Look a Gift Box in the Main Deflector Dish”
Author: Briar Rose
Website: All my stories can be found here,
Notes: takes place just after Drive, but answers an old question--what's in the box? Huge smooches to Brigid for the quickie and the kick-butt title, and thanks to all those who strived to clear up the tricky Bussard collector question…
Dedicated to all my little chicks, who've
finally come home to roost.
"What's what?" Tom's voice was muffled. He was in their closet--their closet--trying to make sense of all the clothing spilling out of various cases and duffels. The fact that most of it was his wasn't lost on him, or B'Elanna either for that matter. She'd assigned him the task of making it fit into the small cupboard while she unpacked their stuff.
He was in the process of going through her underwear--a slow, time consuming process--when she asked the question. Again. He'd been answering that same question about every five minutes for the last hour…
Tom decided to just cram all the underthings together in one larger drawer--he kind of liked the idea of her panties mingling with his boxers--and poked his head out of the closet. She was sitting on the bed with a small cargo container open on the floor at her feet, and various items strewn around her.
"What's what?" he repeated.
B'Elanna held up a large squarish object wrapped in shiny gold foil, and raised an eyebrow. Tom frowned, trying to remember. Neelix and Harry had done most of their packing for them while they were honeymooning on the 'flyer, and so far he and B'Elanna had unearthed stuff he'd forgotten he owned--clothing, especially.
He sat next to her on the bed, knees touching, and took the heavy box from her. "Got me," he said. He stared at the strip of tape across the top of the box and traced the alien writing with an index finger.
"Maybe Harry snuck it in the container. A wedding gift?" she offered. She had started to pry the wrapping loose when Tom had a sudden flash of memory and pulled it out of her reach.
"You know, um…yeah. I'd forgotten all about this. I'll just find a place for it later, okay?" He stood and tried to escape to the closet, but B'Elanna hooked his arm and tugged him back down onto the bed.
"Well, what is it?" she asked, raising a hand to the glossy box.
"Nothing. It's just something I picked up on shoreleave. Just forget about it." He winced slightly at his choice of words, and turned away.
"You're being very mysterious all of a sudden," B'Elanna said, her interest obviously piqued. She grinned at him and made another grab for the box. Tom tried to roll away from her, but she jumped on him, and he ended up lying flat out on the bed with her on top of him. The air left his lungs with a whoosh as she landed on his chest.
"B'Elanna!" he admonished. "What's gotten into you?"
She grinned from her perch under his nose and reached out a hand toward the box. Tom held it over his head, out of reach, and B'Elanna scrambled up the bed, diving at it. "Come on, Tom, show me," she insisted.
Tom wrapped an arm around his wife's waist and tugged her back down his body. "Careful, you'll break it," he said.
She pushed against his chest and sat up on his lap, staring down at him. A little frown had formed on her forehead, and Tom sighed. "Why won't you show it to me?" she asked, suddenly serious.
"A man needs a few secrets," he quipped, but his joke fell flat.
"It's the woman who's supposed to have the secrets, Tom." She stared at him a moment, then turned away. "Okay, sorry I asked."
Tom drew a breath and stared at the ceiling. It wasn't that he didn't want to show it to her; it was hers after all. He'd bought it for her--his first gift to her--right after they'd started dating. Memories of the planet, and the events that had later transpired, flooded his mind, and his gut twisted with remembered anxiety.
The Mari had jailed B'Elanna, locked her away and tried to wipe her brain--to reprogram her--after a stray thought, a quick flash of her famous temper, had been picked up by a man in the marketplace. He'd ended up murdering a young woman who'd caught Neelix' eye, and while the Mari had found him virtually blameless, they'd hounded B'Elanna for being the 'root' of the violence the man had committed.
Tom had thought it was bullshit at the time--he still did--and the box brought back his feelings of anger and frustration at not being able to do anything to help B'Elanna. He'd felt real fear as well, and though Chakotay had given him the go-ahead to devise a plan to swoop in and rescue her, Tom had known at the time that Janeway would never go for it.
He stared at the rigid line of her back and fought an urge to grab his wife and hold her tight. He sighed instead. Damn. It was years behind them, and he still believed that she would like the gift, but he didn't want to risk dredging up the bad memories associated with the planet and what she had endured there.
He pulled himself to a sitting position and dropped the box on the bed. What the hell. "It's for you," he said without preamble. "You might as well open it."
B'Elanna turned and eyed Tom suspiciously. Her grin slid off her face when she noticed his expression. "Did I ruin the surprise?" she asked.
Tom shook his head and reached for her, pulling her into his arms. "No," he said quietly. "I bought it a long time ago. On the Mari homeworld." He waited for a reaction to his words, and felt B'Elanna stiffen.
"I put it away after…well, I wasn't sure you'd want it. Honestly, I forgot all about it until now. If you don't want it, we can just get rid of it." He reached for the box, and B'Elanna raised her hand, halting him.
"No. I want to see it. I want to know what you got for me." She scooted further back on the bed, and lifted the box onto her lap.
Tom watched as she carefully pulled up the tape and peeled the shiny wrapping away. He felt a curl of anxiety in his belly--the same as the one he'd felt waiting for Janeway and Tuvok to secure B'Elanna's release three years ago.
She stretched to place the paper on the bedside table, then reached for the box's octagonal lid. She lifted it away and handed it to Tom with a little smile. Her hands were shaking, but he knew she'd never admit it. The box had been padded to fit the object inside, and as she pushed the soft material aside, he heard her make a little sound of surprise.
She looked a question at him as she pulled the it from the box. It was medium sized, but heavy, with a clear spherical ball set atop a dense metal base. The base was decorated with intricate carvings, but it was the ball that had caught her eye.
Inside the clear round vessel was another vessel--a small replica of Voyager. It was exquisitely detailed, right down to its glowing viewports and the 'targ scoop' that B'Elanna had added to Voyager's main deflector years ago. There was an air bubble on the top of the sphere, caught under the transparent dome, and B'Elanna realized that the ball was filled with some sort of liquid. She gave it a little shake and the air bubble danced.
"It's lovely, Tom. It's beautiful."
Was that disappointment he heard in her voice? He realized that it wasn't the most romantic gift he'd ever given her, but at the time their relationship was so new, so tenuous, that he hadn't wanted to scare her away by giving her something with any deeper connotations. He wished now that he'd followed his first instincts and bought her one of the fine pieces of jewelry he'd seen in the marketplace, instead.
He reached for the gift and turned it in her hand. "I had to give them the specs for Voyager, so they'd get it right," he explained. "They'd already scanned us, so Tuvok and the captain okayed the data transfer." He lifted the model and pointed to a section near the middle of the ship. "Your old quarters are right here." A tiny patch of red light glowed out of a tiny window, in the right place for deck nine.
B'Elanna smiled and turned it again. "And yours were here," she said, pointing to another tiny red light on deck four. "Why red?" she asked with a crooked smile.
"Makes it easier to see?" he suggested.
B'Elanna laughed and stared at the model again. "Our new quarters would be right about here," she said, pointing to a section on Voyager's side. "I love it, Tom. Thank you."
Tom leaned in for a lingering kiss, cupping her cheek with his hand. He pulled back and dropped a kiss on her nose before glancing back to the gift. "It's interactive," he said.
B'Elanna shot him a quizzical grin. "Really?"
Tom had the grace to roll his eyes. "Not that kind of interactive. Here, press on these raised symbols and see what happens." He grinned at her, barely able to contain his excitement.
B'Elanna obligingly rested her thumb on a small circular relief on the front of the base and pressed gently. A multi-coloured 'cloud' swirled up from below the mini Voyager, and churned around the tiny ship. It reminded her of a nebula, and B'Elanna smiled at the languid beauty of the whirling colours.
Tom shimmied closer to her, hooking his bent leg behind her bottom, and she leaned into him. "That's not all it does," he said eagerly. "Try this one." He pointed to an oblong shaped button with a wave pattern on it.
B'Elanna waited for the colourful 'nebula' to subside, then tried the next button. The liquid inside the ball darkened, and Voyager's running lights glowed brightly. Tiny pinpricks of light winked to life outside the ship. B'Elanna laughed in delight at the sight of a miniature Voyager gliding through space with miniature stars lighting its way.
"Does it do anything else?" she asked. Tom's excitement was infectious.
"Maybe," he said. "Try it and see."
A third button dispelled the blackness and produced a soft soothing music. "Where did you find this?"
Tom sucked in a breath--a move she recognized as being associated with a long explanation. Or a guilty conscious.
"In a toy shop, actually…"
"Figures," B'Elanna snorted. She examined the base and spied one more raised carving--an artistic rendition of a flower, she guessed--and pushed it eagerly. Tiny luminescent confetti billowed from the base, swirling around the ship in a shimmering cloud.
B'Elanna laughed again and turned a smile on her husband. "It's wonderful, Tom," she said. "Thank you."
"I'm glad you like it. I was afraid to give it to you, after… well. I didn't want it to bring back any bad memories."
B'Elanna stilled his words, putting her hand to his lips. "It didn't. Not really. That was a long time ago, okay?"
"If you're sure," he said. He leaned in for another soft kiss, then B'Elanna sobered and pulled away.
"I'm sure. Besides, it was kind of nice knowing that you were ready to steal the Cochran and break me out of jail."
"Chakotay told you?"
"Chakotay told me," she confirmed. "Not much of a rescue plan."
"It would have worked. I'd have blown them all to hell to get you back, B'Elanna."
"I'm glad you didn't have to." She cocked her head and grinned at her new husband. "A child's toy, huh?"
Tom's lips lifted in a slight smile and shrugged. "I thought it was neat. And when the shop owner said he could put anything inside…"
B'Elanna pressed the flower again, watching the confetti dance around the little ship. She placed the model on the bedside table, then stretched out on the big bed and trailed her fingers up Tom's arm. "So," she said, "are you almost done in there?" She pointed to the closet area.
"Almost." Tom leaned down and dropped a kiss on her mouth. "I got as far as your lacey stuff and got distracted."
"Oh really? Any lacy stuff in particular?" Her eyes glowed with a promise and she patted the empty bed beside her.
Tom stretched out alongside her and dropped an arm across her waist. "Well, now that you mention it, there was a little bronze set that I liked. It had lace trim if I recall."
"Oh, yeah. I know the one. I seem to remember replicating that with you in mind." She cocked her head and ran a hand up Tom's chest to his throat. "Why don't you get out of that bulky uniform, and I'll try on the bronze set, and we'll see if you like your present as much as I like mine."
Tom rolled off her, and B'Elanna sat up quickly then stole another kiss before she crossed to the closet. He watched her move across the room and drew a deep breath. "I think I'm going to like mine more," Tom said.
B'Elanna just laughed as their bathroom
door slid shut behind her.
All stories by Briar Rose
All characters, concepts, photos, images, & terminology belong to Paramount Pictures. No infringement is intended.