TI: "Folie A Deux: An Alternate Version of 'Blood Fever'." VOY-AU, (P/T, V, all)

AU: SnoopMary

DI: Paramount owns Star Trek. Lisa Klink (the magistra) wrote 'Blood Fever'. This story is purely for enjoyment, not profit. I own nothing.

AN: For the unilingual, "Folie A Deux" means "a madness shared by two." It was also the title of a pretty funky X-Files episode, from the pre-let's-wreck-a-good-show period. ;-)

AN2: I made Tom's resistance to Vorik a little more violent for two reasons. One, I've seen the original series' version of pon farr, and it was a lot stronger in Spock (a half-human) than Vorik's was in Voyager. Therefore, I think that Vorik's behaviour would have been a lot more violent than it actually was. Secondly, I like beating up Tom. VEG

AN3: I am posting a bunch of old VOY fics I wrote years ago. Incidentally, I won an ASC Award (came in 2nd) in 2001 for this baby. I am still trying to figure out how to put that on my resume because it is still one of my favourite life-moments.

SU: What if it was Tom Paris that Vorik wanted to bond with, rather than B'Elanna?

Tom smiled as he walked into engineering with his conn efficiency report. B'Elanna was snarling at Vorik again. Tom decided to just let her have at him. If it was anyone else, he probably would've intervened, distracted her from whatever they'd done to piss her off. But not when it was that Vulcan stalker. Lately, every time he felt like he was being watched, he'd turn around and, *BAM*! There he was.

It was creepy, the look in the young Vulcan's eyes. He really disturbed him. Every time they made eye contact, Tom felt his stomach clench involuntarily. He didn't understand it, didn't want to understand it. He just wanted it to stop.

Vorik slinked away, sulking (though he would deny it). Tom grinned. 'Let his ears droop', he thought, 'I'm sure he deserved it.' He felt the familiar surge of adrenaline and arousal sweep through his body as B'Elanna turned and smiled at him.

"Hey, Torres!"

She folded her arms across her chest and smiled that devilish, 'no way in hell' smile that made him feel like a million credits. "What do you want *now*, Paris?"

Tom purposely stepped a little closer than was acceptable and smirked down at her. "Same thing I always want, B'Elanna."

Her hands shifted to her hips, the smile widening as she shook her head. "Next question, Tom."

He laughed, delightedly. He loved it when she decided to play with him. "Just wanted to give you my conn efficiency report." He shifted closer and let his voice drop. "It's fascinating, B'Elanna. Federation Book Prize material."

Her laugh made his skin tingle. B'Elanna glanced around, making sure none of her staff could hear her. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Janeway's on another quick-kick, huh?"

Tom rested his arm on the support strut just above her. He leaned in closer to the object of his affection. "You got it." He shivered as his lungs filled with the sandalwood and jasmine that she always seemed to exude. "B'Elanna, do you want to have dinner later? Just the two of us? My treat?"

She started to nibble on her lower lip. His mouth watered. He barely stopped himself from bending down and lapping at the reddened flesh. "Tom, I -."

"*Please.*" He winced internally. Begging was definitely not the way to this woman's heart.

She smiled ruefully. "I would love to, except I have to do a surprise inspection of gamma shift tonight."

Tom felt the air hiss out through his teeth. "Tomorrow?" He never did get his answer, as she darted away to answer one of a flustered and singed? he thought with concern for his stomach's future Neelix's inane questions. When she grabbed the kit and followed him out of the main doors, he sighed. He'd have to catch her at lunch. He straightened and started for the door, intent on returning to the bridge.

"Lieutenant Paris?"

Fuck. Vorik. He squared his shoulders and turned around, a thoroughly fake smile plastered across his face. "Yes, Ensign?"

Vorik looked...sweaty? That was new. "Lieutenant Paris, may I have a moment of your time?"

Tom repressed a sigh. "Sure." He followed Vorik up to the second level platform. "What's on your mind, Ensign?" he asked as he leaned against the banister, mentally counting the seconds until he could get the hell away from this coolant jockey.

Vorik took a deep breath. "I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I admire you, both intellectually and personally."

What the hell? "Um...thanks."

"I would also like to declare koon-ut-kalifee."

Tom straightened. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Tom wanted to leave. Now. "Huh?"

"In effect, I am proposing marriage." Tom thought he actually heard the pin drop. "It is my time of mating, and I choose you, Thomas."

Tom slowly started to back towards the aft access ladder, wiping a suddenly clammy palm on his pants. "Vorik, I'm...flattered. But I'm not interested in becoming your mate. I don't have relationships with men."

"It is my time. I choose you," Vorik's eyes started to glaze slightly. His hands shook as he ticked off his reasons. "Mating would be beneficial, Thomas, for both of us. You have impeccable social and interpersonal skills; I do not. Our bonding would give you the stability you obviously need, thus constraining your propensity for getting into trouble. It would also put an end to the Ensigns' Delaney's arguments regarding access to your person, which have reduced the efficiency of stellar cartography by thirty-six percent in the last month. It would -." He began to stalk towards Tom.

Tom cut him off. "Well, I don't choose you. Thanks, but no thanks." Jesus. He felt his skin flush slightly as he turned to reach for the ladder.

Tom blinked and staggered back, re-establishing a safe distance. He'd never seen anyone move that quickly. Vorik had somehow managed to get between him and the ladder. He was slowly moving towards him, his steps determined and resolute. Tom felt a cold sweat break out along his spine. He found himself reflexively moving back towards the banister and the mini-lift.

Vorik frowned at him as he retreated. He shook his head, as if trying to understand confusion. "Thomas, you do not seem to understand. I have chosen you."

Tom felt his patience snap. "Vorik, back off! I don't do boys!" He couldn't believe how persistent this little bastard was. "It's not going to happen. Ever. Capische?" Tom felt his skin flush even more as he started to step towards the lift. He had to get out of here.

Vorik cocked his head. "You do not have a choice." He lunged without warning, grabbing Tom's skull, his fingers splayed out over Tom's cheek and temple. Tom felt his back slam into the banister. Flames of agony screamed out from his muscles. Tom twisted, slamming Vorik back against the banister, bending him forward over the railing, kicking his legs apart.

"Ensign Vorik, stand down!" He snarled, struggling to keep a grip on the obviously-disturbed Vulcan. "Carey!" He shouted, attracting the attention of those below. "A little help? He's popped a synapse or something!" He heard the aft-lift start to descend to get the help he had requested, and absently wondered if Vorik had Bendaii syndrome. He remembered Captain Picard telling his dad about Ambassador Sarek and the disease, right before his mom had caught him eavesdropping by the balcony window.

Suddenly, Vorik relaxed, shifting so that he had Tom's wrists in an iron lock. Tom braced his feet against the carpeting, attempting to stop himself from being dragged against the Vulcan. Then Vorik twisted, trying to throw him. He felt his feet leave the floor, felt his body start to slide over the railing. He instinctively grabbed at Vorik, trying to stop himself from falling, but the Vulcan was beyond comprehending the danger they were in.

"Vorik! Stop! That's an order, ensign!" Nothing. He could hear his voice rising in panic. "We're going to -!"

The world flipped ass over end.

He let out a wild yell as they fell towards the deck. He flung the ensign away from him, throwing his arms up to protect his head and neck against the impact.

Tom heard himself howl in agony as he stopped falling.

The crunch of his body, half on the thruster controls, half against the floor, broke those who had overheard the last part of the confrontational conversation out of their frozen stances. He heard Carey yell for a medical team. Tom tried to push himself away from the quasi-livid Vulcan, but he couldn't really move.

He'd never felt such pain. He *hurt*. He could feel his gut buck, nausea threatening to make a bad situation worse. Tom rocked from side to side on the floor, gasping for air, tears streaming down his face from the searing pain in his chest. He rolled onto his side and coughed, hard. 'Oh, God,' he thought, seeing the blood and saliva covering his hand. He heard himself wheezing, coughed again. He spat out even more blood. 'Punctured lung,' he silently moaned as he pulled himself up into a sitting position, trying to reduce the pressure on his chest.

He let Carey start scanning him with a tricorder while he listened to people ask Vorik if he was all right, help him to his feet. Tom couldn't stop the broken sob-gasp that escaped his throat as Carey gently felt his rib cage. He braced himself against the console, trying not to pass out, throw up, fall down.. 'Doc,' he thought woozily, as he went to slap his comm badge, to call for a medical transport.

Vorik lunged.

The world spun without warning, then he felt carpeting rub against the back of his head.

Vorik, he realized. He coughed and wheezed, pain leaching his strength away as he frantically tried to pry the young Vulcan's fingers off his face.

"Security to Engineering! On the double!" Tom heard Carey shout as he tried to pull Vorik off him. Vorik viciously kicked out, sending Joe's body back into a console. Joe's grunt of pain spurred on Tom's resistance.

"Get - Off - Me!" Tom gasped for air, frantically squirming backwards, ignoring the burning pain in his chest. He had to get away from Vorik. "Stop," he begged, as Vorik increased the pressure on his chest, trying to pin him to the deck. He coughed, choking on the blood he could taste in his mouth. He could feel those fingers burning against his cheek. He could hear Vulcan inside his head.

'Gods, he's trying to meld with me!' he suddenly realized. He quickly started trying to block the Vulcan's reach. He managed to get his leg up between their bodies. He kicked hard, against Vorik's stomach with his foot, forcing him to lose the viselike grip he had on his head as Vorik flew backwards onto the deck.

Tom rolled to his feet, staggering towards the starboard access doors and their locks. But within seconds he felt his back slam into the bulkhead as Vorik latched onto him again, snarling something in Vulcan. Tom turned and sunk his teeth deep into Vorik's hand, drawing blood.

No effect.

Vorik drew back with a fist and sent it crashing into Tom's right shoulder, slamming his body into the bulkhead. He heard something in his shoulder snap, and screamed in pain as his right arm fell uselessly to his side. The pain was so intense he couldn't stay up, couldn't try to escape. He couldn't stop himself from sliding to the floor, any more than he could prevent Vorik from latching onto his head again. He felt something in his head give, felt something surge in his stomach.

Desperation, sheer survival instinct, whatever it was, it took over. He heard himself screech as he whipped his head forward and smashed his forehead against Vorik's nose. There was a crunch and then green gushed out over them. Tom managed to get a grip on Vorik's chin and pushed as hard as he could, breaking the Vulcan's hold. He quickly lashed out with a vicious kick to Vorik's jaw.

Vorik collapsed onto the carpet.

Tom coughed once, harder than before. He felt something in his chest seize and tear. His gut bucked. Blood and breakfast surprise spewed across the carpet.

Tom's head felt like it weighed a half-ton. He felt Carey grab him, stopping him from collapsing onto his right side. His vision was so blurry; he could just barely make out Sue Nicoletti running a tricorder over him. She was trying to ask him something, but her voice sounded like she was very far away. He wanted to answer her, but he couldn't.

He needed to sleep.

"No, Tom! Stay with me!" Sue yelled in desperation as she tried to stop him from passing out. Joe kept Tom's battered frame braced against the wall, stopping his slow list to starboard. Despite the noise of the engine room, despite the ruckus of the fight, she had heard something snap and crackle when Vorik had driven Tom into the bulkhead the second time. Her eyes widened as she connected his wheezing to what the tricorder was telling her. He needed to get to the Doctor. Now. "Dammit, where's that transporter, Gerron!"

"Commencing transport!" Sue felt the room shimmer around her as she, Joe and Tom materialized in Sickbay.

The Doctor rushed forward, his face contorted in shock when he saw the state Tom was in. "What happened?" he demanded, darting towards them, tricorder in hand.

"Vorik snapped and attacked him!" Sue watched as Joe helped heft Tom's dead weight onto the biobed. "Tom fell about five metres onto the main platform, hit the thruster console on the way down! Then Vorik started beating on him, wouldn't let go of him! Tom fought back, but - ." She tossed the Doctor the tricorder she'd used to scan them before Vorik had gone spastic.

"I've got to get back to engineering, Sue," Joe snapped as he charged past her and through the door, yelling orders through his comm badge at the team still in engineering.

"Level two concussion, severe bruising to his back and face, slight fracture to his left cheekbone. Broken clavicle, fractured scapula, a severed ligament, three fractured ribs, punctured left lung," the Doctor read aloud, his eyebrows raising as he went through the list of injuries Tom had sustained. "How long was this fight?"

"Maybe two, three minutes?" Sue whispered, mentally replaying the incident as she absently rubbed her hands together, staring at the Christmasy stains on her skin.

The Captain stalked into sickbay, shock etched into her face, which paled when she finally saw Tom Paris. "Lieutenant Nicoletti, what happened?"

"Vorik attacked Tom! He kept trying to hold onto Tom's face, like he was trying to squeeze his skull!"

The Doctor looked up, frowning. "Kes, the second we are finished, I want you to go to the brig and scan Vorik."

Twenty-four hours later...

"A neurochemical imbalance?"

"Yes, Lieutenant. Ensign Vorik is not well. That is why he assaulted you," Tuvok felt slightly discomfited discussing this with Lieutenant Paris. "It was not personal, Lieutenant. It was... instinctual."

"Not personal?" Paris sat up quickly, wincing, pressing his hand against his ribs. "Tuvok, he tried to forcibly meld with me, after I turned down his marriage proposal!" He coughed, picked up the inhaler the Doctor had given him. "Tuvok, he damn near killed me!"

Tuvok suppressed a sigh. "Once the balance has been corrected, he will apologize, Lieutenant. I repeat, I do not believe Ensign Vorik was mentally sound."

Tuvok watched the younger human sigh as he lay back against the pillows. "Do me a favour - keep the little bastard the hell away from me! I mean it, Tuvok! I don't want him within 10 metres of me!"

"Mr. Paris, -."

Paris shifted, then hissed and winced. He protectively grabbed at his newly-healed shoulder, futilely trying to stop the flash of pain that accompanied his movements. "Tuvok, I don't care if he thought he was Bugs Bunny! Keep him the hell away from me!"

Tuvok was slightly shocked. "Mr. Paris, I find it surprising that you are offended by Ensign Vorik's sexual orientation."

Paris' face turned to stone. "I have absolutely no problem with his sexual orientation. Frankly, I don't care what he does with whom! What I have a problem with is his refusal to take no for an answer." He used the inhaler again. "He's been stalking me for months, Tuvok. Ask B'Elanna or Harry or Neelix." Tuvok felt alarmed by this information. How far along was Vorik? He forced himself to concentrate on the task at hand. "Keep him away from me." Paris lay back down on the biobed. "You know where the door is, Lieutenant Tuvok. Use it." Closing his eyes, blocking out the sight of him.

Tuvok stepped out of sickbay, dissatisfied with the conclusion of the meeting. He was not thrilled with Lieutenant Paris' dismissal of a senior officer, but recognized that he had been seriously injured and was still suffering from the after-effects of all the medication. He knew that if he had honestly explained what Ensign Vorik was experiencing, what he had obviously been experiencing for months, Mr. Paris would not be as angry. But he could not.

He knew it was not logical, knew that simply elaborating on the circumstances should not cause this level of... chagrin, but he simply was not going to explain Vulcan mating practices to Mr. Paris.

And nothing could make him do so. Nothing.

Kathryn Janeway couldn't help the comment that flew past her lips. "Are congratulations in order, Tom?"

"NO!" He barked as he flung himself down into the chair in front of her desk. She was momentarily taken aback at the fury in his voice, the offended look in his eyes. "Do you have *any* idea how frightening that was?" He looked at her, his discomfort and shock and fear for once clearly showing. "I have never been so scared in my life. I could hear him in my head. I couldn't get him off of me. And no matter what I did, I couldn't make him stop. It was - *awful*, Captain. If it hadn't been for Carey, Chell and the others, he would've done god knows what else to me. 'Cause I couldn't stop him."

She leaned forward, mentally berating herself for assuming that Tom Paris would ever be predictable in his responses to what life threw at him. "Tom, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to make light of what occurred. I was only trying to put you at ease." He nodded, silently accepting her apology. "Are you all right?"

His voice had dropped back to its normal level and tenor. "I guess so."

Kathryn sat silently, letting her officer regain control over his emotions. She felt anger and sympathy towards the young Vulcan in her brig. She knew where he was coming from, but his behaviour had been anything but justifiable. Suddenly, Tom smiled. A snicker escaped him. "What?" She asked, completely confused yet again by the mercurial man before her.

The glint of absolutely devilish humour flashed out of his eyes as he grinned at her. "Can you imagine my father's face when he reads that incident report?"

Janeway chuckled, imagining the coffee being spat on the desk by the blindsided Admiral. "Oh, to be a fly on the wall." She forced herself to be serious. "Tom, we need to discuss what to do about Vorik."

Tom leaned forward, his face studiously blank. "Permission to speak freely, Captain?"

"Always, Lieutenant."

"I want him punished, Captain. I don't give a rat's ass about whether he was ill or not. If Carey and the others hadn't stopped him, I think he would've killed me." Tom's blank expression dissolved into sincere honesty, and not a little nervousness. "Captain, Vorik's been following me around for *months*. Every time I turn around when I'm off-duty, he's there. Watching me. Before, it was really creepy and uncomfortable, but I could handle it. Now -," he paused, taking a deep breath, "Well, now it's just plain scary." He paused again, waiting for her to say something, it seemed. When she remained silent, he continued. "Captain, you can ask Harry, or B'Elanna or even Neelix to corroborate my account of his past behaviour if you need to. But I don't want him fucking near me. He scares the hell out of me, Captain."

Kathryn realized that Tom wasn't holding anything back. He was being completely honest, admitting to something that she knew could not be easy for any man bearing the name Paris. She tried to be reassuring. "Under the circumstances, Tom, I don't think that he can be held responsible. Tuvok has told me about the neurochemical imbalance," she said, uttering what she thought was one of the most humourous euphemisms she had ever heard.

Tom leaned back, his breath hissing slightly through his teeth as he exhaled. "Captain, I don't care if this is an instinctive neurochemical imbalance that affects all Vulcans at one time or another. Keep him the hell away from me."

Janeway nodded, realizing that Tuvok hadn't told Tom the whole story. "Well, once the Doctor stabilizes him, you, Tuvok, Vorik and myself, along with a security team, will have a long discussion. It's a small ship, and things like this can't be left to fester. All right?" Tom nodded unenthusiastically. Kathryn silently sighed, knowing that it was likely that there would never be a meeting with Ensign Vorik if the Doctor didn't figure something out. "Now, the Doctor's got you on leave for the rest of today and tomorrow because of that shoulder injury." She smiled as he perked up. "Have fun, Tom."

Tom's lips quirked. "No. Please. Anything but that."

She laughed, once more thanking whatever was out there for convincing her to bring him on this mission. His sense of humour had gotten her through many a bad day. "Get out of here, Tom."

Tom sat in his quarters, bored out of his mind. He was banned from the holodeck until tomorrow, and he had all this energy. He couldn't sit still, couldn't relax. Music did nothing. He'd finished all his reports, updated his logs, everything. And B'Elanna was busy with her surprise inspection.

He went and washed his face again. He looked in the mirror, and realized he could do with a shave. He wrinkled his nose; he wasn't on duty, why bother? Besides, B'Elanna seemed to like it when he forgot to shave. She always tried to hide the fact, but he knew. She could never keep her eyes off his jaw when he hadn't shaved.

He flopped back down onto his bunk. God, he wished B'Elanna was here. He'd be happy just to smell her. He loved the way she smelled.

Before he knew it, he'd slapped his comm badge. "Paris to Torres."

"Torres here," she replied. The sound of her voice made him smile.

"How goes the spot-check?"

The response was succinct: "Not good."

"Oh. Okay," he grimaced, thinking that she'd be busy all day tomorrow. "How bad?"

"Not bad. I won't have more work, at least. It's more... protocol than practical engineering."

Tom laughed. "Channelling Janeway?"

"No," he could hear her smiling. "How are you doing? I heard about what happened."

Tom rubbed his hands together. His palms were itchy. "I'm a lot better than I was earlier, that's for sure. But my shoulder still hurts like a bitch." He paused. "Hey, B'Elanna?"

"Yes, Tom?"

"Would you have defended my virtue?" He was honestly curious; would she have been - as absurd as it sounded - jealous?

"Tom?" The sound of her voice reminded him of her virtual presence.


He could just about imagine the slow smile that broke out across her face. It was the dazzling one, the one that made him shiver. "I would've bobbed his ears. Torres out."

He started to laugh and couldn't stop as he lay on his bed.

Tom tossed his sheets and the clothes he'd been wearing into the refresher. He was still sweating, despite one very long cold shower.

He hadn't had that kind of reaction to that kind of dream in years. Literally.

Hell, he hadn't had that kind of reaction in most of his sexual encounters. Orgasms like the one he'd just had were the ones that poets wrote epics around. Frankly, he'd always believed them to be impossible. No longer, he thought, shaking his head.

He flopped down onto his lounger, still stunned. Last night, he'd had the hottest dream he'd ever had in his life.

He and B'Elanna were on a beach. She was wearing a modest swimsuit, nothing particularly sexy about it. But the way it had clung and shifted as she moved -!

They listened to music, talked and laughed. Raced in the ocean, had a water fight. Hell, they'd built a goddamn sandcastle.

She was so beautiful it hurt to look at her, at the way the sun and the salt made her shine.

Then she kissed him. Let him breathe in her scent, let it attach itself to his skin so that all he could smell was her. Made such passionate love to him that he fully believed that he was not the same man he had gone to the beach as. And she'd screamed his name the way he'd always wanted her to, as he drove her insane with his touches.

He loved her. He needed her. He wanted to be with her, always.

He got up and walked into the bathroom. He rubbed his stubble, ignoring the razor once more. He looked in the mirror, and made the most important decision he knew he'd ever make. "Today, Thomas E. Paris, is the first day of the rest of your life."

B'Elanna was still in shock over the events of yesterday. Tuvok had informed her that Vorik was suffering from a neurochemical imbalance, and that it was responsible for his earlier behaviour. She shook her head, still having a hard time believing that Vorik had thrown Tom off the upper level of engineering, then beaten the shit out of him. All because Tom had rejected his advances. She had to wonder, though, if there was more to this imbalance than Tuvok was letting on. It didn't explain away his behaviour of the last few months.

"Paris to Torres."

She quickly slapped her communicator. "Torres here. How are you feeling, Tom?"

"Much better, thanks. I've actually got the whole day off. Care to go sight-seeing with me?"

She had to laugh. "Tom, I don't have the day off. I didn't get beat on yesterday!"

"More's the pity, B'Elanna. Getting... beat on... can be fun."

B'Elanna felt her face flush slightly at the blatant come-on. "I have to go now, Tom."

"Put Carey to work, B'Elanna. Come play with me," he begged. "I've got the holodeck for three hours. We can go to Tahiti, or Bali."

B'Elanna sighed unhappily, salivating at the thought of a hot beach, cool water, and a semi-clothed Tom Paris. "Sounds wonderful, but I can't. We're short-handed because of Vorik."

There was a pause, then Tom's voice sounded over the line again. "Do you need help?"


He stopped her before she could reject his offer. "No, seriously. I'll make you a deal. I'll help you, if you take the half-day Carey owes you from last week and go to the beach with me. Deal?" B'Elanna bit her lip, tempted. "Stop nibbling on the luscious lip of yours, Torres. Yes or no?"


"I'll be there in ten minutes. Paris out."

B'Elanna shook her head, then stopped. Wait a minute; luscious lip? And how the hell did he know she was nibbling?

Tom strode into the mess hall to wolf-whistles. It hadn't taken long for the news of Vorik's 'request' to spread throughout the ship. Tom forced himself to smile, squashing down his anger. "What can I say? I'm a popular guy."

He forded his way through the laughing officers towards the galley. "Neelix? Got a minute?"

"Certainly. What can I do for you, Tom?" The Talaxian burbled as he wiped his indigo-blue - I don't want to know what that is, Tom thought - hands on his apron.

Tom smiled conspiratorially. "I've got the day off. I've convinced B'Elanna to take a half-day after I help her in engineering for the rest of the morning. I want to surprise her with a beach picnic. Can you help me?"

Neelix grinned. "Of course. Where are you going?"


Neelix leaned back and looked at him, smiling delightedly. "Well, well, well. When does your holodeck time start?"

"1400 hours."

"I will meet you at the holodeck, then. And I promise to exclude leola root."

"Neelix, I owe you one," he laughed as he slapped the man's shoulder and walked out of the mess with a bounce hitherto unseen in his step.

"Hey, B'Elanna." She jumped as he sauntered up to her.

"Tom! Are you sure -?" she questioned, reluctant to jump on his offer, considering what she'd just seen on the security tape she'd finally gotten a look at.

Tom beamed and nodded, hands on his hips. "Positive. I even have Neelix packing a picnic lunch for Bali. 1400 hours, we become beach-bums. Now, what's the job?"

She paused for a moment, and then met his smile with a grin of her own. "I have to strip down the conduit for the aft shield generator. It's misaligned again." She couldn't help the way her pulse sped up. He hadn't shaved.

"Okay." He grabbed the maintenance kit from her, motioning for her to proceed ahead of him. "Let me carry that. Lead the way, Chief."

He was never this happy to help her when the Captain made him, she thought bemusedly.

They were nearly halfway through the alignment when she noticed Tom staring at her. "What?"

Tom smiled and leaned over the conduit, bracketing her between hands planted on either side of her. "You really are a complete knockout, Torres. Even with that smudge of grease on your nose."

"Sure, Paris," she scoffed, self-consciously rubbing her nose. She shifted to get back to work, but he didn't move. In fact, he leaned in closer. "Tom?" she asked, nervously noting the light in his eyes wasn't one she'd ever seen directed at her before. It was different than his usual twinkle, different from the gleam of desire she admittedly found arousing. This was... unrestrained carnal lust.

"I mean it. You are truly an astoundingly beautiful woman, B'Elanna." She leaned back against the wall, trying to reestablish some distance. Tom only leaned in closer. His eyes kept flicking to her lips.


"MmmHmm?" He was nearly touching her. B'Elanna could feel the moist heat from his mouth, saw that his blue eyes were darkening as quickly as his breathing was speeding up.

"We have to get this finished before we can leave," she whispered, hoping to distract him with visions of the beach. "I mean it, T -."

He kissed her, gently rubbing his lips against hers. A electric shiver ran through her body. She felt Tom's mouth quirk into a half-grin against her lips as he rasped, "Isn't this more productive, B'Elanna? More...efficacious?" He slowly tugged her lower lip between his own, letting his tongue trail across the nibbled edge. A hot bolt of ice shot across her skin.

B'Elanna felt a hand slide onto her shoulder, squeezing slightly as she was pulled to her knees in the Jefferies tube. The fingers of another threaded into her hair, tugging her closer, angling her head. Her hands rested against Tom's chest for balance as she tipped forward over the casing.

He sucked hard, once, on her lower lip. His teeth nipped at the previously-roughened edge. His tongue slid softly across it, soothing the nibbled area. "Open your mouth, B'Elanna," he murmured, his normally-smooth voice rough with desire.

B'Elanna didn't know what to do, what to think. Her mind screamed at her to push him away, that this was most definitely not the Tom Paris she knew. Her body, on the other hand, shifted closer, welcoming the touch of his hand as it slid down the curve of her spine before resting on the swell of her backside.

Tom repeated the oral caress again. "Open for me, B'Elanna. Please."

It was the please, she later reflected, that had busted open her defences.

She caved.

She let her lips drift apart, beckoning his tongue into her mouth. She moaned, felt him shudder as their tongues fleetingly touched once, twice, three times. Her hands drifted up and wrapped around his neck and shoulders, anchoring her against the tide she felt spiralling out through her blood.

The carefully-fortified citadel she'd built and reinforced against this man and his admittedly peculiar charms was being eroded by a slow, wet, intensely peaceful kiss.

B'Elanna heard herself moan with abandon as Tom's free hand slipped around and up her ribs to gently squeeze her breast. His thumb pressed against the hard nipple, chafing the hard-wearing material of her uniform against it. She squeaked at the sparking circuit of desire that pulsed in her veins, and arched into his hand, silently demanding more from Tom Paris than he was giving her.

Be careful what you wish for, she thought ruefully, as she found herself being pulled over the conduit. Tom nipped at her lip, then dove back into her mouth with a raw sound that set goosebumps on her skin. She clamped her thighs against the outer planes of his upper legs, steadying herself. B'Elanna felt the conduit casing press against her lower back as Tom leaned forward, bracing her against it as he pushed the bulge in his trousers into her belly.

Tongues tangled, nails dug and both drew a tortured moan from the fallen angel in her arms.

"Carey to Torres."

B'Elanna tore her mouth away from his, stunned at what she was doing when she was supposed to be working. Tom leaned in, panting, resting his forehead against hers. His hands smoothed against the bunched and rucked material at her hips as his fingers rubbed against her ass. She tapped her comm badge.

"Torres here." She couldn't believe how *normal* she sounded. She bit her lip to stifle the moan that sat twitching in her throat as he shifted against her, deliberately pushing his bulge against her crotch.

"How's the conduit coming?"

"Ten minutes, Joe. Then she's all yours," she barked, pushing listlessly against Tom's chest.

"Okay. Carey out."

Tom slowly let his arms fall, let her climb off of his lap. He fell back, his back against the wall of the Jefferies tube. He shoved a trembling hand through his hair, rumpling it even more than usual.

B'Elanna didn't know what to say. She had never found herself in this situation before. "Tom -."

He held up his hand, silencing her. He rolled to his knees and smiled shakily, his face inches from hers. "B'Elanna, hurry up and finish the alignment. The beach beckons."

B'Elanna stared at the wrapped box on her bed. She knew it was from Tom. She was scared to open it. She took a deep breath and pulled the bow off, gently tugging the lid off the box. She felt her breath catch.

It was a bikini.

Scratch that. It wasn't just a bikini. It was in the same style as Sue's, but the fabric wasn't as innocent. It was *black*, for crying out loud! It was great for volleyball.

And more replicator rations than she was willing to spend on a swimsuit.

Tom must've overheard her coveting it at the resort.

She sighed, unable to not try it on. Looking in the mirror, she was somewhat surprised. It covered more than her standard one piece suit.

And it looked fabulous.

She lifted the card out of the box and flipped it open. "B'Elanna - I'm going to Bali with the most beautiful woman I've ever known. I want her to feel as comfortable with me as I am with her. Please, wear it. Tom"


Tom paced nervously, wondering if he was about to get his ass kicked. He didn't know what was happening to him. He'd never been this confident in his approaches to B'Elanna. But it seemed to work earlier in the Jefferies tube.

Boy, had it worked. He'd spent ten of the thirty minutes since they'd parted in a cold shower.

"Tom!" He turned to smile at her.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph," he breathed, barely maintaining his grasp on the picnic basket. The suit looked incredible. He moved the basket in front of his lower body, not bothering to disguise the gesture.

She was *hot*.

"Tom, thanks for the suit." Her eyes shone with delight. She shook a finger at him. "But you shouldn't have spent your rations on me! It's -."

Tom smoothly interrupted her lecture, laying a finger over her lips, shivering at the slight contact. "The best. And you deserve it." She blushed. Tom couldn't believe it. He made B'Elanna blush. Suddenly, he was glad he'd worn a tshirt. The hem would disguise his erection enough so that he wouldn't get tossed in the brig. He coughed. "Shall we?" he asked, motioning to the holodeck.

B'Elanna smiled and went through the doors. Tom had already activated the program, adding one line of code to what was otherwise the perfect program: the minute the doors shut behind them, the privacy lock would engage.

And the computer would answer to him alone.

B'Elanna sighed and lay back onto the blanket, stuffed. "Tom, I don't know how you did it, but Neelix actually made a good lunch!" Tom laughed, the sound muffled by his removal of his tshirt. He flopped back onto the blanket and smiled at her. Her heart thumped an extra beat when he absently rubbed his hand over his taut abdomen.

"I keep telling you, stick with me and you'll never go hungry again. But you never listen. Sigh."

B'Elanna whooped. Tom grinned. Birds twittered. Waves crashed.

Tom just stared at her. B'Elanna felt herself flush a little. "Tom, why are you staring at me like I'm water and you're in a desert?"

Tom rolled onto his side, braced his head on his fist. He looked down at her, a mischievious little grin playing on his lips. "Am I staring at you, Torres?"

"Yes, Paris, you're staring. Why?" She looked over towards where Tom had placed an old, what was it called? Record player, earlier. Beach blanket music, he'd called it. She looked back and gasped. He'd shifted silently and quickly.

His body was nearly touching hers. He loomed above her, staring down into her face.

"Tom?" she asked warily. She clamped her lips shut, stopping the whimper that threatened to break loose when he brushed the hair off her forehead and traced her ridges with his long fingers.

"Yes, B'Elanna?" There was no amusement, no laughter in those blue eyes. Just sincere appreciation and tenderness.

And a lot of wild desire. The same kind she'd seen in the Jefferies tube earlier.

She opened her mouth to speak, to say something, but no sound came out. The hand slid down the side of her face and cupped her chin, thumb rubbing against her much-abused lower lip.

His head began to descend. She heard him whisper, "So beautiful."


It was like a flashpoint in a firestorm: B'Elanna felt like everything was going up in flames. His mouth devoured her as she devoured him. His body pressed hers into the blanket. His hands caressed and clasped and squeezed every curve. Tom groaned as her hands slid over his back, her nails lightly scoring his pale flesh.. His hands wrapped around her thighs and pulled them apart. He sunk into the space he'd made for himself, pushing lightly against her.

She could feel his desire for her pushing against her swollen centre. She broke off the latest kiss and tried to speak, to tell him this was too fast for her, that, she laughed silently to herself, wasn't that kind of girl. But her breath became a gasp when his hands slid up and pushed her top up and over her breasts.

He lifted slightly, staring at her breasts. She moved her hands to pull the top back down, but he caught her wrists and held her to the blanket. "No, B'Elanna. No more hiding in plain sight," he growled as he bent his head to her breast.

B'Elanna moaned his name as she felt his lips tracing the curve of her breast. Her hips flinched upwards, against him, as his lips brushed over the hard peak. She felt Tom's hips answer the instinctive invitation, pushing back, grinding against her. The hot curl in her belly became a full-fledged wave, sweeping her under, catching her in the undertow.

His mouth was hot, she dimly noted, as Tom began to suck lustily on her breast, teeth scraping slightly over her burning flesh, clouding her mind further. She hardly noticed when he released her wrists. One hand slid under her, keeping her hips and centre pressed hard against him. The other tangled in her hair, anchoring her thrashing head. Those lips slid up her chest. His tongue left a wet trail over her collarbone as he scraped his teeth on her neck.

Tom lapped and sucked, leaving marks on her, she knew. She was desperate to find the power to stop him, to tell him enough. She felt her eyes flutter shut as he ground himself against her...

And sunk his teeth into her neck, deep enough to draw blood.

He'd given her a mating bite!

She found the power. "Tom, stop! Now!"

He pulled back slightly, pupils dilated, face flushed, lips wet with her blood. "What?" he growled, seemingly confused by her order.

"You bit me," she said, railing against herself for the stupidity of her statement.

"Yes," he rasped, holding still. His eyes looked like some force of nature had contained a plasma fire inside him.

B'Elanna felt her belly twitch as the low growl in his voice. Her own voice was small, barely audible. "Why?"

His eyes were almost as black as the sea during a storm. Tom leaned in, lips barely over hers. "You're my mate, B'Elanna. That's why." His lips slammed back down on hers.

She could taste her blood on his tongue, could feel his desire for her rage out of his control. She had to stop this, had to stop him before he did something she knew he'd regret. She gathered every ounce of strength she had, and letting her hands tunnel through his hair, pulled him back as hard as she could.

She threw him off her, climbed to her feet and yanked her top down. "We can't do this, Tom. Not yet, it's too soon." She stepped away from the blanket. "Computer, arch!" Nothing. "Computer?"

"Access is restricted to Lieutenant Paris," it responded. She whirled and stared at him.

Tom rolled to his feet, circling her. B'Elanna felt like the prey before the hunter. "Three years, seven months, fourteen days and sixteen hours, B'Elanna."

B'Elanna shook her head, not letting him distract her. "What?"

Tom's grin was wolfish, wanton, determined. "Since I first saw you. And wanted you." B'Elanna dodged his rather amateurish lunge. "Knew that you hated me, saw it in your eyes when you and Chakotay passed me in the mess hall the day after Janeway destroyed the array." He lunged again.

"Paris, stop it!" she yelled as she dodged him again. "This isn't you!" Something was seriously wrong here. Tom Paris would *never* behave like this. It was against everything she knew he believed in.

Tom was beyond comprehending her. "Didn't matter. Still wanted you. Figured it was a pipe dream, though. Then we became friends. You started to joke with me. Then we started spending all our time together, with Harry. It got harder and harder to not touch you." He nearly caught her with the next lunge. She spun, fell, and rolled to her feet, barely escaping him. His eyes were wild. "Then you started flirting back."

B'Elanna realized that she was actually in danger here. That Tom was behaving the... way... Vorik...

Oh shit, she thought, distracted. It was her downfall.

Tom lunged and caught her, spinning her back onto the blanket, pinning her beneath him. His chest heaved as he grinned down at her.

"Get off me, Paris! NOW!" She yelled, desperately trying to break free from strength she hadn't known he'd possessed.

Vorik sat in the brig, desperate for his mate. He wanted Tom. He need to quench this fire under his skin. He had waited hours for the opportunity, feigning meditation.

Ensign Michaelson brought his lunch tray in, unaware of his ruse. A nerve pinch silenced him before he could react.

"Computer," he snarled as he raised the forcefield, leaving Michaelson contained, "where is Lieutenant Paris?"

"Lieutenant Paris is in Holodeck One. Access is restricted."

Vorik slipped into the Jefferies tube and crawled towards the holodeck.

He slowly began to override the system, to access the holodeck. Climbing through the access portal, he saw *her* with his mate. Rage swelled and exploded.

Tom slammed his mouth back onto hers, his tongue ravaging her mouth. B'Elanna felt her earlier arousal turning into panic. She had to get out of here!

Suddenly, she heard a scream of rage and Tom went flying off her.



"He is *my* mate!" the Vulcan screamed, lunging for her. She saw her life flash before her eyes.

But Vorik was snapped back by a flying tackle from Tom. "DON'T YOU HURT HER!" Tom screamed, rolling away and placing himself between B'Elanna and the homicidally-inclined Vulcan.

Vorik stared enraged at Tom. "YOU ARE MINE!" He lunged for Paris. Tom spun on his left foot, his right smashing him in the face. He didn't run, didn't try to establish a safe distance.

He wouldn't let Vorik near her.

B'Elanna did the only thing she could think of. She dove for the open hatch, pulling it over after her.

"Torres to bridge!" she shrieked, desperately trying to ignore the sounds of the two men screaming obscenities at each other.

Kathryn surged to her feet. "Bridge. B'Elanna, what's wrong?" She had never heard B'Elanna Torres panic before.

"Vorik's in the holodeck with Tom! When he saw us together, he went nuts! He was going to kill me, I think! And whatever Vorik has, it's catching! I think Tom has it!" Her words were nearly stumbling over each other.

Kathryn was aghast. She saw Tuvok flinch. "B'Elanna, security's on its way." She paused. "How do you know that - ."

"That Tom's got it?" There was a pause. "Let's just say that like Vorik, he wasn't taking no for an answer."

Tuvok and two security teams stormed into the holodeck. Tom dove behind them, letting the two teams secure Vorik. Tom waited until they had taken him away before darting towards the access panel, He yanked it open. B'Elanna sat, shivering in the cold air. He swore and pulled her back into the holodeck, grabbing the blanket and wrapping it around her, trying to get her warm.

He felt a crack as her fist broke his jaw, and then fell into darkness.

"So let me see if I understand what you're saying. A horny little Vulcan, apparently the ONE person who doesn't believe everything he's read about my personal life, decided that he wants to spend the rest of his natural life with me? And in the process of trying to establish a mating bond with me, he managed to give me his pon farr? Even though I'm not from a species with a mating imperative?" Tom ran a shaking hand through his hair again, desperately trying to retain some form of control. His blood was pounding, everything inside him was telling him to grab B'Elanna and take her. He shook his head, trying to fight the urge to fuck her senseless. "And if we don't resolve it, I'll die?"


Tom stopped pacing and stared at the obviously uncomfortable man. "Tuvok, has anyone ever told your people how completely FUCKED UP they are!" He felt his skin flush with rage.

Tuvok stiffened. "I believe your grandfather expressed that opinion to T'Pau as delicately as you just did."

"Bite me, you green-blooded bastard," he snarled, hands twitching, as he thought of what he wanted to do to Vorik for putting him into this total cluster-fuck.


He winced at the rebuke in Janeway's voice. He forced himself to calm down. "Sorry, Tuvok. It's these damn hormones. They're making me wanna crawl out of my skin." And into B'Elanna's, he thought as he laughed bitterly. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Now, how exactly do I get rid of this, then? Hypospray, pills, what?"

"There are three ways to resolve your pon farr."

"I'm listening," Tom said as he braced his hands on the biobed.

"One, meditation, which I believe would be ineffective, in light of your personality."

"I love you too," he snapped, clenching his fists to stop the shaking in his hands.

"Two, complete the cycle with Ensign Vorik."

"I could never be that drunk."

"Three, ritual combat, which I am certain is not an option. You would have to fight and defeat Vorik."

Tom felt a bolt of adrenaline surge into him, and smiled sadistically. "Beating the bastard to a bloody pulp sounds good to me."

Tuvok shook his head. "When he is not under the influence of the pon farr, you would have a chance, Mr. Paris. But he would defeat you quite easily at the moment."

Tom pushed his hand through his hair again and leaned back against the wall, no longer trying to hide his shakes. He laughed bitterly. "Basically, I'm fucked, then."

"Essentially," Tuvok agreed. "There is, however, a fourth option."


"Pardon me?"

"Tell me, Tuvok!"

Tuvok turned towards B'Elanna. Tom couldn't even look at her. He had never been so embarrassed in his life. The way he'd behaved...

"Mr. Paris has apparently fixated upon you as his intended mate."

"Yeah, so?" The belligerence in her voice pretty much confirmed his fears. She would never give him a chance now. She thought he was a pig again. He could've sworn he felt his heart break.

"The pon farr could be resolved if you and the Lieutenant mated."

The Captain shook her head slightly, as if to ensure that she was hearing her oldest friend correctly. "You mean - ."

"I have to - ?" B'Elanna obviously couldn't believe this. She sounded exasperated and disgusted. "What am I supposed to do, Tuvok? Lie back and think of engineering until he's finished?" The horror in her voice made his blood freeze. And made him resolute. He would not let that little Vulcan bastard hurt her.

Tom's mind was a blur. He couldn't think of anything worse than losing B'Elanna. He'd had impersonal, biologically driven sex before. It left him cold. Hell, he had more fun with his fist than with those women.

He could see the looks of abject horror on the faces of his friends when he told them point-blank that he would not have sex with B'Elanna Torres. That if he had to choose between raping her and dying, then he'd choose death.

"No. No way in hell." B'Elanna looked at Tom, stunned. He wouldn't even listen to them. "I would rather die than force her to sleep with me." His voice was hard. There was no indecision in his eyes.

"Tom -," she began, stepping forward. She couldn't let him die. She couldn't lose him.

He turned away, rubbing his shoulder as he walked away from her. "No, B'Elanna! Not a snowball's chance in hell! I will not let you do this!" B'Elanna saw the Captain beckon the Doctor and Tuvok towards the office, giving them the privacy she knew they needed.

She reached out and grabbed him, forced him to meet her eyes. B'Elanna felt his hands tremble faster as she held him. "It's not your choice, Paris! I am not going to stand by and let you die!"

"The hell it isn't!" He yelled, pulling away from her. "I will not live the rest of my life knowing that I forced you to have sex with me!" He looked at her, his eyes turbulent and desolate. "I have never forced a woman in my life, and I will not start now."

"You're not forcing me to do anything!"

"This isn't consensual sex, B'Elanna! I die, or you fuck me! It's exactly what Vorik did to me, and I'll be damned if I live knowing that I violated you! I would rather die!" He leaned against the wall, braced his hands on his knees. He was quaking, she noticed. He wanted her so badly he couldn't stand up straight.

But as flattering as that was, it didn't excuse his apparent deathwish. "What? Why?"

Tom stepped forward, taking her face in his quaking hands. The look in his eyes, bruised and hurting, made her eyes burn. "Because I don't want this to happen like this, B'Elanna. The first time I make love with you, I want it to be something we both want, that we're both ready for. I don't want to be a mercy fuck, something you're ashamed of." He paused, swallowed hard, and smiled a weak, unconvincing smile. "Someone you don't want to be with. And B'Elanna," his eyes roamed her face, as if committing it to memory, "I can tell you are less than thrilled with the idea of having me between your thighs."

She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She blinked, then tried again. "Tom, I -."

"B'Elanna, don't lie to me! If you did this, if I let you do this, you'd regret it for the rest of your life! I don't want to be somebody you're embarrassed of! I want *you*." He took a deep breath. "For me, B'Elanna, our relationship has to be all or nothing. Once I let you in, I know I'll never be able to get you out." The Captain and the others had come back into the main room, and studiously avoided looking at them, respecting what was obviously supposed to have been a private admission.

B'Elanna swallowed, realizing how hard it had been for him to admit that. She knew that it was time to be honest. "I could never regret saving your life. Never." She swallowed, knowing that she couldn't push him away, that she had to let down her guard. Otherwise, B'Elanna knew that she would lose Tom Paris. And for perhaps the first time, she realized how vitally important he was to her life. "I can't lose you, Tom. I just can't." She looked at him, praying he could see what she was saying in her eyes. That she wouldn't have to say it aloud, in front of so many people.

He looked at her, swallowed hard. His voice dropped an octave, and was so quiet she could barely hear him. "I need you to say it then, B'Elanna. I need to hear the words. 'Cause I can't do this," he closed his eyes, a muscle pulsing in his jaw, "can't make love with you, unless you want it too. Unless you want me as badly as I want you when I'm not hormonally out of control." She marvelled that anyone could have seen this man as disaffected, as uncaring. He let go of her to dash the tears from his eyes. "God, B'Elanna, don't you know?" he asked, his voice cracking. He caught her face in his shaking hands once more. "I *love* you, B'Elanna. You're everything to me."

B'Elanna took a deep breath and took his face in her hands. She looked deep into scared, wounded and yet hopeful blue eyes, and leaped. "Tom? Make love with me?"

Tom sat nervously on the edge of his bed. He could feel B'Elanna shifting beside him. She was obviously as uncomfortable as he was. He'd never done this with such deliberation or purpose. Normally, this was something that spontaneously started.

He shook his head; life was surreal.

His captain had given him permission to take the chief engineer.

"Um, did you want something to drink?" He offered, desperate to break the silence that was making his skin crawl.

B'Elanna shook her head. "Tom," she began, "let's just get it over with, already." She jumped to her feet and started to strip. Tom felt his jaw drop as she revealed more and more skin. He felt his body harden to strict attention. She looked at him, and stopped. The light in his room glinted off her skin. She let her hands rest on her bikini-clad hips, unknowingly pushing her breasts against the material of her bra.

He swallowed. Hard.




His uniform hit the wall and fell into a pile beside the chair. B'Elanna's lips twitched. She was sure that if she checked it, there would be ripped seams.

He stood in his regulation light grey boxers and non-regulation white undershirt, panting harshly as his eyes traced her lace-clad frame.

She wondered if he knew how cute he looked.

She stepped up to him, so close that she could feel the hair on his legs flitter over her skin. The heat steaming off his skin was intoxicating. She raised a slightly trembling hand and placed it over his heart. Tom's heart thudded quickly against his sternum. The sheen of sweat dampened her palm as she let it slip over the expanse. She lifted it, smiling slightly at his grunt of protest.

She licked her palm.

She licked his sweat off her palm.

Tom felt his sanity run screaming for the nearest airlock.

B'Elanna gasped as she felt her back slam against the mattress. He was almost gnawing on her throat while his hands clutched at her waist hard enough to leave bruises.

He surged above her, his blue eyes burning into her face as he looked at her searching for something. His voice was nothing like any tone she'd ever heard him use. "B'Elanna..."

"Yes?" she asked as she let her hands slip over the flesh on his back, for the first time feeling just how strong he really was.

"Are you sure?" Blue eyes searched hers for any sign of regret, of fear and unhappiness.

B'Elanna was stunned. Even knowing that his life was in danger, despite having her in his bed, he was still willing to let her be.

He loved her. He really loved her.

She reared up and caught his cheek with her teeth, pulling him into the maelstrom with her.

Vorik shifted slightly on his bunk, readying himself for the moment.

Never let it be said that he was not logical. He had programmed a cascade failure in the forcefield system, just in case, during his first escape.

Thomas Paris was his mate. They belonged together.




He lunged.

Tom devoured her mouth. He revelled in her taste, in the smoothness of her skin. He yelped in sheer joy as she pulled loose and lapped at the bite she'd left on his flesh.

She'd claimed him, made his life hers.


He laid open the bite he'd given her earlier, reasserting his demand for her. He bucked his hips into her as she screamed his name, her nails scrabbling against his shoulders.

She flipped them over, straddling him. B'Elanna smiled at him, her lower lip clasped firmly between two rows of lovely white teeth. His hands looped around her waist. They stared at each other for a few moments, taking the time to appreciate the treasure they'd each found within the other.

Tom sighed as she took his hands and drew them up to her breasts, taking his fingers to the clasp on her bra.

He had to tell her, he realized, letting his hands fall back to her waist. She needed to know. "B'Elanna?"

"Yes," she hissed, trying to pull his arms up, to get his undershirt off.

"I love you. I really love you," he whispered, trying to catch her lips with his own.

Tongues clashed and teeth scraped against each other. Tom felt drunk. He let his mouth slid down towards the lace-covered mounds he wanted to taste.

She went flying into the wall. Tom rolled instinctively.


Vorik bounced on the bed. Tom stared at him in shock.

"You are *my mate*! Not hers!"

Tom snagged a woozy B'Elanna and tore through the door to his quarters, ignoring their state of undress.

His virtue was at stake.

He darted around the corner, completely oblivious to the shock on his friends' faces as he ran down the corridor in his shorts with a half-naked B'Elanna Torres in his arms. He skidded to a stop in front of the first access port he found.

He ripped it open and tossed B'Elanna in. He realized that she had no idea what had just happened.

"Vorik!" he gasped. Her eyes widened in horror. She reached for him.

Tom caught sight of Vorik thundering towards him and made a split second decision.

He shut the portal and ran like a Baskerville from the hound of hell.

B'Elanna let out a howl of rage, and forced herself to respond like a responsible officer, instead of a frustrated Klingon.

She rocketed down the tube, ignoring the scrapes she was inflicting upon herself. She slapped the first conn panel she found.

"Torres to Janeway! He's loose and after Tom! Again!" she screeched, not even waiting for the Captain to respond.

Tom could almost hear his father yelling at him to pick up the pace. He chanced a glance behind his shoulder. Vorik was less than ten metres behind him.

He felt a bulkhead hit him.

Sam Wildman and Jenny Delaney stared at him like he'd lost it from where they'd fallen. He swore and flipped to his feet, barely dodging Vorik's outstretched arms. He snatched Sam's kit and thwacked the Vulcan across the face with it, slamming him into the wall. He dropped the mangled case and tore off down the hall.

Tom dove into the main access tunnel, scrabbling down the grating. He leapt onto the ladder, ignoring the enraged Vulcan's bellows. He hollered "Make a space! Express!" as he slid down the ladder, past a startled Chell and Tal Celes. Tom rolled into the corridor and locked the door, pausing for a moment to catch his breath. The crash and groan of the door got him moving again.

He bolted towards main engineering, tossing anything and everything he could behind him, blocking the path.

It barely slowed Vorik down.

Tom skidded to a stop.


Phaser maintenance was on Tuesdays. Today was Tuesday.

The scaffold was retracted.

He was trapped.

Janeway stared at Tuvok, infuriated. "Why wasn't there a security team outside the brig!"

Tuvok had the grace to look abashed. "I assumed that alpha team could handle it!"

Janeway spun back towards a shell-shocked but functional Harry Kim. "Any luck?"

Harry stared at his board. "No! Transporters have been taken offline!" His fingers frantically flew over his panel. "I can't get them back! It's hardware, not software related!"

Janeway made the decision. "All hands, this is the Captain. Capture and restrain Ensign Vorik immediately. I repeat, capture and restrain Ensign Vorik! Use any means necessary to keep Lieutenant Paris safe!"

Tom stared, his blood running cold as he heard Vorik screaming and pounding on the door he'd managed to jam. He frantically looked for anything he could use to keep Vorik contained.

"What the hell -?" He squinted at the far wall.

Tom smiled.

Sue Nicoletti had seen some pretty strange things in her life, but this was beyond her.

Tom Paris was standing at the end of the phaser junction.

In his underwear.

"Joe? Are you seeing this?"

She watched Joe drop the spanner in shock. "Is that Tom?"

Tom laid his back flat against the door. He had to be insane, he realized, to even try this, but what was he supposed to do?

He was not a switch-hitter.

He took a deep breath...

And dove off the ledge.

Joe screamed and turned away, not wanting to see Tom splatter against the deck plating.

"Fuck me, he made it!" Sue gasped, her voice full of shock and admiration. He turned and looked.

Tom was dangling from the deactivated power line. He swung his legs up and around the line. As he shimmied towards the access bar, there was a screech of metal. Joe stared as Vorik staggered through the doors and howled in rage as he spied Tom on the wire.

"All hands, this is the Captain. Capture and restrain Ensign Vorik immediately. I repeat, capture and restrain Ensign Vorik! Use any means necessary to keep Lieutenant Paris safe!"

Joe was stunned, Sue was not. She lunged for the phaser locker, fumbling at the lock.

Joe gasped as Vorik lunged and latched onto the wire. "They're too heavy," he whispered.

The line snapped.

Tom moaned as he staggered out into the corridor, holding his right shoulder. He didn't want to know what he'd done to it now. He made a mental note to thank Sue for cycling the locks after him. It wouldn't give him much time to get away from Vorik, but every second helped.

He collapsed into the turbolift and yelled for the bridge. The Captain was there. She had to have a tranquilizer gun or a phaser rifle stashed in her ready room.

It was then he realized that he'd been running throughout the ship in his boxers. He felt himself start to blush. He would *never* live this down, he knew it. At the very least, Chakotay would save the security tapes for future humiliation.

Tom jumped as the lift stopped dead. The lights went out. He slumped against the wall. He was stuck, but he was safe. He sat down, quite happy to wait for the cavalry. Enough people had seen him in his underwear for one day.

It wasn't very long before he realized his feet were getting hot. He looked down and saw part of the floor glowing.

"Shit," he breathed. realizing Vorik was in the turbolift shaft with a phaser. He was trying to cut through the floor. Tom forced himself to ignore the damage to his shoulder. He braced his feet against the sides of the lift and popped the hatch, climbing out on top of the lift. He bit his lip to stifle a scream as he forced his shoulder to let him make the climb to the next deck.

Deck four.

Security's on deck four, he realized with relief.

Tom looked down at the sound of the thump.

Vorik was on top of the lift.

Neelix hummed happily. No one was in the mess hall. He'd instructed the computer to play some Talaxian melodic chants at full volume while he kneaded the leola bread. His mother always said a good chant made the bread lighter.

It was playing so loud he never heard the Captain's message.

So, Neelix was stunned when Tom Paris flew through the doors of the mess hall, limping and clutching his shoulder.

"Tom?" he asked, stunned. "Why are you in your underwear? Are you all right?"

"NO!" he screamed. "Gimme a frying pan, a knife, something!"

Tom felt the carpet scrape his legs and arms as Vorik's tackle drove him across it. He smashed his elbow into the Vulcan's face and scrambled to his feet. He grabbed a chair and started hitting the Vulcan with it. Vorik was down, and goddamnit, he was gonna stay down!

Tom felt his skin flush with rage as Neelix flung himself in front of Vorik. "Fucking move, Neelix!" he screamed, brandishing the chair.

Neelix yanked it away. "Tom! Stop hitting Vorik! This isn't the right way to solve the problem!"

Tom couldn't help himself. He stopped and stared at the Talaxian, completely flabbergasted. "NEELIX!"

Vorik took advantage of his distraction, snatching the chair up and hitting Neelix, sending him tumbling into the buffet. Tom had no time to protect his skull as Vorik slammed the chair against his head. He hit the deck, fighting hard to stay conscious, to keep Vorik hands where he could see them.

Vorik dove on top of his mate, desperately trying to grasp his face, to make the necessary mental connection. He grinned as Thomas tried to fight him. "Shh, Thomas," he crooned, "it will all be over soon, dear."

"You bet your ears it will," he heard Lieutenant Torres snarl from behind him. He rolled and stared at her. She was standing, her face thunderous with rage, in her underwear.

"He is mine!" he snarled.

B'Elanna just grinned. "I've already claimed him, dumb-ass." Vorik jumped to his feet, hauling the still-dazed Tom to his feet. He saw the bite mark on his mate's cheek.

Tom bounced off the far wall and into a table, and tried to pull himself to his feet.

Vorik turned and snarled at B'Elanna, who growled back at him.

Tuvok and the Captain stopped dead as they stormed into the mess hall, the security team at their heels.

Tom lay on the floor, boxer-clad and bloodied, obviously exhausted and unable to stand.

Neelix was unconscious, his body covered in some sticky orange thing.

Vorik's nose was streaming green, a black eye developing, yelling that Tom was his mate, that B'Elanna couldn't have him.

"Kiss my ass, you green-blooded wannabe!"

Kathryn suddenly realized that she really, really needed a vacation.

Vorik lunged, hands reaching for B'Elanna's throat.

B'Elanna swung.

"What do you mean, it didn't work? It worked for Vorik!" B'Elanna screeched as the Doctor finished scanning Tom, who sat shuddering on the biobed. She turned towards Tuvok, and glared, silently demanding an explanation.

Tuvok looked apologetic and apoplectic as he watched the security team carry Vorik and his regenerated jawbone to the brig. "It should have. I assumed it would. But I have never been in this situation before, so I was working from a hypothesis!"

"Cut to the chase, Tuvok!"

"I can only hypothesize that since Mr. Paris' pon farr is oriented towards you, rather than Vorik, that he must either complete a second stage of combat - ."

"He can't even stand up!" The Doctor interjected, obviously incredulous at the mention of the idea.

"Or he must complete the cycle."

B'Elanna didn't know what to do. She turned to the one person who could possibly help her come to a decision. "Tuvok?"

Tuvok stepped closer to her. "Lieutenant Paris *will* die if you do not help him. One way or another, this situation must be resolved quickly." He paused, just for a moment, before continuing in a voice low enough so that only she would hear him. "B'Elanna, the choice is yours. He lives or dies at your hand."

She lay on her bed, nervous as hell. At least, she thought as she watched Paris pace the room, I'm not the only one. "We're sort of delaying the inevitable, don't you think?" she asked, desperately trying to work up the courage to pull him to her.

He started to laugh, a grating sound in the nearly silent room.

"What's so funny?" B'Elanna snapped, wringing her hands.

Tom shook his head as he stared at her, still laughing. "Just remembering something my father warned my sisters about."

"And that is -?" she demanded, slightly intrigued by what appeared to be a good memory Tom had of his father.

"If he tells you he'll die if he doesn't get some, Moira, he's lying."

B'Elanna couldn't help but laugh. "All right, that is funny."

Tom walked over and dropped onto the bed beside her. "I keep imagining myself trying to explain this to my father. 'Dad, it really wasn't my fault! Honestly! I didn't mean to lead the little Vulcan boy on! Or run around the ship in my underwear!'" He shook his head, a flush rising in his face. "All my life I've let him down, embarrassed the family. I've even topped myself this time." B'Elanna wasn't surprised that he was blaming himself. She'd learned over the years that if there was one constant to Tom Paris, it was his tendency to blame himself for everything that happened. It was the pain and shame in his voice that hurt.

She reached over and took his hand, entwining his fingers with her own. "Tom?" She reached over and pulled his face around so that he was looking at her. "I don't blame you. No one blames you. This was completely beyond your control. Besides," she smiled, trying to cheer him up, "think of the stories you'll be able to tell your grandchildren, Tom."

He didn't smile like she expected him to. He lifted a hand and cupped her face, thumb rubbing along her cheek. "*Our* grandchildren, B'Elanna. *We* are going to tell *our* grandchildren this story."

She couldn't help but shake with laughter. "Tom, we can't even have sex without turning it into a melodrama. Can you imagine what would happen if I tried to get pregnant?" Tom stared at her, and started to laugh. Hard. So hard he was wheezing.

B'Elanna leaned in, slipping an arm through his, hugging it to her body. "Tom, don't you think it's time we stopped dicking around?"

Tom grinned, fell backwards and rolled her beneath him. "No." He nipped her lower lip. "I think it's time we started."


B'Elanna had never seen that look on Tom's face before, she realized as he walked into her quarters with the strangest look on his face.

He looked like he didn't know whether to laugh or bang his head against a bulkhead.

"Tom? What's wrong?" she asked, as he flopped down onto her sofa.

He opened his mouth, closed it. Shook his head.

She walked over and sat beside him. "What happened?"

"I ran into Vorik on the way over."

She wondered when she'd stop flinching at the sound of his name. "Really?" she drawled. He nodded. "And?" she prodded.

Suddenly, Tom doubled over, howling with laughter. The tears rolled down his cheeks in streams.

She stood up. "What! Share the joke, Paris!"

Tom looked up at her, trying to breathe, laugh and speak at the same time.

"He's engaged."

B'Elanna felt her jaw drop. "To whom?"

"Patrick Krentz. From Stellar Cartography."

B'Elanna stared at him. "Are you joking?"

"No." He stood up and pulled her into his arms. "It's gets better."

She leaned back, suspicious. "Just tell me."

"He asked me to be his best man."