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B'Elanna Torres was drinking coffee in her quarters while working on a PADD, trying to figure out how to reroute the EPS conduits to maximize engine efficiency and get a larger power output when her doorbell chimed. Annoyed, she looked up, thinking to herself, " Whomever that is, picked a damn fine time to bother me!" However, she answered for the person to enter. Glaring at whomever it was that dared to disturbed her off duty and planning to give them a piece of her mind plus several of the offender's bodyparts, she was surprised to see Harry Kim enter. Immediately her anger dissipated and a huge grin spread across her face.

"Hey, maquis, will you calm down, ensign Tsaro just ran off when he heard your voice."

"That's good, because I wouldn't want him in my quarters."

"Oh, really, a good looking guy like that and you are not even remotely interested?"

"Nope, not when the only good looking guy I want is already in my quarters", Torres said as she slid into Harry's arms and kissed him passionately. When they broke for air, Harry said,

"Good answer, maquis, or else I would have to discipline you."

"And how would you try to do that, hey," she answered giggling.

"Well, first I would do this" and he started kissing her ridged brow, moving downward to her eyes, nose and mouth, softly murmuring, " and this … and this…."

A low moan escaped from her lips at his passionate caresses which was silenced by his lips touching hers. The next morning B'Elanna woke up, feeling strong arms holding her around her slim waist. A smile lit up her face.

This was the life, Engineering was running smoothly and she rested in the arms of the man she loved. She couldn't believe her luck; all her live she had tried everything to deny her mixed heritage, fearing its dark side. Many men, both human and alien had been put off by her looks and she had learned to build a wall around her to protect herself from hurt. But that wall had come crashing down the moment she had laid eyes upon Harry in the Ocampa hospital. It was that look in his eyes, not one of hate or loathing, not even of lust. It had been a look of wonder that had touched her deep in her soul. When she had left Voyager and went back to the Maquis raider, she felt overwhelmed by sadness that she might not see him again, that one of them might be killed or that he would have to arrest her as per his duty as a starfleet officer.

They had gotten close during their stay and she had marveled at his cool composure that had reassured her that everything would be alright. But fate had prevailed and now they were more than 65000 lightyears from the Alpha Quadrant. It had taken 3 years before they had confessed their love for each other. 3 Years in which they had become fast friends, 3 years in which she had become jealous of Megan Delaney, Susan Nicolleti and the occasional alien girl that attracted him, she had even been jealous of Libby, his girlfriend on Earth. And the funny thing was, she hadn't known it was jealousy, but believed that it was only concern for his wellbeing because none of these girls were good enough for him, couldn't bring out the fire she knew was hidden within him. It had taken a damn Vulcan in a mating frenzy and his sudden distancing himself from her to make her realize how she really felt about him, even though she wanted Chakotay. She had realized that Chakotay was nothing to her except pure lust. It had taken every ounce of her Klingon pride to go to his quarters and tell her how she felt and hoping against hope that he would feel the same towards her. That had been 8 months ago and now she knew that these had been the happiest months of her entire life even though she insisted on keeping their relationship a secret.

"Good morning, Lanna", he said as he kissed her in the crook of her neck. She snuggled closer to him, feeling his chest against her bare back, low moan escaping her.

"Stop that, Starfleet, we have to get ready for our shift."

"You are no fun at all, maquis, no fun at all."

"You didn't think so last night."

"Yeah, but than you were not in starfleet mode."

"What, how dare you! I'm wearing the uniform but I'm still Maquis and don't you forget it, mister!", she said while playfully slapping him on the arm. They quickly got in the shower together, went to the messhall for one of Neelix's "wonderful" breakfasts and off to their respective posts.

That evening Harry stopped by his quarters to get something before going to Torres.

"Yo, Harry, wait up, man."

Harry looked around and saw Tom Paris, his best friend, running toward him.

"Harry, where are you off to? It's been ages since you and I had some time together."

"Sorry Tom, just a lot of work, you know, I've been too tired to do anything after that."

"Come on, pal o'mine, let's go to Sandrine's and shoot some pool, talk about guy-stuff, generally catch up on things. Whaddaya say?"

"Sorry, but not tonight. Torres and I have to go over some adjustments and upgrades for the main computer and gelpacks."

"Jeez, Harry, the two of you work too hard. Let it go for tonight and then the three of us can shoot some pool."

"Thanks Tom, but this is important. Tell you what, though, tomorrow night you and I will play a few games and reminiscence about the good old days, tell tall stories, okay Tom?"

"Harry, sometimes I just want to punch you out, you're a freakin' workaholic! But okay, tomorrow it is. But don't try to wiggle out of it or else I'm dragging you out of whatever the hell it is you're doing."

"Don't worry, Tom, you won't have to drag me anywhere. I said tomorrow and I will be there tomorrow, alright?"

"You'd better, ensign or I'll make the doc tell you in great detail about the detrimental effects of working too much," Paris said grinning.

"Hey, no need to get nasty. I would rather clean the warpcoils with a toothbrush than to listen to his
'fascinating' medical explanations."

"Okay Harry, till tomorrow then."

"Night, Tom."

Kim entered the turbolift on his way to Torres. He felt in his pocket for something. Upon reaching her quarters, he rang the chime.

"Come in."

Kim stepped inside and let the door close behind him. What he saw there surprised him pleasantly. A dinnertable had been set up with candles, silverware, crystal and porcelain, while the light was dimmed.

"Hey, starfleet ", a soft voice called out and he turned around. An involuntary gasp escaped him as he saw B'Elanna standing in the doorway to her bedroom. She was wearing a short, tight, maroon colored dress that accentuated her curves perfectly. She looked gorgeous and Harry was mesmerized by her appearance. She smiled at the way he looked at her, it made her feel so feminine and beautiful. No man had ever done that to her and she felt like she was the happiest person in the universe.

"Harry, close your mouth and kiss me."

Grinning, he walked over and took her in his arms, kissing her tenderly. She marveled at his gentleness, but knew that it hid a strength that waited to be tapped. She had seen it in countless instances when they were in trouble and her first instinct was to go out in a blaze of glory, while he remained calm, surpressing his fears and assessing the situation to find a way of turning it into an advantage. She had seen it the first time they made love, when he had alternately appealed to her human and klingon side with his caresses. Sometimes she just couldn't believe her luck. Reluctantly, she escaped his arms. She lit the candles and told him to sit. After ordering the computer to turn off the lights and play some soft music, she served dinner. They ate and talked about work, about Neelix's newest culinary disasters, caught up on the latest gossip, Tom's latest conquests and Janeway's and Chakotay's for each other. Finally, when they finished dinner, Harry asked B'Elanna to dance. The computer was playing a music selection of a late 20th century musician named Kenny G. Their bodies swayed to the rhythm of the soft, romantic saxophone music. Harry felt a lump in his throat, caused by what he wanted to ask her. She felt so right in his arms that it hurt.

"B'Elanna, I want to ask you something."

"What is it, Harry?"

"Well, will - … will you marry me?"

As he said this, he released her and pulled out a small satin covered box, opening it and revealing a gold engagement ring, so simple yet beautiful, that anyone could see the exquisite workmanship of it. It was topped of with a dazzling diamond that reflected the candlelight. B'Elanna was speechless, whatever it was she was expecting, this was the last thing she had expected. Fear suddenly gripped her heart like a vise and she had trouble breathing. How could, no, how dare he ask her to marry him! Didn't he understand that what they had now was all she needed? She felt like she was suffocating, just like a marriage would suffocate her. She wanted to hit him for what he was making her go through, the bastard. Instead, she bit her tongue and said,

"Harry, I can't marry you. Not now, not ever. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to bed. It has been a long day and I need my sleep."

To say he was shocked would have been an understatement. Harry felt like his heart had been ripped out, like he couldn't breathe as she uttered those words. Gathering his remaining strength, he asked the only question he could.

"B'Elanna, please, why can't you marry me? I love you and I thought you loved me…."

"Look, Harry, just go, okay? I'm tired and I'm not in the mood for this right now."

With a hurt and confused look in his eyes, Harry left her quarters. He couldn't understand why she had started acting so strange all of a sudden. When he reached his quarters, he mechanically changed into his pyamas and went to bed but sleep didn't come. He tried to figure what he had done wrong and after a few hours of tossing and turning he slowly drifted to sleep.

Meanwhile, in B'Elanna's quarters, she was lying in bed, her body racked with sobs as she winced at the hurt inside of her. How could he do this to her! What or who had given him the right? She didn't want to admit that because of the pain and hurt that she had endured for most of her life, she was truly afraid to commit. She was half-Klingon, for God's sake. She should not be feeling like this. She was going to get even with him for causing her this much pain, oh, how she was going to get even with ensign Harry Kim. Just you wait and see. She cried herself to sleep.

The next day, Kim woke up, feeling miserable. He hadn't slept much and what little sleep he had managed to get had been filled with dread. After showering and dressing, he left for the mess hall. Looking around, he saw that Torres was sitting with Tom. After getting his breakfast from an ever cheerful Neelix, he walked over to where Tom and B'Elanna where sitting but before he arrived at the table B'Elanna spotted him, got up and left. Dejectedly, he went and sat with Tom, putting on his usual jovial face while crying on the inside. Suddenly he knew why Torres had been acting so strange. She was afraid! All her life she has been hurt and feared and laughed at. It's no wonder she would be scared of any kind of commitment. He was now more sure than ever that they needed to talk. He would tell her that he would always be there for her and if she did not want to get married right away, he wouldn't push but stay with her until she was ready. Thinking about this made him feel much better and as he and Tom left the mess hall to go to the bridge he felt more relaxed than ever. His shift seemed to go on forever and just before it ended, the Captain ordered him to make some modifications to the inertial stabilizer software systems. Silently cursing his bad luck, he went on his way to the Jeffries tubes on deck 14. He would be busy for the next 3 hours, another 3 hours without talking to B'Elanna, what else could go wrong today?