The Sweetness of Home

The Sweetness Of Home
By Jessica Ferroni

The shift had been slow, Tom Paris noted to himself.
He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad
thing, but it was boring to say the least.
But boring shifts meant more time to spend with
his family, with those he loved.
He tossed off a jaunty wave to the Captain as he
left the bridge, humming tunelessly to himself. He
needed to — *sigh* — see what delightful dish
Neelix had prepared for them all for their dinner.
One would think that after five years the Talaxian
would be better able to prepare food fit for human
consumption, but he certainly tried his best and
no one could fault him for that.
Then, as per habit, Paris would get the food —
provided it wasn’t already moving on its own — and
head for home.
Home. The word had a nice sound to it. His little
corner of the galaxy.
“Hey, Neelix,” he called to the ever-cheerful alien
behind the counter. Neelix bustled out to greet him
and help get a stack of food-laden plates organized;
it had been a ritual between the two almost everyday
for four years now.
“So, how is the little one?” Neelix asked
conversationally as he heaped plates into Paris’ arms.
“Excited about having little brothers yet?”
Tom grinned. “You bet. And the Doc says the twins
are doing great. But B’Elanna’s not too happy about
being on maternity leave.”
Neelix smiled. “You know Kes and I are always ready
to lend a hand,” he offered.
“We know. Thanks, Neelix,” Tom replied warmly as he
made his way carefully out the doors. He caught
sight of Harry Kim just entering the turbolift.
“Harry, wait up!” he called almost frantically.
Harry held the lift doors as his friend entered,
gently balancing a load of plates. “Hey, Tom. Here,
let me help you with those.” He took half the stack,
leaving them with three dishes each. “What’s B’Elanna
craving this time?” he teased.
Tom rolled his eyes. “Don’t even joke about it,
Harry.” He lifted the cover of one of the dishes,
showing Kim the bluish glop resting inside.
“Neelix’s Laurelian Blue Pudding, if you’d believe it.”
Harry grimaced. “Yuck,” he commented sagely.
“And,” Paris pulled the lid off the top of one
Harry’s plates, and an odor that smelled strangely like
wet, dirty socks filled the turbolift. “Leola root
stew!” he announced with a flourish.
“Tom!” Harry protested. Trying to cover his nose
with his hand, he ordered, “Deck four.” He turned
back to Paris. “Did you have to do that?” he accused.
Tom shrugged. “Not really.”

Katie Paris looked earnestly at her mother with all
the seriousness of a two year-old. “When’s Daddy coming
home?”
B’Elanna fleetingly wondered what kind of home a
starship was for a family. For *her* family. “As soon
as he gets supper,” she replied.
“More blue pudding?” Katie frowned.
*Poor child,* B’Elanna thought. *She’s going to
grow up never knowing what real, unreplicated food
tastes like.*
B’Elanna looked into her daughter’s bright blue eyes,
so much like her father’s. Katie seemed to be the very
image of Tom sometimes. She possessed his undeterring
curiousity and stubborness, and the cerulean eyes and
blonde hair to go with it. The little girl may have been
a quarter Klingon, but one wouldn’t have known it by
looking at her.
The door swished open and her husband entered, followed
by Harry Kim. Katie shrieked in delight and squirmed
off her mother’s lap. Tom barely had time to put the
plates down on the dining table before his daughter was
in his arms, breathless. He laughed and scooped her
gently. “Hey, Princess. Say hello to Uncle Harry,”
Katie waved shyly at Kim, who returned the wave
with a smile.
“Why don’t you show your Uncle Harry what you made
for him today?” B’Elanna suggested. Tom set her on
the floor and she grabbed Harry’s hand, all traces
of shyness gone, and led him to the other room where
she had proudly displayed her artwork.
Tom stooped to give B’Elanna a kiss on the cheek.
“How was your day?”
She smiled wryly. “I think this leave is going to
drive me crazy! I can work perfectly fine,” she
protested, sounding irritated.
Tom snorted. “Huh-uh. No sons of mine are going to
be born in Engineering.” He addressed the last to
her swollen belly.
B’Elanna laughed and Tom patted her shoulder lovingly,
flashing her the lopsided grin she loved. Katie and Harry
returned, and Katie presented her father with a holosketchpad.
Tom turned it this way and that, trying to make out what
she had drawn. At last he gave up.
“Um, what is it, honey?”
Katie hmmphed. “It’s Uncle Chakotay and Aunt Kathryn,”
she patiently explained.
“Oh,” Tom said thoughtfully. “I see,”

T
H
END 🙂

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Copyright November 1996 by Jessica Ferroni on all original story content.
Not meant to infringe on copyrights held by Paramount or any other copyright
holders of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. Please do not reproduce for anything other
than personal reading use (including fanzines) without written consent of
the author. Comments are welcome at jessica@p24818.cle.ab.com.

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