purifier, one of the containers they would use to collect the ore, and an extra canteen of water. Dax's pack contained the weapons they would be taking in addition to the phasers they would wear on their waists for easy access, the reserve rations, the equipment Dax would need once they got to the ore, and the other container for the ore.

"Here you go." B'Elanna said tossing a canteen of water to Dax. She would carry another, and the last one was in her pack. This meant they wouldn't have to worry about water for at least a day and a half, maybe more.

"Are we ready?" Dax asked shutting down the shuttle.

"Yeah, let's get moving." Torres answered hoisting her pack up onto her pack. Dax made her way over to her pack, and proceeded to boost it onto her back as well.

"You're in a hurry." Dax commented as they exited the shuttle.

"The sooner we leave, the sooner we'll get back." B'Elanna explained.

PART 33

The sun was going down when B'Elanna suggested they stop for the night and set up camp. They had made good time in five plus hours of hiking. They hadn't spotted any sources of water thus far, and Torres was glad that they had brought the canteens. They would have to seriously start looking for water the next day though because if they couldn't find any they would need to deviate from the course to find some. With the high temperatures in the jungle, and the physical exertions of hours of hiking they would need the water.

"I spotted a tree like the one near the cave a few minutes back. I'm gonna go get a couple of the fruits, then collect some fire wood." B'Elanna called to Dax. Dax looked up and nodded, she had seen the tree too.

"Let me scan them before you eat any. Just to be careful." Dax told her. Just because the tree and fruit looked similar, it didn't mean they were the same. The last thing they needed was to get sick, or worse."

When B'Elanna left, Dax moved over to the engineer's pack and removed the tent. Looking around she found a relatively clear area that looked big enough to accommodate the tent, and started to set it up.

"Dax?" Jadzia looked up at the sound of B'Elanna's voice. She looked around but she couldn't see her.

"B'Elanna? Where are you?" The Trill asked standing up.

"I'm just out side of camp, behind you. Get a phaser and follow my voice." B'Elanna told her. There was a weird quality to her voice. It was kind of like a loud whisper.

"What is it?" Dax asked picking up her phaser and heading in the direction she had heard B'Elanna's voice come from.

"You'll see." B'Elanna responded. Dax spotted B'Elanna who was standing rigidly still and carefully made her way behind the woman. When she got there she looked over B'Elanna's shoulder and spotted the source of her distress. There was a large lizard, about two meters in length, a few meters away from the engineer. It was black with green spots spread all over its body, and its tongue was darting in and out.

"Doesn't look friendly." Dax commented raising her phaser. B'Elanna snorted.

"It's not. The only reason it hasn't attacked, or struck or whatever it does is because it's not exactly sure where I am. I'm standing down wind and it can't get a reading on me." B'Elanna responded. The only part of her that had moved since Dax had spotted her, were her lips.

"Don't worry. I've got it under control." Dax stated raising the phaser. Aiming it at the lizard she fired. The lizard dropped momentarily then stood back up, tongue flicking. The blast didn't kill it, and now it knew where they were. Quickly upping the setting Dax lifted the phaser and shot just as the thing surged towards them. This time the shoot went right through it and after twitching for a few moment the lizard lay still. B'Elanna looked behind her wide- eyed. The lizards tongue was centimeters away from biting her when it went down.

"Cutting it a little bit close weren't we?" B'Elanna asked. Dax shrugged.

"Much more dramatic that way don't you think?" Dax said watching as B'Elanna walked over to the dead lizard. "What're you doing?" She asked as the other woman leaned over the dead body.

"You have a tricorder?" B'Elanna asked. Dax handed it over to her, and B'Elanna scanned the remains. "How does roasted lizard sound for dinner?" B'Elanna asked picking up the spotted reptile.

"Not appetizing, but better than silver packaged ration." Dax replied leading the way back to camp. B'Elanna smiled and followed Dax contentedly.

PART 34

Once they had gotten the fire going dinner had gone down fairly well, it had tasted like chicken, and they were relatively relaxed considering their situation. B'Elanna listened as Dax recounted the story of Kahless and his search for the rings of K'eroh. B'Elanna had heard the story before, but enjoyed listening to Dax's version of it, as well as just soaking up the sound of her voice. There was a touch of storyteller in the Trill, and Torres knew Dax enjoyed telling them, as much as she enjoyed listening to her.

"...Kahless had found the rings that had been stolen from his family and slain the patak K'eroh. Raising the rings above his head in victory Kahless let loose a triumphant roar. The rings were his once again." Dax finished stifling a yawn. B'Elanna looked over at her with a smile on her face, clapping.

"It has never been told better." She said sincerely. "You look tired, why don't turn in." B'Elanna suggested.

"Are you coming?" Dax asked without getting up. B'Elanna looked just as tired as she felt.

"Someone has to feed the fire. Keep the critters away." B'Elanna answered throwing a stick into the flames in question. She didn't look over at Dax knowing that a frown would be marring her beautiful face.

"You need to rest B'Elanna. You can't hike all day on few minutes sleep here and there." Dax said.

"Someone has to feed the fire." B'Elanna repeated stubbornly.

"So you've said. We'll take six-hour shifts you can go first. Wake me up when it's time." Dax said. The tone of her voice said that it wasn't open for discussion. "And don't even think about letting me sleep through my shift." The Trill added heading into the tent. She heard B'Elanna mutter 'yes sir' sarcastically, but knew that she would be woken up for her shift. As she lay down and closed her eyes all she could think about was how much she missed having B'Elanna's arms around her. The comfort and peace she drew from them, from having B'Elanna near her.

B'Elanna poked at the fire some more. It was necessary to keep the fire going but it was also especially boring. Ranking right up there with watching grass grown, or watching paint dry. The Klingon's thoughts turned to the woman sleeping in the tent a few meters away. The woman she was in love with. There was no doubt in her mind, in her heart, or her soul. They all belonged to Jadzia Dax. There wasn't much B'Elanna believed in or trusted but she knew that. Content the fire would be fine for a few minutes she got up and headed over to the tent.

B'Elanna entered the tent and sat down next to Dax, watching her breath, wondering what she dreaming, hoping it was her she was seeing. Reaching over Torres softly brushed an arrant hair out of Jadzia's face, her hand stilling when Dax moaned slightly and turned into her touch. Turning her head and seeing the shadow of the fire still burning strong B'Elanna carefully lay down behind Dax and draped her arm around her waist.

B'Elanna checked again and knew she couldn't delay waking Dax up any longer. Making her way into the tent she moved over to the sleeping woman.

"Rise and shine." B'Elanna said shaking Dax softly. Jadzia looked up at her groggily, blinking a few times. Turning her head to the side she looked out and saw that it was still dark. She was going to ask what was going on when she remembered that it was her shift. Rubbing her eyes she sat up slowly. Looking over she noticed B'Elanna grinning at her.

"What?" She asked self-consciously. B'Elanna looked away mumbling that it was nothing as she lay down.

"There's plenty of wood there so you won't have to worry about getting anymore." Torres said trying to get the attention off of her.

"I trust you managed to avoid any man-eating lizards this time?" Dax queried. B'Elanna looked at her sourly.

"It was not man-eating. The fact that it was our dinner should attest to that." B'Elanna grumbled. "It's cold out you should put on your jacket." Dax looked over at her and smiled as she picked up her jacket.

"Did you...were you out there the whole time?" Dax asked after a moment. She could have sworn that at least for a little while B'Elanna was laying beside her, but then again it could just have been wishful thinking on her part.

"Most of the time." B'Elanna responded. She looked like she was going to say more, but fell asleep. Dax watched her for a moment then headed out to tend the fire.

PART 35

It was almost noon and they had been hiking steadily since shortly after dawn, taking ten/fifteen minute breaks every once in while. Two hours or so after they packed up camp they had encountered a large cat like creature. Dax had described it as a cross between a lion and cheetah. They had circled around it and avoided incident. It was the first big animal they had encountered and B'Elanna had seemed optimistic that there would a water source nearby but they hadn't been unable to locate one so far.

"I think we're going to have to deviate a little more and find some water. We're down to one canteen." Dax called over her shoulder. When B'Elanna didn't answer, or even grunt, as was sometimes her custom the scientist turned around. B'Elanna was standing about twenty meters behind her concentrating on something. "Bella?" She asked back tracking.

"Do you hear that?" The engineer asked, her eyebrows knitted together in concentration.

"No." Dax answered after listening for a second. "But you have better hearing than I do. What do you hear?" She asked.

"I can't be sure but I think that it's water." B'Elanna said looking at her. Her lips curling into a smile. "Let's go." She said and took off in the direction Dax assumed the water was.

Sure enough there was a pool of water that was run off of some rocks. It was like a miniature waterfall. After running the water through the purifier, B'Elanna collected it in the canteens. Handing one of the newly filled canteens to Dax she attached one to her hip and stuffed the other in her pack. Out the corner of her eye she watched Dax move to edge of the pool and stick her head in. Deciding that it was a pretty good idea, and after seeing Dax wet needing something to cool her down B'Elanna moved over to the pool and dunked her head in as well.

"I wish it would rain." Dax said as they put their packs back on and started towards the cave once more.

"Why?" B'Elanna asked curiously.

"I could use a shower." Dax said with smirk.

The detour they had taken for the water proved to be helpful. When they had exited the immediate area around the pool Dax found that if they continued along that path they could cut a few hours off of their trip. When they stopped for a break B'Elanna tilted her head up looking at the sky.

"You know, I think you're going to get wish." B'Elanna commented dryly.

"What?"

"About that shower. A storms a brewing." The Klingon said returning her gaze to the sky. Dax looked up as well and noticed the gathering of clouds, darkening of the sky, and started to feel the air become cooler.

"That came on fast." Jadzia said dropping her pack. Her shoulders were killing her. B'Elanna shrugged and took off her own pack. For all they knew this part of the planet could have a cycle similar to that of the rainforests on Kessik or Earth. Rains fast and hard for a short period, then it's gone. Looking at her companion she noticed her rubbing her shoulders.

"Sit down." B'Elanna said to her indicting the ground between her legs. Dax looked down making sure there wasn't anything there that could potentially cause pain to derriere then sat down. Once she was seated she felt B'Elanna place her hands on her shoulders and start to massage them. Dax sighed and closed her eyes letting her head roll forward slightly. It felt great.

B'Elanna watched as Dax's head fell forward as she worked the knots on the older woman's shoulders. She ran her fingers lightly across the other woman's spots. There were some advantages to massaging someone wearing a tank top. A few moments later B'Elanna noticed that her hands were more caressing then massaging but was powerless to stop it. She leaned forward so her mouth was next to Dax's ear.

"Does it feel good?" B'Elanna inquired. She couldn't quite believe what she was doing or saying, but didn't really want to stop. Dax moaned and shifted so that she was looking up into B'Elanna's brown eyes. They held each other's gaze for a moment before the Trill responded.

"Loving every minute of it." She said softly, their gaze never wavering. Dax started move towards B'Elanna, then when their lips were just inches away she stopped and blinked. Then blinked again and backed up turning her eyes to the sky. The rain had started, and it wasn't just a drizzle, it was a torrential down pour. B'Elanna stood too wiping the water droplets out of her eyes. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. On one side she was moments away from tasting lips she had dreamed about for what seemed like forever. Or she was saved from alienating the best friend she ever had.

"Come on." Torres said finally grabbing Dax's hand and pulling her towards a canopied tree.

"I know I said I wanted a shower, but this is ridiculous." Dax said once they were under the tree.

"Be careful what you wish for Lieutenant." B'Elanna commented dryly as she tried to control her shivering. Damn it was cold. Where was all the heat the planet had been so kind as to provide them with up till now, or the heat she had been feeling minutes ago? Dax noticed her shivering, and noticed that she herself was starting to. She moved closer to B'Elanna. She had learned over the past few days that if there was one thing they could create it was body heat.

The rain stopped a few minutes later and they emerged from their dry haven. Neither had commented on the massage incident while under the tree, and were glad the other hadn't brought it up. They moved over to their soaking wet packs and grudgingly put them on. Dax glanced around and noticed one of the treetops was smoking.

"You know. Now that I think about, maybe hiding under a tree wasn't such a bright idea."

"Nothing we can do about it now." B'Elanna said turning to her expectantly. That Carpe diem-esque attitude was one of the things Dax loved about the woman. Realizing that B'Elanna was waiting for her to lead the way she started back on the course that would take them to the ore.

PART 36

They stopped in an area with a clearing large enough to set up the tent shortly before dark. Dax set up the tent once again while B'Elanna went searching for firewood. They decided that they would use the same six hour rotation they had they night before, only Dax would take the first shift. They ate a dinner of rations in a comfortable silence. Each preoccupied with their thoughts. Thoughts which ran along similar paths.

"I'm going to turn in." B'Elanna said finally breaking the silence. Dax looked up and nodded. "Wake me up for my shift." She said before heading into the tent. Once in the tent she flopped down and looked up at the ceiling of the tent. Gray. Was everything in Starfleet gray? Would it have killed them to use some pastels? B'Elanna thought restlessly. As she closed her eyes she replayed the scene over again her mind. Before she drifted off she was sure she could remember seeing something in Dax's eyes. She was seriously beginning to think that possibly Dax was feeling some more then friendship for her too. That maybe there was a chance for something more. Her final thought before sleep overcame her was whether or not she was willing to risk her friendship with Dax on the off chance that maybe Jadzia loved her the way she loved the scientist. Little did she know that outside the tent while tossing twigs into the fire, Jadzia Dax was wondering the same thing.

PART 37

They were on the last leg of their trip now, an hour at most from the ore. They had spent most of the morning talking about inconsequential things. Mostly speaking so they wouldn't have to think. It was another hot day so both were once again down to their tanks.

"So what do you think?" Dax asked twirling a twig between her fingers.

"I think he likes Ensign Wildman. Maybe when Chakotay and the Captain were on the planet something almost happened, but since then he has been spending a lot of time with Samantha." B'Elanna answered.

"Wildman." Dax said thoughtfully. "Hmmm, I can see it." She said after a moment.

"Are you going to break out your bow and arrow?" B'Elanna asked teasingly. Dax was notorious on Voyager for trying to set people up. She was like a twenty-forth century Cupid.

"Let's just say it's not out of the question." Dax replied with a thoughtful look on her face. B'Elanna knew that face. Someone should warn Chakotay. They continued hiking when Dax stopped and started looking around.

"We there?" B'Elanna asked coming to stop beside Dax.

"We're here." Dax replied moving aside some leaves. "In here." She said revealing an opening to a cave. B'Elanna dug their lights out and after handing one to Dax followed her inside.

PART 38

The cave was dark and dank, as caves were known to be. Up ahead B'Elanna could hear some water trickling indicating some sort of internal water source, and there were some rocks hanging down from the ceiling. They looked similar to the huge icicles in pictures of the Antarctic, only made of dirt. B'Elanna followed Dax as the scientist led them through a maze of tunnels marking the walls as a precaution as they went along.

"The readings are getting stronger. The source is just up ahead." Dax said looking down at her tricorder. B'Elanna nodded and continued to follow her.

PART 39

Janeway sat in her chair watching the images on the viewscreen as they went by, tapping her fingers on her armrest restlessly.

"Captain we're entering the system now." Tom Paris said from the Conn.

"How long until we arrive at the planet?" Janeway asked walking over to the pilot.

"We should be there by this time tomorrow." Paris answered fingers not ceasing in their movements over the Conn. Janeway nodded and moved back to her seat.

"Mr. Kim. Can we hail them?" Janeway asked.

"Yes captain." Harry answered.

"Do it." The Janeway ordered. She could as well find out what they had been up to, and if she needed to start making colonization plans.

"There's no answer Captain." Ensign Kim said after a moment.

"They could simply not be in the shuttle." Chakotay offered from his seat beside the Captain.

"Or the shuttle could have been damaged." Paris said. Janeway mentally frowned at the suggestion, but after what she had seen of the interior of the meteor belt she knew that it was a definite possibility.

"Keep hailing them Harry." Janeway said. Harry nodded and set up an automatic hail that would alert him when/if they responded.

PART 40

B'Elanna sat on the damp ground leaning against the wall as she kept the light trained on Dax so the woman could see what she was doing. Dax had been collecting samples and testing them for half and hour while B'Elanna held the light. Granted there was nothing more she could do, but it was still boring. She hated boring.

"B'Elanna." Dax called standing up. "I'm sorry..."

"Sorry?" B'Elanna asked pitifully. She didn't like the sound of that, 'sorry'.

"I'm sorry… but we're going to have to stay in this cave for a while longer." The Trill said moving to her pack with a grin on her face. B'Elanna was silent for a moment.

"You mean?" The engineer asked hopefully.

"This place if full of useable, magnasite ore that can be mined." Dax confirmed with her patented smile watching as B'Elanna jumped up from her spot on the floor and came over to her.

"Excellent." B'Elanna said hugging Dax happily. When they broke away Dax handed a shovel over to B'Elanna.

"Get digging." She commanded. B'Elanna looked down at the shovel and over to the area where Dax had been collecting the samples.

"Oh sure, stick me with the manual labor." She grumbled well spiritedly.

PART 41

Dax grabbed her canteen and took a long drink. They had been working for over five hours and had filled up one of the two containers. Standing up to stretch out her legs she walked over to where B'Elanna was finishing the last of the digging. The engineer had been digging on and off for the last five hours occasionally taking breaks to help Dax with the purification process. The rock was hard, and it required all of B'Elanna's Klingon strength to get through it. Once she reached the other woman Dax waited until B'Elanna turned around before speaking.

"Here." She said handing B'Elanna the canteen. Torres took it and eagerly drank. She hadn't realized how thirsty she was.

"Thanks." B'Elanna said handing the canteen back to Dax.

"I think we've got enough here." Jadzia said taking a look around. "If you come over here and help me we should have the last container filled in a few hours." B'Elanna dropped the shovel she had been leaning on and followed Dax over to where she had set up the equipment.

B'Elanna watched as Dax sealed the container and loaded the both of them into the packs. Although the mission hadn't gone exactly as she planned, things had worked out just like Dax said they would. Standing up B'Elanna stretched, trying to work some of the kinks out of her back. Shoveling for the greater part of five hours was murder on her muscles. Not hearing Jadzia move up behind her, B'Elanna jumped slightly when she felt hands on her back. Turning around she looked questioningly at Dax.

"Just returning the favor." Dax said as she started to work on B'Elanna shoulders. B'Elanna just nodded and let Dax do her thing.

"Better?" Dax asked after a few minutes. She had worked out all of the knots she could find, and B'Elanna had visibly relaxed during her ministrations.

"Yeah. Thanks." Torres responded softly. She didn't know what to say so she just walked over to her pack and put it on. "We should go. If we leave now we can make it to the spot where we camped last night."

PART 42

B'Elanna moved the bushes stealthily, approaching her prey. Raising her phaser she took aim at a rabbit like creature a few meters ahead and fired. After making sure it was dead B'Elanna collected their dinner and headed back to camp.

"Let me guess. You want me to cook that?" Jadzia asked once B'Elanna came back.

"I killed it." Torres responded.

"I would have thought that after our barbecued lizard dinner of a few nights ago you would have avoided my cooking at all costs." Dax responded, picking up the animal carefully.

"Better than what I could do. I seem to get that charred on the outside, raw on the inside result. My mom eventually stopped letting me cook when we went camping." B'Elanna said.

Torres sat in front of the fire throwing twigs in every few minutes. Over the past few days it had become sort of a ritual with her. They had gotten the ore, were on their way back to the shuttle, and in a few more days would have the shuttle ready for space travel once again. The ride had been a bit bumpy, but she really couldn't complain. At least not too much. She turned towards the tent where Dax was sleeping. Standing up she went into the tent.

Dax heard B'Elanna come into the tent, and sensed her lay down behind her. She smiled to herself, she was sure B'Elanna had come in the other night and this just confirmed it. When she felt the engineers arm circle her waist she turned around so that she was facing Torres. B'Elanna started to move away when she saw that Dax was awake but Jadzia stopped her.

"I...the...it's...um, it's cold out there." B'Elanna stuttered jerking her thumb towards the outside of the tent. When Dax didn't answer B'Elanna finally meet her gaze and saw that Jadzia was watching her intently.

Dax stared into B'Elanna's bright brown eye, finally seeing the love, devotion and longing in them. That B'Elanna felt for her. Instantly she knew that her own eyes held the same expression. As they looked at each other time seemed to stand still. Deciding that she no longer wanted to pretend, that she was brave enough to take a chance, B'Elanna spoke up.

"I...God you're beautiful." B'Elanna finally breathed softly reaching over to touch Jadzia's face. Her mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. There was so much she wanted to say but she didn't have the words. "Can I kiss you?" The engineer asked finally, almost tentatively. It was as if the answer were negative life as she knew it would cease to exist and she would parish.

"I think I'll have to hurt you if you don't." Dax replied. Her words were light, but were spoken seriously, from the heart. She saw the vulnerability in B'Elanna eyes, could feel it. She knew that this kiss would be much more then a kiss.

The first touch of their lips was electric. Sending shivers down to the ends of their toes but leaving a delicious warmth in its wake. The kiss started out slowly, cautiously. Then Dax's tongue came to her lips asking permission to enter which B'Elanna gladly granted opening her mouth. Dax entered her and B'Elanna moaned, her own tongue entering the fray. Her mind, her senses, her body were all on overload. They continued to kiss passionately, feverishly, breaking apart only for air before returning. B'Elanna felt Dax's hand start to creep under her tank top, exploring the skin beneath. Wrenching her lips away from Dax's mouth she kissed along her jaw line then bit her cheek. Dax gasped then sought out B'Elanna's lips once more.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'." The engineer said before her lips were repossessed. B'Elanna worked at Jadzia's shirt removing it as the Trill moved to her neck nipping. The engineer was about to make a move of her own when she heard a howl outside and instinctively looked up. The half-naked, very aroused Trill beneath her was not at all happy about this turn in events and reached up for her. Dax didn't like what she saw when their eyes meet. B'Elanna's gaze was sad, apologetic.

"What is it?" Jadzia asked slowly. If B'Elanna was having doubts she needed to know it.

"The fires almost burned out, and I heard an animal out there." B'Elanna responded. "A big animal." She added. "I have to---" Dax interrupted her.

"I know, 'tend the fire'." The Trill intoned. B'Elanna merely nodded. "Alright but I'm coming with you." She said. B'Elanna smiled and nodded.

PART 43

They were seated comfortably on the ground. Dax was sitting in between the Klingon's legs while B'Elanna's back was against a tree trunk. It had taken very little time to get the fire built back up, and since then Torres had heard nary a sound from Dax.

"What are you thinking?" B'Elanna asked gently looking down.

"That I've never had this much fun camping." The brunette replied with a smirk. B'Elanna's own lips twitched but she didn't comment. "What are you thinking?" Dax asked after a moment.

"That maybe coming on this mission wasn't such a bad thing after all." B'Elanna replied.

"Maybe?" Dax asked faking offense.

"What I meant was, 'without a doubt'". B'Elanna corrected. "I throw myself on the mercy of the court, and beg forgiveness."

"I'd rather you throw yourself at me."

"That can be arranged." B'Elanna stated dipping her head down to meet Jadzia's waiting lips.

"Zia?" B'Elanna asked hesitantly after a minute.

"Hmmm."

"What would you say if I told you that I was in love with you. Truly, madly, deeply, head over heels, completely yours?" B'Elanna asked. She knew she was taking a risk admitting this but had to know.

"That I already knew that." Dax answered shifting so that she could see B'Elanna's reaction. Torres just stared at her.

"What?" The engineer asked.

"You are indeed a woman of action." Dax said. "I've been kissed before, but never like that. And I've never kissed anyone like that before. Your love is in your eyes, your voice, and your touch." Dax said softly. "I feel the same way." B'Elanna just looked at her for a moment before responding.

"Say it?" She asked softly. Dax reached down lacing their fingers together.

"I love you." The Trill said. Strongly, confidently, and lovingly.

"Again." B'Elanna said.

"I love you." Dax repeated watching as B'Elanna closed her eyes.

"Tell me that we'll be together?" B'Elanna asked. Dax looked up at her. B'Elanna looked young and vulnerable. And she should for at that moment she was both. Dax realized that the walls, the barriers B'Elanna had forged years ago to protect herself were absent. She sat there defenseless, open.

"We...will...be...together." Dax answered emphasizing every word. "I am not leaving you. Ever." Dax said knowing what a precious gift she was being given. B'Elanna loved like she did everything else, totally and completely. Which was why she had been devastated when the ones she loved most left her. Willingly or not. B'Elanna closed her eyes, soaking up Dax's words.

"We should get some sleep. We have a full days hike ahead of us." The engineer finally replied. Dax leaned against her and closed her eyes.

"Wake me for my shift." Dax reminded her.

"I will." B'Elanna told her kissing the top of her head. "I will."

As the sun rose signaling mornings approach Dax looked down at the head resting in her lap and smiled. B'Elanna had indeed woken her up for her shift with a soft kiss, and neither of them wanting to separate had shifted so that B'Elanna's head was resting on her lap. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the events of last night. It was a dream come true. She couldn't quite believe it. More importantly she couldn't wait until they got off of this planet.

PART 44

B'Elanna leaned against the side of the rock and watched as Jadzia filled up the canteens. They had stopped at the same small pool they had found before and decided that it was as good a place as any to stop for a break. They had been going non-stop both anxious to get back to the shuttle.

"I'm hot." Dax said putting down the canteens and starting to fan herself.

"You certainly are." B'Elanna agreed from her spot on the rock.

"Aren't you hot?" Dax asked a little peevishly. B'Elanna didn't even look like she was sweating. B'Elanna shrugged and moved her in hand in that so-so motion.

"You know we're quite a pair." Dax commented moving over to where B'Elanna was standing.

"How's that?" Torres asked watching her approach with interest.

"Klingon's have no tolerance for the cold, and Trills can't stand the heat." B'Elanna watched her for a moment.

"I could help you with that." The engineer said moving over towards the pool.

"Do tell." Dax inquired watching B'Elanna suspiciously.

"You see." B'Elanna started dipping her hand in the pool and letting the water run out. "All you need is a cold shower." With that Torres started flinging water at Dax laughing as the Trill tried to get out of the way.

"You are going to pay for that." Dax said threateningly although she did feel cooler.

"I'm shaking in my boots." B'Elanna said saucily. Dax started towards her with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Despite her bravado B'Elanna had no desire to be thrashed by Dax and started to back up, right into the edge of the pool. Seeing an opportunity Dax lunged knocking Torres back into the water. B'Elanna looked up in surprise then in a last ditch effort made a grab for Dax pulling her in as well.

"I guess I needed a bath." Dax sputtered once she got to the surface. B'Elanna nodded and flicked some water at her. Dax looked down at the woman she had landed on top of and flicked some water back. B'Elanna smirked.

"I knew I could get you all hot, bothered and soaking wet." Dax looked at her for a moment then smiled as she dunked the Klingon's head under water.

PART 45

Turning over B'Elanna moaned returning the kiss. This was possibly the most vivid dream she had ever had. She could feel Jadzia under her, smell her hair, hear her moan. Opening her eyes B'Elanna looked down and blinked. So much for that dream theory. Dax looked up at her with a lazy grin on her face.

"Good morning." The scientist drawled.

"It certainly is." B'Elanna agreed leaning down kissing her. As with all the other times they had kissed over the past day the kisses soon turned passionate leaving them short of breath. B'Elanna groaned and rolled over on to her back. "We have got to get out of this jungle." She told Dax. Dax nodded vigorously in agreement. Because of the ever-present danger they had to be careful not to get…distracted, lest they be surprised by an unfriendly jungle foe.

"We should reach the shuttle by sundown if we keep up our current pace." Dax said sitting up.

"Are you still mad at me for taking apart your bed?" B'Elanna asked.

"Actually I think it showed great foresight." Dax responded. "Blue or silver?" She asked gesturing to the rations.

"Don't care." B'Elanna responded raising into an upright position as well. She was tired of reserve rations. Dax tossed her one in a blue wrapper and took a silver one for herself. "Let's eat then go."

PART 46

Dax tightened her hold on her phaser and looked around. About an hour before B'Elanna had gotten jumpy and told her to keep her guard up. Fifteen or so minutes later she had heard the rustling in the foliage around them too and realized what had B'Elanna so upset. They couldn't see what was in the trees but it had been tracking them for an hour and that was not good.

"It's getting closer." B'Elanna said breaking the tense silence.

"That could only mean one thing…." Dax said.

"It's going to attack and soon." B'Elanna finished the thought. "Just be on guard." The Klingon said focusing all of her senses on their surroundings.

B'Elanna raised her phaser and fired. She had detected the animal coming but her shot missed its target and the animal collided with her sending her flying into a nearby tree. As she landed she realized that it was the same cat that they had passed on their way to the ore. It was the one they had circled around to avoid upsetting. Raising her hand she blocked one claw aimed at her, but seconds later felt her face slashed, then her side. Using her arms to block her face Torres squirmed trying to get away. Maneuvering her legs under the cat she managed to push them up sending the cat off of her. Struggling to get up see watched with a detached fascination as the cat got up and started to towards her once more. The impact she was anticipating never happened. Looking up she saw Dax standing a meter away phaser raised, and the cat lying motionless on the ground.

Dax rushed over to where B'Elanna was laying. Her heart had almost stopped when she saw that cat clawing at B'Elanna, she had wanted to shoot but they were so tangled up she couldn't risk it. Leaning down she reached out and tried to remove the hand B'Elanna was clutching to her side.

"You have to let me see it." Dax commanded. The voice was gentle but firm. B'Elanna moved her hand and Jadzia had to stop herself from gasping. There was a long gash on her side that was bleeding profusely. Racing over to where B'Elanna's pack had dropped she removed the med-kit and rushed over to B'Elanna.

"What's the prognosis doc?" B'Elanna asked when Dax sat by her again. She could feel herself losing blood, and she was getting cold despite the warm jungle sun.

"You'll be okay." Dax responded as she started working. She meant what she said. She wasn't going to lose B'Elanna now.

Jadzia managed to stop the bleeding and seal the wound, but there was internal bleeding and some other damage that she couldn't diagnose, let alone treat. Needing to put some distance between themselves and where the attack happened they had hiked for a few more hours stopping when Jadzia noticed B'Elanna starting to stumble. B'Elanna's color had gotten progressively worse as the day wore on and Dax was starting to worry. If B'Elanna didn't get some professional medical attention soon she could die.

PART 47

Janeway finished reading the report, signed it and handed it over to Ensign Chell with a smile. She had noticed that her darkening mood had started to effect the rest of the crew and was endeavoring to fix the problem. Shifting in her seat she looked up at the viewscreen which showed a planet rapidly increasing in size.

"We're in orbit of the planet." Lt. Paris said a few moments later.

"Harry, has there been any response to our hails?" Janeway asked shifting once again to face her young operations officer.

"No Captain." Kim responded. "But I have located the shuttle. It's in a clearing in a jungle region on a southern continent." He added hastily. The Captain stood and made her way over to Harry's station.

"Show me." She said. Harry indicated a region colored in red.

"Can you get a lock on them?" The Captain asked. It was possible the reason they weren't answering the calls was because they were injured or otherwise incapacitated.

"Eventually." Kim told her. "There's some interference in that area. I can't get a positive reading on anything. I'll have to re-calibrate the sensors before we even attempt a transporter lock." Janeway nodded and went back to her seat.

PART 48

Dax kneeled down beside B'Elanna with the water canteen. The Klingon's normally tanned skin was a pasty, unhealthy white. Her breathing was shallow, and sounded raspy. Jadzia couldn't be sure, but she was starting to think that there was blood in her lungs.

"Come on. You need to drink something." Dax said lifting the canteen to B'Elanna's lips. She engineer had absolutely refused to eat anything, but she was going to drink something. B'Elanna opened her mouth and swallowed as much of the water as she could.

"Cold." B'Elanna said softly after a moment. Dax looked at her then moved over to get another blanket. Once she placed it on B'Elanna she started to add more kindling to fire. If B'Elanna was admitting that she wasn't feeling well after denying that anything was wrong since the attack it could only mean that she was getting worse. Turning back to B'Elanna she saw her unsuccessfully trying to mask a grimace.

"Sit still." She told Torres opening the med-kit. "It's time for another visit from Mr. Hypospray." Dax said sticking it at the side of B'Elanna's neck.

"Mr. Hypospray?" B'Elanna said indignantly. "I'm injured, not four." Dax smiled but it didn't reach her eyes, which remained sad.

"How do you feel?"

"I've been better." B'Elanna responded her voice straining slightly. It was an understatement of epic proportions. Dax knew that it was a watered down assessment too.

"I'm going to set up the tent. Try to stay out of trouble till I'm done." Dax said getting up reluctantly and moving to the packs.

PART 49

Jadzia came back into camp with her arms loaded down with firewood. She had made a bigger fire this night and hadn't collected enough wood on her first few trips. Truthfully even if the fire were like the smaller ones they had had their other nights in the jungle she would have had to go out again. She did the job hastily wanting to get back B'Elanna. She dropped her pile near the fire but far enough away that it wouldn't catch before she wanted it.

"B'Elanna?" She called out. She had gotten the woman into the tent an hour earlier but doubted that she was asleep. "Bella?" She called once again when there was no answer. Dax walked to the tent and entered. B'Elanna was where she had left her only on her side. Dax was about to head back out to add some wood to fire, but was compelled to go over and check on B'Elanna. As she got closer she realized that something was wasn't right, when she reached out she could tell that B'Elanna wasn't breathing.

"Bella?" She said shaking her. "Come on." She said shaking her again. There was no response. Becoming more than concerned she rushed over to the med-kit and grabbed the tricorder. Scanning B'Elanna she stared at the display then threw the instrument down. It said she was flat-line. Turning B'Elanna over onto her back she leaned over her and started CPR. There was still no response. "Breathe, damn it!" Dax yelled pushing on stomach. "Come on. Breath."

Dax lowered her mouth to B'Elanna's and blew in. Straightening up she pushed on the engineer's stomach again then repeated the procedure.

"I am giving you a direct order Lieutenant. Breathe!" Dax practically yelled. "Damn it, you can't die. You kiss me, tell me you love me, and make me feel things that I never thought I could feel then die. I don't think so!" Jadzia said pumping, yelling this time. "Don't you leave me. I said I wouldn't leave you so DON'T you leave me now." Dax continued. Tears were pouring down her face but she didn't notice. All she felt was pain an almost incapacitating feeling of loss, and anger. "Come back! Breathe!" She yelled banging a fist on B'Elanna chest.

B'Elanna's body jerked up, she was gasping for air. Then she fell back down on the ground. Dax fumbled with the med-kit finally grabbing the right hypospray and stuck it in B'Elanna's neck. For a moment there was nothing, then Torres jerked back up and started taking huge gulps of air in. Dax reached out drawing her in as B'Elanna struggled for breath, her own heart beating a mile a minute her head spinning. She was broken out of her stupor by the sound of B'Elanna's voice.

"Zia?"

"Yeah." Dax answered her own voice shaky.

"What happened?" Dax laughed, relief flooding through her body. B'Elanna was alive.

PART 50

The morning sun filtered through the canopy of trees surrounding there camp. Dax sat by the dwindling fire with B'Elanna's head in her lap as she applied a cool compress to her ridged brow. The Trills happiness at reviving B'Elanna was dampened when in the middle of the night the Klingon started tossing and turning. When Dax checked she found evidence of an infection, and B'Elanna was burning up because of the fever it caused. Now in the morning the fever still hadn't broken and in her best moments B'Elanna was lucid. Dax couldn't move her, but knew that if she didn't get her to the shuttle and get them back to Voyager B'Elanna would die. The problem was that B'Elanna's condition was worsening with each hour she would probably be gone before that could happen.

PART 51

Harry turned and started working on the console to his left. The computer had determined the source of the interference, and he had found a way to work around it. The sensors weren't working because of a natural dampening field, which was the result of the mountains located in the jungle. The dampening field had its own particular frequency, and once he managed to program Voyager's sensor's to emit the same low level pulse he would be able to locate Torres and Dax. It would only take him a few more minutes.

"Captain." Harry called. "I've broken through the interference and am attempting to get a lock on B'Elanna and Jadzia." He informed her. Janeway stood up and moved over to Harry's station. "I got them." He announced, smiling. Janeway returned his smile until she saw his face drop.

"What is it?" She asked him while trying to get a look at the console.

"One of the life signs is weak. Very weak." He said. "I think it's B'Elanna."

"Do you have the lock?" Janeway asked careful to keep her voice neutral.

"Yes ma'am."

"Then beam them both directly to sickbay." She ordered moving away from Operations. Motioning for Chakotay to follow her she spoke to Tuvok. "You have the bridge Tuvok." Then she entered the turbolift followed by Chakotay.

PART 52

Dax felt the tingle of a transporter beam. There was nothing quite like it in the universe. Being disassembled molecule by molecule then pieced back together. She was sure she was imaging it, that she had been sitting in the hot jungle sun for to long, not drinking enough water, and knowing that B'Elanna was dying and that if that happened she would soon follow, her mind had dreamed up this fantastic rescue. That thought was dashed when the tingling stopped and she found herself staring at a pair of black pants. Looking up she saw the Doctors grouchy face, and knew that without a doubt it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Looking to the side she saw Kes emerge from the Doctors office and walk towards them.

"She's wounded." Dax said gesturing to the woman still cradled in her lap.

"Help me move her onto a bio-bed." The doctor said calmly taking charge of the situation. When Dax didn't move he spoke again, "Now Lieutenant!" Dax stood carefully and grabbed B'Elanna's shoulders while the Doctor took her feet. Once she was safely on the bed, the Doctor ushered Dax out of the way and started working on B'Elanna.

PART 53

Captain Janeway saw Lt. Dax slumped over in a chair as soon as she stepped into sickbay. Dax looked up at them when they entered nodding slightly to acknowledge their presence then turned her head to side. Following her gaze Janeway saw B'Elanna laying on a bio-bed with the Doctor buzzing over her while Kes handed him various instruments.

"How are you Lieutenant?" Janeway asked once she reached Dax's side. The young scientist looked tired, as if she hadn't slept since she left the ship.

"Fine." Dax answered looking up at the Captain. "Tired." She amended.

"How's B'Elanna?" Chakotay asked looking over at Torres. Even from where he was he could see that she was pale, and her breathing shallow. Looking back at Dax he noticed the look of pain that flashed across her eyes before she answered.

"She died." Jadzia said looking up at him. "Last night she flat-lined. I managed to get her breathing again but then she got a fever, and an infection…" Dax paused for a second before continuing. "She's not in good shape. If you didn't get here she would have---" The Trill didn't finish her sentence. She didn't need to. They all knew what she was going to say.

"What happened?" Janeway asked. She could see that Dax was in a bad way, but she had to know. Jadzia took a deep breath before speaking.

"We were on our way back from the cave, about a day and a half away, when B'Elanna heard some noises in the bushes. We couldn't see anything but kept alert. About an hour later B'Elanna whipped around firing her phaser, but she missed and a huge jungle cat attacked her. I tried to get a shot off, but they were to tangled. B'Elanna managed to push the cat off of her and that's when I shot it. She was losing a lot of blood, and I did the best I could with the tools at hand, but I was sure there was some internal bleeding and/or other damage I couldn't detect." Dax related, her gaze returning to B'Elanna every few seconds.

"Why were you out in the jungle?" Chakotay asked. Surely they must have detected the dampening field and realized how dangerous it would be.

"We were looking for ore. We had originally landed on another part of the planet but there was no ore there that we could use. It was all in an ash form that couldn't be extracted and purified. I got a reading that there was some ore in the jungle, and of all the regions I detected it seemed the most promising. We knew about the field, and neither of us was thrilled to be going in, but we had to check out the source. We located some ore in the cave, and mined it. We were on our way back to the shuttle when B'Elanna was attacked." Dax told them.

"You mined ore that we can use?" Janeway asked. Dax nodded.

"Two containers full. They're in our packs. There's plenty more in the cave too." Jadzia responded distractedly. Janeway excused herself and walked into the Doctors office.

"Janeway to Kim."

"Kim here." Harry responded.

"Harry can you lock onto B'Elanna and Jadzia's packs?"

"Just a second Captain." Harry responded. After a few moments her spoke again. "Found them Captain."

"Have them beamed to the shuttle bay, and get an engineering team down there. Beam the shuttle up as well." Janeway told him.

"Aye Captain." Harry said and disengaged the link.

PART 54

As Janeway joined the others the Doctor and Kes were making their way over to them. Once the Captain joined them the Kes spoke up.

"We've stabilized B'Elanna's condition. She'll be alright." Kes said reassuringly. What the Doctor lacked in beside manner, the young Ocompan more than made up for.

"There was an infectious agent in Lt. Torres's system which was troublesome at first, but I managed to cure it. Her other injuries by themselves were simple in nature and I was able to mend them with no further complications." The Doctor stated. "She is awake if you would like to talk to her. But please make your visit brief, she needs her rest." The Doctor added. Janeway walked over to her chief engineer first.

"How are you feeling Lieutenant?" She asked with a gentle smile on her face.

"Never been better." Torres responded dryly, a half smirk on her lips. Janeway smiled.

"I hear you had quite a time down there."

"That's one way to put it." B'Elanna said, coughing softly.

"You and Lt. Dax saved the day. Our negotiations with the Tolkens crumbled. The ore you found is most urgently needed." The Captain told her. Over the years she had learned that when officers were injured on missions it often helped their recovery to know that what they did was needed and benefited the crew. B'Elanna nodded and gave a weak smile. "Get well." Janeway told her before backing up.

When Jadzia made no move to approach the bed Chakotay went over. "How are you feeling?" He asked. B'Elanna looked down at herself then looked up a Chakotay raising an eyebrow.

"Well I feel worse than look. Does that answer your question?" B'Elanna asked. Chakotay smiled.

"That well huh? The Doctor says you need your rest so I'll come by tomorrow. Try not to kill or maim yourself till then okay?" He said flashing her his cute little dimpled smile.

"Come on, a girl's gotta have some fun." B'Elanna complained. Chakotay turned around to leave stopping by Dax before exiting the sickbay.

"Take care of her." He whispered.

"That's what I was trying to do, and look what happened." Dax observed. Chakotay looked at her for a second before speaking.

"I don't know exactly what happened, but I'm sure you did your best. She's alive, and that unique Torres humor is still intact. Don't be so hard on yourself." He told her squeezing her shoulder before leaving.

B'Elanna lay staring at the ceiling speaking only when Dax made no move to come over or say anything. "You look like your best friend just died." she commented turning her head to side so she could see Dax.

"You did." Jadzia responded getting up and dragging her chair over to the side of the bed. B'Elanna's brow creased.

"I did? I don't feel like I died."

"Yes you did." Jadzia said taking her hand.

"But you brought me back." B'Elanna stated looking down into a pair of all to sad blue eyes. She hated it when Dax was upset. It was like someone was tearing her heart out. "I love you." She said bringing Dax's hand up to lips and kissing each knuckle softly. It was an effort, but more than worth it.

"I thought I'd lost you." Dax said leaving her hand where B'Elanna had placed it over her heart. "I just found you, and when I saw you laying there motionless, not breathing, it was like my world ceased to exist. I couldn't believe it." Dax said feeling the tears she had been suppressing start to fall.

"Shhh, come here." B'Elanna said tugging at Dax's jacket while gesturing for her to lie down beside her.

"The Doctor." Dax protested though there was nothing she would rather do.

"To hell with the Doctor." B'Elanna said moving over to create a space for Dax.

"What if someone comes in?" Dax said laying her head on B'Elanna's shoulder careful not to brush her tender side.

"To hell with them too." B'Elanna said taking Dax's hand again.

"It's going to get crowded down there." Dax said with a teasing smile. B'Elanna smirked.

"Not my problem." She responded. "I heard you." B'Elanna said a few seconds later.

"When I was...dead, telling me to breathe, to come back." B'Elanna clarified when Dax looked at her questioning. It was hard for her to say the word dead. "I couldn't resist such a passionate plea."

"I love you." Dax said sitting up so she was leaning over B'Elanna.

"That's good." B'Elanna said. She was about to add something to her statement but Jadzia captured her lips, and whatever she was going to say didn't seem so important anymore. She was home.

PART 55

B'Elanna looked at the cards in her hand, a small smile appearing on her face before quickly being masked. She was in her quarters lying on her couch. Dax was sitting in a chair off to her side. It had been two days since they beamed off the planet surface and after her morning visit with the doctor she was fully recovered save some soreness on her side. Dax had been with her day and night since the accident, and they had talked about the revelations made on the planet, the emotions they had both gone through due to B'Elanna's injury, and just enjoyed each others company. B'Elanna was still on sick leave despite her protests, but Jadzia had to go on duty later on.

"Two pair." Dax said smugly as she placed her cards on the table.

"Not bad." B'Elanna said appreciatively. "But I'm going to have to beat you...again." Torres continued putting her cards down. "Royal Flush baby!" The engineer exclaimed smiling.

"Poker's a stupid game away." Dax said pouting. She'd lost ten straight games, and the one she had won she was sure B'Elanna had let her win out of pity.

"Don't pout." B'Elanna said still smiling. "You'll get the hang of it eventually."

"I could beat your ass at Tongo." Dax stated.

"I sure you could." B'Elanna responded in an annoying indulgent tone. She was going to say something else but her door chimed. "Come." B'Elanna called turning away from Dax. Chakotay walked in hands clasped behind his back.

"Didn't mean to interrupt." He said from just inside the doorway.

"No worries. I've got to get on duty anyway." Dax said standing up. She turned to B'Elanna and held her gaze for moment before heading out the door. "I'll see you later Bella. Bye Chakotay." B'Elanna didn't say anything just watched her leave before turning her attention to the Commander.

"What brings you by?" She asked finally.

"I told you I'd come by. I stopped by sickbay but Kes told me you were released. How are you feeling?" He asked sitting down on the chair Jadzia had been in.

"Better. I'm a little sore, but besides that fine." B'Elanna responded with a shrug. Chakotay watched as she sat up and leaned over stacking the cards on the table. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something was different about her. She seemed relaxed, almost mellow, and he didn't think it was the drugs the Doctor had her on. Leaning back he and contemplated the looked that had passed between Torres and Dax while B'Elanna walked over to the replicator. "You want something to drink?" B'Elanna asked.

"What are you having?"

"Rakajino. You'll probably want something else. Dax and I seem to be the only people on board who can stomach it." She answered. In fact when it came to Klingon food Jadzia had more of a stomach for it the B'Elanna did.

"Coffee---"

"I know, 'black'." B'Elanna said interrupting him. When she brought the coffee over to him and sat back down she noticed that he was studying her. "What?" She demanded after a moment. She hated being inspected like some sort of specimen under a microscope. She'd gotten enough of that on Kessik IV.

"Nothing, I'm just thinking." Chakotay responded trying to figure out the best way to get B'Elanna to talk to him.

"About what? I'm the one that had the near death experience and as a result should be questioning her place in the universe." B'Elanna said looking at him suspiciously. Chakotay was the worst liar in the universe, and equally bad at evasion. He was trying to find some way to ask her something he knew she didn't want to be asked. "Why are really looking at me like that?"

"Jadzia was really worried about you when we arrived in sickbay. I can't even really describe the look on her face." He told her.

"She's my best friend. I'd probably have looked the same if I'd seen her flat-line the night before, then lucid with a fever knowing there was nothing I could do." B'Elanna told him.

"Is that all she is?"

B'Elanna looked at him momentarily. He could see the wheels turning. Considering how to answer the question. She had pretty much told him how she felt before the mission to planet anyway, so she decided to tell the truth. "No." She answered finally.

"So you told her?" Chakotay asked leaning forward. By answering B'Elanna had consented to having an actual discussion, and she knew it.

"Yes, I told her." B'Elanna said, a smile lighting up her face.

"And?"

"And she told me she felt the same way." B'Elanna said shifting slightly. She was not good at emotional chats and he was still looking at her. It was that prideful look a parent gets when their kid does something well. Her mother looked like that the day she mastered her calastetics routine. She thought of Chakotay as the big brother she never had, but the look was still disconcerting coming from him. Especially when it was about her love life.

"Then?"

"Then what? Are you asking me if we 'did it'?" B'Elanna said looking at Chakotay. Smiling when she saw him squirm a bit.

"More or less." The Commander said.

"Not quite." B'Elanna said remembering when she heard the animal outside and had to go tend the fire.

"What does that mean?" Chakotay asked his tattooed forehead wrinkling. It was impossible to get a straight answer out of this woman.

"It means that...well...you see we were in the jungle. And to keep the animals and stuff away we had to keep this fair sized fire going. While after we...talked, and started engaging in other activities, I heard an animal moving about close to camp and had to back outside to keep the fire going. And then I got hurt, and since we came back on board the Doctor said I was not to engage strenuous... activities. And seeing as my side really did hurt I decided to listen to him. This time." B'Elanna explained still shifting. "Don't smile at me like that." She complained looking at Chakotay.

"Are you happy?" He asked eventually enjoying watching her squirm. He could tell she was but he wanted to hear her say it. She deserved some happiness.

"Beyond belief." B'Elanna told him. After a moment she asked, "Do you remember how when I first joined your crew, you asked me what I believed in? Do you remember my answer?"

"Nothing. You said you didn't believe in anything. And I asked you how with that complete lack of faith in anything you managed to get up everyday and continue?"

"I told you I was searching for something, for---"

"Something to believe in." Chakotay finished for her.

"I found it, what I was searching for. I can't say that I believe in a lot, but I believe in Dax." B'Elanna told him. "She makes me a whole person."

"I told you. The inevitable ignores no one." Chakotay said grinning.

PART 56

Kes walked into the mess hall and over to the counter where Neelix was dishing out his latest creation. It was the lunch break for the beta shift, and Neelix was busy trying to keep up with the stampede of crewmembers. Although she and Neelix had broken up, they were still great friends and Kes always felt she could talk to him, and enjoyed his company.

"Ah, Kes." Neelix said in greeting. "What can I get for you?"

"Whatever you're serving. It smells wonderful." Kes said with a smile. "Do you know where Lt. Dax is?" Kes asked once Neelix had stocked her plate.

"She's over in the back table." Neelix said with a tilt of his head. "How's B'Elanna?" The Talaxian asked before Kes headed off. No one except the senior officers had seen the chief engineer since she was beamed back on board, and there were rumors flying around that she had died, or was dying of some mysterious disease, and a myriad of others.

"She's fine. A bit sore, but she should be on duty in another day or so." Kes told him before heading to the back table where Neelix said Dax was. Since arriving on the ship the two of them had become good friends, meeting for lunch a few times a week just talking or spending time on the holodeck.

Jadzia looked up and saw Kes approaching her. She put down her data pad and waved the woman over. Despite the fact that she wanted to get these reports over with, she also needed a break. The words were starting to blur together.

"Have a seat." Dax said when Kes reached the table.

"You look better." Kes commented as she took a seat. Dax had looked so despondent when she was in sickbay, and it had had Kes worried.

"I feel better." Jadzia said honestly. "I mean so much happened on the planet, we had a lot to deal with not knowing if we were going to get off of the planet, and other things to work through. Over the past few days I've just done a lot of thinking, and sorted things out. I'm… happy." She continued with a smile.

"Well you certainly look it." Kes said smiling as well. Dax's good mood was infectious.

"Do you want to take a walk?" Dax asked after a moment. She wanted to talk to someone about what had happened on the planet, but she didn't want to do it in the mess hall, which was filled eavesdroppers. News on this ship spread even faster than on DS9.

"Sure." Kes responded. She wasn't that hungry anyway, and she sensed that whatever it was the Trill wanted to talk about was important.

"Great." Dax said smiling as she stood up.

They decided to take a detour into the astroponics bay so that Kes could show Dax some of the new plants she had been growing. Kes had started the astroponics lab so that Voyager could grow their own fruits and vegetables, but over the years had expanded it, so that she had flowers and other forms of plant life growing there as well.

"What did you want to talk about?" Kes asked finally as Dax looked over a portion of one her new plants. Dax put the sample down, and looked at Kes for a moment trying to figure out how to proceed.

"Do you remember what we were talking about that day before we left for Titus?" Jadzia asked. She had been having dinner with Kes when B'Elanna called her and informed her about the mission to Titus.

"You were telling me about your feeling for B'Elanna. How---" Kes stopped as she started to piece together the puzzle. "You told her how you feel?" Kes asked.

"Kind of. She did first." Dax said thinking back to the night in question. "She told me that she's in love with me." Jadzia told her smiling.

"And you told her?"

"That I loved her too." Dax confirmed.

"How did it happen?" Kes asked wondering what circumstances could have brought about the revelations.

"It was the whole situation I guess." Dax said after thinking for a moment. "She's my best friend and we've always been close, but we've never really been around each other for twenty-four hours a day for over a week. Before Titus I think that for both of us whenever the feelings started to bubble to the surface we could kind of escape them by going to our quarters or work or something. But down there, there was no denying what we were feeling, and it showed. Then that night in the tent, we just couldn't pretend anymore, knew that we didn't need to." Jadzia continued thoughtfully. She knew that the reason she hadn't said anything about, or acted on her emotions before was because she was afraid of losing B'Elanna if the Klingon didn't return her feelings, and over the past few days she realized that that was B'Elanna's excuse as well.

"What I don't understand is why you waited so long." Kes said when Dax stopped talking. It was obvious to her that the two of them were in love, even before Dax confided in her.

"We were afraid. That's basically what it came down to. She had become so much a part of me that I didn't want to risk what we already had. I didn't want to risk her." Jadzia admitted.

"So once you two got past your fears and admitted your feelings to each other---" Kes asked leadingly.

"Time to get to the nitty gritty eh?" Dax teased. "Well though I plan to rectify the situation, as things stand there's not much to tell. We were in the jungle and after we...spoke we had to go back out and tend the fire to keep the creatures away. After that B'Elanna got injured, and ever since she's been recovering from her injures. After today's visit to sickbay she's been feeling a lot better so maybe I'll have more to tell you later." Dax joked. "Seriously, we've just spent the past few days talking about things, and used to the idea of 'us'."

"Well, it's about time." Kes told her. "Now, what do you think of that sample?" Dax looked down at the piece of leaf she had put down before their talk and began her analysis.

PART 57

"Come on Niccoletti." B'Elanna pleaded over the comm link. "It's no big deal really. Besides I know the rumors, I've just given you concrete proof that I'm not dead, you'll be the focal point of the rumor mill. Just get me something to work on." B'Elanna continued. Being in her quarters all day with nothing to do was driving her insane. The time flew by when Dax was there, but now that both she and Chakotay were gone, minutes seemed like hours. She needed something to do.

"But B'Elanna, there are strict orders that---"

"Whose orders Sue?" B'Elanna asked.

"It's common knowledge." Niccoletti responded. She didn't know where she had heard it. She had heard this tone from B'Elanna before, and it was never a good thing.

"Well, I'm giving you an order. Bring me something to work on you'll be on or you'll be on waste management duty for the next week." B'Elanna said. She was through playing, she had asked nicely and it had gotten her no where. It was time to use the proven method of extortion.

"You can't do that." Niccoletti responded.

"The question is do you want to find out if I can? Because you see with the problems Voyager has been having those particular systems are backed up. So if I can, for the next week you'll be wading up to your ass in sh--"

"Okay. I'll bring something to you as soon as possible." Niccoletti agreed.

"Thank you." B'Elanna said sweetly knowing that Niccoletti was already upset with her for using such dirty tactics. But Torres justified. A woman has got to do what a woman has got to do.

PART 58

Dax put down her fork and stared at the woman across from her. When she had arrived back at B'Elanna's quarters she had found the woman reading various reports on the engines, and other systems. Wondering how she had gotten the data Dax had questioned her about it.

"You threatened her with waste management duty?" Jadzia said trying not to smile. B'Elanna simply nodded seeming quite pleased with herself. "You know you can't do that without going through the Captain, and with your reason Janeway would never let you assign her." Dax commented.

"I know that, but she didn't. Or at least wasn't sure about it. She played it safe, just like I knew she would." B'Elanna said taking in another spoonful of Neelix's stew. He had been bringing her food since she had been injured, and tonight's was actually very good.

"You keep bullying your friends like that and you're not going to have any left." Jadzia said watching as B'Elanna shoveled down the stew. She was glad B'Elanna was eating, she had lost weight and hadn't been eating much since the attack. It was a sign that her health had indeed gotten better.

"I don't need them as long as I have you." B'Elanna responded looking Dax straight in the eye. She wanted the woman to know that she meant what she said with all her heart. "Besides I apologized to her when she dropped the pads off." B'Elanna continued.

"You're turning into a softy Bella." Dax said.

"Your fault." B'Elanna responded without missing a beat. She knew it was true, she apologized to Niccoletti, Chakotay had said she was acting mellow, and she was talking about her emotions with a minimum of discomfort.

"I make no apologies." Dax said leaning over and kissing her before sitting back with a smile.

"Do you want desert?" Jadzia asked once she saw that B'Elanna was finished.

"I want you." B'Elanna said. They had talked about B'Elanna's concerns regarding her Klingon desires, B'Elanna worrying that she would hurt Dax which was the last thing in the world she wanted. Dax assured her that she knew what she was getting into, and that she knew that B'Elanna would never hurt her. After searching within herself B'Elanna knew that what Dax said was true, she would never hurt the woman.

"One order of Trill coming up." Dax responded moving to B'Elanna. Lowering herself onto B'Elanna's lap she bent her head down and kissed her thoroughly. When they broke apart Jadzia regarded her soon to be lover. "Are you nervous?" She asked. One would think that after three hundred plus years of existence one would lose their jitters, but she was nervous.

"Yeah...a little." B'Elanna admitted with a small smile.

"So am I."

"I know. Your hands are sweating." B'Elanna teased before reaching up and capturing Dax's lips again in a slow sweet kiss. Standing up not breaking their liplock B'Elanna picked up Dax and carried her to the couch. There were some times she loved being half Klingon and this was one of them.

"The couch?" Dax asked once she was horizontal and B'Elanna had settled on top of her.

"I'm still recovering. I could carry you the rest of the way, but I'd be to tired to do anything else." B'Elanna told her. "But if you insist---"

"This is just fine." Dax told her. "Now kiss me."

"As you wish." B'Elanna told her only too happy to comply. When their lips were centimeters away from meeting the door chimed. B'Elanna turned her head slightly to the side and groaned letting her head drop on Jadzia's shoulder.

"Maybe if we don't answer they'll go away." Jadzia said softly. When they didn't answer and the door chimed again they sat up and moved to other ends of the couch to remove the temptation.

"Come." B'Elanna called out in an irritated voice. She watched as Tom Paris, and Harry Kim walked in carrying what looked like wine.

"What took you so long. We were standing out there for years." Paris said.

"Tom exaggerates. It couldn't have been more than a few months." Harry responded.

"A pair of comedians. Great." B'Elanna said sourly. She should have let them stay out there.

"And to think we came bearing gifts." Tom said in wounded voice while taking a seat in the chair opposite Torres and Dax. Harry sat down on the other chair placing the glasses on a nearby table.

"How are you feeling?" The young man asked.

"I was feeling great until a minute ago." B'Elanna muttered under her breath, loud enough for only Dax to hear. When Jadzia responded by elbowing her she made a response loud enough for her quests to hear. "Better. I'll be as good as new by tomorrow."

"Well good. This calls for a celebration." Tom said popping the cork. "Harry my man, the glasses please." The pilot called. "Nothing like a little bubbly to say 'glad you're not dead'." Paris commented once all the glasses were full.

"So what happened to you two after you left Voyager?" Harry asked.

"You go ahead." B'Elanna said to Dax leaning back. The Trill shot her a look, but turned to the two men seated around them.

"Where should I start?" Jadzia asked.

"How about the meteor belt. That's where things got interesting for us." Harry suggested.

"Alright. As we entered the meteor belt and our sensors started to get a clearer reading on the interior we realized that we were in for a bumpy ride. Once we entered..."

PART 59

B'Elanna lay down with a sigh once the door closed. Although originally annoyed by Tom and Harry's intrusion on her evening, over the course of their visit the boys had once again endeared themselves to her. Tom being his usual entertaining self, and Harry... being Harry. Once Dax had finished regaling the small group with their adventures on Titus, sans the romantic developments, they had talked about what had been going on onboard Voyager since they had left. At the end, they had decided that the Captain had quite a harrowing time, and would be the recipient of a 'way to avoid that nervous breakdown' bottle of wine.

"Hey." Dax said taking a seat on the arm of the couch B'Elanna was laying on.

"Hey." B'Elanna said opening her eyes.

"Are you tired?" Jadzia asked watching her closely. She would be able to tell if B'Elanna was lying to her.

"No. But I do want to go to bed." B'Elanna said sitting up.

"Sounds like a plan." Dax agreed. B'Elanna stood up and offered her hand to Dax. Once Jadzia took grasped her hand, B'Elanna led her to the bedroom.

B'Elanna lay down and watched Jadzia as she too crossed over to the bed, then carefully lowered herself onto her. B'Elanna reached up tangling her fingers in Jadzia's hair, then letting her hair down and running her fingers through it. B'Elanna ran her fingertips along Dax's spots enjoying the small sounds of contentment coming from Jadzia. Reaching behind Dax's head B'Elanna gently brought the woman's head towards her and kissed her. They spent an eternity exploring each other mouths, reveling in the warmth that was their love.

"How do you do that?" Dax asked huskily nibbling at B'Elanna's ear.

"Th…a...That's what I was going to ask you." B'Elanna choked out, arching into Dax's exploring hands.

"Put your hands on me." Dax breathed looking into B'Elanna's vibrant brown eyes.

"Try and stop me." B'Elanna told her holding the steamy gaze. Flipping Dax over so that she was now positioned on top B'Elanna bit her cheek. "Par'mahcai. My love." She said softly tracing Jadzia's lips with her fingers then joining their lips once again. They kissed slowly, savoring the tastes and sounds and emotions invoked. Raising up Jadzia moved her hands under B'Elanna's shirt and lifted it over her head. B'Elanna lowered Dax back down and kissed her passionately.

Jadzia flipped B'Elanna over easily and began to kiss to her neck. Slowly Jadzia kissed her way down, stopping to suck on the Klingon's pulse point, which was beating rapidly. Removing her mouth she looked up at B'Elanna. She looked into the engineers eyes, and saw desire, love, passion, tenderness all present, laid out there for her to see. So far B'Elanna had let her take the lead which was not something she would have expected from a Klingon lover, but laying there looking in her loves eyes she realized why. B'Elanna was giving herself to Dax, no barriers, no conditions, just a loving surrender, and it took Jadzia's breath away to know that B'Elanna loved her so completely.

"Don't stop." B'Elanna breathed huskily.

"Don't worry I'm not." Jadzia assured her. Not even a Kazon attack could stop her. "But I want to get of these." She said gesturing to the rest of B'Elanna's clothes.

"You too." Torres told her reaching for her shirt.

"But of course."

Slowly, tenderly, passionately, feverishly, always lovingly they discovered each other. They talked, they kissed, they caressed, and they loved. They immersed themselves in their own private universe where the only things that existed were each other, and their love. That night they became one.

EPILOGUE

Tom poked at his at granular eggs before pushing his plate away. Turning to Harry he watched as the young man pushed his plate away as well. They had to report to Engineering in half an hour to assist with repairs, and decided to get some breakfast. A decision Tom was seriously starting to regret.

"What are you thinking about?" Tom asked finally. Harry had been unusually quiet all morning, and it was starting to get on his nerves. He was finding it infinitely difficult to carry on a conversation by himself.

"Last night." Harry said finally as he took a sip of Neelix's brew imitation coffee. He had actually grown to like the stuff.

"Yeah that was fun." Tom agreed. Best time he'd had in while.

"Didn't you notice anything… unusual?" Harry asked.

Tom knew exactly what Harry was talking about, but pretended to think about it for a minute before answering. "Oh, you mean how B'Elanna and Jadzia kept exchanging these knowing looks. Or how as the evening wore on, and wine kept flowing they moved closer together. Or perhaps you're referring to how when we first came in they were both flushed and Dax's hair was out of place." Tom said with a smile. He could have listed a few more things, but by the flush covering Harry's face he believed he had made his point.

"Well, yeah." Harry said.

"Do you think---" Harry said leaving the rest of the sentence open.

"Oh, yeah." Tom said drinking some of his java. He watched as Harry's face dropped slightly.

"I know you had a thing for Dax, and I'll admit for a while there I entertained the thoughts of B'Elanna and myself, but come on Harry. We never really had a chance with either of them. And love, 'tis a grand thing. I mean did you see B'Elanna, she was smiling, and laughing. They were both deliriously happy. Be happy for them." Tom said for once being the voice of reason. It made him momentarily dizzy.

"I am." Harry replied quickly. "It's just…"

"I know man. There goes that double wedding we've been dreaming about." Tom said. Except for the fact that they were each going to have to find another to bestow their attentions on, Tom was happy. Love was in the air, and the happiness it brought with it was contagious. Hell, he decided, he would even try to eat the eggs.

---

Secure, warm, and loved. B'Elanna felt all of those things as she opened her eyes to greet the morning. A smile spread across her face as she remembered the previous night. For the first time in her life she was truly happy, and she knew without a doubt that she owed it all to the woman snuggled beside her. B'Elanna raised herself onto her elbows and regarded the sleeping face above her.

"It's about time you woke up." Jadzia said with a smile, her eyes still closed. She had woken up a few minutes before and was just soaking up their closeness when she felt B'Elanna shift.

"I thought you were still a sleep."

"I know what you thought." Dax said finally opening her eyes to be greeted by face of a smiling engineer. "You know," Jadzia commented. "If I added up all the times I've seen you smile, grin, or smirk in the past few days, it would probably double your total for the past three years."

"I've got a lot to smile, grin, and smirk about now." B'Elanna told her leaning down for a kiss.

"If you keep it up we won't be able to keep this a secret for long." Jadzia said once they broke apart.

"Who wants to keep it a secret?" B'Elanna asked looking at Dax. "I love you with all my heart, and I don't care if everyone knows it. In fact I want everyone to know it."

"Sing it from the mountain tops?" Dax asked remembering the human saying.

"There aren't many mountains around here. How about the engineering catwalk?" B'Elanna asked.

"If that's the best you can do."

"Besides, everyone needs to know that you're off the market. I'm the jealous type." B'Elanna informed her.

"I wasn't aware I was ever on the market. You're the one with all the admirers."

"Moi?" B'Elanna asked innocently.

"Freddie Bristow, our friend Mr. Paris, Vorik." Dax said naming a few.

"Alright, if we're going to start making lists, on yours how about, Ensign Davies, Harry, Carey, Hoagan---"

"That's enough." Dax said stopping the oration. "You made your point." With that the Trill reached up and brought B'Elanna lips down to hers once again. B'Elanna ran her hands along Jadzia's side, and shifted down to kiss her neck. "We have to be on duty. Ore, repairs…remember?" Dax asked though she made no attempt to stop B'Elanna.

"I nearly died getting that ore. Someone else can damn well make the installations. And if anyone has a problem with it they can---"

"Go to hell!" Dax finished for her. "I love the way your mind works." She added with a smirk before they settled back down for some loving.

---

The doors to the turbolift opened and B'Elanna and Jadzia stepped in. Already late for their meeting in Engineering they decided to forgo breakfast and head straight down. As things were they were going to have to tell a little white lie to the Captain (that she wouldn't believe for an instant but wouldn't call them on either) about B'Elanna's side acting up, and Dax making sure she was okay.

"Engineering." B'Elanna told the computer once they the doors closed. Looking over to the side she noticed Dax grinning at her. "What?" Dax simply reached over and straightened B'Elanna's combadge, which had been pinned on upside down. "Oh." Was all B'Elanna said. She had been distracted while getting dressed.

Stepping out of the turbolift they spotted the Captain, Carey, Paris, Kim, and a few others gathered around a console and made their way over.

"Glad you could join us." Janeway drawled once Torres and Dax were within hearing range. She was clearly annoyed at having been kept waiting, and her look told them that they better have a damn good reason for keeping her waiting.

"My side---" B'Elanna started.

"Was really inflamed. I got this urgent, really…whiney call from her. She sounded so pitiful I rushed right over." Dax continued.

"Whiney, I wasn't whiney…or pitiful. I was in tremendous pain." B'Elanna stated. Dax wasn't sticking to the pre-arranged dialogue.

"As far as I can tell it was about par with a hang nail." Dax informed Janeway dismissively.

"Hang nail." B'Elanna declared clearly insulted.

"Well maybe worse then a hang nail, but there's nothing to worry about now. What did we miss?" Dax said continuing in a rush before B'Elanna could say anything else. Janeway looked at the two of them not believing a word said between the both of them. They were acting strangely, but she didn't know what was going on and couldn't be bothered trying to find out at the moment, so she let it slide.

Lt. Carey and Capt. Janeway spent the next half hour detailing what happened with the ore once it was beamed aboard, and how she wanted things to proceed from that point on. Once they were all informed of their jobs they divided up into groups and got started.

---

B'Elanna took a look in the mirror as she brushed a stray strand of hair out of her face. The ore worked out perfectly and as of 18:00 that day Voyager was in as good a shape as she could be. Upon hearing the news Neelix arranged for a party to be held in the holodeck to celebrate, and B'Elanna and Dax being the discoverers of the ore were the guests of honor, making it mandatory they attend. The good thing about being in the Delta Quadrant was that over the years most of the crew had managed to collect quite a wardrobe, and B'Elanna was one of those who had, even though she rarely got out of uniform. She was wearing a navy shirt that was made out of a material similar to silk but with a heavier consistency, and a pair of black leather pants. Nodding to herself in the mirror she headed into the living room where Dax was waiting for her.

"Don't say it." B'Elanna warned as she walked into the room. She was always giving Dax a hard time about being late and didn't really want to hear the sarcastic comment the Trill was sure to make at her tardiness.

"I would never." Jadzia said raising her hands. "You look nice." She said taking in B'Elanna's figure. She liked the pants. Leather seemed to suit B'Elanna.

"So do you." B'Elanna said moving over to where Dax was sitting. She was wearing a dark navy skirt that came down just past her knees but had a split up one side, and a sleeveless black top with thin straps. "Hey, we kind of match." B'Elanna observed. The colors they were wearing were the same. They were just reversed.

"And to think we've only been together for a few days." Jadzia said with a smile. She would have mentioned that she thought it was kind of cute, but B'Elanna was a big bad Klingon warrior and wouldn't respond well to being referred to as cute. "Let's go, we don't want to be late for our own party." Dax said grabbing B'Elanna's hand and leading her out the door.

---

Captain Janeway made her way down from the stage after introducing the house band. A few of the crewmembers had formed a band and would perform at events like this. They had cleverly named themselves 'The Voyageurs'. B'Elanna and Jadzia had arrived a few minutes before, and the festivities started soon after. As usual all of the senior officers had congregated at one table, and Janeway made her way over to join them.

Kathryn sat back and watched and listened to the others interact, making a few odd comments but for the most part playing the observer. At times they reminded her of squabbling siblings, especially Torres and Paris who would bicker over anything and everything, be it good-naturedly. Functions like this where they were all together reminded her of family gathering when she was growing up. She had realized that that was really what they had here, they had formed their own family. Through the experiences they had shared, the problems they had and over came together they had all bonded in a very special way. But what had really caught her attention this evening was the way B'Elanna and Jadzia in particular were interacting. It made her smile when she realized what was going on. She had gathered some time back that the feelings those two held for each other went past friendship, and she was happy that they had finally figured it out. They were simply radiant with happiness. She was snapped out of her revere however by Tom Paris's voice.

"And for the Captain for we have this lovely bottle of vintage Tolken wine from 2303. Very old, and very good. It was one of their best years." He said while Harry produced the glasses.

"What's this for?" Kathryn asked looking around the table. B'Elanna, Harry, Jadzia and Tom all had knowing looks on their faces, but Kes, Neelix, the Doctor, Chakotay and Tuvok all seemed just as confused as the Captain.

"We," Tom said gesturing to Torres, Dax and Kim, "decided that you deserved a reward for your tireless work with vexing Tolken's. You held up much better than we ever could have hoped to." The pilot continued popping the cork.

"I'm glad it wasn't me." B'Elanna said tilting her glass as Tom poured the wine in.

"Would you have broken bones?" Dax inquired.

"Only the small ones." B'Elanna assured her much to the amusement of their tablemates as the rest of the glasses were filled. Once everyone had their wine they lifted their glasses up in toast.

"To patience." Tom said. Everyone clicked their glasses and took a sip.

"I'd like to make a toast as well." Janeway announced. Once everyone's attention was on her she faced Torres and Dax. "To the happy couple, I give you my best." She said with a smile. If the toast had surprised B'Elanna or Jadzia they hid it well giving each other sheepish grins, then raising their glasses.

"Are we that obvious?" B'Elanna asked after a moment. There were vigorous nods around the table.

---

I watch her standing there, staring out into the expanse of stars surrounding Voyager. Her face is relaxed. I would even describe it as peaceful. The change in her over the past few days has truly amazed me. She has opened up to me, revealed herself to me like she has with no other. Sometimes I think the feelings overwhelm her. I understand the feeling. However, I know that like myself she welcomes it. That she needs it. I walk over to her and place my arms around her waist. Enveloping her in a tender embrace. Lowering my head slightly I whisper in her ear.

"What are you thinking about?" She places her hands over mine, rubbing them gently with her thumbs. She can be so gentle. I wonder sometimes if I will ever figure her out completely.

"What life would be like without you." She answers softly.

"Oh?" I ask. I am surprised by her answer and it must show on my face for she smiles at my question.

"It would be like…." She pauses momentarily trying to find the right words. "It would be like…a broken data pad, or an unfinished book." She tells me. I raise my eyebrow questioningly though she cannot see.

"How's that?" I ask wondering how I relate to those two things.

"Completely useless." She stated. I look at her, deeply touched by her words.

"I didn't know you were such a romantic." I tell her teasingly.

"I'm multi-faceted." She says with a mischievous grin. "But I meant it. We are like one sprit." She continued seriously turning so we were facing each other. I normally have plenty to say but I find myself speechless at this moment. Overcome by the honestly of her words, and the truth in her gaze.

"Soul-mates." I agree, speaking softly. She smiles at me, her face lighting up. It's 'my' smile, the one that is for my eyes only, and as always I smile back. "I love you Bella." I tell her. I am at a loss to truly express the depth of what I feel for her.

"I love you too J'ai." She says, her eyes looking directly into my soul and touching me in a way I never imagined. 'J'ai', I know that word. It's Klingon meaning 'my heart'. I lift my hand to her face and use my thumb to caress her ridges. Moving my hand down I cup her face and bring our lips together.

At that moment B'Elanna Torres and Jadzia Dax were one. No secrets, no barriers between them. Simply two souls joined together by a kiss promising forever.

THE END

Comments always welcome and greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading :D

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