Title: And I Love You So

Author: PJ in NH VOY

Rating: PG-13 Codes: P/T

Summary: Alternative ending to "The Killing Game." A pregnancy prompts Tom to propose to B'Elanna. Note: In my story, which was originally written before the Delaney sisters made their appearance on Voyager, I wrote one as a redhead and the other a blonde.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and its characters. I've only borrow the characters to satisfy my own creative urges. Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, PTF, & BLTS. Please notify me if you post anywhere else.

(This story was previously posted to ASC. If you have this story posted on your web site please feel free to replace it with this most recent version, or you are welcome to link to it directly (refer to my web page at: http/unix. Thanks.)

AND I LOVE YOU SO An Alternate Ending to "The Killing Game."

2/98 - Revised 5/99, and again 4/05

by PJ in NH to the pilot of my heart, my hubbie, Fred.

"I will spare your life, for now--but only because you are carrying a German child," snarled the arrogant Nazi officer.

Paris at the time was being restrained by one of the Nazi/Hirogen guards but seeing the officer confront B'Elanna, he struggled and broke free of his captor. "Leave her alone!" he yelled as he approached the pair. He had one thought on his mind, to get B'Elanna away from that monster.

The officer spun away from Brigitte/B'Elanna and focused his attention towards Tom. Seeing the rage in the young man's eyes, he quickly raised his pistol and fired twice. Both shots hit the pilot. One in his left chest and the other in his upper shoulder.

Tom's eyes widened with surprise when the bullets struck. He clutched his chest. In a cry of pain, his knees buckled and he collapsed.

Seeing the man that she loved fall to the ground, B'Elanna turned to the officer. Her Klingon anger erupted into fury. "You bastard!" roared B'Elanna. And with one well-placed, long- overdue, upper cut to his jaw, she knocked the Nazi out cold and rushed to help Tom. Do her dismay, she saw that he was bleeding profusely. Roughly she tore material from her skirt and pressed the fabric against the wounds, attempting stop the bleeding.

"Hang in there, Tom, we are almost out of here. You'll be in Sickbay soon. The Doctor will fix you up," she promised hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. After weeks of being under the control of the Hirogen, she wasn't sure of much of anything anymore, other than her love for the man lying before her.

Tom looked up at her his eyes barely open. Through a pain-filled haze, barely cognizant of his surroundings, his hand clutched her wrist. "Help me...can't...breathe," he gasped. For a moment, time stopped as his blue eyes locked with her dark orbs. Then, as if in slow motion, his grip loosened and his hand slipped from her wrist as blissful blackness crashed down upon him.

B'Elanna looked up in despair. It was then she noticed that during this exchange all the holocharacters had disappeared. Obviously, the Hirogen were no longer in control of the ship, she concluded. Then she saw her old Maquis captain on the other side of the street.

"Chakotay," she called out, "help us please!"

The First Officer heard her yell, and he sprinted towards her. "I'm coming, B'Elanna! What's wrong?"

"Tom's been shot. Help me get him to Sickbay before he bleeds to death."

The Commander quickly helped her by hoisting the pilot by the shoulders while B'Elanna lifted his legs. Carrying the wounded pilot, they proceeded to the Sickbay to see the Doctor as fast as possible.

"Doctor, you've got to help him!" pleaded B'Elanna as she stood beside the pilot and looked down at his pale face.

"I'm doing my best, Lieutenant. There, this should help him breathe," replied the EMH as he injected a tri-ox compound into the pilot's neck. Activating the medical arch to extend above his patient, he explained, "Mr. Paris was shot in the shoulder and the another projectile penetrated his left lung. I'm going to have to operate. Now, Commander, remove Lt. Torres from Sickbay so I can perform the procedure."

"But..." B'Elanna started to protest

"He's right," concurred the Commander, before she could continue. Chakotay grabbed her by the shoulders and tried to steer her out of Sickbay. "Tom's in good hands now and the Hirogen are gone. Why don't you get cleaned up and get something to eat. By the time you're finished, maybe the operation will be complete."

Hearing the conversation, the Doctor nodded in agreement at Chakotay's words.

"See," Chakotay said motioning to the doctor. "Now let's go, besides I'd think you'd be glad to get out of these maternity clothes," he remarked with a little grin on his face.

"You're right, I know. Thanks for everything. Just give me one moment." He released her shoulders. Turning from Chakotay, she approached Tom once more and bent to give him a kiss on his pale forehead, already she could see that he was breathing easier. Then she faced the EMH. "Take good care of him, Doctor, or you'll have to answer to me," she warned before she finally pivoted on her heel and left Sickbay with the First Officer.

Chakotay escorted her to her quarters. Once there, she removed the maternity dress and prepared to take a shower--a real shower. It felt good to have the warm water cascade over her and to be clean again. After she was finished cleaning up, she changed into her civies and went to the Mess Hall, all of a sudden she was very hungry.

Using a couple of replicator rations, she ordered a hot bowl of vegetable soup and a roll. Finding a vacant table, she sat down. Looking at the steaming bowl of soup before her, the once seemingly appetizing meal didn't seem to appeal to her anymore. All she could think about was a certain pilot in Sickbay.

She knew though that she needed to maintain her strength, not only for herself, but for Tom and the ship, so she started to spoon into her mouth. B'Elanna was about half finished, when the chair across from her was pulled out and a very tired looking, red-eyed Harry Kim joined her. "How you doing, Maquis?" he asked.

"Not well, Harry," she responded not even looking up at him as she stirred the remaining broth listlessly. "Tom's in Sickbay being operated on," she explained. "He was shot twice before we were able to leave the holodeck."

The ensign's head snapped up at her words. "Is he going to be all right?" he asked worriedly.

B'Elanna sighed and nodded. "The Doctor thinks so, but I can't help it, I'm worried. I love him, Harry," she said in a small voice, "I don't know what I'd do if..."

"Don't even say it," he interrupted. "No bad thoughts. Okay?"

A brave smile graced her tired face. "You're right, thanks," she said wearily and she reached over to squeeze his hand in reassurance and support. Looking up at her friend, she noticed that Harry was exhausted as well and had a large abrasion on his left cheek. "Looks like you should be in Sickbay as well, what happened?"

"It's nothing," he chuckled. "I just had a little disagreement with one of the Hirogen."

"At least tell me he looks worse than you do?"

Harry chuckled. "I wish I could. Tell you what, why don't you come down to Sickbay with me and we can both check on Tom while the Doc patches me up. Okay?"

"Sounds good, he should be finished with the operation by now, and I could really use the company."

Harry and B'Elanna walked into Sickbay. The EMH turned to greet them with a huge smile of satisfaction on his face. "Welcome back, Lieutenant!" the Doctor said cheerfully.

"How did the operation go?" she asked tentatively, fearful of the answer. She didn't even look at the Doctor but instead focused on the pale figure lying quietly on the biobed behind him.

"It went very well, very well indeed" he boasted, obviously quite pleased with himself. "He's lost a great deal of blood, and will need a few days to recover. In light of the injury he received last week, he's very lucky. He took a bayonet in the abdomen then during the United States of America Civil War simulation," the EMH explained shaking his balding head. It was incredible, he thought, what the crew had had to endure during the last few weeks, but it was fortunate they wouldn't remember most of it. "If you like, you two can stay for a while and wait for him to wake up. Just don't be too long, you need your rest too," he admonished.

B'Elanna looked gratefully at the EMH. "Thanks for everything, Doctor."

He smiled slightly and nodded his head in acknowledgment.

Then she proceeded over to where Tom lay. She pulled up a chair and sat down beside the biobed, taking one of the pilot's hands in both of hers.

"Mr. Kim, it appears you require medical attention," the Doctor stated as he appraised the ensign's condition with a critical eye. The EMH reached for the dermal regenerator. In a short period of time, Harry was healed. Harry then pulled up a chair on the other side of the bed and joined B'Elanna to wait for the pilot to regain consciousness.

Forty-five minutes later.

"Harry, when do you think he'll wake up?" asked a very tired B'Elanna for the umpteenth time since they had sat down.

An equally tired Harry Kim rubbed his face with his hands. He didn't have the heart to tell her he had just answered the very same question about ten minutes ago. "I don't know, Maquis, it should be soon...look."

At that moment, Tom slowly opened his eyes and his gaze immediately fell on B'Elanna's face. He was totally oblivious that Harry was there as well.

"B'Elanna?" he said softly.

"Yes, Tom, I'm here. You're safe," she explained inching forward in her seat in an effort to hear him better.

"I was having a wonderful dream," he murmured. A small smile lit his tired face.

"Thanks nice." She grinned. It was so good to hear his voice again.

"It was a-about you."

She blushed a little and reached up to brush a few errant stands of hair away from his forehead. She loved this man so much.

"You were so beautiful...and...and...you were pregnant."

"Yes, Tom."

In explanation, she whispered across the bed to the stunned operations officer. "I was holographically pregnant in the last Holodeck simulation. Obviously, he is a bit confused."

Harry nodded that he understood.

Tom continued. "You were so beautiful, Bea. You were carrying our baby. We were so happy."

Our baby? That was some dream. "Ah...that's nice," she responded shakily with a little smile on her face, "but aren't you forgetting something?" She laughed trying to keep it light. "We aren't even married?"

"Okay," he said quietly as his eyes fluttered closed and the blissful smile returned to his lips.

"Okay, what?" she asked now confused. How dare he try and fall back to sleep and leave her hanging!

The drowsy blue eyes opened again. "Let's get married."

"Tom Paris, how can we get married?" she teased. "You haven't even told me you love me yet."

"But, B'Elanna, I do...I do love you...love you..." he mumbled as finally sleep enveloped him once again.

B'Elanna couldn't believe their little conversation. Shouldn't it go love, marriage, then babies? Not the other way around?

"Well that must have been some dream," joked Harry, but the joke obviously flopped when he looked at the Chief Engineer and saw her mouth agape.

"Yeah, w-well," stammered the B'Elanna, "I always hoped I'd hear those words from him, but I didn't think they would come out in quite that order or under these circumstances. He probably won't even remember that he said them."

"I can be your witness if you want?" Harry offered with a grin plastered on his face.

"Thanks anyway."

Harry could have sworn though that there was a hint of disappointment in her tone.

Three days later, Tom woke up in his quarters for the first time since, well since the Hirogen took control of the ship. Staring up at the overhead with his head cradled under his arms, he recalled what had occurred since he had last slept in his bed.

For one thing, it had been three days since his operation. Three days of hearing the Doctor painstakingly describe the simulated 'hunts' the crew had been forced to endure. He also graphically described the various injuries that had been inflicted on the crew and he had brilliantly treated. Some of the stories though were surprisingly humorous. Try as he might, Tom couldn't picture Neelix as a fierce Klingon leading his fellow warriors into battle.

Three days, and every time he slept he had the same dream. It was a dream like none he had ever had before. A truly lovely dream which always left him waking feeling very contented and satisfied. The dreams weren't exactly the same every night. Sometimes he was with B'Elanna in their cabin, one time they were on the Bridge, and still another time they were in the Engineering, but there were some things that never changed. One was that B'Elanna was always pregnant.

Picturing her ripe with his child made the pilot smile. He had always thought that she was beautiful, but she was absolutely ravishing 'with child,' he concluded. Maybe it was not so much the fact that she was pregnant, he mused, but what it represented. It was an expression of their love, which only enhanced her beauty. It was like she was possessed with an inner radiance. The second constant was that in every dream they were giddily happy. He couldn't ever remember being so euphoric. Just he, B'Elanna, and the soon-to-be-born baby. Everything seemed perfect. Everything seemed ideal.

Tom, old boy, maybe someone's trying to tell you something? Maybe it was time to act? To take a chance and try and make your dreams a reality. he mused as he ultimately stopped his daydreaming and rolled out of bed.

He made his way to the shower to get ready for his first day back to work. There was so much work to do, the Hirogen saw to that. How could he possible find the time now to act on his future? The first priority right now was to Voyager. During the three weeks the Hirogen had controlled the ship, they had tinkered with and tampered with almost every system on board. Needless to say, one half-Klingon was furious to put it mildly and she had every right to be he admitted. B'Elanna and Harry, along with the rest of the crew, had hardly had a chance to rest from the invasion before they were pulling double and triple shifts trying to get the ship back in order.

This explained the fact that Tom had barely seen B'Elanna or Harry since his operation. In fact, Tom didn't even remember that she and Harry had been there when he initially awoke. The Doctor told him later that they refused to leave until he regained consciousness, and even then they were reluctant to go.

The Doctor also told him, before he gave him a clean bill of health, that due to the workload B'Elanna had only been able to come to the Sickbay once before he was released. She was so tired during the visit, the EMH was actually able to convince her to crawl up on the nearest biobed and rest. She had barely put her head down when she fell to sleep and slept for a full twelve hours. The Doctor personally saw to it that she wasn't disturbed. Looking back, Tom vaguely recalled someone else on that other biobed. He had briefly awakened early one morning and had seen someone huddled beneath the blankets next to him before weariness overwhelmed him again and he had fallen back to sleep.

As Tom changed to take his morning shower, he reached the conclusion that he was blessed. For despite all the turmoil that they had been through lately, he considered himself one lucky man. Not only was Harry his best friend, he was the first true friend he ever had. But B'Elanna? B'Elanna was truly special, she was not only a dear friend but his...his what? lover? companion? confidant? mate? Yes, she was all that and more, much more, he thought as he stepped into the warm cascade of the shower and started to lather up.

Contemplating their relationship to date, he decided that he had been a coward. She had admitted that she loved him on the Day of Honor, and what had he said? Something like: 'You picked a fine time to tell me.' A joke, wonderful, he had made a joke. It should have been so easy to have returned the sentiment. All he had to say was 'I love you too.' So simple and yet so difficult. Not that was it difficult to tell her he loved her. He did love her and had for a long time. But, he had told his father he loved him and his father had disowned him. He had told Ricki he loved her but she had left him after Caldik Prime.

If it had been love he had felt for his father and Ricki, then what was it he felt for B'Elanna? The feelings he had for her were just so much more intense that the simple words 'I love you' seemed woefully inadequate. There had to be a way for him to tell her, to show her, how he felt, he mused as he rinsed the soap off his back. Maybe, he thought, he could come up with a plan while he was in Sickbay for the next couple of days assisting the Doctor.

It was his second day in Sickbay. He was alone for the afternoon performing inventory. The Doctor was meeting with Neelix to discuss the available food stores and the nutritional needs of the crew. The pilot was starting to become frustrated not yet having come with a suitable location to carry out his plan. In the silence of the Sickbay, he reviewed the various options he had already thought of and ultimately rejected.

He had thought of the holodecks, but they couldn't be used as they where still off-line and with all the other items on the ship that required repair were not considered a priority. He had eliminated his quarters--been there, done that. The mess hall wasn't special enough, they ate there everyday. One of the cargo bays he figured could be converted for the night, but it was bound to smell of plasma coolant and would require a great deal of work to get ready. So he struck that from his list as well.

As he continued to contemplate his problem, Meagan Delaney entered Sickbay accompanied by her sister.

"It'll be all right Jenny," Meagan said soothingly "it's just a small cut. It'll be better in no time."

Noticing that no one was coming to their aid, she helped Jenny sit down on one of the biobeds and began looking around for the Doctor. She finally found the EMH's assistant in the back of the Sickbay bent over with his head in the supply cabinet mumbling something to himself.

"Ah, Tom?"

Surprised at her sudden voice, the pilot/nurse quickly straighten up which resulted in him hitting his skull on an upper shelf and landing on his butt.

"Aargh." he bellowed and he reached up to rub the top of his head.

"You okay?" Megan asked trying hard not to laugh.

"Yeah. I guess so. Hard head, no problem. What can I do for you?" he asked half-heartedly. Meagan offered him a helpful hand and pulled him to a standing position.

"Oh I'm fine, it's just Sis. She got a small cut helping out in engineering this afternoon. The way she's acting you'd think she'd almost severed her arm off," she teased. Tom chuckled a bit and followed her to the examination area where he saw the other twin sitting on the biobed.

"Hi, Jenny, let's see your arm." She held out her right arm up for inspection. Her mouth formed a pout. "Oh, that's not too bad. I'll have you fixed up right away," he replied solemnly. He reached for the regenerator and started using it on her arm.

"Tom, how are you doing? Is everything okay?" asked Meagan worriedly noticing that Tom wasn't he usual cheerful self.

Tom looked up at the red head. "Oh, I'm fine."

"Come on, Tom, this is us you're talking to," Meagn counted. With her arms folded across her abundant chest, she tried to assume a defiant position. "We know you better than that, so spill it. What's up?"

"Well...um...you know, maybe you could help me. That is if you two can keep a secret," he teased. I must be desperate! I can't believe I said that! The twins are the two biggest gossips on the ship. But I am desperate, maybe I could trust them. I could always resort to a little blackmail to help ensure their silence. "You know ladies, you just might be able to assist me." he offered, "I'm having a little problem, and I can't come up with a solution."

"Do tell," they both responded in stereo, both interested in the hunk of the helm's little problem.

"I'm trying to plan a special evening for B'Elanna. You know, fancy dinner, dancing, etc., but with the holodecks out of service I can't come up with a suitable location. Do you two have any ideas?"

The two sisters huddled together and whispered back and forth, occasionally making hand gestures to illustrate a point. Finally, both nodded their heads in agreement and turned back to face the exasperated pilot.

"Well, Tom, this may require a little work, but we think we have come up with the perfect solution, but there's a catch. You have to let us in on one thing first. What is so special about this dinner?"

"Come on," he whined, "that's not fair."

"All's fair in love and war, Tommy. You tell or we keep the best kept secret on Voyager all to ourselves," Jenny purred.

Hands on his hips he turned away from them paced off a few steps and turned back to face them. "If I wasn't so desperate, I'd never tell you this. I warn you though, if you breathe a word to anyone, I'll tell Ensign Hopkins that it was you two that's had him walking on eggshells for the last month," he threatened, pointing his finger at both of them.

"How did you find out?" said the two in unison their mouths agape.

"I have my sources," he said slyly. "Inscrutable sources."

"You're cruel, Paris, cruel," the red head relented throwing her arms up in the air. "Okay you've got us. We know the perfect place. It's Stellar Observation Room 2."

"Stellar Observation Room 2? You mean the Attic? You know I had forgotten about that little gem, but isn't it being used for temporary storage now?"

"Yeah, well even good plans have a little catch. You just have to find the time to move a few boxes and then you'll have something really special. I promise. She'll love it."

The pilot thought for brief moment, imagining B'Elanna and him dancing beneath the stars. He really liked the idea. It was fitting for they had found each other in the Delta Quadrant. And is was in the blackness of space lit only by thousands of suns where B'Elanna had admitted her love to him.

"You know I think you're right. Thanks, I really appreciate the suggestion. It sounds perfect."

"Tom, aren't you forgetting something?" asked Meagan.

"What? Oh yeah, the special evening for B'Elanna. Well...remember you have to keep your mouth shut or Ensign Hopkins..."

"Spill it, Tom!" they both roared.

"I'm a...er...planning to propose."

"Wow! Congratulations! That's wonderful. I'm sure she'll say 'yes'," beamed the buoyant blond. "If you need anything, anything at all, ask us. Right, Sis?" She elbowed the red head in the ribs to snap her out of her daze. "I said: 'Right, sis?' "

"Ah...you bet. Anything," said Meagan almost too stunned to speak.

"I may have to take you up on that offer. Thanks again, ladies!

The following two days, the pilot spent under the conn station reconfiguring the Hirogen 'modifications' and his evenings where spent working on the Attic. It had taken him several hours moving the few crates that had occupied that area and placing them in the only other available space--his cabin. In the end, he had even run of space there and had to leave several crates behind. Maybe they could be camouflaged in some way he considered.

There was a lot that still had been done the last couple of days, but the whole plan rested on one little question to one person who might very likely say no--and it wasn't the chief engineer. Near the end of his shift on the second day back on the bridge, Tom gathered his courage and approached Chakotay.

"Commander, I was wondering if I could speak with you for a moment, privately?"

"Of course, Lieutenant. The ready room?"

"That would be fine, sir."

Tom followed the commander into the ready room. Chakotay walked around the conference room table and both men sat down opposite the table from one another.

"So what is this about, Tom?" he asked as he leaned over and rested his elbows on the table top.

"Well, I was hoping that you could arrange it for B'Elanna and I...believe me I wouldn't ask it if it wasn't important...if we could have a few hours off tomorrow evening, say from 1800 to 2300?" he blurted out. There he said it, now everything depended on the commander's answer.

"I see."

"What's that about a request for some time off." responded a familiar voice entering the ready room from the other entrance.

Tom immediately stood not only in respect to his captain but also that he was nervous.

"At ease, Tom, and please sit down," Janeway ordered with a smile on her face as she herself took a seat.

"Cap. . Captain," he stammered as a blush advanced from his collar to his hairline. "It's just that I'm trying to plan something special for B'Elanna and, unless there is some emergency, I was hoping not to be interrupted for a few hours tomorrow evening."

"Well I don't know, Tom, there is still so much to do..." Kathryn began thinking over all the work that still remained to be done on board.

"I beg your pardon, Captain, it's probably not what you think. It's...ah...well something very special, something..." Damn he wanted to try and keep this a secret for as long as he could, but he was trapped "...ah... hell, I'm planning to propose to B'Elanna." he blurted out staring at the table top and then looking up a first the Captain's and then the Commander's face.

"But that's marvelous, Tom," gushed Janeway. She almost laughed at the expression on Tom's face before she spoke. She had never seen Thomas Euguene Paris, The Best Damned Pilot in the Delta Quadrant (and perhaps the Universe) look so apprehensive.

"It certainly is!" agreed her First Officer. "And it is about time." Chakotay reached across the table and shook Paris' hand.

"Th--thanks," replied the relieved and surprised pilot. Things had certainly changed in almost four years. Chakotay didn't seem to mind that he was going to ask his former Maquis crewmate to become his bride. Just a few short years ago, he would have skinned him alive. Just a few short years ago, to be honest, marriage was the furthest thing from Tom's mind.

"So tell me, what are the plans?" asked the Captain. She and the Commander leaned over the table anxious to hear all the details.

"Well it's like this..."

Leaving the ready room, Lt. Paris returned to the conn momentarily before Ensign Sims relieved him of duty. Tom then followed Harry into the turbolift.

"You look quite pleased with yourself, Tom." Harry remarked.

"That I am, Harry. That I am," he replied smugly, looking the young ensign over stem to stern as if trying to decided what to make of him. Now that the cat was out of the bag, he had nothing to lose. He was going to throw caution to the wind and really impress B'Elanna.

"What is it? Did I get oil on my pants or someth..." Harry turned a wary eye to the pilot. "Uh, oh, I've seen that look before. What's up?"

Tom mocked innocence with one hand raised to his chest. "Harry, what do you mean 'what's up?' Why would I be up to something? You wound me."

The younger man crossed his arms over his chest in an attempt to stand his ground. "Come on, after almost four years I've gotten to know you pretty well. So tell me."

"Harry, why don't you join me later in the mess hall for dinner? I'll tell you all about it. If you're good, I'll even let you help."

The turbo stopped momentarily on Deck Four, the location of Tom's cabin, and the pilot got off leaving a bewildered Harry behind.

"I know I should have kept my mouth shut," Harry said to himself. "When will I ever learn?" He shook head fully aware that he was about to be conned again.

Just one more person to line up, Tom mused as he entered his cabin.

He slapped his comm badge. "Paris to Lt. Carey."

"Carey here," came the response. "What can I do for you, Tom?"

This was just too easy. "Do you really want to know?"

"I don't know, do I?"

Another morning. Another repair. Some things never change, B'Elanna thought as she entered yet another Jefferies tube. How many tubes had she crawled through been during the last several days? She had lost count. This day though she had traded assignments with Harry who to her surprise had been assigned to engineering for the day. He had convinced her after he arrived to report for work that morning that after the past few weeks if he had to crawl into another tube he would go insane.

Well crawling around the tubes, she mused, was better than being up to her elbows in bioneural gel and working with Seven, which was the other option, so she relented. As she neared the broken power conduit, she thought she caught the scent of something out of place in the tube. Nearing the intersection with another tube, she spotted the source: it was a beautiful bouquet of red roses with a card attached (it had previously been placed there by a certain willing ensign). She reached for the card and read the hand-written message:

"You're always in my dreams and my heart. Please join me for dinner tonight at 01900, Stellar Observation Room 2, formal dress required. T"

She lifted the flowers to inhale their aroma. Tom was such a romantic. Well today might turn out good after all, she mused. "But dinner in the Attic? And formal besides? What was he thinking of? She began working on the power conduit, but trying to figure out what Tom might have planned filled her mind. A smiled formed on the half-Klingon's face, the first smile she had worn in several days.

"Kim to Lt. Paris."

"Go ahead, Harry." the pilot answered entering the turbolift on his way to the bridge.

"Everything is going according to plan, Tom. Thought you'd want to know."

"Thanks, Har. I owe you."

"Tom?"

"Yeah."

"Good luck."

Sitting at the conn, Tom couldn't ever remember being this nervous. It felt like Morovian crickets had taken up residence in his stomach. His future all rested on what happened tonight. Tomorrow, he would either be walking on air or down in the dumps- -deep dumps. But for now, he had to concentrate on piloting the ship, but his thoughts kept straying to the next stage of his plan.

Knowing that the Delaneys were scheduled for a late shift today, he decided to take them up on their offer of assistance. He had approached them early this morning with his plans for the Attic along with some of his replicator credits. Meagan and Jenny had assured him to leave everything in their capable hands and it would be just perfect for the special occasion. The sisters suggested that he stop by at his lunch break to check on their progress and to see if there was anything they might have missed.

The hours continued to hours drag by that morning and every time he turned around in his seat and caught the Commander's eye, or sometimes Captain's eye when she was on the bridge. The pilot could see their eyes twinkle with amusement at his obvious anxiety.

Finally, lunch time arrived. As soon as he was temporarily relieved of duty, he sprinted to the Stellar Observation Room 2 eager to see the results. Engineering the Attic, he was amazed. It certainly didn't look like a storage room any more. He had to admit that the Delaneys had certainly outdone themselves. They had transformed the room into a secluded romantic getaway. Underneath the transparent dome, they had placed a round dining table and two chairs. On both ends of the Attic, the remaining boxes where stacked against the wall with a cloth covering them. They would serve as side tables. The remaining four boxes were similarly covered and would be used as a bench up against the back wall. Lightly scented candles of various sizes and shades of pastel decorated the side tables along with flowers and ferns from hydroponics. For an added touch of elegance, long white tapers had been placed in a silver candelabra on the round dining table which had also been covered with a spotless white tablecloth.

"I am absolutely flabbergasted," beamed Tom giving each of the Delaney sisters a dazzling smile and a kiss on the cheek as he proceeded to walk around the room checking out every detail. He paused a couple of times; once to sniff the flowers and another time adjust a candle that didn't want to stand a perfect attention. "This is better than anything I imagined, how did you two find the time to get all of this done?"

"Well it's easy when the Captain orders you," teased Jenny.

He abruptly stopped his inspection and looked at the twins. "What?" he asked in disbelief.

"The Captain gave us orders this morning not to report to Stellar Cartography until the Attic was up to "romantic standards," Meagan replied in a deep voice her hands on her hips. She mimicked Captain Janeway to a tee.

"Janeway even came up here a couple of times to help arrange the flowers. She even donated some of her own replicator credits so we could have enough candles," piped in her sister.

"So that's why she was missing on the bridge on and off this morning," concluded Tom. "It's just perfect, ladies! It couldn't be better."

"Yes, it could," chimed in Meagan coyly fanning herself with a datapadd.

"I don't see how," he countered.

"How about donated replicator credits for your dinner or...for whatever?" challenged Jenny. She handed him the datapadd which indicated that a sizable number of credits had been transferred to his account.

He gasped at the totals. "You're kidding? Who donated credits?"

"Let's see, the Captain, Harry, Seven, Carey, the Commander, Meagan and I, and maybe a few others."

"I'm totally speechless."

"Quick, Jenny, get this on a vidcam! Tom's speechless! Vulcan must have frozen over, inform Tuvok!" Meagan quipped. They all broke down and laughed.

"Jenny, Meagan, I wish I could stay and help, but I have one more thing to do before I have to report back to the bridge for the afternoon shift and believe me these," he said waving the data padd, "are going to make all the difference. Thanks again, ladies, I'll never forget it. I owe you."

"You owe us all the dirt on what happens tonight. Well, at least some of the dirt," Jenny said a blush forming on her face.

"Yeah," countered the red head with a grin, "we want to be the first to know when she says 'yes' so we can start planning the bridal shower."

Laughing and nodding his head, Tom quickly left the Attic and headed to his own quarters. He wished he was as confident as they were regarding the outcome of the evening.

With the donated credits along with some of his own saved over the past few months, his next task proved to be much easier. He strode over to his replicator and placed his order "One engagement ring pattern Paris Torres Omega, size...computer access databanks and select whatever size Lt. Torres' left ring finger is...and computer," he smiled. "Double the carat weight."

Within moments an exquisite gold engagement ring materialized. Over the past few days, he had scrapped design after design until he finally decided on a ring created out of two delicate yellow and white gold bands intertwined around each other to symbolize their love with an oval-shaped Equarian diamond perched in the center expressing the hope of the future. Thanks to the extra credits, it looked even better than he had imagined. Placing it in a safe place in his quarters, he returned to the bridge, whistling all the way.

If he thought the morning dragged, the afternoon was ten times worse, every minute seemed like an hour. Please, he thought, how about a little asteroid field to fly through, something to keep the mind and body occupied. But no, just a boring afternoon flying in a straight line.

Finally, about 1530, the Commander turned to the Captain. "Doesn't seem to be much going on this afternoon Captain," he said with a wink and a mock yawn. "Have I ever told you there are times I miss being where all the excitement is?" His voice carried all the way down front to the conn.

"You know I think you're right, it's just another typical boring day on Voyager. Why don't you see if Tom will relinquish the helm for the remainder of his shift? Maybe that will keep you occupied? I wouldn't want you to be bored," the Captain replied with a smirk.

"Aye, aye, Captain." He stood up and saluted her with a silly grin on his face.

"It appears, Tom," Janeway piped up. "That you have been relieved from duty for the day."

The Commander was already at the stunned lieutenant's side prepared to take his place as Tom turned around. "Yes ma'am. Thank you. And thank you, sir."

"Have fun, Tom, and good luck, but I don't think you'll need it." quirked the Indian. He slapped the pilot on the back and sat down at the conn.

"Thanks again, but if you have time, maybe you could say a few words to your spirit guide? It couldn't hurt. Okay?" Chakotay chuckled and nodded at the pilot's request. Tom then entered the turbolift with a nervous grin on his face. The smile was returned by everyone on the bridge.

"What to wear, what to wear?" B'Elanna asked herself as she made a sketch on her datapadd. She looked up every once in a while to admire her roses and to inhale their scent as she contemplated her design. She had come to the conclusion an hour ago that she had nothing to wear and had been working on the perfect dress since then. When she was satisfied with her design, she input the information into the computer and instructed the machine to replicate an off-the-shoulder, white silk, floor length dress to her specifications and to charge it to her account. Within seconds the beautiful dress appeared in the replicator.

"Computer, how many credits do I have left?" she inquired.

:Thirty-two.:

"Computer, create a single strand 45-centimeter pearl necklace."

:Acknowledged.:

"Now all I have to do is shower. No, I think a bubble bath would be better, and get dressed." She was very excited, she couldn't wait to see what Tom had planned. It had to be special, but she couldn't figure out why it was in the Attic of all places.

Tom nervously paced inside his quarters carefully avoiding the crates of maintenance supplies. The stacks of crates had limited his pacing to three steps a turn and three steps back. He was already dressed for the evening in a pale blue shirt, black vest, and black slacks. For the ninth time in the last forty-five minutes, he reached inside the vest pocket and extracted the ring to examine it and to buff it against his sleeve. It was now 1845. It wouldn't be long before he would be up in the Stellar Observation Room 2 with B'Elanna. Please let everything go right, he prayed.

Shortly before 1900, B'Elanna and a very anxious pilot each left their quarters. Then they made their way to their respective turbolifts that would take them to the Attic. They arrived almost simultaneously meeting each other in front of the door to the room in which their future would be decided.

There before him was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen, a vision of elegance. "B'Elanna," he began taking her hands in his looking her over from head to toe, "You look absolutely stunning."

B'Elanna blushed a little but thanked him and returned the compliment. This man is so thoughtful and handsome, and for some reason or other he thinks I'm beautiful.

They both entered the room together. It was breathtaking, even better than when he had seen it at lunch. The candles were glowing and, along with the flowers, emitted a delicate floral scent. The china glistened and the stars twinkled magically all around them. In the background, music could be heard from an invisible string quartet.

"Tom, this is just enchanting," she gasped as she turned completely around to view the whole room causing her gown to swirl around her lithe body. "You certainly outdid yourself."

"It certainly is," he replied but he was not looking at the room, he was looking at her. Realizing what she was referring to brought him back to reality. "I wish I could take all the credit for the transformation, but I had a little help," Tom admitted sheepishly. He guided her over to the table and pulled out one of the chairs for her and she sat down. Helping her push in her chair, he gave her a kiss on her cheek. "Nothing is too good for you, Bea," he whispered in her ear. "I want this night to be special."

He was totally sincere she noted, the honest-to-goodness genuine article. No walls were up tonight and she was grateful.

Out of nowhere Joe Carey, playing the part of a waiter, appeared with menus in his left hand and a water pitcher in his right hand. He offered them each and menu and proceeded to fill their glasses, playing his role to the hilt. "While you make your selection, can I offer you some wine? Maybe a Merlot or some champagne?" At Tom's raised eyebrow, Joe whispered to the helmsman, "You talked me into being your waiter, but I draw the line at the French accent, Paris."

The pilot chuckled, "Merci, Joe. And I think this evening calls for a bit of the bubbly. Bring us the best the house has to offer."

B'Elanna giggled as they opened the menus, "What happened? Did you beat him at pool and he didn't have the replicator credits to cover his bet?"

"Something like that. I'll tell you later," Tom said with a grin. "So what sounds good to you?"

They dined on spinach salad, Salmon ala Schoodic, wild rice, and sauteed vegetables in a light sauce, desert followed--a delightful concoction of chocolate and raspberries. The meal had been enhanced with light conversation, peppered with jokes and remembrances.

"Tom, that was the best dinner I think I've every had," she sighed, delicately wiping her lips with her napkin. "Thank you. You must remember to give Joe a good tip. He's done a great job, even without the French accent."

"Believe me, the pleasure was all mine. And don't worry, I won't forget Joe."

"By the way, how did you ever save enough credits for all this?" she challenged.

"Like I said, I'll tell you later." Looking at her questionable expression he added, "believe me, Bea, it's all on the up and up. I promise."

"Well...just remember I'm watching you."

"I'm counting on that," he countered. As the string quartet starting play a musical selection from the early 20th century, the pilot placed his napkin on the table. He rose from his seat and approached the beautiful half-Klingon. With a deep bow and a flamboyant sweep of his arm he asked "Dear lady, will you do me the honor of this dance?"

She rose out of her chair and with a curtsey and smile responded "I thought you would never ask, kind sir." This was wonderful, dancing beneath a canopy of stars with Tom. Much better than any ol' holodeck program. But where did all the maintenance supplies go?

Joe quietly picked up the table, leaving an envelope, and left the dining room for the night knowing that his services would no longer be required.

Tom held her close and they danced. B'Elanna relished his touch and the woodsy smell of his aftershave. This felt so right she thought, she had never felt so special, so loved. She was so lucky, she mused. Coming to the Delta Quadrant and finding this man were the best things that had ever happened to her.

Tom echoed her silent thoughts as he guided her around the room. This was just incredible. If anyone told him he would be doing what he had planned on tonight four years ago he would have informed them that they were crazy. Instead, here he was dancing with the most gorgeous woman in the universe. As if hearing his thoughts, she looked up him. He could see the stars reflected in her deep brown eyes, it took his breath away. Kissing her full lips, he pulled her closer.

"B'Elanna," he whispered next to her ear, "you're beautiful, absolutely exquisite."

Those words sent chills right down her spine. "Oh, Tom," she blushed, "you're the only one that has ever made be feel beautiful."

Tom then proceeded to kiss his way from her ear all the way down to her bare shoulder and back up to her ear again with a nibble or two thrown in along the way. Here goes everything he thought as he skillfully twirled her around. "B'Elanna, I know I haven't told you this before but not only do I love you," he whispered again, "I absolutely adore you."

B'Elanna immediately stopped dancing and star-flecked chocolate brown eyes locked with star-flecked ocean blue.

"Did you hear me, Bea?" he asked. Tom brought his hand up to caress her cheek, "I love you, I adore you. And I should have told you a long time ago--a very long time ago." He bent down and pressed his lips to hers. Their lips parted and their tongue tangled.

Finally they both breathlessly pulled away and B'Elanna replied: "I heard you, Tom. You know I love you too." She then rested her head against his chest, just where it belongs she thought, and they began moving with the music again. After a couple of songs had played Tom started humming along with the current selection.

"That's beautiful," she commented. "What's the name of the song?"

"Oh just something I stumbled upon a few months back. Actually, there are vocals that were originally part of the song. Would you like to hear them?" She nodded. "Computer re-queue current song "And I Love You So," original version and include vocals. With the gentle sounds of a guitar being plucked, the song began:

Original version contained the lyrics in this location. Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to include them now in stories posted at even with proper credit given to the lyricist I'm sure you can find the lyrics on line some where, and if you do, you can copy this to your computer, and paste in the lyrics in this location.

"Tom, that's absolutely beautiful. Such a simple song but it speaks volumes."

"I thought so too when I first heard it. It reminded me of us."

After several more minutes of dancing, kissing, and touching, Tom gathered his courage and led her over to the bench against the wall and asked her to sit down. As she did so, he knelt on one knee took her hand in his, and kissed it tenderly. "Bea, I love you, I can't imagine my life without you. You make me complete. Before Voyager, I may have been breathing but I wasn't living. My life had no purpose. I...I don't want to be alone any more. I want to go to sleep with you and wake up every morning with you beside me. You mean everything to me." He reached into his vest pocket and produced the sparkling ring. Here it goes, hopefully the Gods are smiling. "B'Elanna, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

She didn't know what to say, she couldn't believe it. This handsome, wonderful man had not only finally told her he loved her but was proposing too. No, this must be a dream, a wonderful, enchanting dream, but a dream nonetheless. But...then if this was a dream, why did it seem so real? Why could she smell the flowers and his aftershave so clearly? Why was her heart pounding so hard? No, on second thought this was real. She didn't know what she had done to deserve this, but it was real.

A smile grew on her face, first starting with her lips and finally encompassing her whole face as tears threatened to fall from her eyes. "Tom, I would be honored to be your wife," she replied as the tears began to fall from her liquid brown eyes.

Tom slipped the ring onto her finger, stood up, and bent down. He then pulled her to him giving her a kiss that left her toes tingling. "B'Elanna, you've made me the happiest man in the universe. I promise, you won't regret it."

"Never, Tom. I could never regret it."

"By the way, Bea," he laughed. "It's a good thing you said yes, or I'd be paying back replicator credits until we returned home."

"What do you mean?"

"Well let's see, the Captain, Harry, Chakotay, Carey, Jenny and Meagan, and probably a few others, all donated credits and/or their time to make sure that this night went off as planned."

"We're very fortunate to have found so many friends."

"Very fortunate indeed."

They danced to several more songs, stopping occasionally to kiss, touch, and talk, until they finally realized that it was getting late.

"As much as I would like this to never end, Bea, I think it's time to blow out the candles and leave. We both have early shifts tomorrow and Harry volunteered to clean up tonight and I know he is due on the bridge even before me."

B'Elanna reluctantly nodded. "You're right, we don't want to alienate our friends, especially after all they did to make this night so special. But how about one last glass of champagne?"

"Sounds good." He reached for the bottle and poured the remainder of the bottle into their two crystal flutes and handed one to his companion. "How about a toast, to the future?"

"To the future," she echoed as they clinked their glasses together. They smiled and drank the remaining champagne.

"Well, unfortunately, tomorrow morning going to be here before we know it," he replied and proceeded to blow out the half-burned tapers.

B'Elanna then noticed the envelope on the table. "Tom, what's this?" she queried picking up the envelope from the table.

"Beats me. It wasn't anything I planned."

"Well it's addressed to the happiest couple on Voyager. Any idea who they might be?" she teased.

"Let's see, maybe Joe and Sam?. No? How about Harry and..." She playfully slapped him with the envelope. "Oh that's right," me teased, "it must be us, why don't you open it up."

"Good idea, flyboy."

She tore open the envelop and extracted a note, it read:

To the happiest couple on Voyager,

Because we already know the outcome of this evening, we wanted to be the first to say congratulations. You are both invited to attend an engagement party next Tuesday in Holodeck 2, after all you'll be the guests of honor.

It was signed by all their friends that had contributed to their special evening

P.S. By the way, you both are relieved from duty for the next 36 hours. Have fun. Signed the Captain.

"I guess they had no doubt," observed Tom.

"And you did?" she questioned poking him in the arm in jest.

"Sometimes, B'Elanna, I think my whole life before this point had been nothing but doubt."

"Not anymore, Tom," she responded with a twinkle in her eyes. "How about we wrap up this magical evening with a trip to my quarters?"

"Your quarters?"

"I think that I'd like to go to sleep with you tonight and wake up beside you in the morning. Of course, I might come up with a few more ideas in addition to just sleeping."

"If you don't, I will." he promised.

The End.

Please send e-mail PJ in NH at if only just to tell me you've read the story and survived, you don't even have to tell me you liked it. Thanks.

Also, for a bit of trivia, from Tom and B'Elanna's dinner selection, can you deduce where I spent my summers growing up?

And I Love You So, performed by Don McLean can be found on "The Best of Don McLean, EMI a Division of Capitol Records, 1988."