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Cinco de Mayo
Standing in front of the mirror in the `fresher unit of her quarters B'Elanna added the finishing touches to her minimal makeup. She smiled as she saw the carefully uncovered, half-healed bite high on her cheekbone and wondered how what started out as the worst six months of her life had ended as the best.
She could still feel an echo of the rage and shame that had consumed her the day she had walked unexpectedly into her quarters and discovered a naked Tom Paris, her supposed boyfriend, in her bed and being ridden at a gallop by an equally naked and very enthusiastic Ensign Patria.
After brutally tossing both of them out naked into the corridor and putting their clothes into the recycler B'Elanna had gone to Holodeck One and run her Maquis battle programme with the safeties off. Cardassians with Tom Paris's face died in their dozens as she took out her fury on targets that wouldn't get her sent to the brig, and that was where the ex-Borg Seven of Nine found her, in uniform pants, boots and tanktop, bruised, bloodied and still screaming with rage an hour later.
Seven had stood and watched until it was evident that even B'Elanna's rage powered energy was dropping dangerously low and the Paris substitutes getting too close to permanently damaging the engineer. Then she had deactivated the programme and called for a site-to-site transport to the Torres quarters for herself and B'Elanna.
Too drained and sore to argue Seven's typical highhandedness, B'Elanna had sat quietly with her head lowered while her colleague had used her dermal regenerator to repair the most obvious cuts and bruises.
Her head rose though when Seven suddenly addressed her in her normal cool tones,
"Can I assume, Lieutenant Torres, that Ensign Paris has offended you in some way?"
A few months earlier B'Elanna would have got angry at the question but now she paused. Since her time on the Barge of the Dead and Seven's problem with her cortical node, the two had spent slightly more time together; she had learnt to read the ex-drone a little better and realized now that this was Seven's way of showing concern. Now she answered as calmly as her cooling rage and damaged honour would let her.
"I can't talk about it."
Seven simply nodded. "I regret to inform you Lieutenant that others will. Ensigns Paris and Patria have already caused some speculation amongst the senior officers. They were seen standing naked outside these quarters before transporting somewhere less public. On hearing about this Captain Janeway requested me to locate you after you failed to answer a hail when your communicator indicated you were still here."
B'Elanna groaned in despair, any hope of hiding her dishonour now gone. "So everyone knows how that P'taq made a fool of me in my own bed? Is the whole crew laughing at me now? I suppose you'll add it as an interesting footnote to your 'research'," she added bitterly.
B'Elanna, even now didn't know why Seven of Nine hadn't walked out on her right then, and ignore her forever after but she didn't. To the contrary, she found herself spending more and more time with Seven, first by accident and then by design as she found being with the friends she had shared with Tom made her feel uncomfortable, especially when he was in the same room and being with Seven made her feel exactly the opposite. Now that they'd learned to listen to each other it was obvious they had so much more in common than anyone would have guessed.
The exact point when their relationship changed was when B'Elanna asked Seven to dinner to formally apologise for her behaviour towards her over the previous two years. Miral had been appearing in her dreams again and B'Elanna knew exactly what her conscience was telling her. When Seven had realized how important this was to B'Elanna she had gracefully accepted the apology much to B'Elanna's relief but the engineer's hearts were truly lifted by Seven's response when she had asked the ex-Borg to stop calling her Lieutenant when they were off duty together because friends used given names. Seven's expression nearly made a Klingon cry with its unguarded joy, as did her request for B'Elanna to call her Annika. As Annika logically pointed out, her research into social interactions indicated friends also didn't address each other as numbers.
There was a certain inevitability about the development of their friendship into a strangely Klingon flavoured courtship after this. Both spent their duty shifts counting the hours until they saw each other again. Each found excuses to visit the other's departments and while their legendary disputes continued, now more often than not they finished with smiles, which discipline required they keep carefully hidden from their staff, as the arguments became a means to challenge each other as worthy.
Now six months later they were married and mated. B'Elanna unconsciously and slowly licked her lips as she remembered the passion of the night before and the morning following. Her body responded as she dwelt on the vision of seeing her be'nal naked for the first time and on what she did to convince Annika that all of her body including her implants was beautiful and desirable in her wife's eyes. She touched the bite on her cheek as she felt again Annika's teeth breaking the skin and her tongue lapping at the drops of blood and she tasted her wife's blood again in return. Her hearts filled as she whispered the words of the Great Oath again to herself, words she never thought she'd share with another.
Her eyes became dark with remembered lust as she felt again her Annika's response and reciprocal appreciation and all of a sudden the celebration party she was getting ready for seemed far less important than spending the evening showing her wife how just much she loved and desired her.
Then she sighed. Making love would just have to wait. The party was triply important. Tonight the crew would be officially told they had a way home. Combined work by Annika and her Astrometrics team and Starfleet using the Midas Array had found a stable wormhole leading back to the edges of the Alpha quadrant less than a 1000 light years from their current position. A half-year, maybe less at high warp would get them there. It had made the work they had privately done developing a stable slipstream drive and installing it in the Flyer irrelevant. It was also time for her and Annika to announce their love and marriage. They hadn't precisely hidden their feelings for each other but neither had they advertised them. Even the lower deck rumour mill had missed it, and now it was time to let the rest of the ship know. Honour demanded it, as did B'Elanna's own pride in her wife. Finally it was Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, the anniversary of the only battle her father's people were famous for winning. Fought as it was against overwhelming odds, even the Klingon side of family had been grudgingly impressed by tales of her ancestor at the battle of La Pueblo. Torres had dressed to honour that ancestor tonight and hoped her wife would be impressed.
Her musings were interrupted by the telltale pop of air displacement caused by someone transporting into her quarters. She tensed momentarily and then relaxed and smiled warmly as she caught a scent through the open door, a scent she had grown to love over the past six months. Then she heard the contralto voice of her wife.
"B'Elanna, can you please come out here? I wish your opinion on my attire. Samantha Wildman has implied that it will render anyone who sees it breathless and will not tell me why. I do not wish to be the cause of mass suffocation."
B'Elanna heard the amusement behind the cool tones and suddenly was a bit breathless herself. She just knew Annika knew exactly why her dress would affect people and how.
Then she came out and saw Annika in her glory and her eyes blazed. The dress was floor length, silver silk. It so closely matched the colour of her implants that, framed by the gown they looked like exotic body jewellery, shown off as they were by the hip high split in the dress and the halter that had two strips of silk that widened out over her full breasts and then narrowed down to form a neckline that finished just below where her navel would have been. Blending in as it did with her abdominal implant it was hard to tell where the dress ended and Annika began. Seven turned around and B'Elanna saw that the gown was backless to just above the firm curve of Annika's obviously bare derriere, which it hugged tightly until flaring out and down to the ground to just cover low-heeled strappy sandals that matched the gown.
B'Elanna was speechless until her wife asked a little plaintively, "do you approve B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna smiled wolfishly, "Oh I approve BangWi, I approve a whole lot, but I thank Kahless I am armed, because I am going to have to fight off all the males and most of the females tonight. You look stunning and sexy and I'm so glad you're mine."
Annika looked a bit alarmed as well as pleased. "Armed, B'Elanna?" Then she took a real look at her wife and it was her turn to be lost for words.
B'Elanna had gone for the caballero look in honour of her forebear, but with a Klingon twist. Instead of brown or coloured cloth her calzonera pants were in black leather, worn almost skin tight to the knee and flaring out with silver embroidered outside seams to solid heeled black boots. These pants really were "open sided" being laced on the outside from knee to hip and showing a great deal of firm caramel coloured thigh. Her formal shirt was black, very tight and opened in a vee down to a few inches above the waistband of her pants. Her bolero jacket was also heavily embroidered in silver on the sleeves and front.
That took care of the blonde's speech for a second but it was the beautifully chased rapier with an ornate hilt hanging from a belt at B'Elanna's left hip and the d'ktahg on the other that made her optical implant rise. "I may have to borrow some of your weaponry Be'nal, you are perfection. But why are you wearing a sword and dagger?"
B'Elanna ceased her appreciative ogling of her mate and answered proudly. "This is the weapon worn by my ancestor Rodrigo Torres at the battle of La Pueblo; it is made from the finest Toledo steel, can cut silk and is the only thing I have from Father that my mother envied. Now do I get a kiss? I've been waiting forever for you."
After carefully moving the blade behind her B'Elanna gently took her mate in her arms.
"So my love, why did you make me wait?"
"The captain received two encrypted transmissions from Starfleet. I felt it unwise to leave their processing to Ensign Tal."
B'Elanna looked at her wife impatiently, "so BangWi, what did they say?"
Annika looked puzzled, "why B'Elanna, I have no idea. I merely decrypted them and forward them to the view screen in her ready room."
B'Elanna simply held her wife for a second and then looked thoughtful. "Hmmm this close to the Alpha Quadrant, I wonder if they had anything to do with the Maquis." Suddenly her face took on an expression of alarm matched by her tone, "or you Be'nal. Starfleet Intelligence would do just about anything to get hold of all the knowledge in your beautiful head."
Now Annika tensed in her wife's arms. "Do you truly believe so B'Elanna? Are we at risk? Is Icheb?"
B'Elanna tightened her hold and then shook her head. "I don't think so love. I think for now we just enjoy the party and worry about it tomorrow. I'll ask Chakotay later and if he doesn't know anything then we might need to get a copy of those transmissions, otherwise it's probably something harmless. Now kiss me and don't worry about the makeup. We've got time to repair it later."
Katherine Janeway was completing her own preparations for the night's party, but with a far heavier heart. Starfleet and Admirals Paris and Nechayev in particular had left her with very few choices.
Somehow the new Cardassian regime had found out Voyager was close to returning home and had insisted her chief engineer be handed over to them the moment Voyager reached Federation space. Nechayev had agreed and added that Torres was to be confined until the transfer was made. She had also demanded that Seven of Nine and Icheb be put in the brig and handed over to Starfleet Intelligence as soon as possible. To prevent a mutiny Janeway was now forced to keep secrets from even her first officer.
After the transmission from Admiral Paris she didn't know who to kill first, him or his son. Tom writing to his father to intercede on his behalf with B'Elanna was bad enough but the Admiral suggesting she assist in forcing the Chief Engineer to marry his son in exchange for his protection was close to blackmail. Either way she couldn't inform B'Elanna Torres or Seven of Nine of anything connected to the transmissions. She needed both of them to get Voyager to the wormhole and she didn't need a Maquis mutiny. She consoled herself with the thought that B'Elanna had appeared to have forgiven the helmsman and may not be so averse to getting back together with him. Seven was a problem to be dealt with tomorrow. Tonight she would try to enjoy telling the crew that they were going home. But first she had to tell Tuvok. She hoped for the best but knew she had to prepare for the worst.
The party was in full swing by the time B'Elanna and Annika transported to the main doors of the mess hall. B'Elanna took a deep breath and looked at her wife; "well Be'nal" she asked quietly, "are you ready for this?"
Annika merely smiled and nodded.
B'Elanna offered her arm for Annika to hold. "OK my love; let's go asphyxiate a few people."
To Be Continued
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