a Cherry on Top”
Author: Briar Rose
Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns the characters and all things Trek. It’s not my fault if Tom and B’Elanna are so much fun to play with and TPTB leave me wanting more.
Summary: Tom does it again and attempts to apologize with chocolate. This is an origin story for B’Elanna’s (fan fiction) obsession with chocolate set sometime before “The Chute.” ie: Tom and B’Elanna are just friends. Let’s assume Naomi Wildman had a growth spurt and she appears about the size of a human two year old. Thanks go out to DangerMom who was far more gracious than she had to be under the circumstances. Tom’s promise to Harry is from her story, “No Good Deed, or Stuff and Nonsense.” A huge thanks to my beta reading buddy, Liz for the morale boost and the kick in the butt.
Date: December 2000
“I like tomato soup, and I like ice cream sandwiches too.
For Tom and Harry the morning had begun at 04:00 hours with a surprise staff meeting, followed by systems checks, drills and repairs, all designed to keep Voyager’s crew “on their toes.” They were more than tired, but instead of going to bed they sat in the mess in silence, staring into their mugs listening to the ebb and flow of conversation around them. The doors slid open, admitting Voyager’s chief engineer. B’Elanna paused in front of Neelix’s buffet and surveyed the dishes. She shook her head slightly and crossed to Tom and Harry’s table sliding wearily into the chair beside Harry, elbows propped on the table.
“Not hungry, B’Elanna?” Harry asked.
“I’m too tired to eat. I feel like I could sleep for a week but my mind won’t shut off.” She rested her forehead on her hands and closed her eyes.
“Really?” Tom teased. “I thought this was a normal day for you.”
“That’s the problem,” she bristled. “Engineering
is the largest department on the ship and none of them can do a thing without
me. They ask permission before they check a relay. I’m their chief,
Tom’s mouth quirked. “Well, maybe that’s
because every time they do you bite someone’s head off. If you want them
to think independently, B’Elanna, you have to cut the apron strings. Give
“They just respect your opinion B’Elanna,” Harry soothed. “They probably just don’t want to make anything worse for you right now.”
B’Elanna ignored him. “So are you saying I’ve been snapping at people lately?” She directed the full force of her aggression at Tom. Her enunciation was precise. “If they can’t do the job, or take the pressure maybe they shouldn’t have joined Starfleet to begin with.”
Tom felt adrenaline surge through him. Suddenly he wasn’t tired anymore and he rose slightly in his seat. “That’s my point, a third of them didn’t join Starfleet. You should remember that since they came from your Maquis ship.”
“I managed to make the transition just fine,” she ground out.
He was undaunted. “Oh...well, I can see that!”
“Would you two cut it out,” Harry interrupted. “I’m not in the mood to referee tonight. Can’t we just sit here like civilized people without you two snapping at each other? Just once I’d like to share a table with both of my friends and have a pleasant conversation without it downspiraling into a brawl.”
The mess had quieted and people were starting to stare at them. Tom had the grace to look chagrined. He risked a glance at B’Elanna and judged she had cooled to a simmer. Harry was right, and he had promised to try to get along with B’Elanna. Time for a peace offering, he decided. “Would you like a something to drink, B’Elanna?” He motioned to Harry’s coffee cup, “Replicated, I’m buying.”
“He’s not as magnanimous as he sounds, B’Elanna. Those were my rations,” Harry complained.
“Harry, don’t you know by now not to bet on sure thing? You lost them fair and square.”
B’Elanna sent Tom a narrowed glance. He
raised an eyebrow and looked at Harry, daring her to start something by
turning down his offer. Before she could reply, the mess door slid open
Sam sighed patiently and adjusted Naomi in her arms. “Sweetie, we talked about this. You know mommy has to work tonight. I mean today. Neelix will look after you.”
“No!” Naomi was not in the mood to be reasonable.
“Good evening, Naomi.” Neelix came up to the little girl and held out his arms. She went to him and hugged him tightly. “It’s morning silly, I just got up,” she said.
“Why, you’re right,” Neelix replied. “I was confused.”
“Yeah, you were confused.” Naomi giggled into his whiskers.
“Would you like some breakfast? I have Eskarian eggs. I know they’re your favorite.” Neelix tried steering the little girl toward the kitchen.
“I want something sweet,” she stated.
Tom could hear the calm tones of Sam Wildman, “After you have breakfast, sweetie.”
“No! Something sweet first!” she whined. Tom’s eyes slid from Naomi’s retreating figure to B’Elanna. The implication wasn’t lost on her.
“What are you drinking?” She peered into his mug. “It smells funny.”
He shot her a lazy grin. “Chamomile tea with honey. It’s supposed to be calming.”
B’Elanna refused to rise to the challenge. “Can I have a taste?”
That surprised him. “Ah...sure.” He pushed the mug toward her.
She raised it to her nose and sniffed. It did smell odd to her, but she was used to some foods smelling strange to her Klingon nose. She took a cautious sip, then her face puckered as the flavor of the tea hit her tongue. Her eyes squinted almost shut as she tried not to let the offensive liquid slide to the back of mouth. Tom and Harry watched in awe, certain she would either spit the tea back into the mug or all over Tom. Tom was betting on the latter. She bravely swallowed, to Harry’s relief, and slammed the mug down in front of Tom. He jumped back with a “Hey!” as the warm liquid sloshed onto the table in front of him.
B’Elanna was furious. “Very funny!” she shouted. “That’s the last time I put anything of yours into my mouth, Tom Paris!”
There was a stillness in the mess. An audible silence. Then someone snorted. B’Elanna was on her feet leaning across the table, her nose inches from Tom’s. As muffled laughter rolled across the room, she straightened and with a final glare at the pilot, stormed from the room. Tom heard someone mutter, “Now he’s blown it,” and the room erupted in roars of laughter.
A crewman walked behind Tom and clapped him on the shoulder, wiping tears from his eyes as he passed. Tom was red to his hair. ‘Fantastic’ he thought, ‘just great. She’s gonna kill me.’
Harry’s face was impassive. “You just can’t resist, can you? One meal--that’s all I asked for. Not even a meal, just a friendly drink at the end of shift. But no, you have to bait her, don’t you?”
“Honest, Harry it’s just tea with honey.”
Tom was imploring. “I have no idea what her problem is.” Harry didn’t appear
to believe him. “I didn’t even know she was going to show up, remember?
Harry sighed. He realized Tom was right. This time Tom had honestly tried to be nice to B’Elanna. “Well, intended or not, you’ve offended her. I’d apologize if I were you.”
“I know,” he sighed, “but how do you make up for public humiliation?” His eyes searched the room reflexively and fell on Naomi Wildman. She was sitting on the counter facing Neelix holding out an empty tray.
“All gone,” she piped. “Can I have something sweet now?”
“I don’t see why not,” Neelix replied. “Now, let’s see, what do I have?” He kept a restraining hand on her knee while he bent to search under the counter. Tom jumped up.
“Neelix! I have an idea.” Tom walked around the counter to face Naomi. “Do you like chocolate?”
The little girl grinned and nodded her head.
She put her arms around Tom’s neck as he lifted her and began to walk toward
the replicator. Harry got the feeling that Tom had some experience in apologizing
A while later...
Tom stepped off the lift on deck nine. It was past midnight and he hoped B’Elanna was still up. The corridors of Voyager were mostly empty, but the few crewmembers he had passed on his journey from the mess hall had sent him odd looks. You’d think they’d never seen one before. It was starting to drip and he licked a trail of sticky chocolate from his wrist. He stopped outside her door, muttered “courage” under his breath, and pressed her door chime.
The door slid open to reveal B’Elanna. She was wearing her red lounging pajamas, leaning against the doorframe, one eyebrow raised. “What’s this supposed to be?” she asked, her voice neutral.
Tom smiled encouragingly and held out his trophy. “It’s supposed to be an apology,” he answered.
“I assumed that,” she replied. “What IS it?”
Tom stared at her dumfounded. “It’s chocolate ice cream, B’Elanna. Don’t tell me you’ve never had any before. I thought you were raised in a human colony.”
“I was. But my mother wasn’t very fond of human food.”
“Didn’t the other kids have ice cream at their birthday parties?” he asked.
Her eyes shuttered and he saw her mouth tighten slightly. “I don’t know. I didn’t go to many parties when I was a child,” she answered.
He suddenly realized how little he knew about her. He wondered just how lonely she’d been growing up in that human colony. “You must have been lonely,” he ventured.
Tom shuffled his feet. “Look, B’Elanna, can I come in?”
“With that?” She gestured to the cone. “It’s dripping.”
A crewman walked by and raised an eyebrow at the scene outside B’Elanna’s door. “Lieutenants,” she nodded.
“Crewman.” B’Elanna nodded back, then watched her disappear around a bend in the corridor before stepping back to allow Tom into her quarters. “All right. Come in for a minute.”
Tom followed her toward the couch and held out the frozen confection again. “Well, are you going to take it?” He licked more melted chocolate from his thumb.
B’Elanna eyed the cone again, then reached out and closed her fingers around Tom’s as he released the ice cream. He felt an odd tingle in his arm, right up to his elbow.
“What do I do with it?” she asked. She was deadly serious.
“You lick it. Or bite it if you want to,” Tom replied. He tried to remember what he had heard about people who lick ice cream cones as opposed to people who bite them.
B’Elanna, apparently, was a biter. He watched her eyes go round and the corners of her mouth tilt up as the chocolate melted in her mouth. “It’s cold!” she said, sounding delighted.
Tom laughed in reply. “ICE cream, B’Elanna,” he said. “It’s supposed to be cold.”
She took another healthy lick and held it out to him. “Do you want some?” she asked.
“No thanks,” he replied. “I’ve had more than enough tonight.”
“How many have you had?” she asked. She was pushing on the top of the ice cream with a finger, and it slid a bit into the hollow of the cone. She looked delighted.
“Two. It took a few tries to get a variety of chocolate that wasn’t too sweet. This one has more cocoa and less sugar.”
“It took you three tries to figure it out?” She was touched as she thought of the drain on his rations.
Tom shrugged. “Actually, it took me six. Naomi Wildman ate the other three.”
B’Elanna had licked the ice cream into a point and was using a fingernail to create a spiral pattern in the frozen dessert. “Ummm--” she said.
Tom chuckled. He’d been awake for over twenty hours and he was starting to feel a little punch-drunk. He watched, mesmerized as she licked the ice cream from her finger.
“What’s the handle called?” she asked. She looked straight at him, her eyes bright.
Tom swallowed. “You mean the cone?” he asked.
“Yes, what does it taste like? As good as the ice cream?” B’Elanna lifted the point of the cone to her mouth.
Tom tried to stop her. “I wouldn’t do that, B’Elanna!” he cautioned. “The ice cream’s too soft, it’ll drip everywhere.”
The cone cracked under her teeth and melted ice cream dripped onto her chin and collar bone. She laughed and started to suck the ice cream out the bottom of the cone.
Tom felt desire hit him like a sucker punch to the gut. He wanted to reach out and wipe the drips from her chest. Hell, he wanted to lick them off. He shifted away from her on the couch and brought a pillow between them. To ward her off? Where had it come from, he wondered. He had never really considered B’Elanna that way before. She was brilliant certainly, strong minded definitely, but--he realized she was stunning; sexy and strong and she had the most amazing eyes. He shook his head to clear it and retreated further into the couch. This was crazy. He didn’t think of B’Elanna that way. She was Harry’s friend, his friend too, to be honest. Ensign Jatel was certainly more classically beautiful...and either Delany sister was more voluptuous. Tom was starting to panic.
B’Elanna finished the ice cream cone, oblivious to his epiphany. She wiped the drips from her collarbone with her thumb and licked it clean. She had forgotten about her chin. Tom’s eyes were drawn to the brown smudge just below her lips. ‘My God,’ he thought, ‘she has a beautiful mouth. I have to get out of here!’
B’Elanna faced him and grinned. “That was amazing, Tom! Apology accepted.”
Tom leapt to his feet and backed to the door. Where the hell was it? Why wasn’t it swishing open?
B’Elanna raised an eyebrow. “Is something wrong, Tom?” she asked. She advanced on him, concern creasing her brow.
“No, no of course not,” he lied. “I’ve—um—just been up too long. I’m really tired. I’m glad you liked it, I’ll send the instructions to your replicator in the morning if you like.” His back came up against the wall and he groped for the door with one hand, the other raised as a shield between himself and B’Elanna.
She raised a hand to the combadge on his chest. “Do you want me to call sickbay?”
“No!” he yelped. He inched along the wall and was rewarded with the door opening.
“Ensign Wildman to Lieutenant Paris.” Tom jumped as his combadge chirped.
“Paris here.” He shot B’Elanna a desperate grin.
“Tom, I’m in sickbay with Naomi. I thought maybe you could explain to me why she just threw up?”
B’Elanna’s hand flew to her mouth and her eyes grew round. “Tom!” she exclaimed. “Did you say she ate the other three?”
“Lieutenant Torres?” Samantha Wildman sounded confused. The part of Tom’s brain that was always on the lookout for trouble was glad she wasn’t a gossip considering the lateness of the hour and his obvious company. Another part of his brain wished she had something to gossip about.
“I’m on my way, Sam. Sorry.” Tom pushed
away from B’Elanna. The feel of her firmly muscled arms under his hands
made his palms tingle. “I’ll see you sometime tomorrow. On the bridge maybe—
‘I Love You’ copyright 1992 Treat Baker
The original words are:
I like soup, and I like ice cream sandwiches, too.Please don’t be offended that I changed them a little to suit my story.
All stories by Briar Rose
All characters, concepts, photos, images, & terminology belong to Paramount Pictures. No infringement is intended.