you ever just watched her walk? Watched her move around a room?"
"Who?" The word conveyed disinterest.
"She's like a cat, a panther maybe.
Do they have cats on Qo'noS?"
"What?" Harry finally looked up from
his PADD and stared at his breakfast companion. "Where?"
"The Klingon homeworld. Do they have
big cats like Earth used to?"
"What, you mean like tigers? I dunno.
They have targs."
Tom looked affronted. "I wouldn't
say she walks like a targ, Harry. Now Chell maybe…"
Harry shook his head, obviously hoping it
would clear his confusion. "What are you talking about?"
Tom sighed, frustrated. "B'Elanna."
He drew the word out, enunciating carefully.
"Oh. What about her?" Harry
was engrossed in his PADD again. "Did you apologize like I suggested?"
Tom didn't answer, and Harry looked up to
see that his attention was caught by something. He followed Tom's
gaze to the serving counter where Neelix, B'Elanna and commander Chakotay
stood in conversation. B'Elanna had thrown her arms wide emphasizing
a point, and was grinning from ear to ear. Her hearty laugh echoed
around the room, and Harry smiled at the sight.
He looked back at Tom and caught the dreamy
half smile on his face.
"Hmm?" Tom was still staring at B'Elanna.
"Tell me this isn't what I think it is,"
B'Elanna started moving toward the far exit
with Chakotay at her side. Tom was tracking her.
"What?" Tom murmured. His patience
was rewarded when B'Elanna glanced toward their table and saluted them
with a little wave before exiting the mess.
Tom waved back and smiled hugely.
The grin stayed plastered on his face as he turned his attention back to
"I don't believe it," Harry said slowly.
He dropped his gaze to the table and shook his head.
"Believe what?" Tom asked.
"First Megan, then Kes, then Sue Nicoletti…"
"Meg and I are just friends. And Kes
was just a crush."
"What about Sue?"
"Sue was…the unattainable."
"And B'Elanna's not?!" Harry laughed
"She might be more attainable than you think,"
Tom answered cryptically.
Harry cocked his head. "So the apology
went well, I'm guessing."
"Better than well. Do you know she's
never had ice cream before?"
"Huh…what about cheesecake?"
"What does cheesecake have to do with anything?"
Tom asked, frowning. Harry was being particularly obtuse this morning.
"What does ice cream?" Harry countered.
"That was the apology. A chocolate
ice cream cone."
"I get it." Harry rolled his eyes.
"It's all clear to me now."
"It was her quarters, right?"
"And she was in civvies, not her uniform?"
"This slinky red outfit. So?"
"And by the time you got to deck nine the
ice cream was soft and melting?"
"Some dripped on her chest, yeah."
Tom had that dreamy look in his eyes again.
"And she licked the ice cream really slowly
and closed her eyes?" Harry continued.
Tom's own eyes narrowed and he shot a suspicious
look at his friend. "Were you hiding in the bathroom?"
"I was on duty last night. Isabelle
Porter," he said.
"My first crush. I was twelve.
She was fourteen."
Tom grinned and settled in. "Ah hah!
An older woman."
"She had big blue eyes… long blond hair
down to her waist. She was my best friend's older sister."
"Sounds like the ideal first crush."
"I spent the whole summer at their house.
I practically lived there. One day we decided to make ice cream the
old fashioned way, with a big wooden churn and ice. Man, we must
have spent hours turning that crank. After a while though, we got
tired and just went to play outside, and Belle and her boyfriend did the
"Belle?" Tom raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, her mom called her Belle."
Harry sounded defensive.
"I didn't say anything," Tom protested.
"Well, it never did really freeze but we
put it on the ice cream cones anyway. I sat there and watched her
eat. Man! I think that was the first time I noticed a girl's
mouth. You know, their lips, pink tongue…"
"Deep breaths, Harry. Take deep breaths."
"It was worth all that cranking."
He sighed with regret. "Ah well, she's long gone now."
"Her and everyone else back home," Tom agreed.
"We only have each other," Harry continued,
waving his arm around the room in a gesture meant to include all of Voyager.
"And it seems to me I've seen that look on your face before--"
"I told you, Kes was just a crush.
I realized that right away."
"--on Freddy Bristow," Harry continued.
"And it was directed at B'Elanna."
Harry stood and picked up his PADD and tray.
"Gotta go. I'm assigned to engineering this morning and you know
how the chief growls at people when they're late for a shift."
Tom sat a few more moments before standing
and reaching for the remains of his breakfast. "Hey, Harry!" he called,
"was it chocolate?"
Harry stopped at the door and turned back
to face his friend. He smiled, remembering, and shook his head.
"No. Strawberry. Like her strawberry blond hair."
Tom winced good naturedly and clapped a
hand to his heart. He had a mental picture of reddish-brown tresses
and eyes the colour of melted chocolate.
He sighed wistfully and headed for the bridge.