“The Helmsman’s Logs – 2374” [PG-13] – 2/2

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374”

PART 2

STARDATE 51463.14:

The Doctor is back, thank God! This means Harry and I don’t have to continue our disastrous efforts to create a new EMH. During his time in the Alpha Quadrant, the Doc managed to contact Starfleet. (Pauses) I don’t know if that’s something to celebrate about, but everyone else seemed to be happy. Especially the Captain and Harry. Starfleet had declared us dead about six months following our disappearance. Now, they know we’re alive. Huh. I wonder how Dad took the news.

The Doc had other news, as well. Apparently, a war had broken out in the Alpha Quadrant. The Federation, along with the Klingon Empire have been at war with a Gamma Quadrant race called the Dominion and their allies, the Cardassians, since the end of last year. Also, upon his arrival in the Alpha Quadrant, he had came upon a Starfleet vessel that had been taken over by the Romulans. It seemed the Doc and a new EMH program managed to keep the ship from ending up in Romulan space. I don’t want to go into details – especially since the Doc never hesitates to talk about it. Over and over again.

As for the array, it seemed to belong to a race called the Hirogen. Seven, B’Elanna and the Captain had brief contact with one of them, before Seven zapped him into oblivion with a feedback from the array’s transmitter. Hmmm, that’s the first time B’Elanna has ever expressed any approval toward Seven’s actions. End personal log.

STARDATE 51468.06:

It’s a miracle that B’Elanna didn’t kill me, a few minutes ago. We were supposed to meet for breakfast, around 0700, this morning. Unfortunately, I overslept – thanks to one hell of a nightmare – and she had to wake me up. Since our breakfast turned out to be a bust, we had arranged a new one for Friday night – the Fiji Islands in Holodeck One. The water skiing should be great. End personal log.

STARDATE 51472.83:

Damn aliens! Hell, I don’t the name of their species, so I don’t what else to call them. Why are we always encountering these aliens who use subtle means to take over the ship? The Bothans, the Nyrians, those aliens who had used us for their . . . medical experiments. And now, this! This waking species or whatever the hell they’re called. Thank God for Chakotay! It seems they were the ones responsible for the series of nightmares that the entire crew were experiencing. Fortunately, Chakotay and the Doctor had discovered their homeworld and threatened to blow it up if they didn’t shut off the neurogenic field that kept the rest of the crew in a state of lucid dreaming.

Now, I can’t sleep. The whole damn episode has left me suffering from insomnia. I wonder if Harry or B’Elanna are awake. End personal log.

STARDATE 51480.04:

I never thought I would see myself giving lessons in Earth slang to a Vulcan. And to Vorik, of all people! I was talking to Liz Jenkins about her recent shuttle lessons, and Vorik had overheard me use the word – cool. The next thing I knew, I found myself explaining the different variations on the word. Oh well, at least Vorik was a willing student. I think he learned his lessons, well. End personal log.

STARDATE 51483.74:

Ah Fiji! B’Elanna was right to choose this program for our date. Granted, I had looked forward to skiing in the Chilean Andes, but water skiing in the South Pacific made a pretty good substitute. Along with B’Elanna in a red bikini. Wow! Let’s just say it was a date I will never forget. End personal log.

STARDATE 51498.93:

Voyager had picked up a signal from another one of those Hirogen relay stations. This signal definitely had a Starfleet signature. Harry quickly assumed that Starfleet had found a quick way to get back to the Alpha Quadrant. Even Tuvok seemed to think so. (Sighs) God, I hope they’re all wrong. End personal log.

STARDATE 51506.33:

Today has been one of the worst days of my life. In fact, I believe that it has been a bitch for a good number of the crew. And all because of that damn relay station!

We finally came across the station that Harry had detected, two days ago. Apparently, this station was situated near the mouth of a quantum singularity that provided energy to all of the relay stations. The Starfleet signal was actually a series of letters from home. From families and friends of the crew. I heard rumors that Tuvok learned that he had become a grandfather. And Liz Jenkins, one of the pilots under my command, is now an aunt. Harry received a letter from his folks, thank God! He was getting on my nerves with his constant carping about not receiving a letter, during Neelix’s rounds. (Sighs) That’s not fair. Poor Harry really misses his family a lot. And this trip through the Delta Quadrant has been particularly difficult for him.

But not all of the news was good. Someone told me . . . Neelix, I think . . . that the Captain had received a “Dear John” letter from her fiancé. He had given her up for dead, met someone else and married her. Talk about life being a bitch! No wonder the Captain looked miserable when I saw her reading her letter. And poor Greg Hamilton! He just received word that a cousin of his had become an early casualty in this war against some Gamma Quadrant species called the Dominion. Greg was supposed to be at the helm during the Beta shift, tonight. I decided to replace him with Baytart, instead.

Speaking of the Dominion, it seems they are now the Cardassians’ new allies. And the latter used new ships and weapons from the Dominion . . . God, I can’t believe this! The Cardies had managed to wipe out the Maquis resistance in the Alpha Quadrant. Talk about bad news. I’m still in shock. Most of them are dead. However, a few of them – like Chakotay’s friend, Sveda, are now serving time in a Federation prison. And they are the lucky ones. (Pauses) I discovered this piece of bad news from B’Elanna. (Pauses) While she was downloading a letter from my dad. Talk about bad news arriving in pairs! (Pauses) Yeah, I know it’s supposed to come in threes, but who cares?

(Sighs) Maybe this party will help everyone get over the recent bad news. We’ve also heard about Tuvok and Seven’s encounter with a race called the Hirogen. They’re the ones who had built the relay stations nearly a millennium ago. From our recent encounter with them, they might prove to be a problem. Many of the crew are also disappointed that the quantum singularity had also destroyed the entire relay system, ending our contact with Starfleet. I hope the party will help B’Elanna recover from the bad news. She had taken the news of the Maquis’ destruction pretty hard. As for that letter from the Admiral – it never came through. B’Elanna was able to download Harry’s letter before the relay stations’ destruction, but not mine. (Sighs) Just as well. A small part of me felt a little disappointed not to hear from Dad. But another part . . . maybe I’m just not ready to hear from him. At least not yet. I don’t know. End personal log.

STARDATE 51506.33:

I wish I could say that Neelix’s party was a success, but I can’t. A lot of us were still in a funk over the news from the Alpha Quadrant. There were a few happy souls like Harry, who had received good news from home. But even their happiness were muted by the destruction of the Hirogen’s relay stations. And the fact that the Federation and the Klingon Empire were now at war against the Cardassians and their new allies.

Many of the former Maquis crewmen seemed to be walking around in a daze or in a state of rage. Ken Dalby got pretty drunk and had to be sent back to his quarters. The Captain seemed disoriented. Distracted, is the better word. I guess the rumors about her “Dear John” letter were true. Oh yeah. It has been confirmed that Tuvok is a grandfather, thanks to his oldest son. He didn’t seem particularly happy or sad about the occasion. Just being his usual Vulcan self. Or maybe he was concerned about the Hirogen. I don’t know.

B’Elanna and I had decided to leave the party early and return to her quarters. Frankly, the whole thing was just too damn depressing. (Pauses) We made love that night, but it . . . I don’t know. It just seemed too rough for me. Yeah, we had rough sex before, but I think we were simply using each other to escape our bad moods. And now . . . (Sighs) I feel like some kind of sexual pervert. End personal log.

STARDATE 51569.13:

Ninety minutes! It took me ninety minutes to hunt down a mouse inside Jeffries Tube 32. Which happens to be near B’Elanna’s quarters. I think we may have picked up the mouse from the Aldorni Homeworld, where we had stopped for supplies. (Sighs) Who would have thought that a brave and fearless half-Klingon be afraid of a mouse? End personal log.

STARDATE 51604.07:

(Sighs) What a bizarre day this has been! Hamilton went slightly beserk during flight training inside Holodeck Two, today. It seems he got a little carried away with destroying the enemy – namely a holographic Cardassian ship. I had ordered Baytart to take his place at the Helm and Hamilton suddenly became violent. He raved about Voyager being stuck in the Delta Quadrant, while the Federation was busy fighting Cardassians, back home. I thought Henley would joined in – especially since she was an ex-Maquis. But she refrained herself. In the end, I ordered Hamilton to get a hold of himself and leave the Holodeck. He then attacked me, but I managed to knock him out, cold. I had Segasse and Lin carry him back to his quarters. Although I had informed the Captain of the incident, I asked her not to put him on report. She immediately understood that Hamilton was grieving over a relative and agreed. After all, there was no need for him to endure further suffering. End personal log.

STARDATE 51625.59:

Voyager has lost another crewman, today. Ensign Lyndsay Ballard. Apparently, she and Harry were on an Away mission, when their shuttle was attacked by a Hirogen scout ship. Harry managed to get the shuttle away, but not before the Hirogen fired a few shot, severely injuring Ballard in the process. Poor Harry. Not only was she the second crewman to die while on an Away mission with him – the victim happened to be an old Academy friend of his. . . . and a former crush. B’Elanna is also a little shaken over Ballard’s death, since the latter had served under her. I had planned to console them both, tonight, but I could see that neither of them was in the mood for company. End personal log.

STARDATE 51653.35:

God, I’m tired! And to think we have more hours of repairs to deal with, thanks to the Hirogen and Species 8472.

Species 8472. Christ! I thought all of them had returned back to fluidic space, after their war with the Borg. But a hunting party of Hirogen came across one who had failed to return home in time. They wounded him . . . it, but apparently not enough. Species 8472 defended itself against the Hirogen crew and nearly killed all of them – except one. Voyager rescued the remaining Hirogen hunter, while Species 8472 made its way aboard ship. Deck Eleven. Engineering. It attacked B’Elanna . . . and three other crewmen. Yet, it didn’t kill anyone and B’Elanna and the others were not seriously injured. The Captain allowed our Hirogen guest to join a hunting party for our latest intruder.

So there I was, inside an AVS suite, stalking Species 8472 on Deck Eleven with Chakotay and the Hirogen Alpha. My two companions got into a tetesterone match over who was the superior hunter. I don’t think my exploits as a mouse hunter went over well with either man. When we finally found Species 8472, the Hirogen tried to kill it. Chakotay tried to stop him and was attacked. The son-of-a-bitch also shot me. Fortunately, Tuvok got him.

The Captain finally agreed to help Species 8472 to avoid the Hirogen and return home. But Seven had other ideas. So did the other Hirogen ships that suddenly reappeared. They had really inflicted damage on the ship, including both nacelles and the EPS system. Seven then beamed both our Hirogen guest and Species 8472 to one of the other Hirogen ships and we were no longer in danger. A lot of us realized that Seven had saved our lives, but she also condemned that creature to death. Right now, the majority of the crew is pissed. Including the Captain.

As for me – I guess I share the Captain’s feelings. A part of me felt relieved to be alive. But our safety had came at the expense of our Species 8472 guest, who simply wanted to return home. The whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth. In a way, the Captain has to take some of the blame for Seven’s actions. She had been so determined to teach Seven about individuality that she failed to point out that Voyager was a military ship with a command structure. The Captain punished Seven by restricting the latter’s privileges and access to the ship’s primary systems. In my opinion, the Captain should have tossed Seven’s ass into the brig. End personal log.

STARDATE 51655.84:

Feelings against Seven are still high amongst the crew. B’Elanna made some comment that the Captain should have dumped Seven on the nearest Class-M planet or send her back to the Borg, when she had the chance. And maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, but I couldn’t. I said that if the Captain had done that, she would have been guilty of the same thing, as Seven. Yes, I’m still angry at Seven for her actions, but I also realized that B’Elanna’s comment had more to do with her dislike and jealousy of the former Borg. And personally, I was getting sick and tired of her anti-Seven attitude. Anyway, B’Elanna did not say anything. But the look in her eyes told me not to bother visiting her quarters, tonight. To hell with it! I’m not ashamed over what I said. I meant every word of it. End personal log.

STARDATE 51660.72:

It’s been two days since B’Elanna and I had stopped talking to each other. But we finally reconciled over lunch, earlier this afternoon. I apologized for my remark. And she apologized for overreacting. We agreed to celebrate our cease-fire with a quiet dinner in her quarters, tonight.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna told me about an incident between Seven and that arms dealer, Koven. Apparently, Seven lost her temper and broke the man’s nose when he touched her. Seven claimed that earlier today, Koven had immobilized her and tried to steal some of her nanoprobes. Although he was charged with assault, no one could prove whether he had done it or not. Koven ended up committing suicide before he could . . . (Red Alert Klaxon interrupts) What the hell?

(Chakotay: “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!)

Oh well, I’ll finish this another time. End personal log.

STARDATE 51717.23:

The Hirogen have finally left Voyager. Thank God! Actually, they’ve been gone for at least 12 hours, by now. (Sighs) I can’t believe we’ve been under their control for nearly three weeks! It’s a good thing Harry had found a way to disengage our neural interfaces. Or else the Captain would have never been able to start a resistance against our “visitors”.

In the end, the Hirogen must have realized their attempt to maintain control of Voyager was futile – to quote the Borg. (Pauses) Perhaps I should start from the beginning. Only I’m not really in the mood to recall what happened. To be honest, I haven’t the foggiest idea on what happened during the past three weeks. I guess that comes from being used as a toy for a bunch of aliens bent upon playing war in the holodecks. (Pauses) To hell with it! I need some sleep. End personal log.

STARDATE 51719.82:

God, I am so tired! The repairs on Voyager seemed to go on forever. B’Elanna, Harry and a team of engineers have been removing holo-emitters from Decks Five, Six and Seven. Several of the pilots have been helping me repair both the Helm and the Navigational systems. I also agreed to help Harry repair both holodecks – especially Holodeck One. (Pauses)

The Saint-Claire program has completely gone offline. Several of the crew wanted the damn thing deleted permanently. I’m a little undecided on the subject. It’s funny. I’ve been obsessed with 20th century Earth history for years. I had even managed to express a little enthusiasm to Seven, after our neural interfaces were disengaged. And yet . . . I cannot seem to find the enthusiasm anymore. At least not now. Christ! I’m babbling like an idiot! Maybe dinner with B’Elanna will help. End personal log.

STARDATE 51724.66:

The ship repairs are nearly finished, thank God! We’ve actually managed to have something close to a normal day, today. Almost. Some of the crew – namely old Starfleeters like Baxter and Murphy – have been complaining about the Captain’s decision to hand over holographic technology to the Hirogen, claiming that her action was a breach of Starfleet protocols. Jesus Christ! These “by-the-book” types really get on my nerves! It’s not as if the Captain had any choice. It was either make a deal with the Hirogen or continue the fight against them until we all ended up dead.

The Saint-Claire program remains in the computer system. I guess that some of the crew has actually grown fond of it. I can’t say that I feel the same. I prefer this new program I have created. It’s mainly a garage on Earth, where I can repair a 1969 Camarro and listen to 20th century Rock music from a radio. It’s a hell of a lot better than reliving Saint-Claire, circa 1944. The latter only reminds me . . . (Sighs) Hell, I might as well confess. It reminds me of a lot of unpleasant things. Like getting beaten senseless by that damn holographic Nazi, nearly getting killed twice, and (Pauses) seeing B’Elanna pregnant. With another man’s child. Okay, I know that the baby wasn’t real. And neither was the father. Yet, I still feel uneasy thinking about it. Along with that Nazi pig screaming all over the place about him being the child’s father. Christ! My life has really been out of control for the past two-and-a-half months. Considering how I feel right now, I might as well be wearing one of those neural interfaces. End personal log.

STARDATE 51732.91:

I have a feeling that B’Elanna might be pissed at me. And the odd thing is I don’t care. When Harry was describing the French Resistance in the Saint-Claire program to her during lunch in the Mess Hall, she began comparing it to the Maquis, back home. Like I needed to be reminded of that. It’s bad enough that crewmen like Dalby and Chell have been making similar comparisons. When B’Elanna began comparing the Cardassians to the Nazis, I couldn’t take it any longer. In other words, I left. I rather think about my new Camarro program, thank you very much. End personal log.

STARDATE 51739.75:

Oh God! I think I just had one of the worst dreams, ever. The Hirogen were still on Voyager and using us for holographic simulations. Only, instead of being a WWII soldier or a Klingon warrior, I was myself – Tom Paris. Only this Tom happened to be a Starfleet officer back in the Alpha Quadrant, with a successful career in the Command track, a perfect wife (with B’Elanna’s human face), who was pregnant with the perfect child. In the dream, I found myself commanding a starship battling against the Cardassians. Two of the Cardassian officers appeared on the Bridge’s view screen . . . and transformed into the Admiral himself, beaming with parental pride; and Captain Janeway looking rather smug and satisfied. And that was when I woke up in a sweat. (Pauses) Christ! Talk about a personal horror story. Oh God, it’s only past midnight and I’m fully awake. Maybe a trip to Holodeck Two will help me relax. End personal log.

STARDATE 51752.24:

If one more person asks me how I’m feeling, I swear I am going to space myself out of sheer relief. Chakotay has asked me. So has Harry. Baytart complained that I’ve been neglecting the division. Maybe he feels he can do better. B’Elanna nearly blew her top when I broke our date. For the fifth time, according to her. And the Doctor has been hounding me about missing my shifts in Sick Bay. Hell, if he’s that unsatisfied with my work, perhaps he should request someone from the Science Division to act as his Chief Medical Assistant. There are plenty of candidates.

(Sighs) God, I just feel like I’m trapped, sometimes. If the Admiral could see me now, he would be thrilled that his wayward son is finally becoming the perfect Starfleet officer he had dreamed about. Living up to the Paris name. He would probably give Janeway a medal for accomplishing what he had failed to do. Thank God for my new holodeck program! It’s a hell of lot better than trying to be the perfect Starfleet officer. End personal log.

STARDATE 51754.9:

We have a new visitor aboard Voyager. His name is Steth. He’s a Benthan test pilot, whose ship we had to stabilize after he had jumped out of warp. It seems that he was testing a vessel that used a coaxial warp drive. I’ve heard about it at the Academy, but I never thought I would see one in person.

Steth seems like a pleasant guy. And since we happened to be fellow pilots, I thought it would be great to help him repair his ship . . . and learn how his species managed to utilize the coaxial warp drive. Fortunately, Chakotay gave me permission. Unfortunately that would mean breaking another date with B’Elanna. And she did not take the news very well. End personal log.

STARDATE 51763.84:

(Sighs) Hell, I don’t know how to begin this log entry. The last few days have really been bizarre. Steth turned out to be a DNA thief, who not only steals individuals’ DNA to assume forms, but also deposits his or her current genetic material into the victims. Only, it wasn’t really Steth who had stolen my DNA.

After I had awakened on Steth’s ship and in his body – I met the real Steth. The latter happened to be trapped in the body of a female alien named Daelen. In other words, it was Daelen – in Steth’s body – who had first appeared on Voyager. According to Steth, he had first met Daelen at a space station several light years aways. Daelen pretended to be an admirer of him – giving her the chance to steal his body. And Steth had been trapped in Daelen’s body ever since.

Steth and I eventually caught up with Voyager and captured Daelen – who had, by then, assumed the Captain’s identity. Sound confusing. I suspect that many of us were confused. It seemed a miracle that the Doc had managed to restore all of us to our rightful bodies. He added that there is a good chance that Daelen might not be the true identity of the DNA thief. Steth should be on his way back to the Benthan system, to deliver Daenen to the authorities. I hope that he makes it back without any mishaps. End personal log.

LOG SUPPLEMENTAL:

B’Elanna and I finally had a talk about recent events. And I’m not just talking about Steth and Daelen. I showed her my Grease Monkey program in Holodeck Two, and told her the reason behind my recent odd behavior.

I finally realized that it all began with the letters from home. Contacting with Starfleet had bothered me a lot more than I had realized. I had been happy with my life aboard Voyager, and viewed our communication with the Federation as a threat to that happiness. The Captain, Harry and many others might view the Alpha Quadrant as home. I don’t. Not anymore. For me, the Federation is nothing but a symbol of most of the unhappiness in my life – from being Dad’s little protégée during my childhood, to the problems I had endured in Starfleet and the Maquis. It was in the Alpha Quadrant where I had allowed my father, tradition, Starfleet, and my own fears rule me. Sometimes I wonder if I ever had any kind of control over my life. Thanks to our encounters with the Hirogen and communication with Starfleet that lack of control seemed to have reach Voyager.

B’Elanna understood. She even suggested that I might have been heading for a full-blown depression. Maybe. But my encounter with Daelen seemed to have snapped me out of it. Because right now, I feel as if I’m in some kind of control, again. I’m happy to have returned to Voyager. And I’m glad to be back with B’Elanna. I missed her very much.

The subject of Daelen finally came up. I had overheard what she . . . or he had said to me about B’Elanna, while in the Captain’s body. B’Elanna finally admitted that she and the phony Tom had kissed. Fortunately, she had also been too busy in Engineering for anything “further” to happen. Thank God for small miracles. End personal log.

STARDATE 51786:

I am happy to report that one Ensign Harry Kim may no longer harbor an infatuation for said former Borg drone named Seven-of-Nine. How did this miraculous event happened? Well, I guess one can thank an incident regarding a space phenomenon that threatened Voyager and some alien science station. According to Seven, the Borg regarded the phenomenon as a source of energy and a means to achieve perfection. In her “haste” to examine the manner, she became very officious toward the crew working with her on the project. Including Harry. I guess he didn’t care being treated as another mindless drone being assigned a Borg designation. Hmmm. End personal log.

STARDATE 51812.88:

We seemed to have a bit of a mystery aboard Voyager. Chakotay had come across some written notes in his handwriting, claiming that an alien bounty hunter had visited Voyager seeking asylum from her race. Twice. According to the notes, Chakotay fell in love with refugee and enjoyed a brief affair. O-kay. If he insists that happened. However, there is no proof in the computer’s database to support his claim. End personal log.

STARDATE 51826.67:

Voyager made contact with a group of aliens called the Vaskans to trade for deuterium and instead, ended up in the middle of a war. The Vaskans’ enemies, the Kyrians, had come to the conclusion that the Captain had formed an alliance with the Vaskans. Apparently, they had never heard of the Prime Directive. Anyway, to make a long story short, a group of Kyrians boarded Voyager and made their way toward Engineering. What is it about that place that attracts intruders? Fortunately, B’Elanna was in one of the Jeffries Tubes and missed the fireworks. But four of her engineers ended up dead. Security tracked the intruders to the Mess Hall and bagged the lot. The Vaskan ambassador needlessly shot the Kyrian ringleader, and pissed off the Captain. Which means we will have to find another source of deuterium. End personal log.

STARDATE 51835.41:

B’Elanna is still upset over the Vaskan/Kyrian incident. She has been taking the deaths of her four engineers rather hard, lately. A lot harder than she has done so in the past. In fact, she’s been shutting herself up in Engineering, continuing with those slipstream drive experiments. Naturally, I sympathize, but I’m beginning to wonder if her behavior is a bit . . . drastic. End personal log.

STARDATE 51837.11:

Our deuterium crisis is now affecting the ship’s systems. The Captain has ordered the crew to double up in living quarters, to conserve power until we are able to acquire more deuterium. Seven finally managed to locate a source on some Demon-class planet, several light years away. Because of the planet’s atmosphere and condition, we would be unable to beam to its surface. Harry had eventually come up with idea of sending an Away team via shuttle, to the surface. Tuvok naysayed the idea – as usual. But to my surprise, Ensign Eager shot down Mr. Doom-n-Gloom with a few choice words. Mind you, I don’t dislike Tuvok, contrary to what one may think. In fact, I rather like him. But he does have a tendency to view everything in a pessimistic manner. And talk down to others. So I say – good for Harry. By the way, the little bastard had also suggested that I accompany him on the Away mission. Cretin. End personal log.

STARDATE 51840.93:

It felt strange seeing duplicates of the crew, standing on the surface of that Demon-class planet, while Voyager departed. Very strange. This all happened after Harry and I became the first to be duplicated, during our Away mission on the planet. Our AVS suits became damaged when the liquefied deuterium made contact with our bodies. We probably would have died if the Doctor had not figured out that Chakotay and Seven had returned to the ship with our doubles.

Harry’s duplicate had asked the Captain if each crewman would leave behind a sample of DNA. Apparently, he and the “other Tom” did not want to be the only humanoid life on that planet. B’Elanna was among the first to volunteer for duplication. Very strange. I felt certain that she would be among the few to protest. She told me that after meeting the clone Tom in Sick Bay, she could not bear the idea of him being alone on that planet. God! Isn’t it any wonder that I love her? End personal log.

STARDATE 51928.11:

Oh God! I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to spend the next four weeks inside that coffin! Okay. It’s not a coffin, but a stasis unit. But the damn thing looks like a coffin. And the entire crew, except for Seven and the Doctor, will be forced to remain in one for an entire month because of some damn Mitara-class nebula. We had already made an attempt to travel through it, yesterday. But it didn’t take long – three minutes to be exact – before we were all affected by the nebula’s subnucleonic radiation. Nor did the Captain want to detour around the nebula. That particular journey would take at least a year. Personally, I couldn’t care less how long it would take. Better that than spending a month in stasis. But the Captain . . . well, there’s no need to go on about her obsession in getting home. She wants to use the shortcut through the nebula. That means, I will have to face the coffin.

Thanks to her Borg nanoprobes, Seven wasn’t affected by the radiation. Which means that she will be monitoring our units and taking Voyager through the nebula. At least she’ll be able to avoid the coffins. Lucky woman. Then again, her only company will be the Doc. End personal log.

STARDATE 51930.36:

Seven said a strange thing during lunch, today. Let me start from the beginning. After Voyager had finally ended its journey through the Mitara-class nebula, the Captain, Chakotay and the Doc found Seven in a state of delirium and sent her to Sick Bay. After being alone for a long period – especially after the Doc’s program went offline – the lack of company had affected her. She later joined B’Elanna, Harry and me in the Mess Hall and brought up the fact that I had managed to slip out of my stasis unit at least three times.

Harry wanted to know why I was so claustrophobic. I certainly couldn’t tell them – at least Harry and Seven – that it all stemmed from a childhood incident. And an embarrassing one, at that. However, Seven came up with her own answer. She said that perhaps I was afraid of being alone. I cannot help but wonder if she was talking about me? Or herself? End personal log.

STARDATE 51972.37:

Neelix, Lang and I will visit the Polarius system, tomorrow for some much needed supplies. I wouldn’t mind the trip. After nearly a month in stasis, I’m beginning to feel a little stir crazy. I could use an Away mission. And a few days in Neelix’s company sounds pleasant. End personal log.

STARDATE 51979.49:

Thank goodness for Arturis. He’s an alien that Neelix, Lang and I had encountered on the homeworld of a Xenon-based race. If it weren’t for his linguist skills, we would have never been able to do any trade. Especially after our Universal translators had began to malfunction. We brought him back to Voyager, where he proved to be valuable, once more. He was able to assist the Captain in breaking the encrypted message we had received from Starfleet, nearly six months ago. End personal log.

STARDATE 51980.35:

I take it all back. I like Arturis, but now I wish that Neelix, Lang and I had never met him. And I wish he had never been able to translate that encrypted message. It seems that Starfleet had provided coordinates to a ship they had sent to the Delta Quadrant to provide us a way home. An experimental ship with a slipstream drive, called the U.S.S. Dauntless.

When Tuvok, Chakotay and I first boarded the Dauntless, it had somehow activated and sent us fifteen light years ahead. It took Voyager two days to track us down. The Captain then ordered the crew to examine the Dauntless for any new technology that Starfleet have provided us. Since she’s reluctant to abandon Voyager, she ordered Engineering to begin modifying the ship’s engines to adopt a similar slipstream drive. Or maybe modify the slipstream experiments that B’Elanna, Seven and the Engineering crew have been conducting.

Everyone seems excited over the prospect of getting home. Even B’Elanna. I sometimes wonder if she has lost her mind. I mean, what does she have to look forward in the Alpha Quadrant? The Maquis has been destroyed. She, Chakotay and the others will probably face at least one or two years in a Federation prison – along with myself. And there’s a war going on, back home. Judging from the information we’ve received, it’s not going well.

And there is one last thing – this whole matter regarding the Dauntless sounds a bit off to me. I find it hard to believe that Starfleet had managed to provide us with a means to travel home in such a short space of time. I mean, how much time had passed between the Doc’s visit to the Alpha Quadrant and our letters from home? Two weeks. And unless Starfleet has been working on such a slipstream drive during the past three to four years, I find it hard to believe that it took them two weeks to create one and send it to the Delta Quadrant – unmanned. (Pauses) Now that I think about it, I’m beginning to wonder if Arturis is responsible for it. This all started when Neelix, Lang and I first met him. Or had it? End personal log.

STARDATE 51988.2:

Everyone is now disappointed that the Dauntless turned out to be a hoax. It wasn’t an experimental Starfleet vessel. It was Arturis’ own ship. He had set a trap. Apparently, he had intercepted Admiral Hayes’ message to the Captain and modified it. All because he wanted to lead us to the Dauntless – and eventually into the arms of the Borg. We managed to get some of the crew off the Dauntless – including B’Elanna, thank God. Unfortunately, the Captain and Seven had remained trapped aboard with Arturis. Using the slipstream modification made on Voyager, we managed to chase the Dauntless and beam the Captain and Seven back to the ship. Poor Arturis ended up assimilated by the Borg.

Why did he do it? Why did Arturis go through so much trouble to get us assimilated by the Borg? It seems that his homeworld had spent centuries evading assimilation. About a year ago, their efforts were beginning to fail when the Borg decided to invade Species 8472’s fluidic space. Arturis’ people had looked forward to the Borg’s defeat. Unfortunately, our alliance with the Borg destroyed all hope. And Arturis’ world ended up assimilated.

I think the Captain tried to dismiss his people’s fate as a bad misfortune. Maybe she’s right. I understand why Arturis tried to destroy us . . . even though my sympathy can only go so far, considering that he had nearly succeeded. On the other hand, aside from Seven’s rescue from the Collective, nothing really good had come from that damn alliance. And despite her “let’s move on” attitude, I suspect that the Captain feels the same. End personal log.

STARDATE 51994.11:

Voyager entered an expanse of space, devoid of any stars, nebulas or other stellar sightings. A void in space. Christ! It looked so . . . empty. And to make matters worse, we’ll be traveling through this void for at least a year or two. According to Seven, the void stretches at least 2,500 light years. That’s about two years. God, how depressing! End personal log.

STARDATE 51999.04:

We haven’t been in this void very long and already, it’s affecting the crew’s morale. Since the New Year is coming up, Neelix has been campaigning for our usual New Year’s Eve bash. Hell, I could sure use it. Staring at nothing but black space for hours on end isn’t doing much for my morale. And I’ve noticed that ever since the Arturis debacle, B’Elanna has been distant toward me. Perhaps a holiday celebration is what the both of us need. I’m beginning to think that the Captain also needs this party. She didn’t bother to leave her quarters, today. And she’s not sick. (Pauses) Anyway, nothing else has happened today. End personal log.

END OF PART FOUR

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“The Helmsman’s Logs – 2374” [PG-13] – 1/2

 

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: The fourth in a collection of Tom Paris’ personal logs during Voyager’s journey in the Delta Quadrant.
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek
Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom, Rick Berman, the Roddenberry
family and other Trek producers.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This covers Season Four episodes from “The Gift” to post-“Hope and Fear”.

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374”

PART 1

STARDATE 51002.61:

(Sighs) The year is now 2374. (Pauses) For once, I’m not feeling hung over after a party. I guess that none of us really had the urge to drink. Not while we were busy looking over our shoulders for the pursuing Borg or Species 8472. So far, we’re still looking.

As for the party, it did not last long after the New Year had arrived. I don’t mind. At least it wasn’t as dismal as last year’s celebration. But I must admit that talking about the Borg and Voyager’s newest addition to the crew did not enliven my mood. B’Elanna had spent most of the evening discussing the Borg addition to the ship’s technology. And getting into a state of anxiety over our new crewman. Many want the Borg off the ship. Frankly, I don’t see the point, since she has been disconnected from the Collective. B’Elanna thinks I’m being naïve. In other words, our little disagreement over our new crew member had almost left me in a foul mood. Great! We have our first fight since the Nyrian habitat and it happens to be over a complete stranger.

Both Chakotay and the Captain had appeared at the party. They remained long enough to usher in the New Year. Since both were still anxious about the Borg, they did not remain very long and left. Separately. Hmm, I guess they haven’t completely reconciled, yet. I have this odd feeling that the Borg may have damaged their relationship for good. End personal log.

STARDATE 51006.86:

It’s been three days since our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. Ship repairs have resumed with a vengeance. Everyone is still talking about our new passenger. Again, B’Elanna did not fail to express her opinion that the Captain should get rid of the ex-drone. This time, I kept my mouth shut. Who knows? She may be right. B’Elanna did tell us one bit of information. The Borg’s name is Seven-of-Nine. Her human name – that’s right, she’s a human – is Annika. Hmmm, very pretty. End personal log.

STARDATE 51009.86:

I can’t believe it. It’s been five hours since she was forced to leave the ship and I still can’t believe that she’s gone. Kes, I mean. (Pauses) I guess I’m still having trouble comprehending the whole incident. B’Elanna believes that Kes had transformed into a powerful spirit. Well, Kes became powerful, all right. Not long after she left Voyager, she had transformed into a non-corporeal being and sent the ship some 9.5 light years closer to the Alpha Quadrant. That means in less than three years, Voyager has traveled in 12.5 light years – with 57.5 years left in our journey.

Kes had also saved us from the Borg. Our new passenger, Seven-of-Nine, tried to contact the nearest Borg cube by accessing the ship’s subspace transmitter. Kes managed to telepathetically stop her in time. But not before our favorite drone gave Harry one hell of a whack.

(Sighs) Even as I now talk, I still cannot believe that Kes is gone. And to think, I had a crush on her for nearly a year. Still, she was a great friend and I’m going to miss her. I think we all will – especially the Doc, Tuvok . . . and Neelix, of course. (Pauses) Good-bye Kes. I’m going to miss you. End personal log.

STARDATE 51023.29:

Baytart, Jenkins and I were in Cargo Bay Two, searching for navigational parts, when we caught sight of our super cargo. The other two kept their distance, while lucky me had to get close to collect the parts. She was standing in her new Borg regeneration chamber, when her eyes opened and began to follow me. Creepy. But she remained silent. I bid her a quiet good-bye and left with the other two. Not much communication was achieved, but I can safely state that Second Contact between Seven-of-Nine and me proved to be a hell of a lot less painful than our first. End personal log.

STARDATE 51070.09:

B’Elanna and I were having lunch in the Mess Hall today, discussing cultural holidays. When I asked about Klingon holidays, she brought up something called Day of Honor. Apparently, it is an observance day in which Klingon warriors test their honor by enduring some kind of ritual hazing. Hmmm, sounds interesting. I had asked her when was the last time she had observed the Day of Honor and she almost laughed in my face. It seems that B’Elanna has not observed this special day since she had turned seventeen. B’Elanna doesn’t realize it, but she has given me an idea for a new holoprogram. I only hope that I can talk her into participating in it. End personal log.

STARDATE 51085.73:

Voyager has finally learned of Chakotay’s whereabouts – at least Tuvok has. He found Chakotay, brainwashed by the Vori and engaged in their war against the Kradin. Poor Chakotay. He’s had it pretty bad since his near assimilation by those ex-Borgs, nearly five months ago. He and the Captain are still divided over Seven-of-Nine. And now this. I may not like him very much, but I cannot help but feel sorry for him. B’Elanna sees this as a sign that I am finally growing up. I ought to teach her a lesson about making such comments. End personal log.

STARDATE 51113.25:

The subject of the Day of Honor came up, again. To my surprise, it was B’Elanna who first mentioned it. Apparently, she has been thinking about her mother, lately. Eight years have passed since she had last seen Miral Torres. B’Elanna must miss her very much, which seems strange. I have never known B’Elanna to mention her mother without making some kind of complaint.

When I told her about my idea for a Day of Honor holoprogram, she decided that she wanted to help me. Great! I’m really looking forward to this. Especially if it means spending a great deal of time with B’Elanna. End personal log.

STARDATE 51162.37:

B’Elanna and I have finally completed the Day of Honor program. And just in time. Tomorrow will be her official day to commemorate. Ah! Can’t wait to see how it will turn out. End personal log.

STARDATE 51170.62:

God! (Pauses) For the first time in ages, I can barely think. I’m speechless. (Pauses) And it’s not the tri-ox treatment I had received. Oh God! (Sighs) I can’t believe . . . Shit! I don’t know who really had to endure a Day of Honor – B’Elanna or me. I guess we both did, in our own ways.

B’Elanna’s Day of Honor had begun three days ago. One, the holoprogram turned out to be a bust. Not because it had not been created properly. It all went wrong, because B’Elanna was not in the mood to enjoy it. To put it simply, she was having one of “those” days. She woke up late. Didn’t have time for breakfast. Nearly everything in Engineering began to malfunction. Worst of all, Seven-of-Nine finally reported for duty and her first assignment happened to be Engineering. It didn’t take long for B’Elanna to confront Seven about previous victims of the Borg. And when Seven failed to display the proper remorse, B’Elanna kicked her out of Engineering.

Yep, that’s right. I had heard what happened. Let’s just say that gossip and rumors tend to spread pretty fast on this ship. I love B’Elanna very much, but she does have this tendency to be a bit too judgmental about people – even without getting to know them. Hell, I had personally experienced this trait first hand, during Voyager’s first year in the Delta Quadrant. And this is why when I ran into our ex-Borg on Deck Seven, I offered her my friendship. Why not? Everyone deserves a second chance.

B’Elanna wasn’t the only one who didn’t take for Seven’s presence aboard Voyager. We had encountered a race of aliens called the Caatati. I guess one could call them the beggars of the Delta Quadrant. They had asked the Captain for food, medical supplies and thorium – namely a lot. Due to our situation, the Captain was only able to allow them so much. That would have been the end of it, except our Caatati visitor had spotted Seven with me and nearly went into a fit. His race had nearly been devastated by the Borg.

I wish I could say “thus ended a difficult day”, but I can’t. It only grew worse. Engineering’s experiment with creating a transwarp wormhole led to the warp core being dumped. The Captain ordered us to use the Cochrane shuttle to fetch it, only the Caatati managed to get it first. B’Elanna tried to break their tractor beam. Instead, they sent an antimatter pulse to block our efforts. Not only did they succeed, they also caused the destruction of the Cochrane, leaving B’Elanna and myself wearing AVS suits and stranded in space.

(Sighs) Until the day I die, I do not think I will ever forget those moments drifting in space. That and Sakari IV. After B’Elanna and I found ourselves drifting in space, an ionic shower damaged my AVS suit’s supply of oxygen and I ended up sharing B’Elanna’s supply. But the ionic shower had also damaged her suit, leaving a half hour of oxygen between the two of us. We flirted a bit. Okay, I flirted with B’Elanna. We talked about the Academy and then it got serious – all because I wanted to know if her feelings toward me had changed over the years. Not only did B’Elanna answered yes, she also revealed a lot more. She told me (Pauses) . . . she confessed to being in love with me.

(Laughs bitterly) Strange. I had no trouble admitting that I was in love with B’Elanna some eight months ago . . . to myself. But when she demanded that I say something after her confession, I responded with a joke, instead. (Sighs) How lame! I wanted to admit that I was in love with her, but I was too floored by her confession. Also, Voyager had chosen that moment to contact us. It’s odd. One minute, I’m floating in space, stunned by B’Elanna’s confession and everything goes black. The next thing I knew, I’m waking up in Sick Bay, with the Doc’s face hovering over mine. B’Elanna had already returned to her quarters. I wanted to pay her a visit before returning to my quarters, but I lost my nerve. I don’t know. I’m thrilled that B’Elanna might possibly love me. But how can she be in love with a guy who lacked the courage to express his own feelings? Even worse, how long will that love last when she finally becomes acquainted with the real Tom Paris? End personal log.

STARDATE 51179.25:

The Captain made a little announcement during the Senior Staff meeting, today. She has promoted Tuvok to Lieutenant Commander. A celebration dinner will be held in his honor, tomorrow. Considering how long Tuvok has been in Starfleet, I’m surprised that he has not reached the rank of Captain or Admiral, by now. Still, I’m happy for him.

After seeing her at the staff meeting, I ran into B’Elanna outside the Mess Hall, later this evening. She took one look at me and fled down the corridor. Frankly, I don’t blame her. She had admitted her feelings to me . . . and I made a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wants to lay eyes upon me, again. End personal log.

STARDATE 51182.25:

I really don’t know how to begin. It’s been quite a day. Tuvok is now a lieutenant-commander. I’m the Doctor’s new medical assistant. And B’Elanna and I . . . well, we had spoken with each other for the first time in three days.

It happened right after Tuvok’s promotion luncheon. I followed her out of the Mess Hall. Asked her if she really meant what she had said about being in love with me. I don’t know why I had asked. I guess that a part of me wanted to know if I had heard right. That B’Elanna’s confession had not been a figment of my imagination, caused by a lack of oxygen. But it wasn’t. B’Elanna confirmed my . . . my what? My fears? My hopes? Maybe a little of both.

After B’Elanna had admitted her love for me . . . for the second time . . . she rambled on about how she understood if I didn’t reciprocate her feelings. Well, I had to shut her up one way or the other. If she had continued any longer, she would have convinced herself that I didn’t love her. So, I kissed her. Thoroughly, I hoped. I must say that her lips were as soft and warm as I had remembered from Sakari IV. And I would have kissed her even longer, if the Doctor had not interrupted us. Not that the Doc’s interruption really mattered. Even though I didn’t actually say, “I love you,” I think that B’Elanna got the message on how I really felt about her. Hopefully, this means that my hope for a relationship will finally become a reality. End personal log.

STARDATE 51184.55:

Just finished my first day as the Doc’s medical assistant. Since he has been on an Away mission with B’Elanna, I was left in charge of Sick Bay.

Nothing much happened. I treated an indigested stomach and a lacerated hand. The last belonged to Seven-of-Nine, who had been assigned to work with Harry on design enhancements for the Astrometrics Lab. While treating her hand, I made a few jokes to put her at ease. Seven didn’t seem to mind them, but Harry practically went ballistic. Hmmmm, I haven’t seen Ensign Eager this emotional since he fell for that hologram, last year. Or was it Lyndsay Ballard? I don’t remember. Anyway, I tried to warn him that Seven wasn’t emotionally ready for a relationship. But knowing Harry, I’m sure that he didn’t listen. Oh well. At least he didn’t go running to Tuvok for advice. End personal log.

STARDATE 51187.65:

(Sighs) B’Elanna had returned with Doc from their Away mission, a few hours ago. They had an encounter with a psychotic hologram, who tried to kill B’Elanna by ripping her heart out. God! She managed to destroy him before he could damage her heart permanently. Also, she and the Doc returned to Voyager just in time for him to perform surgery. So, B’Elanna left the Sick Bay with a clean bill of health . . . and just in time for our first date, tonight. Our first real date.

(Pauses and listens to B’Elanna mumble in her sleep) I must admit that I had felt very nervous when I showed up at her quarters. We had a nice dinner – replicated Ktarian soufflé, a pasta salad and a nice 2294 Merlot. Mind you (pauses as B’Elanna mumbles again) the meal as nice, but all I could think about was that cute little maroon dress she wore. And taking it off.

Okay, so I sound like some kind of sex fiend. But B’Elanna . . . God! She looked so beautiful and irresistible! (Sighs) We were a bit shy at first, but the moment our lips met . . . oh God, I’m beginning to sound like a bad romance holonovel. Let’s just say that I forgot about any shyness on my part. For a moment, I had feared I was being just a little too enthusiastic. But B’Elanna brushed away such fears when she began ripping off my clothes. (Sighs happily) This might be a personal log, but I’m sure that someone will end up listening to this some day in the future. So, I’ll just say that a Klingon woman’s reputation for sexual prowess is very well deserved; and sleeping with B’Elanna was more than great sex. It was . . . okay, I think I’m about to sound like a cliché. Sleeping with B’Elanna was like a meeting between two souls; and I never want to be . . .

(B’Elanna mumbles a little louder, “Tom?”)

B’Elanna! I’ll be with in a . . . Hey! B’Elanna! That tickles! B’Elanna!

(B’Elanna: “Hey Helmboy! Aren’t you going to finish that log or what?”)

Right. And last but not least, I never want to be apart from her again. Ever.

(B’Elanna: “Hmmm, how romantic. Now why don’t you show me what never being apart means?”)

Be careful of what you wish for, Lieuten . . . Oooof! End personal log.

STARDATE 51195.59:

I wonder if Starfleet Academy ever considered giving courses on diplomatic encounters gone awry, thanks to former Borg drones. (Sighs) Our encounter with the B’omar was certainly one for the books. We had come across their space and needed their permission to avoid a long detour. To be honest, the B’omar didn’t help matters by imposing all of those travel restrictions upon us.Travel at Warp 3? Keep our weapons off-line? And that ridiculous course they had suggested!

Of course, Seven’s actions didn’t help. Some Borg signal had reactivated her nanoprobes, causing her to go amok. She attacked Neelix in the Mess Hal, stole a phaser, attacked several Security crewmen and stole one of the shuttles. Damaging the Shuttle Bay, in the process. After Seven’s escape, the B’omar wanted nothing to do with us. Matters grew worse after Tuvok and I went after her in another shuttle and tracked her to a Class-M moon – the very place where her parents’ ship had crashed, before they were all assimilated by the Borg.

Voyager exchanged fire with a few B’omar ships, while I tried to beam Seven and Tuvok to the shuttle. But not before Tuvok helped Seven deal with her memories of being assimilated. Let’s just say that the entire incident resulted in Voyager making a long detour around B’omar space. End personal log.

STARDATE 51204.1:

Don’t get me wrong. I love B’Elanna with ever fiber of my being, but there are times when she simply drives me crazy. And I’m not being complimentary. It’s been three days since the incident with Seven and the B’omar and B’Elanna has not stopped bitching about it. Okay, I understand why she’s pissed for having to oversee the repairs in the Shuttle Bay. But God! I’ve had to listen to B’Elanna bitch and moan for hours over Seven’s actions and the Captain’s refusal to dump our favorite Borg on the nearest M-class planet. Both Harry and I tried to make B’Elanna see that Seven had been reliving a childhood trauma. But she has refused to listen. This morning had been the last straw.

After one last rant about the Captain’s “obsession with the Borg”, I lost my temper and told her that her complaints were becoming a bore and that she should give them a rest. I must say that I was damn lucky to avoid a public beating at the hands of a pissed off half-Klingon. Instead, B’Elanna gave me a death glare that rivaled the Captain’s’ and stormed out of the Mess Hall. I’ve tried to apologize since, but she refuses to speak to me. (Sighs) I think a little trip to the Airpondics Bay is in order. End personal log.

STARDATE 51207.06:

Ah! There’s nothing in the Universe like fine food, wine and make-up sex. All due to a dozen of red roses from the Airpondics Bay. A fellow could get used to this. End personal log.

STARDATE 51230.8:

Strange energy readings were detected by Harry this morning, and now Voyager is on its way to investigate. It is a good thing that we are about three days away. This should give the Captain plenty of time to recover from the headaches that have been plaguing her, lately. If I were her, I would spend those three days in my quarters. She practically looks like death warmed over. Doc has tried relieving her headaches with various medications, but nothing seems to help. Oh well.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna and I have been . . . well, a little more than enthusiastic during our off-duty hours, lately. Actually, we’ve been pretty active during duty hours, as well. Neelix and Pablo Baytart nearly caught us having sex in the Mess Hall, early this morning. I don’t know what’s going on, but every time I find myself near B’Elanna, I have this urge to rip her clothes off and take her right there on the spot. (Pauses) Okay, I’m really starting to sound like some kind of sex fiend. But I can’t help it. Every time we’re apart, all I can think about is her. Her sable eyes, that sexy growl of hers, her pert breasts, and the way her nails would rake up and down my back when we’re . . . (Sighs) Great! Now, I’m in dire need of a cold shower. End personal log.

STARDATE 51235.84:

Thanks to a double shift I had been forced to work, I missed out on a date with B’Elanna. Damn! I don’t even know what is worse – canceling the date with B’Elanna or dealing with this sexual obsession of mine. (Sighs) Since I can’t do anything about the former, I might as well see to the latter. There hasn’t been much activity in Sick Bay, lately. Maybe I can find a way to spend some time with her. That is, if the Doc can spare me for one lousy shift. End personal log.

STARDATE 51239.04:

B’Elanna and I had just spent an embarrassing moment with the Captain, today. Just before dinner, last night, Tuvok had caught us . . . uh, kissing on one of the computer consoles in Engineering. The snitch! He must have high-tailed it back to the Captain, for she really chewed us out, after the Senior Staff meeting. Whew! Guess we’ll have to a little more discreet from now on. Meanwhile, poor Neelix had some kind of attack in the Galley and had to be beamed to Sick Bay. Chakotay is already there, due to some kind of rapid ageing he has experienced. What the hell is going on, here?

One last thing – the strange energy readings that Harry had detected, turned out to be binary pulsars. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

For the past two weeks, a race of aliens have been using Voyager as a traveling laboratory for a series of experiments. These aliens – whose name we still don’t know – had attached their ships to ours and subjected the crew to a series of medical tests. They did all of this, while walking about the ship . . . invisible. Tests that monitored our dopamine levels – which explained the Captain’s headaches – to sexual hormone levels. Now I know why B’Elanna and I have been at each other like dogs in heat. Those bastards also stopped the auoeli in B’Elanna’s lungs from processing air and nearly killed her. This happened after she and the Doc nearly discovered what was going on. In the end, it was Seven who finally revealed the aliens. Needless to say, the Captain did not take the news very well. Especially after Crewman Huberman died from a synaptic shock. I wish I had been on the Bridge when she steered the ship toward the binary pulsars. According to Harry, the pulsars’ gravity managed to destroy both alien ships – although one nearly escaped. Although Voyager had escaped destruction, the pulsars had damaged both navigational control and some of the ship’s hull plating. The Doctor and I have begun removing the DNA markings given to us by the aliens. Everything should return to normal. Somewhat. There is still the matter of Crewman Huberman. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

A memorial service for Huberman was held this morning. A dark moment for an otherwise normal day. At least normal for us. The aliens’ DNA markings have been completely removed from the entire crew. B’Elanna, I’m happy to say, has fully recovered. We decided to celebrate with a private dinner in my quarters. I thought that a pasta salad with Ktarian Merlot would be nice. She should be here in another . . . (the doorbell chimes) Oh, she’s here. End personal log.

STARDATE 51255.55:

With the new Astrometrics Lab completed, the Captain has permitted the crew to celebrate with a party. Which means that I’ve got at least a half hour to shower, change into clean clothes and pick up B’Elanna. The party will be held in the Resort holoprogram in Holodeck One. Neelix will provide the refreshments, as usual. (Sighs) Oh well, not everything can be perfect.

Voyager also entered Krenim space, this morning. A Krenim starship captain warned us that his race was involved in a border dispute with another. He warned us to avoid Krenim space. Happily, the Captain agreed and ordered me to plot a new course for the Alpha Quadrant. End personal log.

STARDATE 51261.03:

Our encounter in Krenim space had led me to thinking about Kes. It has been three months, since she left Voyager. I could not help but think about the alternate timeline she had experienced before our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. A timeline that had us at war with the Krenim for at least a year. The Year of Hell. According to Kes, a good number of the crew had been killed – including two senior staff members, whose names Kes had never revealed. I’m almost tempted to access her personal logs, but that would be a shabby way to honor Kes’ memory. I guess the details of her experiences in the alternate timeline will remain a mystery. Too bad. End personal log.

STARDATE 51362.25:

Voyager came across a new planet called the Mari homeworld. The Mari are a race of telepaths who are technically advanced – at least by Starfleet standards. This means that we don’t have to worry about the almighty Prime Directive. Since the Captain has been able to establish diplomatic ties, she ordered me to establish orbit around the planet. And the crew will be able to enjoy shore leave for the next few days. Hopefully, B’Elanna and I will get to enjoy a few hours of sightseeing, together. End personal log.

STARDATE 51369.25:

I can’t believe it! B’Elanna has been arrested by the Mari authorities for having violent thoughts! Violent thoughts? What the hell is this? They’ve got to be kidding! Then again, I guess not. It seems the Mari people have outlawed violent thoughts, believing the latter can lead to violent acts. While in the marketplace of the Mari capital city, B’Elanna had violent thoughts when some man had bumped into her. This led the man to beat another Mari citizen to death in full view of everyone. If found guilty, B’Elanna will have to undergo an engramatic purge.

Great! My girlfriend is in danger of being lobotomized! I asked the Captain if she plans to rescue B’Elanna. Unfortunately, she reminded me that according to Starfleet protocol, we have to respect Mari laws. The Captain also added that she and Tuvok will investigate and ensure that B’Elanna is exonerated. Sounds lovely, but what if they can’t exonerate her? She would still have to undergo the purge. The Doc told me that hopefully, he would be able to reconstruct her engrams. This is supposed to reassure me?

I can’t believe that the Captain is willing to allow B’Elanna to undergo such a thing. I mean, if she was willing to rescue Harry and me from the Atkirian prison, why not do the same for B’Elanna? (Sighs) This is fucked up beyond belief! And to think I had purchased a gift for her. Now, I don’t know if B’Elanna will ever get the chance to enjoy it. I wonder if Chakotay would consider planning a jailbreak. End personal log.

STARDATE 51374.11

B’Elanna is back, I’m happy to say. Thank God for Tuvok! He found out that a Mari merchant had deliberately provoked B’Elanna into a violent thought, in order to steal it telepathetically and sell it on the black market. Very sick, in my opinion. So much for Mari non-violence. The Mari had managed to erase one-tenth of B’Elanna’s violent engrams, before Tuvok and the Captain presented them with the real perpetrator.

B’Elanna told me that Tuvok finally appreciates the struggle she had endured with her violent Klingon psyche. Geez! I like Tuvok, but did he really had to associate her temper with her Klingon side? Now, B’Elanna is more determined than ever to control her thoughts. (Sighs) I told her that she should worry more about her actions than her thoughts. I also reminded her that Klingons weren’t the only species that had to struggle with violent impulses. But I got the feeling that she didn’t believe me. Damn! Hopefully, she will. One day. End personal log.

STARDATE 51449.44

Is it me or has Neelix been acting odd, lately? He must have been more upset over that Mari woman’s death than I had first imagined. In fact, he has seemed a little out of sync, ever since Kes’ departure. I had hoped that his friendship with Talli on the Mari homeworld would improve his mood. Unfortunately, Talli was killed and Neelix’s dark mood returned. Maybe this upcoming Away mission with Chakotay and me will help. End personal log.

SUPPLEMENTAL LOG

Christ! I can’t believe it! Neelix is gone! Dead! And all because of a simple mission to investigate a proto matter nebula. The shuttle got a little too close to the nebula, and Neelix was hit by an energy discharge. I just can’t . . . I never realized how difficult it would be for me to deal with his death. It’s funny. I’m closer to B’Elanna and Harry, but Neelix was the only person on this ship who understood what it meant to live with a questionable past. And to whom else can I talk with, about flying? Hell, I found it easier to talk with Neelix than the other pilots in my division. If only I hadn’t flown that damn shuttle so close! End personal log.

STARDATE 51456.14:

I thought that being resurrected by Seven’s modified nanoprobes and celebrating Prixin would put Neelix in a good mood. Apparently, it didn’t. He tried . . . to commit suicide by transporting himself into that nebula. God! I wonder what Chakotay had said to convince him not to kill himself.

Speaking of Chakotay, he has assigned B’Elanna to the Gamma shift for the next two weeks. Son-of-a-bitch! This means, we’ll barely have time together. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Chakotay had deliberately planned this to keep us apart. (Sighs) But I do know him better. He may not have been thrilled about our new relationship, but he’s not petty. But if one must suffer in the name of love . . . End personal log.

STARDATE 51460.79:

I wish to God that Seven had never detected that damn array system. Now that I think about it, I wish the Captain had never ordered the Astrometrics Lab to be remodeled in the first place. But since we did stumble across the array system, Seven was able to detect that Starfleet vessel in the Alpha Quadrant. Probably some Galaxy-class ship on a deep space mission.

At first, the Captain tried to send a message to the ship, using the array. When that failed, B’Elanna came up with the brilliant idea of sending a holographic message. Namely the Doctor. And guess who will be left to act as Acting Chief Medical Officer? (Sighs) Chief Medical Officer. Dammit! I’m a pilot, not a medic! Why in the hell didn’t the Doctor train someone from the Science Division to train as his assistant? Someone like Sam Wildman? What if the Doc never return from the Alpha Quadrant? What if his program gets lost in the signal between us and Starfleet?

I have to do something about this. (Pauses) Hmmm, since B’Elanna is still monitoring the array, perhaps Harry can help. I may know a lot about holoprogramming, but when it comes to creating a program as complex as the EMH, I’m going to need an engineer. End personal log.

END OF PART 1

“Perils of a Matchmaker” [PG-13] – 2/2

“PERILS OF A MATCHMAKER”

SUMMARY: Tom Paris helps Pablo Baytart win the affections of Sue Nicoletti and endangers his own pursuit of the Chief Engineer in the process. Set during late Season 3.

Part 2

“Where in the hell were you?” Sue Nicoletti demanded, as she glared at Tom inside Voyager’s Engineering Section. “We were supposed to work on your holoprogram, together! Instead, I nearly got electrocuted by that klutz, Baytart!”

In his most persuasive voice, Tom begged forgiveness. “Since it was a training program for pilots, I thought Baytart could take my place. Besides, I didn’t think you would be this upset.”

“Upset? I nearly died!” Sue’s voice nearly rose to a shrill, attracting stares. Looking embarrassed, her face turned pink. Tom’s eyes fell to the floor, avoiding the stares of others.

“For God’s sake, Sue!” Tom hissed through clenched teeth. “You merely suffered a few burns! There’s no need to exaggerate!”

Cold blue eyes stared pointedly at Tom. “If that’s the way you feel Paris, I’m sure you can finish your program all on your own!” Sue turned her back on the pilot and stalked away.

“Sue . . . Sue! Dammit!” Tom rushed after the engineer, ignoring more stares. He followed her to a console on the upper level. “I’m sorry, Sue,” he said, after catching up with her. “Look . . .”

“I have work to do, Lieutenant Paris,” she replied icily. “Do you mind?”

One glance at that haughty expression and Tom knew he was facing defeat. Dammit! Cold Hands, Cold Heart Nicoletti!. He had forgotten how cold and stubborn Nicoletti could be. As far as Tom was concerned, Pablo was on his own.

* * * *

Later that evening in the Mess Hall, Tom broke the news to Baytart. The latter responded with uncharacteristic panic. “You can’t stop! Not now! What am I going to do?”

“Why don’t you take a chance, Pablo?” Tom wearily suggested. Hours of flying Voyager and fielding off curious stares and questions about Sue had left him exhausted. “Ask her out. You don’t need my help.”

Panic filled the ensign’s dark eyes. “I can’t!” he cried. “I can’t face her like that! Please Lieutenant! I can’t do this on my own! Not after what happened in the Hololab.” The young pilot stared at Tom with beseeching eyes.

A long sigh escaped Tom’s mouth. If only Pablo could face Sue at this moment. He would have broken the engineer’s defenses within seconds. “All right,” Tom conceded with great reluctance. “I’ll help you. I still say you should be up front with Sue. But, if you’re that reluctant . . .”

“Thanks a lot, Lieutenant!” Pablo was all smiles. “I won’t forget this.”

A familiar voice asked, “Won’t forget what?”

Both Tom and Baytart glanced up to find two newcomers standing before them. Both Harry and B’Elanna held lunch trays. “What are you two talking about?” Harry continued.

Tom opened to mouth to answer, but Pablo spoke first. “It’s nothing, Ensign Kim. We were talking about a personal matter. Uh, see ya!” The pilot stood up, flashed a quick smile and beat a hasty retreat out of the Mess Hall.

B’Elanna and Harry stared at Tom. Who indicated the two empty chairs, opposite him. “Have a seat,” he said. The pair quickly filled the seats.

“Did Baytart say something about a favor?” Harry asked. He took a sip of his juice. “Has this anything to do with Sue and the Hololab?”

Tom shrugged. “Somewhat. He did a favor for me by working with Sue. So, I’m doing a favor for him in return.”

“Which is?” Harry insisted.

Aware of Pablo’s desire for secrecy, Tom merely replied, “A favor.” Relief appeared in the form of Sue Nicoletti. Who had just entered the Mess Hall. Tom rose to his feet. “Excuse me, guys. I have a personal matter to deal with.” And he headed straight for Sue.

* * * *

Two pairs of dark eyes followed Tom, as he strode toward Nicoletti. B’Elanna struggled to fight back a wave of jealousy. “I guess Tom wants to apologize for what happened in the Hololab,” Harry commented.

B’Elanna gave her friend a pointed look and grumbled, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a lot more to apologize for than Sue getting electrocuted by Baytart.”

“What else could it be? You don’t think Tom would ask Baytart to take his place during a date, would you?”

B’Elanna sighed. “Of course not, Harry. Maybe Tom had hoped it would become a date. I don’t know!” Her last sentence came out in an angry outburst.

Harry’s next question threw B’Elanna into a fix. “Why are you so upset?”

“Wha . . .?” Shock immediately became annoyance. “What are you talking about? I’m not upset! Do I look upset?”

“Well, to be hon . . .”

B’Elanna continued to growl, “Kahless, Harry! If you must know, I don’t give a rat’s ass about anybody’s social life! Including Tom Paris!”

A knowing smile curled Harry’s lips. “Whatever you say, Maquis.”

B’Elanna glared at her friend.

* * * *

“No!” Sue continued eating her pleeka rind casserole.

Tom let out a sigh. “C’mon Sue. How many times do I have to apologize?”

“As far as I’m concerned, you’re wasting your breath,” Sue snapped.

Ignoring the curious eyes around him, Tom fell to his knees. “Look at me, Sue. I’m no my knees. Begging for your forgiveness. Please?” He blasted her with every ounce of emotion his blue eyes could muster.

Not even “Cold Hands, Cold Heart” Nicoletti could resist the pilot’s pleading eyes. She sighed. “All right! I forgive you.” She gave him a slight smile. “When do you want to resume working on the program?”

Tom smiled with relief. “Tonight would be just fine. At 20:00?”

Sue nodded. “Okay, 20:00, the Hololab. But if you’re running late or unable to meet me, just let me know. I don’t need anymore surprises,” she added. “And that includes sending Ensign Baytart in your place.”

Tom’s smile disappeared. He had no intention of repeating his earlier mistake. Yet, Sue’s words hinted that she wanted nothing to do with his second-in-command. Silently, he realized he would have to take the gloves off. Try something a little less subtle. Like the old “stuck-in-the-turbolift” trick.

* * * *

Baytart stared at Tom with confused eyes. “I don’t understand,” he said. The two pilots stood inside the Shuttle Bay, where Tom had just completed a staff meeting for the Conn Division. “You want me to get into Turbolift One on Deck Ten and head for Deck Two?”

“That’s right,” Tom calmly replied. “At 13:03 hours, to be precise. Tomorrow.”

“Why?”

In preparation for his latest scheme, Tom had spent a least a week observing Sue Nicoletti’s daily habits. He explained one particular habit to Pablo. Unless a special project, a battle or any other special situation made it impossible, Sue always left Engineering at 13:00 hours and boarded Turbolift One for the Mess Hall. “Only tomorrow,” he added, “you will join her when the lift reaches Deck Ten. Somewhere between Decks Six and Seven, the turbolift will stop.”

“Stop?” Pablo frowned momentarily, until realization lit up his eyes. “Wait a minute! Is this the old “stuck-in-the-turbolift” routine? Is the best you can do?”

Tom gave him a cool stare. “Well, I had better ideas, but they didn’t exactly work. Gee, I wonder why?”

Baytart had the good grace to blush. “I’ll be in Turbolift One at exactly 13:00 hours, tomorrow.”

“Good,” Tom said, nodding. “Now, if something happens to prevent Sue from leaving Engineering on time, I’ll let you know.” He gave the young pilot a friendly pat on the back. “Don’t worry, Pablo. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll soon have Sue Nicoletti in your arms.”

* * * *

Everything went according to plan. At precisely 13:00 hours, the following afternoon, Lieutenant Nicoletti interrupted work on the magnetic constrictors and left Engineering to have lunch. The minute she headed for the doors, Carl Ashmore contacted Tom.

The Chief Helmsman then alerted Pablo Baytart to head for Turbolift One. The junior pilot followed his chief’s orders. When he stepped inside, he was relieved to find the object of his desire, alone. The dark-haired engineer took one look at Pablo and immediately stiffened. His heart sank at the realization that Lieutenant Paris’ participation in this scheme was easy – getting him and Sue together. He had the more difficult task of wooing the haughty engineer.

Don’t freeze, Pablo, he said to himself. For once in your life, get your thumb out of your ass and talk with the woman. You’ve already done it, twice. Before dumping a plate of dim sum on her lap and electrocuting her. Pablo took a deep breath. Think positive thoughts. Remember, you’re a Starfleet officer, not an idiot.

Pablo turned to the engineer to speak. Before he could open his mouth, he realized that the turbolift had failed to stop between Decks Six and Seven. Instead, it continued on, until it stopped at Deck Two. The doors slid open and Sue Nicoletti stepped out, leaving behind a flabbergasted pilot.

* * * *

Tom watched the entire debacle from his monitor on the Conn Station. Once again, fate, this time in the form of an unstoppable turbolift, came between Pablo Baytart and Sue Nicoletti.

“What the hell happened?” a stunned Tom muttered under his breath.

Another voice broke him out of his reverie. “Did you say something, Mister Paris?” Captain Janeway asked.

Tom’s heart nearly leaped out of his chest. He took a few deep breaths and managed to subdue his rapidly beating heart. “Everything’s fine, Captain,” he calmly replied. “Just a little problem with the navigational relays.”

“Oh. Perhaps I should summon someone from Engineering.”

“Don’t bother, Captain. If you don’t mind, I’ll just head down to Engineering, myself. I’m soon due for my lunch break. That way, I can kill two birds with one stone.” He flashed the red-haired captain his most reassuring smile.

Fortunately, Janeway nodded her assent and Tom immediately headed for the turbolift. His first stop – the Mess Hall on Deck Two. Tom popped his head inside the doorway and spotted both Pablo and Sue – sitting yards apart. The young pilot immediately saw the older man and sprang toward the doorway.

“What the hell happened?” Pablo demanded, once the pair retired to the corridor, outside. “The turbolift was supposed to stop between Decks Six and Seven! It didn’t!”

Tom retorted, “I know what the damn thing was suppose to do! Something must have gone wrong the programming.”

“Now what do I do?”

There were times Tom wondered how Baytart ever managed to become a Starfleet officer. Hell! Even Harry Kim has shown more boldness in pursuit of other females. And he was two years younger than Pablo. And less experienced. An impatient sigh left Tom’s mouth. “Why don’t you just ask her out, Pablo? At least try to strike up a conversation. You were doing great at the party and in the Hololab.”

Pablo cried out, “Until I dumped food on her and nearly electrocuted her! I just can’t do it on my own, Lieutenant! I can’t!”

“Then why in the hell did I even bother to plan that little turbolift scheme in the first lace? Surely, you didn’t expect me to hold your hand all the way to Deck Two?”

A little shrug from Pablo’s shoulder reminded Tom of himself at the age of twelve. “I almost said something in the turbolift,” the younger man mumbled. “But it continued on to Deck Two before I could.”

“Look,” Tom said, “I’m heading down to Engineering. Maybe Ashmore can help me find out what went wrong.” He paused. “And hopefully, we can try again.”

Hope brimmed in Pablo’s eyes. “We will?”

Tom reassured the pilot that they would make another attempt to trap Nicoletti in the turbolift. Smiling, Pablo returned to the Mess Hall. And Tom continued on to Deck Eleven. Upon reaching Engineering, he found Ensign Carl Ashmore working at a console on the upper level.

“What happened?” were the pilot’s first words to the engineer, repeating both himself and Baytart.

Ashmore’s light brown face puckered into a frown. “It didn’t work?”

“The damn thing didn’t even stop. What went wrong?” Tom watched as the other man punched in a few codes into the console.

“According to the computer,” Ashmore continued, “there’s nothing wrong with the program. So, it must be . . .” He punched in a few more entries. “Oh, here it is. We’ve been having problems with the computer’s relay circuits.”

A crewman appeared out of the blue, startling the two officers. “Excuse me, Ensign Ashmore?”

Ashmore glanced at the crewman. “Yes, Soltay, what is it?”

Crewman Soltay expressed difficulty with several ESP circuits connected to one of the ship’s gel packs. Ashmore excused himself to help the crewman. He told Tom, “I’ll get to you about this. How about later this evening?”

Tom sighed. All this scheming on Baytart’s behalf has proven to be very exhausting. And distracting him from his own pursuit of B’Elanna. “At the resort,” he said wearily. “Holodeck One, at 20:00 hours.”

Ashmore and Soltay left. Tom glanced at the chronometer. It read 13:53 hours. Realizing that he had an extra seven minutes, along with an hour for his lunch break, he left Engineering and headed for the nearest turbolift. Might as well enjoy every free moment until his return to duty. The moment he stepped into the turbolift, a voice cried out, “Hold the lift!” Was that . . .? Seconds later, B’Elanna Torres dashed into the turbolift. Tom could not believe his luck.

* * * *

The moment the turbolift doors slid shut, B’Elanna barked an order to the computer. “Deck Two.” Slightly winded, she took a deep breath. A familiar scent filled her nostrils. Kahless! Was that . . .?

“On your way to the Mess Hall?” Tom Paris asked in his usual soft voice. B’Elanna closed her eyes momentarily. Of all the people to find herself alone with! Dammit!“Hello? B’Elanna?” Tom continued. “Paris to Torres! Cat caught your tongue? Or is this some new ploy of yours? The silent treatment?”

Her dark eyes flashed with irritation. B’Elanna whirled on the pilot. “Keep it up, Flyboy! And I’ll give you my version of the silent treatment! Only you’ll be the one unable to speak. Especially with a broken jaw.”

“Ah! Nice to see that your tongue hasn’t been paralyzed after all.”

An impatient growl rose from B’Elanna’s throat. “What the hell you want, Paris?”

Tom protested. “Hey! All I did was ask you a question! Like, are you heading for the Mess Hall?”

“I asked for Deck Two!” B’Elanna snapped. “What do you think?”

“Well,” Tom leaned forward and waggled his brows lavisciously, “maybe we can share lunch. Like a bowl of Ktarian pudding?”

Only Tom Paris could make a simple lunch between friends seem suggestive. B’Elanna sighed. What did he have in mind, anyway? Ktarian pudding spread all over her body for him to lick? The idea of Paris’ tongue on her body brought forth erotic visions and feelings that immediately aroused B’Elanna. Even worse, were thoughts of her licking the pudding from his body. She took a deep breath to vanquish the images and Tom’s familiar scent hit her again. Good grief! Couldn’t she stop thinking about the man?

“Hello? Hey, B’Elanna!” Tom’s voice interrupted her forbidden musings. “Why am I having trouble in holding your attention for a few minutes?”

B’Elanna shot him a dark look. “Perhaps you haven’t said anything worth my attention. And as for lunch . . .” The turbolift lurched to a stop, taking the two occupants by surprise. “What the hell? Computer, resume turbolift!”

“Unable to comply,” the computer’s voice droned. “Turbolift One is malfunctioning.”

Irritated, B’Elanna shot back, “Malfunctioning? Where is the turbolift located now?”

“Turbolift One is located between Deck Six and Deck Seven.”

Something like a gasp escaped Tom’s mouth. B’Elanna stared at him. Then she tapped her combadge. “Torres to Engineering, what the hell is going on? I’m stuck in one of the turbolifts.”

A voice responded. It belonged to Carl Ashmore. “Uh, sorry Lieutenant. There seemed to be some problem with the computer’s circuitry. It must have affected the turbolift.”

“Well, do something about it!” B’Elanna barked.

Nervousness tinged Ashmore’s voice. “Uh, yes ma’am. I mean, uh, sir.” A pause followed. Then, “I’ll get to right away. Ashmore out.”

An amused Tom commented, “Poor Carl. After the way you had applied the whip, he’s probably pissing in his pants, by now.”

B’Elanna glared at the pilot. “Never mind about Ashmore,” she retorted. “What do you know about this?”

Blue eyes widened innocently. “What do you mean?”

“I saw the way you reacted when the computer mentioned we were stuck between Decks Six and Seven.” B’Elanna stepped closer, invading Tom’s personal space. “You know something about all this, Tom Paris. And I want the truth.”

A self-deprecating smile touched the pilot’s lips. “Okay. If you must know, I had Carl program the turbolift to stop right here.”

“I knew it!” B’Elanna crowed triumphantly. “I just knew you had something to do with this! What’s your game, Tom? Another half-assed attempt to get me alone? First, I’m going to tear Carl’s limbs apart and feed them to the warp core. But that’s . . .”

Tom interrupted, “Okay, B’Elanna. Before you go off half-cock, let . . .”

“What I’m going to do with Carl is nothing in compare to what I have planned for you! Of all the immature, idiotic . . .”

“WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP?”

Immobile with shock, B’Elanna stared at the pilot. “What did you just say?” she asked in a deadly whisper. “Did you just tell me to . . .”

“Yes! I told you to shut up and let me explain!” Tom grabbed hold of the engineer’s shoulder, surprising her even further. “Now, are you going to let me talk?”

B’Elanna’s eyes narrowed dangerously. Tom did not realize it, but he was seconds away from a broken jaw. “Okay, explain.”

He took a deep breath. “Like I said, Carl and I had programmed the turbolift to stop her for a good reason.” Tom hoped that Baytart would forgive him for this next bit of indiscretion. But if it meant saving him from pain at the hands of an angry, half-Klingon, too bad. “The reason we programmed the lift to stop was to trap Baytart and Sue Nicoletti inside, for a half-hour or so.”

A small frown creased B’Elanna’s brow. “Wait a minute! Are you saying . . .?”

“Look, this goes no further than you.” Tom paused. “Pablo had asked me to help him win over Sue Nicoletti. He’s in love with her and it seems he is too shy to approach her, himself.” He went on to explain his failed attempts at matchmaking – the dinner party, the Hololab and this latest attempt in the turbolift.

Comprehension hit B’Elanna like a wet rag. “That explains everything,” she murmured. “The little talks with Nicoletti and why you were always . . .” B’Elanna glanced up and became aware of the blue eyes staring at her. “Never mind.”

“Never mind, what?” Tom demanded. “What were you talking about? What talks with Sue?” He eyed B’Elanna questioningly.

Her mouth hung open. “I . . .” A wave of embarrassment washed over her. Kahless! When will she ever learn to think before she opened her mouth?

Tom’s eyes lit up mischievously. He slowly maneuvered B’Elanna against the turbolift’s walls. “You were about to say, Lieutenant?” he whispered in suggestive tones. His mouth hovered inches away from hers.

Keep hold of your emotions, Torres. Don’t let it overwhelm you. B’Elanna’s eyes refused to meet Tom’s. Instead, they focused on his square jaw. That delicious piece of flesh that she felt tempted to sink her teeth into. She took a deep breath. Big mistake! Tom’s scent, again invaded her senses. With great effort, B’Elanna ignored the scent and replied, “Actually, I meant to offer my help.”

“Excuse me?” Tom’s brows quirked upward.

B’Elanna continued, “I want to help. I’ll have a talk with Sue. Let her know that Baytart is interested in her. And suggest that she go on a date with him.”

Tom frowned. “What if she says no? I don’t think Sue is in any mood to give Pablo a chance. Especially after what happened at my party and in the Hololab.”

“Then he’s screwed,” B’Elanna replied bluntly. “And I would suggest he search in greener pastures.”

A sigh left Tom’s mouth. “That’s what I’ve been telling Pablo. Only he can be such a stubborn bastard, sometimes.”

“Sounds like someone I know,” B’Elanna murmured. She ignored the pilot’s pointed stare and tapped her combadge. “Torres to Engineering. How are those repairs coming along?”

Ashmore’s voice replied, “We’re almost finished, Chief. The turbolift should be back on line . . .” Before he could finish, B’Elanna felt a jolt. The turbolift began to move.

“Never mind, Carl. It’s moving. Good work.”

“No problem, Chief. Ashmore out.”

The turbolift resumed its journey. The two occupants rode in silence. Once it reached Deck Two, the doors slid open and the pair strode out and into the corridor. “Like I said,” B’Elanna continued, “I’ll have a talk with Sue. And you can convince Baytart to ask her out. Who knows?” They finally reached their destination. “Maybe something will happen between them.” She flashed Tom a smile and the two entered the Mess Hall. Dammit! Why did she have to smile at him, like that?

* * * *

“Nicoletti! I need to see you in my office, right away!”

The dark-haired woman warily headed for her superior’s office. B’Elanna could see by the set of her shoulders that she would rather keep her distance away from the Chief Engineer.

“Yes, Lieutenant?” Nicoletti answered, once she stepped inside the glass-encased room. “You want something?”

B’Elanna hesitated. She hated getting involved in the affairs of others. On the other hand, she had opened her big mouth and promised Tom to help him with his little matchmaking scheme. “Uh . . . Sue,” she began, “have you been noticing something odd, lately?”

“Odd?” Blue eyes stared at B’Elanna with one of those ‘what-did-I-do-now?’ looks. “What do you mean? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I . . .” Again, a hesitation. This felt so embarrassing! Why in the hell did she allow Paris to talk her into this? B’Elanna conveniently forgot that she had volunteered. Dammit! She might as well get this over with now! “Look Sue, have you been encountering Ensign Baytart a lot? Lately?”

Slowly, Nicoletti replied, “Ye-ess-ss.” She paused and blinked. Realization lit up her eyes. “Yeah,” she added in a soft voice. “I wonder why.” B’Elanna told her about Tom’s matchmaking efforts. Nicoletti’s eyes grew wide with disbelief. “What?”

“All those little encounters with Baytart – the dinner party, the Hololab and the turbolift – had all been engineered by Paris. He’s been helping Baytart to get a date with . . .”

Sue angrily cut in. “Get a date with me! So, that’s why Paris has been hounding me all week long! And those damn accidents with Baytart! They were all his fault?”

An uneasy feeling grew inside B’Elanna. She wondered if Nicoletti felt disappointed that Baytart was the interested party and not Tom. “Sue, calm down. Neither Tom or Baytart meant any harm.”

“Any harm?” The other woman’s blue eyes blazed with anger. “How would you like to be the target of some cheap, matchmaking scheme?”

Impatience and her volatile temper finally caught up with B’Elanna. “Kahless, Sue! You act as if Baytart and Tom had played some dirty trick on you! Don’t you get it? Baytart is interested in you! He’s so infatuated that he risked his pride and asked Tom to help him. You asked if I would like to be the target of someone’s matchmaking? A part of me would say no. But another part of me would say . . .” Realizing that she was about to reveal one of her inner feelings, B’Elanna immediately clamped her mouth shut.

Nicoletti stared at the Chief Engineer. “You would say, yes?”

B’Elanna took a deep breath. She had not expected matters to get out of hand, like this. But, Sue deserved an answer. “Yeah,” she murmured. “Maybe.”

The two women fell silent. Then Sue asked, “Do you really think I should go on a date with Pablo?” For the first time, B’Elanna wondered if she and Sue shared a lot of traits – a tendency to become too involved in work, insecurity and a reserved nature.

“Sure. Why not?” B’Elanna replied, with a shrug. “Unless you’re interested in someone else.”

A knowing smile curved Nicoletti’s lips. “You mean, someone like Tom Paris. Hmm.” She paused, as if contemplating a decision. “Well, I have to admit that I wouldn’t be the only female on this ship to consider a date with Paris. Of course, what’s the point in longing for a man who has eyes for someone else?”

“Who are you talk . . .?” B’Elanna paused, suddenly aware of the mischief in Nicoletti’s eyes. She growled, “Never mind!”

“Chief?”

B’Elanna grabbed a PADD from her desk and pretended to be interested in the contents. “If Baytart ever finds the courage to ask you out,” she continued, “will you say yes?”

Nicoletti shrugged. “Maybe. We’ll see.” Which meant, B’Elanna realized, yes.

* * * *

Sheer panic filled Pablo Baytart’s eyes. “You told Lieutenant Torres everything?” he cried out. The two pilots stood inside Tom’s quarters. The latter had just finished his shift on the Bridge. “Why? I thought this was between the two of us!”

“I had to tell her,” Tom insisted. “It was either that or let her beat me to death for causing the turbolift to stop.”

Pablo demanded, “What are you talking about? That damn lift didn’t even stop! Or have you forgotten?”

Tom sighed. “It did stop, Pablo. Only an hour later than it was suppose to. And I ended up trapped with Torres.” He sat down in one of his chairs. Baytart sank onto the sofa. “Once she found out the truth, she offered to help.”

“Help?” Baytart frowned. “How?”

Here comes the tricky part, Tom realized. “Well, B’Elanna had volunteered to have a talk with Sue and convince her to go out on a date with you, if you asked. In fact, I believe they’ve already had their conversation.”

“WHAT?” The young pilot’s voice vibrated around the cabin.

Tom winced from the cry that rang in his ears. “God, Pablo! Not so loud!”

“Are you . . . do you mean to say that Sue knows everything? She’ll never go out with me, now!”

“She won’t if you try to avoid her like some ten year-old who’s frightened of girls!” Tom retorted. He heaved another sigh. “Look, according to B’Elanna, Sue is willing to have a talk with you. Give you a chance. All you have to do is face her and ask for a date.”

Baytart’s face expressed uncertainty. “But, what if . . .?”

“Dammit Pablo! You can’t hide from her, forever! What do you want me to do? Go on the date for you?”

Apparently, the idea did not appeal to Baytart. “N-n-no,” he stammered. He sighed. “I guess not. Maybe I should face her. Do you know where she is at the moment?”

Holding back his glee, Tom shrugged. “Why don’t you check with the computer?”

According to the computer, Lieutenant Nicoletti could be found in Engineering. Just as Tom had expected. “Well?” he said to Pablo.

The younger stood up and flashed an uneasy smile. “Well, wish me luck.” He squared his shoulders and gave Tom a nod. “Thanks for the advice, Lieutenant. And for helping me find my nerve.”

“Good luck, Pablo,” Tom replied, before Baytart left his quarters. Once alone, Tom raised his eyes heavenward and allowed himself a heartfelt sigh. “Thank God!” he shouted to know one in particular. Now, he finally had the time to return his attentions to other matters. Namely, a certain chief engineer.

* * * *

FOUR DAYS LATER . . .

“I don’t believe it!” Harry declared in a disbelieving tone. “I see it, but I don’t believe it! Is that Pablo Baytart with Sue Nicoletti?” He pointed at a couple, sharing a table on the other side of Sandrine’s, inside Holodeck One.

Both B’Elanna and Tom glanced at the couple. The former allowed herself a satisfied smile. As she had suggested, Sue accepted Pablo’s invitation to a date. She learned from Tom that the pair ended up having dinner together at simulation of a Parisian bistro, created by the Chief Helmsman. Fortunately, the date turned out to be a success.

“I had a great time!” Sue had gushed on the morning, following her first date with the pilot. “The dinner was delicious and the atmosphere, fantastic! Later, Pablo and I took a walk along the Left Bank. Very romantic.” Naturally, B’Elanna had not demand any further details.

Tom chuckled over Harry’s comments. “Well, they look like Pablo and Sue to me. Make a cute couple, don’t they?” His blue eyes danced merrily, sending shivers up B’Elanna’s spine.

“Yeah, I guess,” Harry said reluctantly. His eyes returned to Tom’s face. “What are you grinning about? You look like the cat who just swallowed a canary.” Suspicion gleamed in his dark eyes. “Say, did you have anything to do with . . .?”

Laughter poured out of Tom’s mouth. “Boy, Harry! You do catch on ‘fast’, don’t you?” Harry’s face turned red. “As a matter of fact, I had everything to do with them being together.”

B’Elanna arched an eyebrow and stared at Tom. “Excuse me, Flyboy,” she said caustically. “Only YOU were responsible?”

Embarrassment quickly replaced Tom’s triumphant expression. “Sorry. I meant us. I managed to convince Pablo to get over his shyness and ask Sue for a date. And B’Elanna had convinced her to give him a chance.” He went on to explain the entire situation to Harry.

The Ops officer shook his head after Tom finished. “The pilot and the engineer. Who would have believed it?” His remark caused B’Elanna to nearly choke on her drink. Both Harry and Tom stared at her with concerned eyes. “Are you okay, Maquis?”

“I’m fine,” a slightly hoarse B’Elanna replied. “My scotch went down the wrong way.”

Harry again, contemplated the two newly formed lovebirds. “So Tom, you were helping Baytart set up a date with Sue? That explains all those lunches and dates with Sue in the Hololab. And to think, B’Elanna thought . . .”

The moment he spoke her name, B’Elanna knew what Harry was about to say. She panicked and gave him a swift kick in the shin. Followed by a menacing stare that expressly ordered him to shut up. The younger man winced in pain. But B’Elanna also achieved her goal. Harry quickly clamped his mouth shut.

Tom glanced at his friends with barely concealed amusement. “Are you okay, Harry?”

“Fine,” the Ops officer muttered. “Just a muscle twinge in the calf.”

Feign innocence lit up Tom’s eyes. “Oh. I see. By the way, you also mentioned B’Elanna. What exactly were you about to say?” A smile threatened to quirk his lips.

He knew! Embarrassment filled B’Elanna’s guts. The teasing bastard had obviously guessed what Harry nearly revealed. Dammit! She had to get out of here. In order to make her escape, B’Elanna rose from her chair. “I just remembered. I have an Engineering report to finish,” she gushed. “I’ll see you two, later.”

Tom stood up. “Okay. I’ll walk you home.”

“I don’t need an escort, Paris!” B’Elanna retorted. Couldn’t the man take a hint? “I’m a big girl now.”

An appreciative smile curled Tom’s lips. “All the more reason to walk you back to your quarters.”

B’Elanna speared the pilot with her deadliest glare. His smile grew wider. She sighed in defeat. “All right, you can follow me.”

“Have fun you two,” Harry added. His eyes danced with glee. Both B’Elanna and Tom glared at him, but he ignored their stares and continued drinking.

Once they left Holodeck One, Tom did not follow B’Elanna to Deck Nine. Instead, the pair strolled together, side-by-side, without touching each other. B’Elanna made sure of that. They finally reached her quarters. She punched in the codes to her room and turned to face the pilot. “Well, here we are. Thanks for the uh, escort.” The doors slid open.

To her horror, Tom did not walk away. Instead, he brought up an embarrassing subject she long thought dead. “What exactly did you think about Sue and me?”

B’Elanna’s eyes grew wide. “What?”

“Harry mentioned something about why I was having all those lunches with Sue. Then he said that you thought . . . before everything went blank and he suddenly developed a ‘muscle cramp’.” A smirk touched Tom’s lips.

Again, B’Elanna’s breathing became irregular. “Nothing,” she quickly replied. “It was nothing. I . . .” Her mouth hung open.

Tom leaned closer, his mouth less than a millimeter from hers. “You what?” he whispered. The soft timbre of his voice sent waves of heat throughout B’Elanna’s body.

Dark brown eyes met blue ones. B’Elanna found her resistance to the handsome pilot slipping away. ‘Kiss him’ her mind barked. ‘Just lean forward and press your mouth against those soft, firm . . .’ Voices in the corridor broke B’Elanna out of her trance. She snapped back, growled a quick “good night” and immediately slipped inside her quarters.

Once the doors slid shut, the Chief Engineer leaned against them and sighed. Her body still shook from the memory of her close call with Tom. She felt relieved that she had escaped from becoming Tom Paris’s next conquest. Yet, she could not forget the disappointment that flashed in his blue eyes. Or ignore that same disappointment that refused to leave her heart.

THE END

“Perils of a Matchmaker” [PG-13] – 1/2

 

“PERILS OF A MATCHMAKER”

CODE: P/T, B/N, Kim
RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: Tom Paris helps Pablo Baytart win the affections of Sue Nicoletti and endangers his own pursuit of the Chief Engineer in the process. Set during late Season 3.
FEEDBACK: Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Tom, B’Elanna and all other characters related to Star Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom and the usual Trek Powers to Be.

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Part 1

Tom Paris heard footsteps behind him as he walked along the corridor of Deck Six. “Lieutenant! Lieutenant Paris!” a voice cried out. “Lieutenant, may I speak to you?” The voice belonged to Ensign Pablo Baytart, one of the pilots under the Chief Helmsman’s command.

“Can I help you, Pablo?” Tom paused to face the younger man.

Breathing heavily, Baytart replied, “Yeah, I . . .” He paused momentarily. “I need to speak with you. About a private matter.”

Private matter meant Baytart wanted to conduct this conversation somewhere other than in the middle of the corridor. Tom nodded. “I’m heading for Holodeck One. For the resort. Why don’t you join me?”

“Well, I . . .” Hesitation loomed in Baytart’s eyes. “Can we go somewhere a little more private?”

Tom sighed and promised to initiate the privacy lock on the holodeck. The two pilots reached Holodeck One and entered. Although Neelix’s resort program was running, no one seemed to be inside. Much to Baytart’s obvious relief. After Tom ordered the computer to initiate the lock, he turned to the junior pilot. “Okay Pablo, we’re alone. Now what’s the problem?”

It all came tumbling out of Baytart’s mouth. In a nutshell, the young pilot was in love with Lieutenant Sue Nicoletti, from Engineering. And he required Tom’s help to play matchmaker. The older man gave Baytart a blank look. “Matchmaker? Why me?”

“I . . . uh . . .” Baytart blushed. “Well, I heard how you helped Culhane with Jenna Carlson in Exobiology, a couple of months ago. And I wondered if you could . . .” The pilot’s face now turned deep red. “You see, it’s Sue. I heard she can be difficult to pursue.”

The understatement of the century, Tom thought wryly. He recalled his own six-month long efforts to pursue Sue Nicoletti, last year. Efforts that eventually ended in failure. Not that Tom felt any bitterness over the matter, despite the “cold hands, cold heart” comment he once made to Harry Kim about the engineer. He had never felt anything more than lust for the dark-haired Sue. Something he wished he could say about his present goal – namely Sue’s commanding officer – a certain half-Klingon, half-Human chief engineer. Images of the recent events on Sakari IV flashed through Tom’s mind. Along with memories of a conversation inside a turbolift. “Careful of what you wish for, Lieutenant.” With a sigh, Tom realized he may have taken on a more impossible goal.

“Lieutenant?” Baytart’s voice interrupted Tom’s thoughts.

The older man shook his head. “Sorry. My mind was elsewhere. Uh, as for the elusive Lieutenant Nicoletti, I’ll see what I can do.”

A bright smile lit up Pablo’s face. “Thanks, Lieutenant.”

“Don’t get too excited, Pablo. This is Sue Nicoletti we’re dealing with.” Cold hands, cold heart. “It might take a while before we achieve success.”

Still smiling, Pablo stood up. “I’m sure you’ll get the job done, Lieutenant. I’ll see you later. And again, thanks.” He left the holodeck.

“Yeah, sure,” Tom murmured under his breath. He realized, to his regret, that he might have to put his pursuit of B’Elanna Torres on hold.

* * * *

Sable eyes watched the doors to Engineering slide open. Watched a sandy blond-haired figure in Command black-and-red, stroll inside. Those same eyes quickly glanced away the moment Voyager’s Chief Pilot walked toward the Chief Engineer’s private office. B’Elanna Torres’s heart began to beat rapidly.

Breathe Torres. Calm down. Tom Paris is no one to get excited over. What happened on Sakari IV had been a mere fluke. An unfortunate incident caused by a chemical imbalance forced upon her by a Vulcan in . . .

“Hey B’Elanna.” Tom Paris’s soft, masculine voice filled her ears. The same voice that told her over two months ago that he would like to see more of her Klingon side. Tom entered her office, his scent pervading her senses. B’Elanna struggled not to breathe deeply. He tossed a PADD on her desk. “The navigation reports. Just as you had requested.”

B’Elanna snatched the PADD from the desk. “Thanks,” she said, giving Tom a curt nod. She did not even bother to look at him. The last thing she wanted was to look deeply into the pilot’s blue eyes. Unfortunately for B’Elanna, once she received the report, Tom refused to move. Another sigh left her mouth. He possessed a stubborn streak that rivaled any Klingon’s. “Is there something else you wanted, Paris?” She glanced up and frowned. It helped that her eyes focused upon his forehead.

“Paris?” One of Tom’s sandy brows quirked upward. “I thought we had put surnames behind us a long time ago.” Over a year, to be exact.

B’Elanna growled. “What do you want, Tom?”

A slow smile curled the pilot’s lips. B’Elanna forced herself to ignore the electric currents shooting up her spine. “Well, I was thinking of holding this party,” Tom replied, “and I thought you would like . . .”

“I’ll be busy,” B’Elanna shot back, interrupting him.

Tom frowned. “Oh? When? I don’t recall mentioning a specific date.”

Idiot! B’Elanna mentally castigated herself. She should have kept her mouth shut, until he finished. Now, how in the hell was she going to get out of this mess?

B’Elanna eventually asked herself why she would want to avoid an evening with Tom. She could no longer deny her interest in the pilot. At least, privately. Publicly admitting her interest seemed another matter. A little voice inside her mind – one that she labeled “FEAR” – told her that it would be a matter of time before Tom Paris grew weary of her Klingon side. And that in the end, he would reject her.

Heaving a sigh, B’Elanna deliberately examined the PADD in her hand. “Look Tom,” she commented in her usual gruff manner, “I’m sure that your party will be a lot of fun, but I don’t know when I’ll have time to enjoy it. Between our encounter with that Borg cube and the Doctor’s foray into homicidal schizophrenia, I don’t know when.”

“Oh.” Tom’s voice permeated with disappointment. At least that was how it sounded to B’Elanna. “Well . . . uh, hopefully you’ll be free, sooner than you think.”

“Hopefully.”

Another moment passed before Tom murmured a quick good day. And then he left. Only his scent lingered inside the office. The half-Klingon kept her eyes fixed on the report. At least, she tried to concentrate. The moment she felt safe enough to do so, she glanced up to watch Tom leave Engineering. Only, he did not leave. Instead, he made his way toward one of her engineers working at a console near the warp core. Sue Nicoletti. B’Elanna’s eyes narrowed.

* * * *

“Say that again?” Sue Nicoletti demanded. “You’re inviting me to where?” Her voice rang throughout Engineering, drawing stares.

There were times Tom wished the engineer would learn to keep her voice at a moderate level. Ignoring the curious stares, Tom repeated his question. “I asked if you would like to join me in my quarters, tomorrow evening.”

Sue shot an uneasy glance at the Chief Engineer’s office. “Uh, just us alone?”

“Huh?” Tom realized that he had misinterpreted his intent. The last thing he wanted was to give Sue the idea that he had renewed his interest in her. “Oh! Uh . . . damn! No, it’s not what you think.” He exhaled a gust of breath. “I’m holding a little sociable, tomorrow night. You know, food, drinks, music and perhaps a little game of poker.”

Disbelief replaced the wariness in Sue’s blue eyes. “This is new. You haven’t asked me to a friendly get-together in months. Ten months, to be exact.”

Tom shrugged. “Considering the number of times you’ve turned me down in the past, can you blame me?”

“Uh-huh.”

A nervous laugh escaped Tom’s mouth. “Look Sue, it’s not what you think. I’m not interested in romance. Just a little get together with people I consider to be my friends.”

“I don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted,” Sue commented wryly. Again, she shot a glance toward B’Elanna’s office. “Will Lieutenant Torres be there?”

Tom quickly squelched the disappointment he felt over B’Elanna’s recent rejection. “It seems she’ll be busy for a while. I’m only surprised that you aren’t.”

“Busy doing what?”

Of course. Tom realized he should have known that B’Elanna’s excuses for turning down his invitation were mere smoke screens. Either she had no desire to spend her off-duty hours with him. Or she was afraid. Tom hoped it was the latter.

Sue repeated her question. “Well? Busy doing what?”

“Nothing,” Tom responded with a sigh. “Forget what I said. All I want to know is will you be able to show up at my quarters, tomorrow night. Say, 20:00 hours?”

“I’ll be there.”

Tom smiled. “Good. Now be sure . . .”

“Nicoletti!” a throaty female’s voice cried out. “Haven’t you finished recalibrating those specs, yet?” Tom and Sue stared at the glass-encased office. B’Elanna stood in the doorway, hands on hips. Glaring.

Sue threw Tom a long-suffering glance. One that pleaded with him to leave before either of them piss off the Chief Engineer any further. Tom quickly got the message and left Engineering before he could further inflame B’Elanna’s wrath.

* * * *

Around 19:45, the following night, Tom glanced around his quarters. His guests were due to arrive any minute. And sure enough, the first one arrived three minutes later. Pablo Baytart. Harry Kim arrived with both Delaney sisters, two minutes after Pablo. Before 20:00, the rest of Tom’s guests arrived, with the exception of Sue Nicoletti. The engineer showed up fifteen minutes late.

Soft jazz music filled the pilot’s cabin. A tempting array of Earth and Bajoran dishes stretched across a table, set up against a bare wall. The food had been replicated, thanks to additional credits provided by Baytart and Harry.

The party seemed to proceed smoothly. Talk focused on topics other than survival in the Delta Quadrant. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food. Tom did not blame them. He had to keep the party a secret from Voyager’s Talaxian cook – who would have undoubtedly volunteered to prepare the food. And to Tom’s delight, Pablo and Sue managed to strike up a conversation on famous jazz musicians. If everything went according to plan, the engineer and the pilot will drift from acquaintance to friendship, and eventually toward romance. Then disaster struck.

Pablo volunteered to fetch a plate of dim sum for Sue. Eager to please the engineer, he set out on his task. As he headed back toward Sue, Pablo failed to notice Mike Ayala’s protruding foot. He tripped over the latter and the plate of dim sum with soy sauce, sailed out of his hands and landed on Sue’s lap.

The engineer cried out with dismay. Pablo laid sprawled on the floor, wearing a horrified expression. Tom closed his eyes and sighed. Getting Pablo and Sue together, he realized, might proved to be more elusive than him winning the hand of one B’Elanna Torres.

* * * *

“Hey, Starfleet!”

Harry glanced up from his breakfast and found the Chief Engineer standing beside his table inside the Mess Hall. “Hey, Maquis. Have a seat.” He gestured toward the empty chair, opposite him.

Once B’Elanna eased into a chair, she began poking at her food. Either she was not hungry or like Harry, found Neelix’s idea of Eggs Benedict, unappetizing. “Doesn’t look that hot, does it?” Harry commented.

B’Elanna smiled wryly. “Not really. I would have replicated something, but I’m low on credits, right now.”

“Yeah, so am I. Tom managed to win most of my credits during a pool game, day before yesterday.” Harry scooped up a forkful of orange-colored eggs. “He must have used them for that party in his quarters, last night.” The moment he mentioned Tom’s party, he saw B’Elanna’s mouth tightened into a grim line. “What’s wrong?”

Her mouth quickly relaxed. Dark eyes widened in innocence. “What do you mean?”

“Is there something wrong?” Harry continued. “You looked upset for a moment. When I mentioned Tom’s party.” He deliberately paused. “Were you upset over that?”

B’Elanna’s nose wrinkled in distaste. “Of course not! Why should I be upset? Tom had invited me. I just didn’t . . . I mean, I was busy, last night.” She began to attack her food.

“Busy?” Harry frowned. “Doing what? Most of the major repairs were finished three days ago.”

An exasperated sigh escaped B’Elanna’s mouth. “There were minor repairs to deal with,” she replied through gritted teeth.

“Which could have been done by your staff. After all, you are the Chief Engineer.”

“What’s your point, Harry?”

The Operations Chief realized that he was about to tread through dangerous waters. But he also remembered that he was a Starfleet officer. Not only was weird part of the job, but also danger. Harry took a deep breath. “It sounds as if you had turned down Tom’s invitation. To avoid Tom.”

B’Elanna rolled her eyes. “Kahless, Harry! The world does not revolve around Thomas Paris!” The moment she spoke his name, the Mess Hall doors slid open and in strode the object of their conversation. Harry glanced at B’Elanna, whose cheeks immediately turned red. A smile tugged at his lips.

“Hey Harry!” Tom greeted in his usual gregarious manner. He joined the two friends at their table. His eyes slid toward the Chief Engineer. “B’Elanna.” The latter responded with a murmur.

Harry smiled at his friend. “Hey, Tom. Where’s your breakfast?”

“I ate some of the leftovers from last night’s party. You should taken some yourself, Harry.” Tom shot a withering glance at the orange eggs. “And maybe spare yourself from Neelix’s latest sample of Delta Quadrant cuisine.”

Harry dismally poked his eggs with his fork. “Oh God, please don’t remind me!”

Tom turned to face B’Elanna. “Say B’Elanna, you miss one hell of a party, last night. We had a great time. Right, Har?”

“I have to admit that I did enjoy myself, last night,” Harry conceded, recalling the festivities. “Tom’s right, B’Elanna. It’s a shame that you missed it.”

Mischief sparkled in Tom’s blue eyes. “Well, B’Elanna was busy last night, Harry,” he drawled. “With repairs. Of course that does seem odd, since all of the major repairs were finished three days ago.”

B’Elanna gave Harry an accusing stare. “You told!”

“What are you talking about?” a bewildered Harry protested. “I didn’t say a word!”

“Then who . . .?” B’Elanna’s gaze pierced the Chief Helmsman. “All right, Flyboy! Who told you?”

Projecting an air of innocence, Tom shrugged. “Told me what?”

“Tom!”

Chuckling, Tom finally gave in. “All right, all right. It was Sue Nicoletti. I asked her about the repairs, last night.”

Sable eyes slitted dangerously. Harry prepared to calm down B’Elanna. Before he could do so, the doors slid open again and Sue Nicoletti entered. As she strode toward the galley’s counter, Tom rose from his chair. “Excuse me for a minute.” His eyes focused on the dark-haired engineer. “I have some business to attend to.” The pilot walked toward Sue, leaving behind two speechless friends.

B’Elanna finally spoke out. “What the hell does he want with her?” she growled.

Harry noticed the grim expression on his friend’s face. And the envy in her dark eyes. Interesting, he thought. B’Elanna was jealous. Harry glanced at his other friend. And what exactly did Tom want with Sue Nicoletti?

* * * *

Tom approached the engineer, flashing his trademark effervescent grin. “Sue!”

Nicoletti eyed the helmsman with a wary eye. “Tom. What can I do for you?” She picked up a breakfast tray and began to examine the dishes on the counter.

“Just wanted to know if you enjoyed last night’s party.” From the corner of his eye, Tom noticed the perked interest on Neelix’s face.

Sue quietly made her breakfast selections. “I enjoyed it,” she coolly replied replied, “aside from getting a plate full of dim sum and soy sauce on one of my best dresses.”

Tom winced at her answer. It seemed Pablo’s clumsy act had failed to fade from Sue’s memory. “Yeah, I’m real sorry about that. Mike should really learn to keep his feet tucked in.”

“And Baytart should learn to watch where he steps,” Sue retorted. Oh, oh! Things did not look promising. Once Neelix filled her plate with food, Sue carried it over to the nearest empty table. Tom followed. She eased into a chair with a sigh. “Okay, Tom. What do you want, now?”

Tom sat down in a chair, opposite her. “I have a favor to ask.” He paused.

“What favor?”

In a breathless rush, Tom informed Sue of his plans (phony ones, at that) to develop a training simulation holoprogram for the pilots in his division. “Holoprogram?” Sue took a bite of her Eggs Benedict and grimaced. Then she chewed her food and swallowed. “What do you need me for? You’re one of the best holoprogrammers on the ship.”

It amazed Tom how a compliment could sound so cold. What on earth did Baytart see in this woman? Better yet, what on earth made him pursue her for six months? The challenge? Tom gathered all of his patience and replied, “It’s not your programming skills I need, Sue. It’s your memory. Of Geminian Prime. I understand that your last assignment before Voyager was the Hiriku. And that it was the first starship to chart the Geminian Prime system.”

“So what? I’m an engineer, not a astrophysicist.”

Tom sighed. Patience, Tommy boy, patience. Hell, you’ve been practicing it long enough with B’Elanna. His lips still fixed in a smile, Tom continued, “That may be true, but I heard you were part of the original survey team. To study the geological and metallurgical details of several of the planets. I need to provide me some details of the system.”

Sue warily speared a piece of Ragealan sausage. “You can find all the information you need in the ship’s database.”

“The database cannot provide those little details that make a program exciting. C’mon Sue! Please?” Tom gave the engineer the full blast of his blue eyes.

A sigh left Sue’s mouth. “Okay,” she said, surprising Tom. “I’ll help you. I may not remember much, but I’ll help. When do we start?”

So much for Cold Hands/Cold Hearts Nicoletti, Tom decided. Maybe he should have tried begging, when he had pursued her a year ago. “How about tomorrow evening? Around 1900 hours? I’ll meet you outside the Hololab.”

“It’s a date,” Sue replied. Unfortunately, she had spoken loud enough to draw stares from nearby diners.

Tom decided it was time to leave before a false rumor could start. He bid Sue a quick good-bye and returned to Harry’s table. However, one person seemed to be missing. Tom’s eyes narrowed. “Where’s B’Elanna?” he asked. Harry did not say a word and instead, responded with a sardonic smirk.

* * * *

Somewhere on Deck 8, B’Elanna crawled through Jeffries tube 26, lugging her toolkit with her. Several of the EPS conduits had malfunctioned and for some reason, the two engineers she assigned to make repairs seemed capable of completing the task. A firm believer in the old adage – “If you want something done, do it yourself” – B’Elanna decided to deal with the repairs, personally.

She came upon a console, located a few feet away from one of the tube’s opened doors. After removing the console’s panel, B’Elanna’s dark eyes examined the circuitry. Obviously, Ensigns Mulcahey and Ballard’s repairs had failed to solve the problem. In fact, their work only seemed to have made matters worse. How in Kahless’s name did Starfleet allow such incompetents on their starships?

A sigh left the Chief Engineer’s mouth. She picked up a hydro-spanner and set about making repairs. B’Elanna hoped that a little work would help her forget that scene she had witnessed in the Mess Hall. Unfortunately, no sooner had she begun repairs, her hopes quickly dashed. The circuits before her, soon transformed into the unwelcome vision of Tom Paris and Susan Nicoletti, engaged in an intimate conversation.

What in the hell made Tom rush to Sue’s side, the moment she entered the Mess Hall? Did he have an innocent matter to discuss? Or did he invite her to another one of his private parties? B’Elanna began to wonder if Tom’s romantic interest in the dark-haired woman had revived, after his failure to woo the Chief Engineer. The latter longed to know. And yet, a part of her had no desire to concern herself with the notorious Chief Helmsman. Ah, conflict! Her constant companion in life.

“. . . has to be,” a voice beyond the tube’s door, was saying. “How else can you explain it?”

Another voice sighed. “Explain what?” B’Elanna recognized that soft, sarcastic voice anywhere. It belonged to her second-in-command, Joe Carey. “Pat, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Ensign Patrick Mulcahey snorted. “Of course, I do! I was sitting at the table next to them, inside the Mess Hall . . .”

B’Elanna’s hands paused over the console. She placed the spanner on the floor and quietly crept toward the door. When Mulcahey mentioned the words, “Mess Hall”, she realized that he and Joe were discussing Paris and Nicoletti. At that moment, B’Elanna refused to even think of the Chief Pilot as Tom.

“You mean to say,” Carey sarcastically continued, “that you and Lindsay overheard the entire conversation?”

Mulcahey retorted, “We heard enough.” He paused, causing B’Elanna to mentally scream for the man to continue. “Paris asked Sue to help him with a holodeck program.”

“And?”

B’Elanna’s heart lurched at the news. Since when did Tom Paris need help with a holoprogram?

“Tom Paris, asking for help with a holoprogram?” Mulcahey cried out, repeating B’Elanna’s thoughts. “He’s one of the best programmers on the ship! Probably the best! What the hell does he need Sue’s help for?”

A sigh from Carey. “What are you leading to, Pat?”

“I think Paris is interested in Sue, again. C’mon Joe! What else can it be? He invites her to a party inside his quarters . . .”

Joe shot back, “I was there!” I could have been, B’Elanna added silently. “There were at least ten to fifteen people at that party.”

Mulcahey continued, “And what about this morning? Paris seeking help for his new holoprogram?”

Silence followed. B’Elanna immediately knew the answer to Mulcahey’s suggestion. Tom Paris wanted Sue Nicoletti. Quite simple. He had apparently grown weary of pursuing B’Elanna and now focused his attention upon another woman. Surely, Joe could see that?

Seconds later, B’Elanna had her answer. “I guess Paris finally got tired of chasing the Chief after Sakaris IV,” Joe finally said. “Too bad.”

“Too bad?” Mulcahey’s voice rang with disbelief. “Are you kidding me? Can you imagine the Chief and Playboy Paris as a couple? It would never work! She’s too intense for a guy like that!” Intense could only mean one thing – too Klingon in Mulcahey’s eyes. He did not realize it, but he had just earned another black mark in the Chief Engineer’s book.

Carey responded, “I don’t know. Personally, I thought they had something. Like I said, too bad.” He almost sounded mournful. But not as much as B’Elanna felt.

* * * *

Tom strode along Deck Six’s corridor in his usual, easygoing manner. He was on his way to Pablo Baytart’s quarters, located right next door to Harry. Upon reaching his destination, he rang the announciator. Several times. After six weeks of accumulating extra flying time, Baytart managed to get two days off for his troubles. Today was the first of his off-duty time. A groggy voice from inside cried out, “Wha . . . Who’s there?”

“It’s me, Pablo! Paris! I have something for you.” Seconds passed before the door opened, allowing Tom to enter.

Tom’s eyes glanced around the immaculate cabin. There were a few facts about Pablo Baytart. He was an excellent pilot, a good juggler, a friendly soul, he constantly complained about Harry’s clarinet and he also happened to be a neat freak. Tom barely saw an object out of place or a piece of clothing scattered about. Amazing.

“Lieutenant,” Baytart greeted his superior, while tugging at his robe. “Can I help you?”

Tom replied, “Not really. Actually, I’m here to help you. Here,” he tossed a PADD at the ensign. “Read that. You’re going to be helping Sue with a holoprogram, tomorrow. Nineteen hundred hours. Be there.” He turned on his heels and started toward the door.

“Wait!” Pablo cried out. He ran a hand through his dark hair. “What do I need this PADD for?”

“I told Sue that I needed help with a pilot training program. It’s all there on the PADD. She’ll be expecting me, but you’ll show up, instead. Tell her . . .” Tom’s mind raced for a plausible explanation. “Tell her that I was called unexpectedly by Ensign Kim, regarding an Operations matter.” He slapped the younger man’s back. “After that, it’s up to you.”

Before Tom could leave, Pablo thanked him. “I really appreciate this, Lieutenant.” The Chief Pilot responded with a quick grin and left.

* * * *

At precisely 19:00 hours, the following evening, Tom deliberately failed to meet Lieutenant Nicoletti in the Hololab. Instead, he turned on his computer inside his quarters and watched Ensign Baytart make the appointment in his place, by activating the lab’s video monitor.

The expression on Sue’s face expressed annoyance at Tom’s failure to meet her. However, the engineer seemed willing to work with Pablo. Within twenty minutes, Tom could see that his plan was going smoothly. Both Sue and Pablo worked well, together. And unlike the party from a few days ago, there seemed to be no mishaps.

No sooner had those words entered Tom’s thoughts, Pablo punched in a few entries on his console, his eyes fixed upon Sue with unabashed admiration. Sparks immediately lit up the engineer’s workstation. Sue cried out in pain, before she fell to the floor, unconscious.

Tom lowered his head into his hand and let out a heavy sigh. He realized, with a touch of despair that his efforts to help Baytart win Nicoletti’s affections had just risen from difficult to near impossible.

* * * *

“One last item on the agenda, this morning,” Captain Janeway declared, “is Lieutenant Nicoletti’s injuries.” The auburn-haired captain and her senior officers sat around the large table, inside Voyager’s Conference Room. “Doctor, can you give us the details on this matter?”

Due to his possession of a 29th century holoemitter four-and-a-half months ago, the Chief Medical Officer had been able to appear outside Sick Bay and the holodecks. And finally even make personal appearances at senior staff meetings. Much to Tom’s annoyance. The latter preferred the good old days when they communicated with the EMH via a computer monitor. Which meant anyone could switch off the ponderous hologram whenever he became annoying.

The Doctor gave a slight cough. “Lieutenant Nicoletti had suffered minor burns and electric shock from an outage in her console in the Hololab. She healed quite nicely, following a minor surgery and a few hours of rest.”

“How on earth did that happened?” the Captain demanded. She turned to B’Elanna with concerned eyes. “Lieutenant, was there something wrong with one of the Hololab’s computer terminals?”

The Chief Engineer’s mouth formed a grim line. Tom almost smiled. She looked very Klingon at that moment. And quite gorgeous. “There was nothing wrong, Captain,” B’Elanna grumbled. “It seemed Ensign Baytart had accidentally caused a surge in the console Sue was working from.”

A puzzled frown appeared on Chakotay’s face. “I’m surprised those two were working together. Neither really struck me as being exceptional holoprogrammers.”

Tom spoke out. “It was my idea.” All eyes fell upon him. “I needed Sue’s help on a particular program, but I had to bow out at the last moment. So I asked Ensign Baytart to take my place.”

“Why?” Janeway asked.

Tom shrugged. “It’s nothing. I’m creating a new training program for the Conn Division.”

“Is that what you two were talking about in the Mess Hall?” Harry blurted out.

The question took Tom off guard. He had no idea that his little conversation with Sue had generated so much speculation. “Well . . . yeah,” he replied slowly. “What did you think?” He stared at his best friend, whose face turned red. Even more surprisingly, so did B’Elanna’s.

Before Harry could answer, Neelix had a question of his own. “Why would you need Lieutenant Nicoletti’s help with a holoprogram?” His question reflected in the eyes of the others.

“There’s a certain system in the . . .” Tom paused. Why on earth was everyone interested in him and Sue Nicoletti? “Look, it’s a private matter,” he quickly explained. “Excuse me, but isn’t this suppose to be a staff meeting and not gossip time in the Mess Hall?”

The majority of the staff glanced away, looking embarrassed. Except for the Captain, who let out a small cough. “You’re right, Mister Paris. This is turning into a gossip session. However, you cannot blame us for being a little curious.” She gave Tom a small smile. “If there is nothing more to discuss, everyone is dismissed.”

The rest of the staff filed out, one by one. Tom started toward B’Elanna, but she walked past the door and toward the turbolift, before he could stop her. Damn! And he thought he had problems with Pablo and Sue.

* * * *

Two hours later, B’Elanna paused outside the doors to Engineering and took a deep breath. Disappointment threatened to overwhelm her. Disappointment that Tom Paris had found someone new to pursue. Or to be more accurate, someone he had pursued before. Namely, Sue Nicoletti. After the senior staff meeting, there was no doubt in B’Elanna’s mind.

So many regrets filled her thoughts and heart. Regret that she had resisted Tom’s overtures for a date. Or that he had resisted her pon farr-induced overtures on Sakaris IV. And that Vorik had interrupted when she and Tom were finally about to have sex. After receiving rejection after rejection, Tom had finally lost interest in her.

“Going in, Chief?”

B’Elanna snapped out of her funk and stared at the figure next to her. Carl Ashmore. She gave the engineer a tight smile. “After you, Ensign.” She indicated the door with a wave and followed him inside Engineering.

The moment she stepped inside, B’Elanna froze in her tracks. Just ahead stood both Sue and Tom, their heads together in deep conversation. And judging by the animated expressions on their faces, Tom may have finally succeeded in his pursuit of the dark-haired engineer. A surge of anger flared briefly inside B’Elanna, followed by jealousy and despair. Life was so damn unfair!

END OF PART 1

“With Harry Kim’s Compliments” [R] – 2/2

 

“WITH HARRY KIM’S COMPLIMENTS”

Part 2

B’Elanna could not sleep that night. Despite the hot shower and her exhausted state. Instead of blessed slumber, she found her thoughts besieged with images of Tom Paris in the shower. Naked.

A sigh escaped B’Elanna’s mouth and she shifted to the right side of her body. More images popped into her head. Reddish-blond chest hair, luxuriant and damp. Chest hair that covered a surprisingly muscular chest. Broad shoulders. A pair of legs that looked pale, but long and sturdy. The long and thick piece of flesh between his . . . B’Elanna sighed once more and shifted to her left.

Then she closed her eyes and to her consternation, relived those moments when she had burst into Harry’s shower. Within the deep recess of her mind, B’Elanna once again stripped off her uniform, strode toward the bathroom and opened the shower door. There stood Tom with rivulets of water pouring down his body. B’Elanna let out a gasp. Yet, instead of reacting in shock, Tom grabbed her by the waist and dragged her into the shower. He then forced his mouth upon her and began to explore it with a thoroughness that left B’Elanna trembling. Both examined each other’s bodies with hands and mouth. And before B’Elanna knew what had happened, Tom slammed her against the wall. He spread her legs and without missing a beat, thrust right into her . . .

B’Elanna’s eyes flew open and she sprung into a sitting position. She became aware of the pillow clutched to her chest. And the fact that she now laid flat on her back, with her legs spread wide open. An exasperated sigh left her mouth. Dammit! Will she ever get any sleep? Even more important, will she ever stop thinking of Tom Paris in the shower, naked?

* * * *

On Deck Four, another senior officer dreamed of the same incident from inside Harry Kim’s quarters. Unlike the Chief Engineer, Tom Paris seemed to enjoy it very much.

Tom recalled the eye-popping sight of a very naked B’Elanna Torres, standing outside Harry’s shower. It had seemed like a dream come true. And in Tom’s dream, like B’Elanna’s, events took a different course from what actually happened.

In Tom’s dream, B’Elanna opened the shower door. The two officers stared at each other in deep shock. And an embarrassed B’Elanna fled from the bathroom. But when Tom ran after her, he did not bother to wrap a towel around his waist. Instead, he caught up with B’Elanna in the living area, drew her into his arms and planted a long and passionate kiss upon her mouth.

Tom briefly stirred in his bed, as his dream continued its erotic course. He and B’Elanna soon found themselves exploring each other’s bodies with hands and kisses. Tom drew her down to the floor and continued his exploration of her body. It was not long before B’Elanna hinted that she wanted more than kisses. Tom gently spread her legs and finally entered her. He reveled in every thrust he gave, while B’Elanna inflicted scratches upon his backside. Scratches that mingled pain with pleasure. And when their lovemaking finally ended with an earth-shattering climax, Tom woke up.

It did not take a genius to guess why his sheets were damp. At least Tom knew why and immediately felt embarrassed. And since he had no desire to spend the rest of the night on those sheets, he slipped out of bed, tossed the sheets into the refresher and replicated new ones. Now, if only he could enjoy a good night’s sleep without dreaming of B’Elanna. But Tom also realized that he needed to speak with her, as soon as possible.

* * * *

The following morning, Tom headed straight to the Mess Hall for breakfast, hoping that he would also find B’Elanna. He was in luck. Not only was the Chief Engineer in the Mess Hall, she was alone, sitting at a corner table and staring at the stars beyond the viewport.

“B’Elanna?” She nearly jumped out of her seat when Tom called her name. He slid into the seat opposite her, ignoring the irritation that flashed in her eyes. “How are you doing, this morning?” he asked.

B’Elanna replied tersely, “Fine.”

“I understand that all of the showers are now working.” Dark eyes glanced sharply at Tom. Ooops! Wrong subject to bring up, he thought. Tom immediately tried to correct his faux pas. “Look B’Elanna, about last night . . .”

“As far as I’m concerned, it never happened.” B’Elanna’s gaze returned to the viewport.

Frustrated, Tom sighed. He hated it when the half-Klingon resorted to her usually “memory laspses” whenever she tried to avoid any particular topic. “It did happen, B’Elanna!” Tom retorted. “Harry gave us permission to use his shower at the same time, without realizing it. And we both saw each other . . . in the flesh. This is the 24th century. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Granted, you’ve got a great body, but yours is not the first naked one I’ve ever seen.” Tom paused, expecting a response – volcanic or otherwise.

Instead, B’Elanna’s dark eyes grew wide. “Great . . . I have a great body?” Her voice registered shock. Surprise. And she seemed a little flattered.

“Uh, yeah,” Tom replied softly. “One of the best I’ve ever . . .” Aware of the possibility of eavesdroppers, Tom bit off his last words. “Never mind. What I’m trying to say is that what happened last night is nothing to get upset over. We’re both adults. Surely we can handle seeing each other, naked. We should just accept that it happened and move on.”

A crimson flush crept up B’Elanna’s face. “Of course. You’re right. We should just move on.” She took a deep breath. “And by the way, you’ve got a . . .” Her face became even more flushed.

Tom’s eyes widened in anticipation of a compliment. “Yes?”

B’Elanna paused momentarily, before a slight smirk touched her lips. “I was about to say that you’ve got a pretty decent body, yourself.”

“Decent?” Tom frowned. Did she just say ‘decent’? “Is that all? Just decent?”

Innocence poured out of B’Elanna’s eyes. “Well, to be honest, Tom, you’re not exactly Ensign Larson. Or Ensign Murphy. Now, those two are really built. No wonder they’re popular . . .”

“Okay, I get the picture,” Tom grumbled. “Larson and Murphy. Thanks a lot.”

B’Elanna smiled. “My pleasure.” Her smile widened, as a pout formed on Tom’s lips. “Oh, come on, Tom. There’s no need to pout. You still have a nice body, all the same.”

“Just nice?” Tom gave B’Elanna the full impact of the Paris orbs. “Considering the way you were staring at me, I figured . . .”

The smile disappeared from B’Elanna’s lips. Her eyes narrowed dangerously. “Look here, Flyboy,” she growled, “I don’t recall staring at you or anyone else. So, I suggest you stop it right here and get the filth out of your mind.”

“What filth?” Tom allowed himself a brief smile.

B’Elanna added pointedly, “I’m already pissed at Harry for what happened. Don’t make me add you to my shit list.”

Harry. Tom almost forgot about the Operations Chief. Almost. “Speaking of Harry . . .”

“Yes?”

Tom continued, “Do you think he had deliberately set us up, last night?”

B’Elanna shook her head. “Not Starfleet. He might be naïve at times, but not suicidal. Besides, he did seem a bit tired.”

At that moment, Neelix approached their table, carrying a pot of coffee. Tom shot a glance at his cup and was relieved to find it already filled with replicated coffee. Which meant he would be spared from the Delta Quadrant variety, thank goodness.

“Hello, you two! Enjoying your morning meal?” Neelix’s orange eyes sparkled with life. He seemed to be in a good mood. Almost fey.

Tom stared at him. “What’s brightened your morning, Neelix?”

“You two,” the Talaxian replied. He offered B’Elanna some coffee, but the latter immediately shook her head. “Seeing you together like this, gives me hope for love.”

Tom and B’Elanna exchanged confused looks, before they stared at Neelix. “What are you talking about?” B’Elanna demanded.

“Well, the both of you. Sitting at breakfast together.” Neelix sat in the chair next to Tom. “Ensign Kim told me about his little matchmaking scheme for you two. He didn’t exactly give me any details, but he told me that by today, you would be a couple. And here you are.”

B’Elanna opened her mouth. And judging by her expression, Tom realized that she was about to display that famous temper of hers. He gave her a warning kick to the shin. Dark brown eyes blazed with near rage, as B’Elanna immediately closed her mouth. Tom ignored the look and said to Neelix, “We know all about Harry’s little scheme, Neelix. It didn’t work out.”

“Oh. Too bad.” The Talaxian looked disappointed. Then another idea came to him. “I hope you’re not to angry at Harry. He was only trying to help.”

Tom smiled. “We know. And we’re not angry.”

“Says you,” B’Elanna mumbled. Fortunately, only Tom overheard.

The pilot continued, “In fact, we confronted Harry about it, last night.”

“Oh. Oh, well. I guess some of us aren’t meant to be.” A brief sadness overshadowed his eyes. Tom realized that he was thinking of his aborted relationship with the ship’s medical assistant and only Ocampan. Tom gave Neelix a comforting squeeze on the shoulder, before the latter returned to galley.

Once the Talaxian was out of earshot, B’Elanna whirled upon the pilot with blazing eyes. “What the hell was that kick about?”

“To stop you from letting the cat out of the bag,” Tom calmly replied.

“The cat? What the hell are you talking about?

Tom explained that the moment Neelix had revealed Harry’s matchmaking scheme, he had thought of a way to pay back the young ensign. “And if Neelix knew how we felt, he might tell Harry. Get it?”

Silence ensued. B’Elanna gave Tom a thoughtful stare. “Oh, I see. Not only do you want to teach Harry a lesson, you want to surprise him, as well. And exactly what do you have in mind?”

A cold smile formed on Tom’s lips. “Something that involves a shower. Are you game?”

B’Elanna responded with her own cold smile.

* * * *

It was a happy Operations Chief who finally left the Bridge at the end of Alpha shift. After spending three days on double shifts to repair some of the ship’s systems, Harry felt more than happy to return to his regular schedule. He glanced forward and spotted Pablo Baytart at the Helm. Usually, Harry and Tom would usually accompany each other off the Bridge, but the latter had spent today’s shift giving courses on new flight maneuvers to the other pilots in the Conn Division.

Harry entered the turbolift and ordered the computer to send it to Deck Six. Minutes later, he arrived at his destination and stepped into the corridor. Harry could not wait to reach his quarters and enjoy a nice, long shower. Not a sonic shower, which he usually took in the morning rush; but a long shower with hot water.

Thinking of the shower reminded him of his little matchmaking scheme with Tom and B’Elanna. Much to Harry’s disappointment, it had ended in failure. Tom had reproached him over what happened at the beginning of Alpha shift, but Harry feigned surprise and innocence. He wanted to make sure that Tom or B’Elanna did not suspect him of any scheming on his part. Fortunately, both had believed the whole thing had been an accident and nothing more. He considered the pair to be his closest friends, and because of this, he was very familiar with their natures. Both tend to be volatile and vindictive, when crossed.

Right now, all seemed right with the world. Tom and B’Elanna had no idea that he had deliberately set them up. The ship’s systems were now fully operational. And that meant he no longer had to work double shifts. Feeling very satisfied, Harry finally reached his quarters.

Once inside, he removed his clothes and headed for the shower. “Computer,” he ordered, “initiate the water shower.” The computer complied and water immediately poured out of the shower head. Harry closed his eyes to enjoy the sensation of all that wetness sluicing down his body. Then something happened. The water no longer felt refreshing. Instead, it felt . . . thicker. Gritty. Harry opened his eyes and glanced at his arms. They were green. His arms were green! In fact, his entire body . . . Harry quickly examined his chest, legs and feet. All green!

The young ensign let out a bloodcurling scream and fled the shower. In his panic to reach Sick Bay, Harry raced out of his quarters without the benefit of a towel.

* * * *

Just minutes before Harry’s flight from his shower, his two best friends hovered in an alcove several feet away from his quarters. Close together. Too close, as far as B’Elanna was concerned.

“Listen Tom, could you please not stand so close to me?” she groused in a low voice. “There’s barely any room, here.”

Tom heaved an exasperated sigh. “I’m sorry for the lack of space, but we wouldn’t be suffering from all this crowding if you hadn’t insisted upon hiding here.”

“Well, we just can’t hover in the corridor outside Starfleet’s quarters. People would notice.”

Something like a scoff left Tom’s mouth. “If you say so. Although something tells me that more than caution is involved.”

B’Elanna frowned. She did not care for the insinuation in the pilot’s voice. And the laughter. “What are you talking about?” she demanded.

“I’m talking about your hand that’s on my butt.”

Her cheeks now flaming hot, B’Elanna quickly snatched her hand away. She had no idea that she had been . . .

“. . . week’s Security report should be ready for your perusal by the end of the day,” a familiar voice echoed. B’Elanna immediately recognized Lieutenant Tuvok, the ship’s Security Chief.

Seconds later, the Vulcan emerged from around the corner, along with Captain Janeway. Both B’Elanna and Tom pressed further into the alcove. The auburn-haired captain replied, “It looks as if you’ll be the first. Chakotay is still waiting for . . .”

The doors to Harry’s quarters slid open. A naked figure with green skin burst into the corridor, screaming at the top of his lungs. Harry. “Look at me!” he cried at the two command officers. “Ohmigod! My skin is green! I have to get to Sick Bay!” Then he raced up the corridor before Janeway or Tuvok could speak.

Laughter bubbled within B’Elanna. She had to press her face against Tom’s chest, to keep her laughter in check. B’Elanna felt his body shaking with mirth. As for the Captain and Tuvok, both stood in the middle of the corridor and exchanged shocked expressions.

“I believe that was Ensign Kim, who had just . . .,” the Vulcan officer began in a reflective tone.

Shaking her head in disbelief, Janeway interrupted. “Yes, I know who that was. I think . . . I think we should keep this little incident out of the official logs. Don’t you agree, Tuvok?”

“A very logical decision, Captain.” And the pair continued along the corridor, in Harry’s wake.

The moment Janeway and Tuvok were out of earshot, B’Elanna and Tom burst into loud laughter. “Oh God!” the former declared breathlessly. “Did you see that? Poor Starfleet! Now that was a moment I’ll never forget.”

“This ought to teach him not to play matchmaker,” Tom said between fits of laughter.

“Oh! Maybe we came down on him a little too hard. You think?” Despite her words, B’Elanna did not feel a smidgen of remorse.

And neither did Tom, it seemed. He took a deep breath. “Are you kidding? After that stunt he had pulled on us? I don’t think so. However,” he linked his arm with one of B’Elanna’s and gently steered her along the corridor, “we better get along. Harry may have realized, by now, that he’s in his birthday suit.”

The pair walked along the corridor – in the opposite direction of Harry, the Captain and Tuvok. B’Elanna noticed Tom examining his uniform. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“It’s nothing. Just a hole in my uniform.” Tom paused and smiled at B’Elanna. “Thanks to you.”

The Chief Engineer’s face grew hot with embarrassment. “Sorry about that. It was the only way I could keep from laughing aloud.”

“Uh-huh. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that you got a big thrill out of it. Are you in the habit of biting someone else’s chest . . . Chief?”

B’Elanna glared at her companion. Pig! She snatched her arm away from Tom’s. “I told you that I . . .” Tom’s blue eyes twinkled with mischief. B’Elanna now felt even more embarrassed. Until she reminded herself that two could play games. She gave him a sweet smile. “Maybe I did get a thrill out of it.” Tom’s eyes now grew wide. “Of course, I got an even bigger thrill from Harry.”

Blue eyes narrowed. “Harry?”

“You know, Harry. Fresh-faced kid just over two years out of the Academy, Harry Kim. I must admit that I never realized he was so well-endo . . .”

Tom immediately interrupted. “I think I got the picture!” His face turned red, much to B’Elanna’s delight. “Of all the people! Harry Kim!”

B’Elanna allowed herself a small smile. There was nothing, she decided, more enjoyable than deflating a man’s ego. Especially one that belonged to Tom Paris. To be honest, on the matter of endowments, Tom had nothing to worry about. Not from Harry or any other man she could think of. But she would be damned if she ever told him.

THE END

“With Harry Kim’s Compliments” [R] – 1/2

Here is a humorous story set during Season 3 of “Star Trek Voyager” about Harry Kim’s efforts to act as matchmaker for his two best friends:

“WITH HARRY KIM’S COMPLIMENTS”

RATING: [R] For sexual innuendos.
SUMMARY: Harry Kim decides to play matchmaker with a shower and his two best friends. Set between Season 3’s“Alter Ego” and “Coda”.
FEEDBACK: Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: Tom, B’Elanna, Harry and all other characters related to Star Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom and the usual Trek Powers to Be. Dammit!

———-

“WITH HARRY KIM’S COMPLIMENTS”

Part 1

Tom Paris strolled along the corridors of Deck Four, humming to himself. He had just finished a double shift on the Bridge. And at the moment, he looked forward to spending quality time in his quarters. Underneath a nice shower with hot running water. And a meal, along with a long rest, would make a great follow-up.

His quarters loomed ahead. Tom punched in his entry code and walked inside. Ah! Home at last! Without any thought, he began removing his uniform. Once he removed the last stitch of clothing, Tom entered his bathroom and stepped into the shower. “Computer,” he ordered, “begin shower with hot water.”

Instead of water slucing down his body, Tom heard the computer reply, “Unable to comply. The water system for the shower is malfunctioning.”

“WHAT??” Tom cried out in outrage.

The computer dryly responded, “Please restate the question.”

“Computer . . .” Tom took a few deep breaths. ‘Calm down, Paris. It’s just a computer.’ Now he felt calm and collected. “Computer, how long has the water shower been down?”

The computer replied, “The ship’s water system has malfunctioned since 14:23 hours.”

In other words, for the past six hours. Great! Tom heaved an exasperated sigh. So much for a nice, hot shower. It looked as if he would have to settle for a sonic shower. And Tom hated them. “Computer,” he continued, “begin sonic shower.”

To his surprise, the computer announced, “Unable to comply. The sonic shower is malfunctioning.”

What the hell? Now, Tom was in a fix. How in the hell was he supposed to clean himself, with both showers not operating? Maintaining a tight rein on his temper, the pilot asked the computer how long the sonic shower has been malfunctioning. Since 14:23 hours – like the water shower.

Tom left the shower stall and snatched his uniform jacket to activate his combadge. “Paris to Engineering.”

“Engineering here.” The voice belonged to Ensign Carl Ashmore, one of the engineers under B’Elanna Torres’ command. “I gather you’re calling about your shower?”

“That’s right. What the hell is going on?”

Ashmore explained that the ship’s shower systems were malfunctioning. “None of the showers from Decks Two to Five aren’t working. Also Decks Eight and Nine. And only the sonic showers from Decks Ten to Fifteen are operating.”

“Great!” Tom retorted. “What the hell am I supposed to . . .” He paused, recalling Ashmore’s words. That meant the showers on Decks Six and Seven were fully operational. And Tom personally knew one crewman with quarters on Deck Six. “Never mind, Carl. I believe I know how to solve my problem. Paris out.” After severing his connection to the engineer, Tom activated his combadge once more. “Paris to Kim.” Sounds of grunting reached his ears. What the hell was Harry doing? “Paris to Kim. Harry, can you . . .?”

“I hear you, Tom. What is it?”

Tom asked, “What the hell is going on? Where are you?”

“Jeffries Tube 23C. Working on the internal systems,” Harry replied. “What do you need?”

“A shower, buddy. Neither my water or sonic shower is working. Can I use yours? All showers on Decks Six and Seven are operational.”

Harry responded through more grunts, “Be . . . my guest.”

“Great! Paris out.”

The moment he tapped off his combadge, Tom donned a T-shirt and stretched pants. Happy that he would be getting that shower after all, the helmsman strolled out of his quarters, whistling through his teeth.

* * * *

“Hey Starfleet!”

Harry jumped at the sound of B’Elanna’s voice and bumped his head against the tube’s wall. He had been staring at the panel before him, for the past five minutes, wondering where the hell he went wrong in repairing the conduits that maintained the ship’s shower systems.

Rubbing his head, Harry glanced at the tube’s entrance and found Voyager’s chief engineer in a crouching position. “Hey B’Elanna!” he greeted in a tired voice.

“How long have you been here, Starfleet?”

A heavy sigh left Harry’s mouth. “It seems like forever. Damn shower systems! I can’t get the damn thing to work properly. Only the showers on Decks Six and Seven are completely operational.”

B’Elanna cleared her throat. “Speaking of Deck Six, isn’t your shower working?”

Harry saw what was coming. “Yeah, it is. Why?”

“Well, my shift ends in a few mintues,” B’Elanna continued. “And systems malfunctions or not, I’m beat. I really need a shower and rest. So . . .”

This was news. B’Elanna leaving her post before the completion of repairs. Harry realized that she must really be beat. As for her using his shower . . . well, there was the problem of Tom. Who knew how long the helmsman might be using his shower? Harry opened his mouth to tell B’Elanna about Tom, but suddenly changed his mind.

“What is it?” B’Elanna asked, frowning at the younger man.

Should he tell B’Elanna? Harry knew he should. But he also remembered what Neelix told him about what happened at the luau, some ten days ago. The Talaxian cook had described the look on Tom’s face after Vorik had usurped B’Elanna’s time during the party. Harry had been well aware of the attraction between his two best friends. And their frustrating attempts to deny their feelings. Perhaps an accidental meeting in his quarters would help strengthen the bond between the two. And so with matchmaking in mind, Harry set about a course that no sane person in his or her right mind would attempt.

Harry finally answered, “Nothing. Go right ahead, Maquis. Be my guest. It’ll be a while before I’m probably off-duty.”

B’Elanna flashed her friend a smile. “Thanks, Harry. You’re a prince.” She crawled away from the tube’s entrance.

Smiling himself, Harry sat on his hunches and returned his attention to the console. If only he were a fly on a wall. He would give his right arm to witness the fireworks between the chief engineer and the pilot. Harry had no idea that in the end, he would sacrifice something a lot more important than a limb.

* * * *

A shower at last! B’Elanna could barely wait. Many of the ship’s systems had been crashing all day. With the exception of the showers, B’Elanna, the Engineering staff and the Operations division, managed to repair them all.

After nearly pulling a double shift, all she required . . . needed was a refreshing shower and a long rest. Two years ago, B’Elanna would have insisted on remaining on duty until the last repair was completed. But that was two years ago, when she was an inexperienced division head. It took her staff, especially her second-in-command, Joe Carey, to teach her the joys of delegation. She could deal with working during a double shift. But beyond that . . . well, she was a wiser and older woman. Let poor Harry deal with the remaining repairs. Besides, the ship’s system was technically a job usually assigned to the Operations Division.

The turbolift halted on Deck Six. B’Elanna stepped out and made her way along the corridor. In fact, she nearly skipped all the way to Harry’s quarters. And she did not care if any passing crewman saw her.

Still feeling high over her escape from Engineering, B’Elanna punched in Harry’s entry codes and continued inside. The first thing she noticed was the sound of running water. The shower. B’Elanna frowned. Why in the hell was Harry’s shower running? Did he . . .? B’Elanna immediately spoke up. “Computer, locate Ensign Kim.”

“Ensign Kim is located in Jeffries Tube 23C Alpha,” the computer’s voice responded. Which only meant one thing – Harry had left his shower running all day, the dumb idiot. Talk about ration credits pouring down the drain. For her friend’s generosity, B’Elanna decided to donate a few extra credits to his account. Meanwhile, she might as well take advantage of the running water.

B’Elanna removed her boots and peeled off her uniform. Completely nude, she strode into Harry’s bathroom and opened the shower door. A loud cry escaped her mouth. B’Elanna found herself facing Tom Paris – wet, naked and fully frontal.

“B’Elanna?” Tom’s blue eyes grew wide with surprise. “What the hell are you doing here?”

To stunned to speak, B’Elanna surrendered to panic and proceeded to slam the shower door, shut. Unfortunately, Tom had decided at that moment to stick out an arm and the door slammed against the protruding limb. “AAAUGH!” The pilot cried out in pain.

“Tom! Are you hurt?” Forgetting about his naked state, a concerned B’Elanna grabbed his arm and began to examine it. She found a purple bruise between his elbow and his wrist. Without thinking, she began to rub it. “Is that better?” she crooned. “Do you need a dermal regenerator?”

The pilot’s eyes grew even wider. “Uh, B’Elanna?”

“What?” B’Elanna stared at Tom, who looked very uncomfortable. Almost stiff. What the hell was the matter . . .? For some unexplained reason, her eyes slid downward and noticed Tom’s swelling member. Then she remembered. He was naked. Completely. And when she saw him staring at her chest – her bare chest – she realized that she was also naked. “Kahless!” B’Elanna cried out, immediately dropping Tom’s arm. “I have to . . . I have to go!” The half-Klingon woman turned on her heels and quickly fled the bathroom.

* * * *

“B’Elanna!”

Tom cried after the fleeing woman. “B’Ela. . .” As he stepped out of the shower, he nearly slipped on the wet floor.Goddammit! “B’Elanna!”

Tom took one step toward the doorway and realized that he was still nude. He reached for a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he reached for another towel and scurried into the living area. And just in time. He spotted B’Elanna, shapely bottom included, scampering out of the door. With no clothes on. “B’Elanna, you don’t have any . . .”

The half-Klingon stopped in her tracks, noticed the state of her undress with a gasp and bolted back inside. Tom quickly turned away to spare her any further embarrassment. “Uh, B’Elanna? Here’s a towel you might want to use,” he said, holding out the object.

Growling a quick “Thanks,” B’Elanna snatched the towel from Tom’s hand. “By the way Paris,” she added, “what the hell are you doing here?”

Paris? “You haven’t called me Paris in over a . . .” The word stuck in Tom’s throat as he turned around. And found the towel wrapped around B’Elanna’s torso – accentuating every shapely . . . ‘Don’t go there, Tommy Boy! Just don’t!’

“Tom!” B’Elanna added in a sharp voice. “You haven’t explained what the hell you’re doing here!”

Tom replied, “Taking a shower, of course. Harry gave me permission to use his shower.”

“What are you talking about? He gave me permission!” B’Elanna’s eyes grew wide. “Oh my God! The big idiot! I bet he planned all this!”

Recalling the fatigue in Harry’s voice, Tom doubted it. He suspected that the Operations chief had merely suffered a lapse in memory. Still, who was he to complain when it gave him the opportunity to see B’Elanna Torres in all her glo . . . ‘Stop it, Paris!’ Tom inwardly reprimanded himself.

“What’s wrong?” B’Elanna’s voice cut through Tom’s thoughts. “Why are you staring at me like . . .?” She paused and glanced at her towel. Red spots tinged her cheeks. “I better get out of here.” The chief engineer gathered her belongings.

Tom rushed toward the departing engineer. “B’Elanna! No! Wait! You don’t have to leave now. You can . . .” he grabbed her arm, “. . . take the shower, first. Please.”

The half-Klingon paused, seemingly unaware of Tom’s hand on her bare arm. He noticed that up close, her eyes seemed to focus upon everything, except him. B’Elanna shook her head. “Uh, that’s okay. At least my sonic shower is still working.”

“Perhaps, but you were obviously in the mood for a water shower. Why else would you be here? Look, I just barely got started on my shower, when you, uh . . .” Tom stumbled a bit. “Well, you know. Just go ahead and use it. Be my guest.” He gently steered the engineer toward Harry’s bathroom. “Ladies first.”

Dark brown eyes grew wide with disbelief. “Ladies?” However, B’Elanna did not reject Tom’s offer. She dumped her clothes and boots on a nearby chair and headed for the shower. Once the bathroom door closed behind her, Tom dumped himself unceremoniously on the sofa and sighed. Green or not, Ensign Harry Kim had a lot to answer for.

END OF Part 1

“The Rain Chronicles” [PG] – Book VII

 

“The Rain Chronicles” [PG] – Book VII

Rain Robinson of ”Future’s End” ends up on Voyager, following her adventures with Tom Paris and Tuvok in late 20th century Earth. Here is Book VII. 

————-

RAIN ROBINSON – JULY 31, 2373:

Ten days. Ten days have passed since my fight with Tom. And we haven’t uttered one word to each other. Hell, at least three-quarters of the crew aren’t speaking to me. They all believe that I had condoned Vorik’s actions during his pon farr. And none of this might have happened if I had kept my big mouth shut. Jesus!

Aunt Sarah was right. I should learn to control my tongue. And my temper. But it’s hard to do that whenever I encounter stupidity or hypocrisy. I guess I’m just too blunt. Too frank. No wonder I’ve always had trouble maintaining a relationship. And I think I’ve just ruined another one.

My mother once told me that although Humans make a big deal about valuing the truth, many of them can’t really handle it. Deep down, they don’t want to face reality, so they escape through a lot of pleasure, easy solutions, illusions and sometimes, intolerance. She also added that when someone exposes the truth, it’s usually the messenger who is usually blamed. What she tried to tell me is that I should learn to be a little more diplomatic when dealing with the feelings and opinions of others.

Somehow, word of my fight with Tom got around. And now, I’m being blamed for “taking Vorik’s side”. What makes this even worse is that the real perputrator of the whole mess is pon farr. Biology. How in the hell can you punish a physiological condition? You can’t. Instead, you punish the poor bastard who had been inflicted by it. Namely Vorik. And you also blame the dumb idiot, whose words robbed you of a scapegoat. The same idiot who could not keep her damn mouth shut. Or control her temper.

Aside from Tuvok and Vorik (whom I haven’t seen in days), the only crewmen who seemed willing to speak to me were Jenny, Megan, Neelix, and Commander Chakotay. B’Elanna seemed too embarrassed to even be near me. I should talk to her, but I can’t. It’s no longer about what she had done to me on Sakaris IV. Right now, I’m going through a lot of anger and frustration, because my big mouth has not only put me at odds with most of the crew. I’ve also driven Tom away for good when I defended Vorik . . . and brought up his past. Stupid idiot! And because I brought up his past, B’Elanna will have him in the end.

LIEUTENANT B’ELANNA TORRES – STARDATE 50593.64:

Vorik finally returned to Alpha shift duty, today. It didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it would. We had a nice, long talk before his shift began.

I know. Vorik and I had agreed he would spend one month during Beta shift and only three weeks had passed since Sakaris IV. However, he happens to be one of my best engineers and I needed him, Carey, Nicoletti and Ashmore for a special project – to strengthen the stabilization of the warp filed coils and make them less susceptible to exposure from a verteron pulse. So, I put aside any feelings I had toward Vorik and asked Chakotay to return him to Alpha shift.

The talk. To be honest, I think it was a hell of a lot worse for Vorik. I never saw a man look so embarrassed or humiliated. Now that I think about it, I guess I understand his reaction. Like me, Vulcans hate losing control. Both Vorik and I endured a lot of humiliation because of what happened. But at least I don’t have to endure pon farr every seven years for the rest of my life, thank Kahless. After what happened, I do intend to keep an eye on Vorik, seven years from now. If I can remember.

I had repaired my working relationship with Vorik. My friendship with Tom has also survived Sakaris IV. However, I haven’t spoken a word to Rain, since our encounter in the Mess Hall. I’ve also learned that she hasn’t spoken to Tom, either. Now, that’s odd. I wonder how that came about?

RAIN ROBINSON – AUGUST 13, 2373:

I’ve finally realized how dangerous space exploration can be. While searching for the missing Commander Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan, Voyager came across a starship in the form of a cube. Megan and Jenny called it a Borg cube and it seemed to terrify them and practically everyone else.

“Who in the hell are the Borg?” I demanded.

Jenny replied, “They’re a race of humanoids that are part-organic, part-machine. They’re like . . .”

“Cyborgs!” I added, remembering my television. “Like the ‘SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN’ and ‘THE BIONIC WOMAN!’!” Ah, the glory days of television re-runs. How I miss them.

The twins stared at me with baffled eyes. “What are you talking about?” Megan asked.

I told them about the two television shows I used to watch. “Maybe I’ll find it in the computer database and show it to you, one day. What do these Borgs look like?”

Jenny led me to a computer console, located against one of the walls in the Mess Hall. I swear, this ship is practically a flying Microsoft center. She punched in a few codes and . . .

“Here they are,” she said, pointing to the image on the screen. “The Borg. They’re native to the Delta Quadrant, but they have the technology to travel to other quadrants. Including the Alpha Quadrant, back home. They’ve already tried to conquer Earth once.” So, that’s the Borg. I told Jenny that they look like mechanical zombies. “Not a bad description,” she added.

Then I said, “And the Captain thinks the Commander and Marie Kaplan have been captured by them?”

Megan shook her head. “I don’t think so. I heard from Harry Kim that the drones found inside the cube are dead. I think many of them were killed by some electromagnetic storm.”

Drones? I guess that must be a pretty simile for a zombie. “So, where are they? Commander Chakotay and Kaplan?”

No one could answer my question. At least not until hours later, when the crew found the missing pair on a planet inhabited by survivors of the cube. Well, they found Chakotay, alive and well. Poor Kaplan had been killed by some scavengers who raided the village inhabited by former Borg drones. Among them was a blond woman who had been captured by the Borg, during the latter’s attack upon Earth, several years ago. Everyone seemed to be talking about her and the Commander.

“Is it true?” I asked Neelix, after encountering him near one of those turbolifts on Deck 2. “About the Commander and this Fraizer woman?”

Neelix shrugged. “I have no idea. I haven’t seen Commander Chakotay since he left the ship with Ensign . . .”

At that moment, the doors slid open. Three figures walked out of the turbolift – the Captain, Commander Chakotay and a beautiful, blond-haired woman with blue eyes. Both she and the Commander seemed a bit engrossed with each other. As for the Captain – despite her usual command look, she seemed grim to me. Oh, oh! Something tells me there was a little trouble in Paradise.

Then Janeway noticed Neelix and me. Something like a cross between a smile and a grimace appeared on her face. “Miss Fraizer,” she said in her usual gravel voice, “I’d like to introduce you to our two civilian crewmen. This is our Talaxian guide, Neelix and Miss Rain Robinson. Neelix, Miss Robinson, this is Miss Riley Fraizer.”

We shook hands with the new guest. Miss Fraizer seemed particularly curious as to how a civilian like myself, ended on Voyager. I told her the truth. That I was a visitor from Earth’s past, who had stowed away aboard ship. Both the Captain and Commander Chakotay seemed particularly embarrassed by the whole story.

Finally, we all parted. Neelix and I entered the turbolift, leaving the others behind. “I wonder what that was about,” I said, as the lift took us to Deck Two. “The Captain seemed embarrassed when I told that woman about how I came aboard.”

Neelix replied that he had no idea. “But I did notice something else,” he added. “The Commander and Miss Fraizer. They seemed very focused upon each other. I have the feeling there is some kind of romance between them.”

Good old Neelix. I never really understood why so many of the crew looked down upon him. I’m not saying that they treated him badly. But they have this tendency to be rather condescending. Including, I’m sad to say, Tuvok. They don’t seem to realize that under that comical façade is a pretty sharp fellow.

LIEUTENANT B’ELANNA TORRES – STARDATE 50617.7:

Damn Borg! Next to the Cardassians, they were the most treacherous beings in the Universe. I take that back. They arethe most treacherous. What they did to Chakotay was abominable. And it caused me a lot of pain, as well.

It all started with those former Borg drones we found with Chakotay. Marie Kaplan had been killed, while defending him and the drones from some scavengers. Poor Marie. She was a good engineer. Chakotay had been wounded, and later healed by the ex-drones’ neural transponder. What on earth made Chakotay allow them to use such a device on him, is beyond me. Granted, he was badly wounded. But he had also been conscious enough to know what they were going to do.

Once he was healed, Chakotay became involved with one of the former drones – namely a beautiful blond woman named Riley Fraizer. It seemed she was a former Starfleet officer who had been assimilated by the Borg during the Battle at Wolf 359, some six-and-a-half years ago. To make a long story short, after Miss Fraizer and Chakotay became . . . “friendly”, she and her companions asked Voyager to help build some kind of axonal amplifier. They wanted to create their separate collective. For the defense of their little colony. What baffled me was that Chakotay wanted to help.

After delivering Miss Fraizer and the other former drones some supplies to her friends, Chakotay and I headed back to the ship. During our little journey, my best friend suddenly went “Borg” on me, thanks to that neural processor in his brain, and shot me with a phaser. According to Harry, who told me the rest, he flew to the Borg cube to help Miss Fraizer and her friends reactivate that axonal amplifier, and create their new collective. They also destroyed the cube.

Now, poor Chakotay is feeling guilty for his actions, even if it wasn’t his fault. And I’m still recovering, despite leaving Sick Bay, some five hours ago. Damn Borg! It’s obvious that they cannot be trusted. Even when disconnected from the Collective.

Kahless! This headache is killing me! I need an anglesiac, badly. I returned to Sick Bay to ask for a shot and found the Doctor with another patient. Rain Robinson. What was she doing here?

“There you go, Miss Robinson. Your cut is completely healed.” The Doctor tossed an instrument on a nearby tray. “Working near an opened computer console can be very dangerous.”

Rain sighed. “Yeah Doc. Sure. I’ll be more careful.”

“Good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see to Lieutenant Torres.” The Doctor faced me. “Ah, Lieutenant. I see that you have started walking around again. Is that wise? You were supposed to be resting.”

I let out a groan. “I have a headache. And I need something for it. Badly.”

The Doctor picked up a hypospray and filled it. “Here you go, Lieutenant.” He pressed the damn thing against my neck. “This should help. And I also suggest that you get some rest. And not leave your quarters for the rest of the day.”

“I don’t need any rest,” I grumbled. “I’m perfectly capa . . .” Then it hit me. A wave of dizziness that left me grasping for the nearest structure. Namely, a computer console.

A smug look appeared on the Doctor’s face. Since when did holograms start looking smug? “May I assume you’re experiencing some dizziness, Lieutenant?”

I snapped back, “You as . . .” The room began to tilt once more. I sighed in defeat. “Maybe I am feeling a little dizzy.”

“What a surprise.” Really, someone needs to reconfigure his personality subroutines! The Doctor turned to Rain. “Miss Robinson, will you please escort Lieutenant Torres to her quarters?”

I immediately protested, claiming that I did not need an escort. Unfortunately, another wave of dizziness struck me. The Doctor ignored my protests and insisted that Rain escort me. I had no choice but to surrender.

Neither Rain or I exchanged a word with each other – at first. I could tell that she felt uncomfortable in my presence. Just as I did in hers. Sakrari IV still came between us, despite my apology from a month ago. Well, I didn’t really blame her. If I had been attacked by an erratic half-Klingon . . .

“How are you feeling?”

It took me a few second to realize that Rain had spoken. To me. I blinked and responded with a “Huh?” Oh great! Such brilliant dialogue!

“I said,” Rain continued, “how are you feeling? After being shot by Commander Chakotay?”

Did she really have to put it like that? Utilizing every ounce of my patience, I told her that I felt fine, aside from the dizziness. That Chakotay had only stunned me with a phaser. Okay, maybe I had lied a little. Chakotay may have only stunned me, but dammit, it hurt!

Rain, of course, wasn’t fooled. Not with me experiencing constant dizzy spells. I continued to have them all the way to the turbolift. Hell, I didn’t have this much trouble coming here. By the time we reached my quarters, I decided that I needed to put Sakari IV behind us, for good. Again, I tried to apologize for assaulting her, but Rain stopped me.

“Look, you’ve already apologized. There’s no need for you to do it, again. Besides, it wasn’t your fault. Anymore than it was Commander Chakotay’s fault for shooting you.”

I hesitated, feeling embarrassed over her burst of generosity. Strange that Rain never brought up my Klingon temper. I had felt sure that it had scared her. “If you think I’m scared you, I’m not,” she added. I think the woman must be emphatic. “Although I admit that I was a little leery of you, for a while. But I guess you felt the same about Vorik.”

An awkward pause fell between us. So, Rain had been a little leery of me. I’m not surprised. She was right about me feeling the same about Vorik. And now, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll harbor similar feelings about Chakotay. Will he suddenly become Borg again and attack us, now that we’re edging toward Borg space?

We arrived at my quarters. Before I could punch out my entry code, I did something stupid. I told her that she had no reason to worry about me. I also added that I would never attack her in such a manner again. “I admit that I have something of a temper. It’s the Klingon in me. But you won’t have anything to worry about, from now on.”

Rain gave me a curious look and said something that took me off-guard. “What does your being Klingon have to do with your temper?”

I blinked. Surely, her old buddies, the Delaney sisters, have told her about me? About Klingons in general? “I’m half-Klingons,” I said, as if speaking to a child. “Klingons have bad tempers.”

“So do Humans. And I’ve heard that Bajorans are also temperamental. What’s the big deal?”

Kahless! Was this woman obtuse? Or blind? Doesn’t she understand what I’m trying to say? Or do I have to bring up Sakari IV again? I explained, “Humans may have bad tempers, but they are nothing in compare to the Klingon temper.” We entered my cabin. Rain led me to the sofa.

“Hey, I’ve read about the Klingons in the ship’s computer,” she replied. “The only difference I see is that Klingons are stronger and more openly aggressive. I think your opinion of Humans might be a little too high. Just like everyone else aboard this ship.”

Was she trying to tell me that Humans are not that different from Klingons? I nearly laughed aloud. Poor woman, wait until she sees her first full-bloodied Klingon. If she ever gets the chance. Or perhaps Humans from her time were a little more violent . . .

“I know what you’re thinking,” she added, cutting into my thoughts. “That perhaps Humans from the 20th century are more violent. Maybe they are. Then again, after getting to know this crew, I’ve discovered one thing. Humans – back in my time and the ones, today – seemed to think they’re rational and civilized and above violent behavior. But when something goes wrong or someone stands in their way,” a smirk appeared on her face, “look out! They can become real savages. Like your friend, Harry. I’ve noticed that he tends become anxious or volatile whenever something unexpected happens. If you don’t believe me, watch him. Or some of the others. You’ll see it happen right before your eyes.”

What had made her so anti-Human? Rain seemed to regard them the same way I regarded Klingons. She must have went through a hell of a time, before meeting Tom and Tuvok. Perhaps some time spent in the 24th century would teach her to appreciate how much her species have evolved. She’ll see how wrong she was about Humans . . . and Klingons.

Only I kept my thoughts to myself and instead, smiled and asked her to replicate some drinks for us both. Rain replicated a cup of raktijino for me, and declined a drink for herself. She claimed that she had to return to duty. Which she did.

In the end, I guess we finally put Sakari IV behind us. And I must admit that it was a relief to know someone who did not seem put off by my Klingon half. But she will. Eventually. Both her and Tom. It’s only a matter of time.

END OF BOOK VII