This 2013 VAMB Secret Drabble story was written for Delwin, whose first line, "Trust me. I know what I'm doing", and request for a B'Elanna Torres pairing with a character of my choice, led me here.

Trust

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing."

Tom's words stopped B'Elanna in her tracks. She couldn't go with him now, not when he'd made it a question of trust. That didn't make her very happy though. Trust had been a contentious issue for her ever since her childhood.

B'Elanna had once trusted her father, loved him, adored him even. He had left her. After that, trust in people became harder for B'Elanna to come by. Instead, she put her trust in machines. She knew them. She knew their moods. She took cold metal and hot circuits and made them purr. No one could do what she could do with a ship's engine.

They wouldn't listen to her at the academy. The professors there scoffed at her ideas. "That's not the way we do things in Starfleet." Everything there had to be by the book. They slapped her down and she fought back. It only made things worse. She turned her back on them behind before they could turn their back on her.

Chakotay found her after that. He respected her talent and her unconventional ideas. He trusted her and she found that she had a place, even if it was in the mire of the Cardassian resistance. She learned a lot about trusting others, about being trusted and about trusting herself. Some lessons she learned the hard way.

When a powerful Cardassian weapon fell into Maquis' hands. B'Elanna came up with a plan to reprogram and reuse it. She knew that Chakotay would never agree to her proposal, so she simply didn't him about it. Her plan was so beautiful! Nothing could possibly go wrong. What a fool she was. With circuitry and machines she did to Chakotay what her father had done to her. She broke that most fragile of gifts, his trust. Years later, B'Ealnna still cringed at the memory of Chakotay's disappointment. "I thought that I'd earned your trust … and your loyalty."

After that, B'Elanna worked twice as hard to honor his trust. She even followed him back to the Starfleet uniform that she'd never wanted to see again.

Trust has many colors, many textures. A Starfleet lieutenant named Joe Carey, whose nose B'Elanna had once rearranged, could have made it more difficult for her to establish her authority with the Starfleet engineers. Instead he led the way in accepting her promotion and supported her in every way that he could. Joe was gone now. B'Elanna missed him.

The Captain who'd stranded them in the Delta quadrant insisted that B'Elanna respect Starfleet protocol. She also listened to her ideas and trusted her judgment. B'Elanna valued that trust.

Then there was Tom Paris. B'Elanna had to fall in love with someone who had almost as many trust issues as she did. He had tenacity though. The brash and cocky pig kept holding out his hand to her even when she threatened to rip it off. No matter how hard she pushed him away, he kept coming back.

It took the bleak desolation of space for her to gather her courage and tell him that she loved him. He kissed his gloved fingers through the visor on his helmet and pressed them to her visor. He held her close while they waited to live or die together.

Then they spent the next three days avoiding talking to each other. The first time they did speak privately, they practically tripped over each other's feet trying to provide the excuse that they feared the other wanted in order to deny what had happened in empty space.

"You were suffering from oxygen deprivation … so I know you probably didn't mean it."

"I don't expect you to reciprocate … you can just pretend that I didn't say it … in fact let's just pretend that I didn't."

It was a good thing that they had managed to get together or they'd still be toe-tapping around each other all these years later.

B'Elanna shifted on the bed, trying not to peak around the corner to the change station that they'd set up in the entrance to the bathroom. They were still on Voyager - for the time being - and it was their first full night back in their own quarters. Underneath Tom's bravado B'Elanna thought she'd detected a hint of insecurity. She told herself that it was just her hormones acting up. Logically, she knew he could do it. She'd seen him practice many times under the Doctor's sardonic supervision. Tom deserved a medal for keeping his patience under those trying conditions. The Doctor had backed off from 'assisting' B'Elanna much sooner. There were definite advantages to having a Klingon temper.

B'Elanna couldn't see what was going on. She could hear though. Tom was talking to Miral in the nonsense syllables that he called 'baby talk'. B'Elanna spoke to Miral in Earth Standard with a few Klingon words thrown in. She tried to convince Tom that it was better for the baby to have good language models right from the start. Tom claimed that Miral didn't speak Standard yet, but she understood every word that he said.

Tom was like that. There was no point trying to change him. They were just different. In the past, they tested each other often. At times, they'd shut each other out just when they needed each other the most. The trust of intimacy didn't come easily to either of them. Both were skittish about opening themselves up in a relationship. They were too conscious of their own flaws and too well acquainted with the pain of rejection for that level of trust to come easily to either of them.

So there were bumps and bruises along the way - everything from that silly quarrel over the Grease Monkey program that Tom had been reluctant to let her see, to the serious rift that threatened to develop when B'Elanna tried to change Miral's DNA to protect her from being abandoned by her father the way that B'Elanna had been abandoned by John Torres. B'Elanna now knew that there was no danger that Tom would ever leave Miral like that.

B'Elanna loved Tom. She sometimes found his choice of pastimes silly. She didn't get what fascinated him about cartoons and programs like Fair Haven. But if she could somehow change him, she wouldn't do it. Those interests were a part of him. They sprang from his irrepressible enjoyment of life and were integral to who he was as a person.

John Torres had to struggle with her Klingon-ness in his love for his daughter. Tom Paris had no such reservations. He loved Miral with no qualifications attached to that love - the same the way that he loved his daughter's mother.

Tom didn't love the half-human B'Elanna with the half-Klingon B'Elanna thrown in as part of the deal. He simply loved her. The picture of her that Tom had created with words in his personal log awed B'Rlanna with the wonder of how love transformed what she had always hated about herself.

The light from the bathroom shifted and Tom came back into the bedroom carrying a dry and very sleepy baby girl. He walked around the bed to hand Miral over to B'Elanna for inspection.

"There, you see," Tom announced. "All better."

B'Elanna duly checked Miral's professionally changed diaper. The gleam of a smile danced in her eyes and she praised Tom's work with words borrowed from the Captain. "Not bad … for a beginner."

Tom grinned broadly and kissed her ridged forehead before retrieving his daughter from her arms. He paced the floor making a soothing lilt of sounds to Miral before putting her back in her crib.

B'Elanna listened for a while, trying to make sense of the non-words that made sense to her husband, and apparently to her daughter. Then she scrunched her pillow into submission and settled back to wait for Tom to return to bed.