Practice Makes Perfect

By Irene Deitel

Tom Paris rolled his sweat-slicked body off his partner and he proceeded to settle himself next to her in the bed. They were both breathing heavily from their exertions and it took several minutes for their breathing and heart rates to return to a more normal range.

Paris turned onto his side, his head propped up on his hand, the better to see his lover.

She smiled up at him, a look of extreme satisfaction on her face.

"Well, what do you think?" Torres queried, her voice still husky with lingering traces of passion.

Paris returned the smile with one of his own. It was his "I'm God's gift to women" smile. The one that used to make Torres think he was an arrogant pig, but now made her knees turn to jelly. It was a smile he now reserved only for her.

"I think we were really quiet that time. Much quieter than before." He leaned over and kissed B'Elanna gently as his hands began exploring her body. As his fingers brushed lightly across her breasts, he felt her immediate response and she arched against him.

B'Elanna felt the heat of his arousal pressed against her thigh, and she shifted to accommodate his hard, lean length.

"All right," she murmured as he settled himself between her legs, "let's see if we can do this without any noise," she said as she lifted her hips to meet his entering thrust. Tom's lips covered hers to smother their moans of pleasure.

The constraints of trying to make love silently served to heighten their arousal and awareness of each other and they climaxed swiftly.

Completely spent, Tom braced his arms on either side of B'Elanna, keeping his weight off her so she wouldn't be crushed. He planted feather light kisses all over her face in between whispering, "I'm sure nobody heard us that time."

"Not unless they have nothing better to do than stand in the corridor at two in the morning with their ear pressed up against the door," she agreed, giggling softly as Tom's unshaven jaw tickled her tender skin. "Let Seven stick that in her report and analyze it," she concluded as Paris moved to lie beside her.

He pulled B'Elanna against him, his arm draped across her waist. "I guess deck 9, section 12, will have to find a new source of entertainment," he murmured into her ear.

"I guess so," she agreed as she snuggled closer into the circle of his arms, just before ordering the computer to turn off the lights.

"And not a moment too soon," Tom muttered, his voice heavy with fatigue. "I know that practice makes perfect, but I'm getting too old for this. Three times is more than my limit."

"Really?" replied B'Elanna teasingly. "One would think that your little nap earlier would have revived you. Maybe I need to find someone younger and quieter," she told him. "Like Freddie Bristow. Or Vorik," she added, for good measure.

"Over my dead body," he growled. "Besides, I'm not the one making all the noise. I'm as quiet as a mouse," he told her, failing to hide the smugness in his tone.

"Really?" B'Elanna repeated with deceptive lightness, wriggling her body enticingly against his and eliciting the desired effect.

Tom groaned as she turned to face him and pushed his body flat onto the bed.

"Put your money where your mouth is, flyboy," she ordered as her body moved to cover his. As she proceeded to have her way with him, keeping him pinned to the bed, Paris kept biting his lip to keep from crying out with pleasure. As he climaxed, he couldn't quite keep the moan contained, and B'Elanna, who had more success than he did, smiled triumphantly.

"It's okay, Tommy," she crooned softly, "I still love you anyway." She rested her head on his chest, feeling the rapid beating of his heart beneath her.

"You're a hard woman, B'Elanna," Paris observed dryly, a hint of humor in his voice. "You fight me every step."

"You wouldn't have me any other way," she laughed.

Paris was silent for a moment. When he responded, his tone was completely serious. "You're right, I wouldn't." He kissed her softly. "Good night, B'Elanna," he said, shifting them both to a more comfortable position in bed. His arm tightened possessively around her. "I love you," he whispered, just before sleep claimed him.

Torres blinked back the sudden tears that threatened. She could count on one hand the number of times he had uttered those three words to her, and the sweetness of that declaration always brought her to tears. She loved him so much it scared her sometimes, and that simple statement always served to quiet those fears that lay coiled deep inside her. She had no doubts about his feelings for her, for although he had a hard time saying what was in his heart, his actions demonstrated his love in many different ways.

Tonight was a perfect example. When Seven had announced yesterday that the entire section knew when they had been having intimate relations, she had been absolutely mortified, but Tom had been more amused than anything else. Although she knew he was exhausted from his double duty shift today - on the bridge and with the Doctor, he had agreed to a little practice session in the art of "silence is golden." However, once they'd started, they'd both gotten a little carried away.

As B'Elanna listened to Tom's deep, even breathing, she once again found herself reflecting on his difficulty in actually saying how he felt. No doubt his father had a lot to do with his problem in that area. She wondered if she would ever meet the famous Admiral Paris, and what she would do if she did find herself in the same room with him, the poster boy for how NOT to raise your child.

Despite the Admiral's influence on his formative years, B'Elanna knew she was making headway with Tom, and she had no doubt that given enough time, she could help him move beyond his inhibitions and learn to not be afraid of expressing himself and his feelings.

With visions of her success and their future together whirling around in her head, B'Elanna allowed the warmth of the body next to her and the steady rhythm of his breathing to lull her to sleep. Her last waking thought was of how incredibly sore and uncomfortable she was going to be in the morning, and whoever said "no pain, no gain" had about as much brains as a Klingon ghanuk beetle.

* * * * * *

It was the sound of fabric rustling and the pressure in her bladder that roused Torres to full consciousness. She cracked her eyes open slowly, in anticipation of being blinded by light, but she was pleasantly surprised to see that the room was still fairly dark. The only illumination came from light spilling out of the bathroom.

Torres watched as Tom carefully - too carefully - pulled on his under shorts, then his pants. She didn't miss the slight grimace that skittered across his face as he got them on.

"Having trouble?" she queried lightly. She could well imagine what his problem was.

Paris glanced up, startled. He pushed shower damp hair off his forehead as he moved towards the bed. Torres could see drops of water glistening on the hairs of his bare chest. "Uh-oh," she mused silently. "Real water. Not a good sign."

Paris sat down next to her and she turned to face him, not entirely successful in stifling a groan as sore, overused muscles protested the exertion.

A wide, impish grin split Paris's face as he tenderly brushed back her hair. He quickly hid it as her eyes fired daggers at him. Nothing could hide the twinkle, though, deep in his bright blue eyes.

"Good morning, babe," he remarked cheerfully, bending down to kiss her thoroughly.

"That's debatable," she replied after they came up for air. "I'm so sore I can't move."

"I know the feeling," Paris commiserated. "How about a nice hot bath to soak in? I speak from personal experience when I say it will help."

"Sounds great, but I don't have time to run one now." Torres sighed.

"Already done," Paris declared with a flourish. "It's ready and waiting, complete with bubbles."

Torres favored him with a brilliant smile. "You're too good to me," she told him, kissing him lightly as she sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

"You deserve the best," he deadpanned. "That's why you have me."

"I guess I'm just a very lucky girl," she retorted as her arms came around his neck and they kissed deeply, before she headed for her bath.

"No, I'm the lucky one," Paris told her sincerely, as he watched her stroll, naked and sexy and incredibly beautiful, to the bathroom. He loved her so much it took his breath away. How had he gotten so lucky? What could he possibly have done to deserve her?

She threw him a saucy grin, staring pointedly at the prominent bulge in his uniform. "And don't you forget it," she laughed as she disappeared through the doorway.

Torres was still soaking away her aches when Paris stuck his head in the door. She had heard his commbadge chirp, but she hadn't been able to make out the conversation.

"I'm meeting Harry in the mess hall for breakfast. He wants to go over some specs for possibly upgrading the Delta Flyer. Do you want to join us?"

Torres nodded. "I'll be along in a few minutes. How much time do we have until shift?"

"About 45 minutes," Paris told her.

"I'll be there soon. Save me some pancakes."

"Good enough." Paris threw her a kiss. "There's coffee on the table for you."

"Thanks!" Torres climbed out of the tub after Paris left, wrapping herself in a large, fluffy towel. The bath had done wonders for her - all the stiffness was gone. And if she were still a little sore when sitting, well, no one would know. She spent the whole day on her feet, anyway.

As she entered the living room, she saw that not only had Tom replicated her some coffee, but also had made the bed, picked up her dirty clothes and set out a clean uniform for her. He could be so sweet sometimes it made her heart skip a beat. But then there were the times when she wanted to punch his lights out. All in all, she decided, he was right. She did have the best.

Torres dressed quickly and left her quarters, making her way to the mess hall. She encountered several crewmembers along the way who all nodded and politely said "Good morning, Lieutenant." But they also gave her some very strange looks.

Consequently, she was more than a little annoyed by the time she reached the mess hall, and seeing Harry wave to her with a know-it-all type of smirk on his face put her over the edge. To make matters worse, Tom was blushing as red as his uniform, looking like he wanted to be anywhere but where he was.

The grateful glance he sent her way as she approached the table only served to heighten her ire.

"All right, what the hell is going on?" she demanded, scowling, as she sat down next to Tom. She pushed away the plate of pancakes waiting for her, having a strong suspicion that she was about to lose her appetite.

Harry turned on his innocent-I'm-only-a-lowly-ensign look and queried, "what are you talking about?"

"I've been getting strange looks all the way here, and you look like you're about to choke on some juicy bit of gossip, Starfleet. So out with it," she ordered.

Tom mumbled something under his breath that she didn't quite catch.

"What did you say?" B'Elanna queried sharply.

Tom looked at her squarely. "I said, me too. Strange looks, I mean. And stupid little smirks. And now Harry wants to know if I had a quiet night. And he's not the only one. Three other people asked me the same thing," he told her sadly. Obviously, nothing on this ship was sacred. He and B'Elanna might as well just post a schedule.

B'Elanna looked like she was about to explode, when suddenly she burst out laughing. Tom looked at her quizzically, afraid for a moment that she'd lost her grip on reality. This was certainly not the reaction he would have expected.

B'Elanna merely patted his leg gently and shrugged her shoulders, bowing to the inevitable. While she may have expected this sort of behavior from the other crewmembers, Harry was a different story. He was their friend. He wasn't supposed to take part in all the lurid speculation. She stared Harry down until he lowered his eyes.

"It's okay, Tom. They're all just a bunch of puerile adolescents. Jealous." Torres stood up and turned to face the room, which held a smattering of crewmen.

"You people need to get a life," she announced to the assembled gathering. "Then maybe you wouldn't have to worry so much about ours."

"Come on, Tom, let's get out of here," she suggested, taking his hand as he stood up to join her. She wasn't going to worry about what anyone said or thought anymore. If these pissy little junior officers had nothing better to do with their time than worry about when, where and how they made love, then it was their problem, she informed Paris as the two of them made their way to the exit. He nodded his agreement, while at the same time wondering how long this change of heart would last. He knew B'Elanna too well, and good intentions aside, sooner or later she was going to get angry. As it turned out, her change of heart didn't last very long. They met Commander Chakotay as he came in.

"Morning B'Elanna, Tom," he greeted them warmly. "You had a quiet night, I trust?"

The End