No Easy Answers by Ronda

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Tom was running the diagnostics on the conn station. So far things were going very smoothly. If things kept going this well, he'd be through with plenty of time to spare. As he worked, he was acutely aware of B'Elanna at the engineering station behind him to the right. Her perfume wafted through the air tempting him to turn around. He resisted only because the Captain was seated in her customary spot behind him.

From her vantage point in the center of the bridge, Captain Janeway watched her officers working on various stations. Since in a matter of days they would be encountering a warp capable civilization they had absolutely no data on, she wanted to make sure the ship was up to par. Hopefully, they would be friendly, but more times than not that had not been the case. If they could barter for the materials B'Elanna wanted for engineering and more food items, Voyager should be set for some time. She got up walked to the Ops station intending to walk the circuit and check the progress of each station's diagnostics. She put on hand on Harry's shoulder and the other on his console. “Looks as if you are about finished here, Harry,” she said with a smile.

“Just this one last sequence, and I'll be done,” replied Harry.

“Good work, carry on,” said Janeway. She walked down to the conn. B'Elanna, Chakotay, and Harry watched unobtrusively when she laid her hand on Tom's shoulder as she had often done in the past. Tom did not react negatively to her touch, which reassured his three friends about him. “Tom, looks as if you've just finished.”

“Yes, ma'am,” replied Tom easily. “The diagnostics of the conn are finished. All navigation systems are fully functioning at optimal levels.”

“Great job, Tom. No one can handle the conn diagnostics like you can,” said Captain Janeway. She moved on to the engineering station. “B'Elanna, how are you coming with your diagnostic?” she asked.

“I should be done in about five minutes,” she replied. “No problems noted.”

“Excellent, keep up the good work B'Elanna,” said the Captain. She walked over to the tactical station. “Tuvok, have you finished your diagnostics?” she asked.

“I have completed them. All security systems are functioning within normal parameters,” answered Tuvok.

“Carry on, Tuvok,” she said as she walked back down to her seat. After she sat down, she tuned to Chakotay. “Everything seems to be going smoothly. I just hope our first contact with the inhabitants of that Class M planet go as smoothly.”

“I hope so too,” he replied. “It would be nice to find friendly aliens without some sort of agenda. Any opportunity to get supplies is always good.”

“B'Elanna gave me a list of minerals she can use and plans for storing them,” said Captain Janeway. “If we can get all of them, it will help her make repairs a lot easier.”

B'Elanna smiled as she made the final adjustment to the engineering bridge station. She was done. The Alpha shift would be ending in a few minutes. Then she would be able to make up for lost time with Tom. The replicator was already programmed for their meal. Her outfit for the evening was lying on the bed. As she thought about the bed, her blood simmered. Pacing, she reminded herself......pacing........dinner and talking, then...... She was startled out her thoughts by the ensign relieving her. She quickly briefed him and stood up. Tom had just finished briefing his relief as well.

They walked to the turbolift together. As the doors slid open, they entered alone. Harry and Tuvok were still briefing the crewmen who were relieving them. The Captain and Chakotay were still on duty for the next half hour. She smiled at Tom, “Remember, the blue shirt and the black jeans. I'll be waiting.” She resisted the temptation to kiss him. The doors slid open and he hurried to his quarters as B'Elanna remained in the lift to go to the deck where her quarters were located.

Tom quickly stripped off his uniform and pulled the requested garments out of the closet. He dressed quickly and put on the aftershave that he knew was B'Elanna's favorite. He picked up his sketch book and headed for B'Elanna's quarters.

In her quarters, B'Elanna quickly changed into the little black dress she knew Tom loved to see her in. She touched up her makeup and hair. Then, she spritzed herself with the perfume Tom had given her as a gift. The table was set, all she had to do was get the food from the replicator. The chime sounded and then, the door slid open and Tom walked in.

She stared at him for a few moments, drinking in every aspect of him. Then, she moved catlike towards him and pulled his head down to hers for a kiss. Their lips lingered in a loving kiss. When they parted, she took him by the hand and led him to the table. He sat down, never taking his eyes off of her. She was so beautiful. He sat his sketch pad on the floor beside his chair and waited expectantly. She brought two salad bowls to the table along with some crusty garlic bread. Sitting those down, she went back to the replicator and returned with the bottle of Dolcetto. She poured wine in each of their glasses.

Tom raised his glass in a toast. “To us,” he said softly. B'Elanna clinked her glass against his. Then they both took sips of the wine.

“Eat your salad, Tom,” said B'Elanna softly. She picked up her fork and began eating. Tom followed suit. “This is really good, B'Elanna,” he said softly. “Thanks for everything.”

“I'm glad you like it, Tom,” she replied softly.

They continued eating the salad in a companionable silence. When they had finished, B'Elanna cleared away the salad bowls and came back with the lasagna. Tom smelled the steamy fragrance, and smiled. “You're too good to me, B'Elanna,” he said with a sigh.

She set his plate down and gently rubbed his shoulder for a few moments. Then she sat down and began eating. Tom ate slowly, savoring the spicy flavor. He couldn't keep his eyes off of B'Elanna. The flickering candlelight brought out the soft highlights in her hair.

B'Elanna noticed his unmoving gaze. “What is it, Tom,” she asked gently.

Tom wiped his month and smiled tenderly. “You're so beautiful. I don't know what I would do without you.” He reached across the table and tenderly cupped her face in his hand. “I love you so much,” he said gently.

B'Elanna reached up and covered his hand with hers, reveling in his touch. “I love you too, Tom.”

Tears shone in his eyes as he continued to gaze at her. After several moments, she moved her hand and he pulled his back. With shy smiles, they began eating the lasagna again. They kept exchanging secret little smiles as they ate. Passion was simmering in the air. Each wondered how they had managed to survive without the other.

When the last bite of lasagna was eaten, B'Elanna took the plates. “I'll be right back with dessert, Tom. I did a little research. I know you like Italian food. I hope you like this.”

“I'm sure I will,” said Tom with a smile. He watched her as she walked to the replicator, enjoying the way her dress clung to her every curve.

She returned with two servings of Amaretto Cheesecake. She sat the plates on the table, eagerly watching for Tom's reaction. His eyes lit up. “B'Elanna, you must have spent a fortune in replicator rations on this meal.”

“Well, I ate in the mess hall the whole time you were........you were.....”

“It's okay, B'Elanna, you can say it. The whole time I was confined,” said Tom gently.

“Yeah,” she said softly. “Well, I wanted to make our reunion extra special.”

“You certainly have,” he told her as he gently squeezed her hand. She sat down and they began to eat the cheesecake. Tom poured more wine into each of their glasses.

“Mmm,” she said softly. “This is really good.” She looked at Tom waiting to see how he liked it.

“It sure is, B'Elanna,” he said. “Thank you for being so good to me.”

“Anytime,” she said lightly.

After they finished the cheesecake, Tom picked up his sketch pad. “B'Elanna, let's take the rest of the wine and sit on the couch for a bit. I have some things I want to share with you.”

The sincere expression on his face told B'Elanna all she needed to know. Tom was going to let down his barriers more than he ever had before with her. She picked up the wine and the glasses and followed him to the couch.