Problems Settling In 2: The Magic of Sandrine's
Author: Susan Maddy Series: Problems Settling In 2
Codes: PT, JC a little, PTK
Summary: Tom and friends create Sandrine's. Tom doesn't get into a fight with someone and fights with Chakotay. Tom meets the Delaney sisters. Set after Parallax.
Disclaimer: I'd like to thank all those creative people at Paramount for letting me use their wonderful characters from Star Trek: Voyager. The only profit I get out of it is the intense enjoyment I get from entwining my life with theirs. The characters and universe fully belong to Paramount. The story is mine.
Warning: Mild kissing
Thanks: To Jan Monroe for archiving my story.
Comments welcome. Remember a human being wrote this firstname.lastname@example.org
The Magic of Sandrine's
"What? Oh, hi, Harry."
"Where's your mind today? I've been calling you all the way down the hall."
"I'm worried about Ramsey. He doesn't want to see me and I know it's the right thing for him. He's also turned away at least one other person. He's making the same mistakes I made. It's just going to make things more difficult for him later on."
"You can't make his decisions for him. You can't live his life."
"I feel responsible."
"Come on Tom, you didn't do anything that MADE him do anything."
"If he'd just listen to me, he'd have an easier time." Tom may have been talking more to himself than to Kim.
Harry shook his head in frustration and changed the subject. "What are you doing tonight?"
This brought a smile to Tom's face. "I'm going to do some holoprogramming on holodeck one. Ever done any?" Harry shook his head. "It's really great fun. I'm going to do a pool bar from the south of France. Sandrine's. I found it when I spent a year at the Exobiology Institute of Starfleet Academy. You'll love it. You can help if you don't have anything else to do."
"Maybe for a little while." Harry wasn't so sure of this and wanted to give himself an out.
"Think your friend, Tom, will lead you down the dread road of boredom?"
"Well. . ." it was impossible for Harry to lie. He looked sheepish.
"If you don't like it just say so, it isn't for everyone." Tom felt like Harry was the little brother he never had. "I'll bet you like it though. I have holodeck one reserved for 1800 for an hour. I don't think I would be able to finish by myself in that time, but with both of us together maybe we can."
"Lieutenant Paris," chirped his com badge.
"Ensign Kim," chirped Harry's. "Please report to the Commander Chakotay's office. "That's the first time that has ever happened to me. Even at the Academy."
"That was unique." Tom agreed. "I usually get nervous if I get summoned to Chakotay, but I guess I can relax if you're involved. Look there's B'Elanna. B'Elanna!" Tom called. She turned abruptly. She was looking a bit fierce so Tom tread lightly. After the incident with Carey everyone knew she had a temper. "We seem to be going in the same direction."
"I've been summoned to Chakotay's office and I don't have time for it." Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres had recently been promoted to Chief Engineer and she took her job very seriously.
"So have we," Kim piped up. "Have any idea why?"
"I guess we'll just have to wait until we see the good Commander," Tom expressed. "At least we know we're not in trouble."
"Right!" B'Elanna agreed. Harry hadn't even considered that he might be in trouble. They all arrived at Chakotay's office and Tom rang the chime.
Chakotay answered and asked them to come in and have a seat. "I have a project for you. We are going to need to get provisions on a regular basis from uninhabited planets. This will involve keeping fruits and vegetables in stasis containers so that they will stay fresh. There may be times that Voyager will need to be separated from the shuttle. I want you three to modify a shuttle so that the cargo and extra passenger space is used to the best advantage to carry stasis chambers. You are authorized to use one quarter of your regular duty shift and as much off time as you wish." Tom smiled at that.
"Chakotay! I can't do it. I am already spending Alpha and Beta shifts in engineering and I'm not even staying even with the work load."
"Captain Janeway has noticed the amount of time you have been spending in engineering and has also noticed that several of your people are being underutilized. After this meeting I'm going to go down to engineering and help you institute Starfleet protocols and scheduling."
"Chakotay, I didn't adapt very well to Starfleet protocols when I was in the Academy." She said with some heat. "I wasn't planning to use them here either." B'Elanna glared at him.
Tom and Harry were looking anywhere but at B'Elanna. Chakotay realized that his 'conversation' with B'Elanna would be better conducted in private. "Mr. Kim, Mr. Paris, I will contact you later with the time of your first meeting, you're dismissed."
Chakotay sat down and gazed back at Torres' defiant face for long minutes before she became uncomfortable and looked away. "Lieutenant Torres, Captain Janeway has entrusted you with the engine room of her ship." He began with a quiet intensity. "She promoted you over an officer whose capabilities she knows well. Over a graduate of Starfleet Academy. You showed her some inspired work when we were caught in the quantum singularity. That gave you a chance at the job. You are going to have to show her you can also handle the day to day grind or you won't have it for long."
Torres' fire had largely been doused by Chakotay's words. She knew they were true and had even asked Carey's help in familiarizing her with the protocols. Instead of looking at an overview of engineering first and dividing the work over her staff she had simply waded in and started with the first job she saw. "Let Carey and I work it out. Give me another chance before you take over."
Chakotay looked at her appraisingly. His experience with her told him she was a gifted engineer. She was also hot tempered and rebelled against structure and rules. He would like to see her comply voluntarily to the structure, but things had to change quickly in engineering or she would permanently loose the respect and good will of the engineering staff. "I'll give you a week. If you don't have a working structure in place by then. I'm coming in. I also want you working on that shuttle project by then."
"Chakotay." It came out a warning from B'Elanna, but it was his turn to glare warningly.
"Test me on this Torres and you'll find yourself under Carey. The Captain wants a Starfleet ship and I'm going to give her one, Maquis or no Maquis. Get out of here Torres and go meet with Carey if you have to pull him out of bed to do it."
"I'll bet there'll be some fireworks in there now." Kim exclaimed.
Tom disagreed. "Usually Chakotay's not a 'fireworks' type of officer. He can dress you down with the best of them. It's harder to take because he's so polite about it. Nothing to get mad about. Nothing to get self-righteous about. Since he's been first officer, he has always treated me with respect and consideration. I know he hates me and doesn't trust me. I would never know it from the way he treats me now. I've got to respect that."
Kim considered this and asked, "What do you think will go on in there?"
"He'll probably let her cool down for a while until she can be reasoned with and convince her to do what he wants her to do. She'll know what she did wrong and what will happen if it isn't corrected. She'll probably be taken down a peg or two. Chakotay's good. You'll never need to worry about facing him like that. Not the Perfect Ensign!"
Kim scowled at Tom. Tom just smiled back. They were near the mess hall and Tom said, "We have just enough time to catch a bite before my holodeck time. Shall we?
"Might as well, but I'm not thrilled about emergency rations." Kim agreed.
As they got their food. Tom urged Kim to help him with the program. "You know Harry, holoprogramming is really a great creative outlet. You start with the basic matrix and refine it until it's just the way you want it. You can modify it forever if you want to by adding details or different characters. Your imagination is your limit."
"OK, Tom, I'll come. Now you better eat or you'll loose time on your precious holodeck."
Before they entered the holodeck, Tom showed Harry how to access the files to enable a new program to be stored. "You can do this vocally from within the holodeck, but I've always found it quicker out here. Inside I always set up a console so I can work either vocally or manually. Whatever seems to work better with what I'm doing. After you." Tom gave a big sweep with his arm as the holodeck doors opened.
"Now, the first thing I always do is get my setting. Computer, one room 20' by 15' and another room at 90* on the north side, an additional 10' by 8'. 9' ceiling. Slowly moving ceiling fans, here, here, and here." Tom indicated with a laser pointer Harry just noticed he had.
"I'd let you do some of Sandrine's, but you've never been there. What you can do is work on some of the characters. All you do is think of a type of person that might be in a bar. I always have at least one flirt in my programs. Look in the menu for the way you want her or him to look like and get a basic type and add physical characteristics, personality, and details. Try it."
"Alright, I'll admit you've peaked my interest. I guess the worst that can happen is I'll hate it and have to start over."
"That's the spirit." Tom said sarcastically. He hoped programming would catch Kim's imagination and he would have some fun creating characters. Meanwhile, Tom worked on the room adding tables and chairs, a pool table and a rack of cues. Next he programmed the heavy, dark, hardwood bar with a full selection of drinks with heavily padded, dark wood stools for patrons to sit on. Tom was deep in thought when he was startled by someone pulling him around by the shoulder and planting a inviting kiss where it counted. Not one to refuse an offer he responded and blushed at Harry's enthusiastic laughter. He disengaged himself from the flirt and said, "She's good, Harry. Did you try her out?"
"No!" It was Harry's turn to blush.
Tom turned to critically appraise the holocharacter noting how she was dressed, how she moved, and other physical aspects. "Really, Harry, her physical traits are right on. She even has that. . . wiggle? Those kind of girls walk with sometimes. You've got a talent for this. Have you finished her personality?" Harry shook his head. "That's harder. I always have to interact with them personally before I get a sense of what modifications are needed. Try one personality trait at a time. You'll find one facet of a personality program effects more of the total character than any of the physical traits do. Experiment. Did you name her yet?"
"No, I suppose I should. I'll name her file the same thing. How about Tracy? Computer store holocharacter under Tracy."
"There is already a holocharacter stored under Tracy. What further designation should be assigned."
Kim shrugged his shoulders. Tom suggested. "You could store her under 'Sandrine's Tracy'. Then she'd be attached to the Sandrine's program and you could still access her anytime you wanted." That's what Kim did.
All too soon the hour was over and they had to leave. Tom had finished the room down to the details of smudges on the windows, dust on the sills, and the uneven hardwood floor. He still had several characters to do. Kim had become fascinated with the effects each personality modification had on his character and had spent the rest of the hour tweaking her personality.
As they left the holodeck, Kim spoke up, "When are you scheduled to work on Sandrine's again?"
"Oh, so you liked working on my holoprogram." Tom said with a glint in his eye. "Exactly how much is it worth to you to have the privilege?"
Kim was taken in for a moment until he got a good look at Tom's face. Then he punched him on the arm. "Tom Paris, I don't know why I put up with you."
Tom grinned widely and thought to himself that it was one great stroke of luck he had run into Kim on DS9. "Harry, where are you going?"
"No place special."
"Well, we're going 'no place special' pretty fast," Tom said, and stopped. "We still have the whole evening and I feel charged up. Do you know what's running in holodeck two?"
"I think it's called 'Old Fashion Picnic'." Harry told him. Tom scowled. Sounded dull to him. "I was going to check it out. We can always leave. I usually like these gatherings." Kim volunteered. "You still haven't had a chance to meet many people. Pretty soon everyone will know Tom Paris, but you won't know anyone."
"Alright, Harry, you tried Sandrine's. I'll try your picnic. I guess it's the 'Old Fashion' part that gets to me." They walked over and found the program in full swing. Harry obviously wasn't the only one who liked these simulations. Probably 50 officers and crew were enjoying the fun. Harry saw a group of people he knew and introduced Tom around. They were about to start a volley ball game and Harry and Tom rounded out the teams. They played several energetic games with each team winning an equal number and they called it quits to go get some lemonade.
Tom noticed one of the women watching him and decided to turn on the charm. Tom had come to realize in the weeks since Carly's death that though she had taken human form, she wasn't human and she expected Tom to have relationships with women. "Let me refresh my memory. You are Ensign Andrea Carter of, is it supply?"
"Yes, you have it right. Everyone knows you because of the trial."
"I guess that's one way to get instant recognition. Have your face broadcast ship wide." They chatted all the way to the refreshment table and picked up their drinks. Recreation had brought in water and the other food was just a hologram and not real replicated food. "Is it my imagination or is it getting warmer in here?"
"That's all part of the ambiance. These picnics always took place in the summer time and the temperature and humidity would traditionally rise over the afternoon." She paused. "Where are you from, Tom."
"Earth, we always lived in the San Francisco bay area near Starfleet Headquarters. I never even left Earth until I was 11. We went about everywhere there was to go on Earth." They were sitting next to each other on a bench. "When they sat down, two other people were also sitting on it and that required Tom and Andrea to sit very close to each other. Tom leaned down and picked a daisy and slipped it behind Andrea's ear.
At that moment a loud male voice yelled, "Get your traitorous hands off of her." Tom jumped off of the bench and faced the sound. Charging towards them at the range now of about 3 meters was a man who worked in security. Tom thought he had been in the Maquis.
"John, what are you doing?!" Andrea yelled.
"This scum shouldn't be anywhere near you. The lying, murdering rat should go crawl in a hole somewhere." By now several people had started to gather and John was getting hotter by the second.
"Look, I don't want any trouble, I'll just leave." Tom saw what looked like a likely escape route and started in that direction only to be shoved toward John by someone beside him. John took a swing at Tom which he ducked and backed away. Again, he was pushed into John's range. This time he couldn't duck but he covered with his right arm and was driven to the right by the force of the blow. A kind of mob mentality had taken the group immediately around John and Tom. Apparently, a portion of the crew still had hard feelings for Tom Paris and it didn't take much to ignite them.
Kim had been about 30 meters away from Tom when John had charged over and had briefly tried to get to him, but realized the better course of action was to call security and Chakotay. They arrived simultaneously. Chakotay used the speaker system to address the group. "John Webster, at ease. Get over here. Move! Everyone else, stand right where you are. I'll dismiss you." Chakotay went though the crowd and dismissed the people except those within about a two meter ring of where the fight had taken place.
"Lieutenant Tuvok, please come to holodeck two." When Tuvok arrived, Chakotay filled him in and they began questioning the witnesses. The only stories that matched were Tom's, Kim's, and Andrea's. Fortunately, these three vindicated Tom and he was permitted to go free. John was confined to the brig and the other 12 'onlookers' were confined to quarters. The 'onlookers' consisted of three women and nine men, eight were Starfleet and four Maquis.
"Commander, I know you will need to inform the Captain. Would you like me to accompany you?" Tuvok offered.
"No, Lieutenant, I'll do that unpleasant task myself. I just need to get my reports organized." Within minutes Chakotay had paged Janeway.
"Captain, something has come up you need to hear about. May I come by your quarters?"
"Give me five minutes, Commander. Janeway out."
He waited the specified time and rang her bell.
"Were you counting the seconds? You couldn't have been closer to exactly five minutes."
"Yes, Captain, I am anxious to see you."
"Bad news! What's happening? It's not ship related or you would have simply called me to the bridge."
"No, but it does involve the crew. There was a fight of sorts on holodeck two." Janeway remained silent and motioned Chakotay to a seat at a table where he could lay his PADDs down. "John Stevens, a Maquis security man, and Tom Paris." Janeway's face fell at the mention of Paris and Chakotay elaborated. "Mr. Paris is apparently innocent of any wrong doing. His story was corroborated by Ensign Andrea Carter and Ensign Kim. None of the other stories had much in common at all. Mr. Paris didn't throw a punch." The Captain was pleased at that.
"I'm afraid we still have a problem that concerns Mr. Paris directly. Paris attempted to leave area of the fight twice and was pushed back into it by an unknown party or parties. To keep Stevens and Paris together a crowd of about 12 people encircled them. Ensign Kim called security and myself at the beginning of the altercation or it might have been uglier than it was."
"I was hoping most of that negative sentiment had been taken care of with the Ramsey trial and everything surrounding it." The captain commented. "It seems we are going to need to develop a plan to combat the anti Paris attitude. Do you have any ideas?"
"As Paris becomes better known, the problem will be both helped and compounded." Chakotay continued. "He can be personable, even charming if he wants to. It is apparently his 'charm' that got him in trouble today. He had picked a daisy and put it behind Andrea Carter's ear. Though I don't think it would work to change attitudes, I think you should present a 'lecture', if you will, on tolerance and getting along. We need to clearly define the expectations we have for behavior to the crew. I've heard increasing reports of friction especially between Starfleet officers and Maquis subordinates. The problem needs to be brought out into the open."
"I agree," Janeway said. "My feeling is that the negative sentiments focusing on Tom Paris are more likely generalized negative feelings finding a scapegoat and voice through him." Janeway explained. "From your report, it sounded like Mr. Paris handled himself well."
"Yes, he did, this time." Chakotay specified. "He's so changeable, it's difficult to predict what will happen next time."
Janeway continued. "How did you deal with the people in the circle?"
Chakotay sighed. "They are confined to quarters until further notice, on their honor. Actually I'm more concerned with them than either Paris or Stevens. There wouldn't have been a fight at all if someone from this ring hadn't pushed Paris back into the fray."
"I'll talk to each of them individually." Janeway decided. "Are any of them roommates?"
"No, we were fortunate about that."
"Announce to them that I will call them to my ready room tomorrow beginning at 0800. I'd like you available in case I have difficulty with Maquis crew members." She thought for a moment. "I'll dispense penalties as needed. Do you have suggestions about the best approach to take with the various Maquis crew members?"
Chakotay's opinion of Janeway went up another notch with that question. It showed him that she wanted to be as equitable and fair when dealing with his former crew as she could be. They spent the better part of an hour discussing the former Maquis and how they respond to authority and discipline. Janeway took notes on each one. Then they called it a night.
Tom and Harry walked out of the holodeck after Commander Chakotay interviewed them, relieved that Tom's story had checked out. "I don't know about you, Harry, but I'm going back to our quarters. I've had enough excitement for one night!"
"I'll join you. I would've never expected anything like that!" Kim exclaimed. "One thing about you, Tom, life is never dull when you're around."
"I tried to leave and someone pushed me back. Twice! Seems like someone really has it in for me. I wish I knew how to handle it. It could even be one of Ramsey's friends."
They arrived at their quarters and Tom flopped on the sofa. "Harry, it seems the harder I try to change who I am, the more the world tries to make it so I can't do it. Haven't you ever been in trouble?"
"Well, once in high school I was with a girl and I forgot my clarinet lesson," Kim offered.
Tom rolled his eyes and said, "Don't tell me that's the worst thing you've ever done!"
"Well, I got drunk after a Volley ball match we won when I was in the Academy and called off the next day I felt so bad. The clinic never sent a medic up to check out why I was sick. So I was never written up for it."
"They always came to check on you!" Tom stopped for a time and shook his head. "How could you ever accept me as a friend? You're so different than I am."
"I don't see it that way. The Tom who saved me from that Ferengi is a pretty regular guy. You could have let him fleece me." Kim was uncomfortable with the subject. "How about we play a game? If you recycle them, they don't even cost any replicator chips."
Captain Janeway was in her ready room at 0630 preparing for what she was sure would be a long, taxing day. She had left instructions with the duty officer of Gamma shift to notify Lieutenant Paris to see her before he started his shift. She was hoping he would be a few minutes early. As she reviewed the stories of the crew involved in the 12 who surrounded Paris and Stevens, she realized that many, perhaps all of the stories were truthful. They were simply incomplete or showed the event from a different viewpoint. She had understood from Chakotay last night that the people involved were lying. That would have represented a major problem and would have necessitated a different approach from her. Now, in most cases she could assume they were telling the truth.
Her door chime rang and at her answer, Lieutenant Paris entered looking very chipper. Could it be almost 0800?
"Lieutenant Paris, reporting as ordered, Captain."
"Please sit down, Mr. Paris. I wanted to review some things about the incident last night. Tell me briefly what happened."
"I was sitting on a bench with Ensign Andrea Carter. I reached down and picked a daisy and put it behind her ear. Right then John Stevens started yelling at me to get my traitorous hands off of her. Andrea asked him what he was doing and he said something like scum like me shouldn’t be near her and I was a rat that should go crawl in a whole. I said something like I didn't want any trouble and I would leave. Then he swung at me and I ducked and backed away. but someone pushed me hard and I was right back in his face. He swung at me again and all I could do was cover. He hit my right arm which spun me around. I was pushed in again, but Chakotay was on the loud speaker by then and John stopped swinging."
"Do you have any idea who pushed you back into the fight?"
"No, Captain. I don't know any of the 12 people who were confined to quarters. I couldn't even tell you if they were Maquis or Starfleet."
"Is there anything else you can tell me that would be helpful?"
"Well, Mr. Paris, the one bright spot for me in this mess is that you came out of it clean. Your conduct was exemplary and bodes well for the future."
"Thank you, Captain." Paris said smiling.
Paris went to his post and spent an uneventful day at con watching the steady stream of officers and crew file into Captain Janeway's ready room. All looked grim as they entered. The evening confined to quarters had caused a certain amount of serious thinking among them. Most of these people had clean records. Most were relieved when they left. At one point he was ordered into the ready room.
"Lieutenant Paris reporting as ordered."
"Thank you, Mr. Paris. Sit down. Do you know this man?" Janeway indicated the man sitting next to him. The man was tall and burly with thick, curly, black hair, and probably a few years younger than Paris."
"Captain, I don't think I know him, but there is something familiar about him."
"You didn't know me. You knew my kid brother. My kid brother, he put you on a pedestal. Don't ask me why. It was because of you Henri was killed." At this last sentence the Ensign raised his voice and began to get out of his seat.
"Mr. Juneau." Janeway's voice held a serious warning. Juneau glanced at her and reseated himself. "Mr. Paris, this is Martin Juneau."
"What happened to Henri, Martin?" Paris asked, overcome by the news. He was shocked by the information Henri had been killed and sat with his face downcast rubbing his forehead. The thought ran through his head that he surely couldn't be responsible for another death.
"What do you care!" Martin practically snarled as he turned to him.
"I care, Martin." Paris met Martin's eyes and saw the fire turn to naked grief, couldn't stand to see it any longer, and looked away. "I'm so sorry, he died. He was a great kid. Please. Tell me how he died."
"He flew out after that last shuttle you double crossed us with. The Cardies blew him out of the sky."
"Martin, I didn't double cross you," Paris informed him. "I had engine trouble and instead of fulfilling the mission I was assigned, I led a Cardassian convoy away from the planet the Maquis occupied. There were probably six battleships in that convoy, you'd have been wiped out. I was captured, of course."
"Why should I believe you, Paris?"
"I'm telling the truth." Paris said it quietly and with conviction. Something in his tone brought Martin Juneau around.
He looked at Paris and said, "I was the one that shoved you yesterday. I apologize. It was uncalled for."
"Accepted." Martin Juneau offered Tom Paris his hand and smiled slightly. They shook hands.
Janeway had watched the interplay between the two men closely to prevent it from escalating out of control or to guide it into its necessary course. She had not had to intervene. "Mr. Paris, you're dismissed."
"Excuse me Captain, could I speak to you privately for a moment."
"Mr. Juneau, would you wait just outside my ready room door, please."
"Captain, I would like to serve Mr. Juneau's sentence."
Captain Janeway was temporarily speechless. "Why, Mr. Paris?"
"I taught his brother Henri how to fly. Martin didn't want him to learn, yet. I was only with the Maquis about one month. If I hadn't taught him, he wouldn't have been in that shuttle after me."
"Let's hear what Mr. Juneau has to say, I don't think he'll let you. You may return, Mr. Juneau."
"Please sit down, Mr. Juneau. While you were out, Mr. Paris proposed that he serve your discipline for you."
"Because I taught your brother to fly. He might still be alive if I hadn't."
"No, they were my actions, I pay the price. My brother loved you and loved flying. It wouldn't be right. Captain, you have been giving out discipline in private. I would like Mr. Paris to witness, if this is possible."
"Very well. Please stand, Ensign Martin Juneau. You are charged with inciting to violence - two counts and one count of concealing evidence. How do you plead?"
"Guilty on all counts."
"Due to the fact you volunteered the information without being asked today the count of concealing evidence will be dropped. Mr. Juneau, Commander Chakotay tells me that you are a steady, dependable officer that he has never had to discipline. In view of this and in view of your voluntary apology to Mr. Paris, I am inclined to be lenient. You will be restricted to quarters for one week except during your duty shift and two months probation. During those two months probation, if you have an incident similar to this one, you will have this entered on your permanent record and serve the remainder of the two months restriction to quarters. Do you have any questions?"
"Yes ma'am. When does the restriction to quarters begin?"
"I consider it to have begun at one minute past midnight last night and will end 2400 seven days from now.
"Yes ma'am. Very well."
Ensign Juneau returned to his quarters and Paris to his station. The rest of the day was equally as uneventful as the morning had been. When he was off shift he went directly to Ramsey's quarters. He was not welcomed.
"Look Paris, what do I have to do to convince you I really don't want to see you!" By the end of the sentence, Ramsey was shouting.
"Larry, I just want to keep you from making the mistakes I made. I want to see you out of there in no more than three months. Let me in Larry."
"Tom, I don't want to see you. GO AWAY."
Alright, good bye, Larry."
Tom was completely mystified. He could not understand why Larry wouldn't see him. All he was trying to do was help him. He wanted to see Ramsey out of confinement as soon as possible. He couldn't do anything about it tonight. He'd been turned away. What would he do tonight? Chakotay hadn't told him when that new project was going to start. To tell the truth he was gun shy about trying another holoprogram on holodeck two. He really didn't have much luck with those. Maybe he'd stay home and read a good book. That's something he hadn't done for a long time. Tom had just settled upon a 20th century 'science fiction' book by Heinline when Harry came in without saying hello.
Tom looked up and said, "Hi Harry."
Kim mumbled some kind of greeting in Tom's direction.
"What's up, Harry?"
Harry said, "Nothing." And went into the bedroom locking the door behind him. Tom looked after him for a few minutes and decided to give him some space. He made a mental note to check on him later.
More time than he intended went by because he became enthralled in the book he was reading. When he became conscious of the time again he jumped out of his chair. Maybe he was just sleeping. He asked the computer if Kim was sleeping, he wasn't. Tom knocked on the door and received a response he was familiar with today.
"Harry, I don't have to take that from you. Let me in."
Instead of letting Tom in, Harry came to the door and came out. He looked bad. Tom took him by the arm and pulled him around to face him.
"Are you in trouble?" Kim shook his head. "Are you sick?" Another shake. "Tell me what's wrong! Kim turned away and collapsed on the couch hiding his eyes with his arm. In desperation Tom looked up his personnel record. It was his birthday! "Don't go anywhere, Harry, I'll be right back."
Tom went out of ear shot and called B'Elanna, several people from ops, and Neelix to throw a cake together and come to Harry's quarters in an hour. He went back in, Harry had fallen asleep. He went to the replicator in their quarters. . . A clarinet, that would be his present. Harry had mentioned he missed playing it. He was 33 credits short! The only thing he could think of was asking Harry's friends. That's what he did and was still 9 credits short. He'd have to ask Commander Chakotay.
"Commander, I have to ask you a favor. Harry Kim came into our quarters tonight very down and wouldn't tell me what was wrong. On an impulse, I checked his personnel record and it's his birthday. I'm throwing together a party and I want to give him a clarinet. I've put in my rations and his friends put in some more, but I still need 9 more rations. Can I get an advance on my future rations?"
"We have a firm policy against that, Mr. Paris; however, the Captain is here with me. She and I will make up the difference, as long as we can come to the party."
"Sure! It'll be crowded! Come in about half an hour, our quarters. Paris out." Tom slipped back into his quarters and Kim was still asleep. Tom then ordered the clarinet and case. He had no idea how a clarinet worked, but it seemed to be functional. He took it apart and put it in the case. Then, he went back outside and called Neelix. "Neelix, how is the cake coming? Can you bring something to drink?"
"No problem, Lieutenant. I'll be there in about 15 minutes."
"Great, Paris out." Just then one of the Ops staff was about to ring their door chime. "No!" She jumped like she had been bitten. "He's asleep. I'm going to go in and wake him. Will you keep everyone out here and quiet. Tell 'em to yell surprise when he comes out."
"Harry," Tom said, shaking him at first gently then more vigorously. "Harry, wake up!"
"Tom, will you go away and leave me alone."
"No, I won't, Ensign Harry Kim. If you think you're pig headed about helping a friend, you haven't met me yet. You are going to get off that couch and we are going to get some dinner. I know you haven't had any yet. Then, we'll go to whatever is going on in holodeck two. Now go wash your face and make yourself presentable."
"Alright, alright I'm moving." Kim came back and said, "Let's go."
"Let's see some enthusiasm." Tom said as the door opened and the people in the hall yelled, "Surprise!"
Kim jumped back against Tom, stepping on his feet and almost falling. Tom grabbed Kim to keep him upright and overbalanced almost pulling both of them over in front of the crowd of people coming into their quarters. When Tom and Kim finally righted themselves, Kim demanded, "How did you find out!"
"I looked in your personnel record." Tom looked around at the number of people in their quarters. "You're popular, I asked maybe seven and it looks like upwards of thirty. I hope Neelix estimated high!" Just then Neelix himself came in with a cake that would probably feed 200. Tom put on some music and Kim's intimate party turned into a bash. About 2100 Tom called the group to attention and presented Kim with his present. The Captain and Chakotay were in the front row grinning from ear to ear.
"Go ahead, Harry, don't stare at it, open it!"
"Tom, this can't be what it feels like. . ."
"You'll never know unless you open it, Ensign." Tom got a look for that.
"Alright, here goes." Harry sat down and carefully unfastened each piece of tape and unrolled the paper. A clarinet case fell out. Kim looked up at Tom who was smiling. He unlatched the case and didn't breathe while he opened the case and stuck the reed into his mouth. Then he put the instrument together and placed the reed on the ligature and played, "'For he's a Jolly Good Fellow.' Tom, I don't know what to say."
Someone from the back of the room yelled, "I think you already played it."
Tom grinned and said, "There are a couple hours left in the evening, let's party!"
Tom, Kim and Neelix finally said goodnight to the last attendee about 2330 and finished cleaning up their quarters. Before they turned in for the night Harry cornered Tom. "Hey Tom."
Tom shrugged him off, "Ah."
"Tom, will you listen to me!" Kim was exasperated.
Tom heard the edge to Harry's voice and stood still.
"I want two things. One, I want to know who contributed to my clarinet and two, I want you to know how much I appreciate the trouble you went to and at such short notice." Kim stood in front of Tom with his fists balled on his hips.
Tom quietly answered. "B'Elanna, your ops staff, the Captain, Chakotay, and I contributed to your clarinet. And your welcome." A look of pure mischief came over his face. "I don't recall anyone giving you a birthday spanking."
"Tom, you touch me and you'll get more than a spanking."
"I'd have to find a pretty girl to administer it properly." The mischievous look hadn't left his face.
"Tom, you're impossible."
"Thank you, thank you." Bowing to each corner. "There, I think that's the last of it." He said as he finished cleaning the table. "I have one request. Next time, try to tell me what's wrong. That's what you ask of me."
"Guess it's only fair. I'll try to remember. 'Night."
Tom decided to go for a run this morning. He remembered how good it had felt to get out and find a pace and run. He was free and strong. Even if he was doing it on the running track in the gym. He had an imagination didn't he. He had tried to convince Harry to come, but to no avail. Harry had enough trouble getting up on time.
After the last less than pleasant encounter with Ramsey on Kim's birthday, Tom had decided to wait a week before seeing him again. Tom had gone yesterday after his shift and thought at first the visit was going better because Ramsey let him in.
Tom had cheerfully entered and said, "Hello, Larry. How's it going in computers?"
"What are you doing here?" Larry asked in dismay.
"I just dropped by to say hello."
"I thought you'd given up. Will you leave me alone."
"Larry, I could help you if you'd just let me."
"I don't know how much more clearly I can say this. I don't want your help. Get out of my quarters."
Tom mulled over Ramsey's attitude and really couldn't understand why Larry didn't want his help. He was shaking his head and just beginning to cool down when his communicator chirped. "Paris."
"Chakotay here, do you have time to meet with me before you go on shift this morning?"
"I don't think so Commander, I'm just finishing a run and I'll need to shower."
"Alright, I want to see you directly after your shift in my office."
"Yes, sir." I wonder what I've done now. I guess it can't be too bad. He would have ordered me to come right away. Maybe it's about that new shuttle redesign.
Tom was showered and ready to walk up to the bridge with Harry. Harry was quiet. Tom had finally managed to schedule some more holodeck time and he was full of his plans for his characters. Did Harry want to come, tonight at 1900 in holodeck one. He was going to invite Martin Juneau to come. Tom was still going full tilt when he walked onto the bridge and innocently drew all eyes as he relieved the gamma shift con officer without missing a beat of what he was saying to Harry.
"You're is good spirits this morning, Mr. Paris."
"Yes, ma'am!" He said as he sat in his chair and swung around to log onto his station. He was instantly focused and efficiently reviewing the log of activity from gamma shift.
Captain Janeway had been about to chide him for his over exuberance, but decided it was counter productive. It seemed a little much at 0800.
Today Tom didn't have a free minute. The region of space was very 'dirty' meaning that there were a lot of asteroid size and smaller bits of matter. He had to be constantly alert. "Captain, request permission to reduce speed and change course as needed."
"What's the problem, Mr. Paris."
"Captain, I'm trying to keep on top of it, but I could come upon a large asteroid with little warning. I'd just like to have permission before I do something unexpected and throw everyone out of their seats."
As if he had been predicting what he was going to do, Paris yelled, "Hold on!" and made a sharp starboard turn up at 45 degrees and right 45 degrees, slowing to Warp 2. "See what I mean?" Paris had kept his seat, but almost no one else had. He couldn't leave the helm on standby given the characteristics of this space, but he called out to Janeway. "Are you alright, Captain?"
"Yes, Mr. Paris, see to the helm."
A few minutes went by while people sorted themselves out and settled themselves at their stations.
"Yes, Mr. Paris."
"That could easily happen again."
"Slow to Warp 2 and give me freedom to change course at will."
"Thank you, Captain."
The morning passed without anymore sharp adjustments, but Paris worked harder than he ever had before. His relief came for lunch and he asked, "Request permission to stay on station."
"Mr. Paris, rethink your request!" Captain Janeway was irritated. "You have done a spectacular job at con this morning, but you are human and need a change of pace and food. Request denied. Go eat lunch and relax and don't get back here early."
"Yes, Captain." Paris answered meekly not meeting her eyes. She was standing by her chair and caught his arm as he passed. When he met her eyes this time she winked and nodded.
After Tom picked up his rations, he saw Martin Juneau and went over to join him. "Mind if I sit down?"
"No, please do. My lunch is almost over."
"Remember when I was telling you about my holoprogram? I finally got scheduled for an hour of programming time. It's tonight at 1900. Would you like to come?"
"I almost said I couldn't. That week felt like ten! Yes, I would like to come. I will see you then. I better go. Cannot get in trouble for being late."
Paris tried to eat as slowly as he could so he wouldn't have dead time before he had to go back to the bridge. As he ate he looked around and noticed a pair of women who looked identical sitting together. He took the long way around and passed their table. After passing it he backed up and said, "Hi, I'm Tom Paris. I don't think I've ever seen such beauty, twice before."
"Well, he's better than average."
"I don't think I've ever heard it put quite like that before."
Tom didn't quite know what to think. He almost decided to leave when one of them said, "You can sit down if you want. We approve of you. You're even kind of cute."
Tom sat down. He could feel a blush creeping up his neck and face. He had started on the offensive, but had quickly experienced a reverse.
"Oh, that's even cuter." Referring to the blush. The twin that spoke was on his side of the table and she placed her left hand flirtatiously on his left arm and surprised him by playing with his hair with her right hand.
Tom cleared his throat. "Ladies, I better go." He started to get up.
The twin who touched him said, "Don't go, I'll be good," and took her hands off him and slid away.
Tom looked over at her a bit warily and asked, "What's your name anyway?"
"Mine's Megan and that's Jenny. It serves you right for handing us a line like that."
"What, I don't understand?"
"'I don't think I've ever seen such beauty, twice before.' Really that's a little much!"
"Oh, sorry, I was overwhelmed by seeing your beauty duplicated."
"He's at it again." Megan slid over to him and traced her finger up his arm. Tom, able to flirt with the best of them, had seized up his opponent. He held his ground and when she was at just the right angle reached around with his right hand, held her head, and kissed her firmly. She pulled back startled and Jenny roared with laughter. Tom almost got slapped for that move, but Megan caught the fun in his eyes and pulled the slap before it meant business.
"You can give it out, but you can't take it. Huh."
"Jen, he's definitely better than most! And I don't just mean at flirting," she added sotto voce.
This caused Tom to color up again and both women laughed. They spent the rest of their lunch break getting to know each other better. Tom was happy he had stopped. He decided these two would definitely bear more investigation. He enjoyed himself so much he just managed to return to his post in time.
The afternoon passed much like the morning did. Tom worked hard and did more real flying than he usually did in a week. At one point he had had to dive around an asteroid and then make a sharp starboard turn. The effect on Voyager's crew was much like an old fashion roller coaster. The turn was not as severe as the first one in the morning and everyone stayed seated.
Paris eyed his relief and looked toward the Captain as he relinquished the helm. He hesitated. Janeway wasn't looking at him, she was working at her computer. Paris cleared his throat and began haltingly. "Captain," she looked up slightly unfocused. He continued quietly. "It might be a good idea to go to Warp 1 for beta shift." Paris looked significantly at his relief. "Mabouto is on gamma, she would probably be OK at Warp 2, if she's comfortable."
"Thank you, Mr. Paris. Helm go to Warp 1. You're going to need to be heads up, Mr. Stewart. Mr. Paris would you brief him on what to expect."
"Warp 1, yes, Captain." Mr. Stewart confirmed.
Paris took about ten minutes to instruct Mr. Stewart on what to look out for and how to avoid problems in the area of space they were passing through. He was just leaving with a word of encouragement to Stewart when his com badge chirped.
"Chakotay, here, Mr. Paris. Where are you? I've been waiting."
"Sorry, Commander, I should have notified you. I had to brief my relief on the challenges of the space we've been passing through. I'll be right down." Paris felt Janeway's eyes on him, but carefully avoided looking at her as he passed by, coloring, he was sure for the umpteenth time today.
He entered the turbo lift and slumped against the far wall. Deck Four. All he needed was to start a meeting with Chakotay off balance. He was going to need to be on top of things or he'd get himself in trouble. He was off the lift and at Chakotay's office quickly.
Paris rang the chime and when Chakotay answered said, "Lieutenant Paris reporting. Sorry I'm late, sir."
"The Captain confirmed why you were late. I would have appreciated being notified."
"Please sit down. We had a couple of interesting moments with the inertial dampers last shift. I understand you earned your keep for the whole shift for a change."
Tom wondered why the conversation, he admitted to himself he wanted to talk about it and figured Chakotay being a pilot would appreciate some of the challenges.
"It was probably the most enjoyable shift I've ever had at helm. You're right, I couldn't doze even for a second. Many of the asteroids came up at less than a three second's notice on my board. Captain Janeway also allowed me to make course changes at will. That enabled me to make them fast enough that I could usually avoid straining the inertial dampers."
As Paris was talking, Chakotay assessed and reassessed the Lieutenant. He was willing to admit that it appeared Paris had made some changes. He was not willing to admit they were permanent, yet. Paris was still immature for his age and his self confidence was very shaky. He very much needed a mother to raise him. Chakotay guessed the Captain had found a son. Now his judgement about Ramsey. . . "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself today, Mr. Paris. I'll get to the reason I called you here. I understand you have been attempting to visit Mr. Ramsey."
"Yes sir, he won't see me. Commander, I'm trying to help him. He could learn from my mistakes."
"Mr. Paris, your motives may be good. The point is he doesn't want you to come."
"Doesn't he understand that if he lets his attitude get out of control he is going to be in his quarters a longer time."
"Tom, he's doing fine now."
"He's only been in his quarters for a little over two weeks." Paris' passion about the subject was showing. "If the attitude change happens when it did for most inmates I saw, it will be just about the time he's being evaluated to go off of being locked in. If he's lucky it won't be until afterwards. He may be able to swing that since he has that motivation. It'll come, Chakotay."
Chakotay didn't know what to say to convince Tom to leave him alone. He preferred to avoid ordering him to leave off. "Paris, you are not listening to what I am saying," Chakotay was allowing Paris to creep under his skin and it showed in his tone of voice. Paris was one of the few people who was able to get to him. Though Chakotay didn't admit it to himself, that was the major reason he didn't like Paris. "It is not relevant whether or not you are helping Ramsey. He doesn't want you to come."
"Commander, he's a fool. Who wouldn't want help?" Paris was beyond passion, he was angry now and as he escalated, Chakotay did also.
"I can think of a cocky, insolent pilot who wouldn't accept the help of his Captain in the Maquis." Chakotay's voice had a bitter edge to it.
"Since when were we talking about me, Commander!" Paris was closing the gap on completely out of control.
Chakotay realized he had lost control of the situation and had the intelligence and presence of mind to retreat. He looked at Paris. "We are both out of control. Go cool down. I'll page you when I'm ready to talk to you. You're dismissed."
Deep inside somewhere, Paris knew Chakotay was right and he managed to avoid saying something he'd regret later. He glared at Chakotay and stormed out of his office.
Chakotay chastised himself for letting himself loose control. What was it about Paris that caused him to react like that? It had happened the whole time he had known Paris. Perhaps he should discuss it with his spirit guide. Now he needed to get some exercise. He hadn't been over his self defense drills lately. He changed and went to the gym.
Paris left Chakotay's office raging. When he entered his quarters, he paced the length of them. Why couldn't he understand how important it was for me to see Ramsey. Then that crack about a pilot who wouldn't accept help. Mentally, he took a breath. I was a real pain then. Paris at last began to see something Chakotay's way. I'm still too hot. I don't feel like running. Come to think of it I haven't reviewed my self defense lately.
On his way to the gym, Paris realized he hadn't reviewed those drills for years. He'd probably have to take a refresher course when it was offered. He didn't want to talk to anyone so he just found a place to work and started stretching and warming up. He had been working the drills about ten minutes when a soft, low voice broke his concentration.
"Looks like we had the same idea."
"Yea." Paris agreed. He was still bothered.
"Paris, I owe you an apology. I let that interview get out of control." Chakotay walked toward Paris extending his hand. Paris, still not thinking very clearly, saw an opportunity he couldn't pass up. When Chakotay clasped his hand, Tom stepped up to him and threw him over his hip as smoothly as a knife through warm butter. From the floor, Chakotay asked, "Care to try that again?" Paris grinned wickedly and nodded while helping Chakotay up.
The two men circled feeling each other out as wary as foxes. First, one feinted, then the other, then they grappled at close range, Paris finally disengaging. The wary contest continued until Chakotay slipped in and threw Paris to the ground. Paris rolled with the energy of the throw and was up on his feet in a second. He acknowledged Chakotay's point with a nod and was ready.
The two combatants were focused solely upon each other and did not notice a growing gallery. This audience eventually included Harry Kim, B'Elanna and even Captain Janeway who had decided upon a workout herself tonight.
All this circling was taxing Paris' patience and he decided to try a more aggressive attack. His first move was so different and sudden that Chakotay was caught off guard and was flat on his back in a clumsy fall; however, he was able to evade the move Paris would have finished him with and the match continued. Chakotay was cagey. He now figured Paris had lost patience and would be encouraged by his last success. Paris might be over confident. Chakotay waited him out and the patience of the angry warrior won out. Paris tried a similar move, but instead of an easy victim, he found a ready adversary and was grounded decisively and emphatically. Chakotay held him long enough so that there was no question in Paris' mind about who won. Then eased up on his hold carefully so that Paris wouldn't really injure himself.
Paris bounced up and turned to Chakotay grinning irrepressibly from ear to ear. "Good match, sir!" he exclaimed and offered his hand in congratulations. The room had been absolutely silent during the match. No one knew the reason for the bout. The gallery burst spontaneously into applause and Paris and Chakotay, who had only been aware of each other, both glanced quickly around the room, startled.
Janeway made her way through the crowd and spoke quietly with the men. "What do you 'gentlemen' think you are doing? It looked like you were brawling like a couple of deck hands. It certainly wasn't any formalized kind of sparring."
Chakotay and Paris were not used to facing off together against Captain Janeway and they looked sheepishly at each other. The Captain expected an answer though and finally Chakotay said, "I had to put the pup in his place." Paris looked indignant at that but Chakotay shrugged and grinned at him.
Janeway realized she wasn't going to get anything else, now, so she said, "I'll talk to you later, Commander." And walked off.
Looking at the many people still in the gym, Chakotay ordered, "Come with me, Lieutenant." Chakotay went into another room of the gym and noticed the weight room was empty. They entered and Chakotay closed the door behind them and found a place to sit down. "Lieutenant, we need to discuss Mr. Ramsey. I know you are aware he doesn't want to see you. Now wait." Paris had immediately begun to protest. "Hear me out. Or we might have to go back for round two." He said with a smile. Paris settled back ready to listen. "Let me use your own life as an example. When you came to the Maquis, you were, to put it mildly, rebellious and contentious." Paris agreed. "I think you will agree that I gave you many chances and tried to ease you into the mainstream of life in the Maquis. You challenged me at every turn and would not take advantage of the opportunities I gave you."
"Yes sir, at that point you could have given me the world on a platter and I would have dumped it over."
"Here you are on Voyager," Chakotay continued, "Sometime later and usually with the Captain, striving energetically to overcome your difficulties."
"OK, you've made your point, Commander. It's not what I'm doing that's wrong. It's the timing. I'll leave him alone." He continued dejectedly. "I just wanted to help him."
"Lieutenant," Chakotay paused until Paris looked at him, then nailed him with his eyes. "I understand the feeling." Chakotay held his gaze until understanding dawned in Paris. It would be several years before Paris and Chakotay could resolve all of their differences. This night laid the groundwork for their reconciliation.
"Oh, what time is it? Computer, what time is it?"
"The time is 1832."
"Good, I have holodeck one reserved to work on a program. I invited Martin Juneau to help with it. It's called Sandrine's. You'll have to come. We'll have it ready for trials after tonight. Then we'll tweak it until it's right. Maybe I can convince recreation to play it one night."
"Mr. Paris," Chakotay began seriously. "You could have been in a lot of trouble if I had reacted differently tonight."
"Yes sir," Paris said slowly and uneasily, brought up short. "You could have treated my action as an assault. I didn't think of that when I threw you." Paris was very serious. "You still could write me up for assault. It wasn't meant that way. I was playing." He waited for Chakotay to make his judgment.
"Don't worry," Chakotay reassured him. "I enjoyed the tumble. You better get to the holodeck."
Paris smiled at him and left.
Tom arrived at holodeck one at 1850, but even so, Harry Kim beat him there. "Tom, I want you to show me how you start the programming process."
Tom looked doubtfully down at Harry and rubbed his chin. "I don't know Harry, only certain people can be let into the 'club.' I had to put in a long apprenticeship with a great master before being taught the secret codes." Understanding was just beginning to dawn in Kim that he was being teased. Tom loved teasing him. He always fell for it hook, line and sinker.
"Tom, one day I'm going to get you and I'll get you so bad you'll want to sink right into the floor."
"I am so scared." Tom grinned broadly and slapped Kim on the back. "We really don't have time now, but I'd be happy to show you. I want to get Sandrine's et. al. ready so we don't waste a minute." He turned to the holodeck controls and began preparations. "Once you get a program 'perfected' you can protect it with a series of passwords so just anybody can't come in and change it. Believe me if someone comes in and tampers with a program it is maddening!"
Tom continued to prepare the simulation for programming. As he was doing so Martin Juneau walked up and peered over his shoulder. "Hello Tom."
"Martin, I'm glad you're here. We'll be in the holodeck soon." Tom spoke while continuing to work on the program. "The computer is really good at throwing people out. It just shuts down your program. If you don't leave in a certain time."
"I hope you don't mind, I brought someone long."
"No, usually I can accommodate several helpers."
The extra person said Tom's name and Tom turned quickly, recognizing the person's voice. John Stevens. "Mr. Stevens, this is a surprise." Tom was not sure this was a good idea. He decided to play along. "Have you done holoprogramming before?"
"No. . .Can I talk to you?"
"Sure." Tom said spreading his arms, still a little apprehensive. "Go ahead."
"I mean in private."
"OK. Just a minute. Harry, whenever they come out, you can go in and get started. Ask for Sandrine's then you know how to open a file for a character. Do you mind showing Martin what to do?" Now to John Stevens. "Where do you want to go?"
"Away from people." He commented curtly. Stevens was from an ethnic group Paris couldn't identify and spoke English with an accent. He walked a short distance down the corridor and into a little used side juncture. Tom followed him. Stevens turned and scrutinized Tom carefully. Tom was about to ask him what he wanted when Stevens started, "I am a proud man. This does not come easily to me. A week ago on the holodeck I saw you put that flower behind Andrea's ear. I saw red. Andrea should be my girl. She does not want to be my girl. She had told me this. I had no excuse to attack you. Except my hot head. And. . ." John turned away from Tom and walked further down the corridor obviously becoming angry. Tom looked around to make sure he had a way out if John should come at him again. However, John visibly took charge of himself and turned toward Tom. "I am very angry at you for betray' us. You were to get needed supplies and instead you run away."
"I knew that would be what you thought." Tom jumped in. "What really happened was that I led a Cardassian convoy away from the area of space you were in. Six cruisers. The planet would have been wiped out. I couldn't very well have sent a message telling you what I was doing. Of course, I was captured. I went to prison."
"Yes, then you betray us again." His voice bitter.
It was Tom's turn to be silent and contemplate the floor. He shifted uncomfortably and looked at John. "I'm not sorry I came with Captain Janeway. That decision has brought me nothing but good. It has given me a chance to redeem my life. I don't know how I would feel if we had just had a normal mission. I'd be back in prison now. Possibly with several of you. Still, being in the Delta Quadrant isn't good for most people. It has ruined many lives. I don't like benefiting from others suffering."
"I think you are not doing that. You are benefit' from a situation most others have trials." John's attitude had made a definite shift.
John paused again, fighting with himself to make the next works exit his mouth. He looked to the floor. "I am sorry I fought you. Please forgive me."
"John." Paris waited until he could catch his eye. "You're forgiven."
Stevens continued uneasily. "You would forgive me just like that?"
"I didn't offer you an apology and you accepted what I said, just like that."
He offered John his hand. "Come on," he said smiling, "I'll teach you how to make a holocharacter." Eventually, Tom's own likeable nature would win over most of the crew and would have with or without a lecture by Janeway. When rebellion and deceit weren't clouding his mind, Tom had an open sensitivity which drew people to him. The difficulties Tom experienced now were caused by the simple fact one can only come to know one person at a time.
The session on the holodeck was a great success. Harry finished his flirt and sent her over to work her wiles on Tom.
"Hi, Tom." Tracy fairly purred with invitation.
Tom raised his eyebrows in surprise. Harry had done a great job! "Hello Tracy!" Tom accepted her invitation and she coyly moved closer to him, placing her arms around his neck, and arching her body toward him. Tom leaned his head toward her for a kiss and Tracy responded for about 10 seconds, stiffened abruptly, and landed a slap that echoed through the holodeck.
"How dare you!" Tracy uttered indignantly. "I've never been treated so badly in my life!"
Harry burst into laughter at the look on Tom's face.
Tom strode over to him in a huff. "Harry!" Tom protested loudly. "What do you think you're doing programming a character to do something like that. No one wants to get slapped in a bar. This is supposed to be fun. Harry!" All Harry did was point to the group on the holodeck and laugh harder. It seemed everyone was in on the joke and Harry had indeed gotten back at Tom. Of course, Tom took it in stride, eventually.
The holoprogram was ready for trials. Now all they had to do is get a time. Harry and Tom went to get dinner and agreed that today had been an eventful day. On the way to the mess hall B'Elanna paged them and asked if they could meet her in engineering.
"We are on our way to eat." Harry informed her.
"You haven't eaten yet?" B'Elanna asked. Then continued, "I haven't either. I'll meet you there. Torres out."
"I wonder what she wants." Harry said idly.
"I'll bet it's about the shuttle modification. It's been well over a week since Chakotay talked to us about it. We haven't heard a thing." Tom and Harry had gotten their food and were half way through their dinner before B'Elanna came flying into the mess hall. She put a set of rations on her tray, but it was all but obscured by the pile of PADDs she had laid beside it. She slid into a chair beside Tom and started talking.
"I've been working on some ideas for the shuttle. I had to get engineering set up first. I found out Carey really isn't so bad once I got to know him, and he's much better at scheduling and all that administrative stuff I hate so much. So, I put him in charge of that." She took a breath and looked up. Tom was looking at her with a bemused smile on his face and a glint in his eye B'Elanna didn't want to acknowledge. Harry just looked confused. She continued. "Chakotay gave me a week to get started on the shuttle project. It has already been more than that. He's going to nail me pretty soon and I want to show him some progress. You are both off for the next two days. I checked. So, tonight and starting at 0800 for the next two days, I want you in the shuttle bay." Torres finished and looked back and forth between the men.
Paris had been holding his chin in his thumb and fingers and was looking appraisingly at her. He glanced over at Kim who looked willing enough but hadn't said anything yet. "Don't worry, Harry, I outrank her."
That drew an amazed stare from B'Elanna, and Tom continued, "Chakotay said he'd contact us when he wanted us to start. I'd say we can still go through with our plans." Harry knew they didn't have any plans for the next day and knew Tom was teasing her. Harry thought it was dangerous considering her reputation.
Torres continued to stare mutely at Paris who held his ground and stifled his grin by looking superior and defiant. Finally, she said, "You would put personal plans above an assignment like this?" By now Torres wasn't listening.
"No." He carefully kept his face in the same mold.
"Paris, I heard all about how you ran away from the Maquis on your first away mission. Even before I was here on the ship. However, I was going to give you a chance."
"I'll be glad to work on your project."
"But I can see, you don't merit the least consideration."
"When do we start?"
"You're just a wiseacre. . .What did you say? . . . You did that to me on purpose! Paris you're a pig."
"Don't worry, B'Elanna," Harry consoled, "You're not the first one he's teased like that. I hear he only does it to people he likes."
"Some way to show it." She grumbled.
Tom thought that maybe he had miscalculated and B'Elanna wasn't someone that he could tease. Maybe he should apologize.
"I think I'll ask Chakotay for someone else." B'Elanna decided. "I'm sure Harry will do fine. Paris, you're off the team. You're just not a team player."
"But." I really blew it this time. Tom thought. "Look Lieutenant, I. . ."
"I'm not going to discuss it. Let me eat."
Paris looked like a spanked puppy. He looked to Harry for help. Harry just shrugged. B'Elanna finished eating and said, "Come on Harry, let's get down to the shuttle bay." They rose and left the mess hall. Paris sat for a moment then got up and hurried after them.
B'Elanna and Harry were talking animatedly about the project all the way to the shuttle bay and continued as they entered. Paris almost gave up at the door to the bay, but decided to try one more time. He took a deep breath. "B'Elanna, please give me another chance." He asked humbly. She nailed him with a glance and couldn't stand it any longer. She burst out into a full Klingon bellow.
When she laughed he knew he'd been had and grinned in happy defeat. "That last face in the mess. Oh it was priceless." B'Elanna was practically hysterical.
Paris walked over to her and said, "Truce?" As much as he might want to, Paris knew he would ruin things forever if he kissed her. She was special. What he did do continued the teasing, but on a different level. He knelt before her and bowed his head. "Can the lady accept this poor beggar as a servant?"
Torres started to laugh all over again and ordered, "Paris get up, let's get to work."
The trio found that they worked together very well. Chakotay had chosen them because together they had a wide base of technical knowledge. They approached the project from opposing viewpoints and therefore tended to consider a wide range of problems. They found solutions before a specific design had solidified so much that it was difficult to change. They tended to have differing frustration points and would rarely be 'at their wits end' at the same time. Their personalities also complemented each other. Harry was always steady, patient, and could reason with either of his more volatile friends even when they were at their worst and calm them down. Even though he was the most junior in rank, over the course of the many projects they completed for Voyager, both Tom and B'Elanna came to permit him to order them to take five and cool off, if necessary.
They made good progress and had tentatively finished the plans for fitting one shuttle with removable containers. Tom had wanted to go with permanent containers since that would allow for more space for storage, but B'Elanna pointed out that would severely limit the usefulness of the shuttle. With removable containers they could accommodate a varied number in the crew. Tom finally saw the light. Currently they were debating the merits of using the stasis containers currently on board Voyager or designing new ones that could be collapsed.
"Think about it B'Elanna," Tom was cajoling. "If we designed our own, they could be customized to exactly fit any space we need."
"What real benefit would that get us?" She was beginning to get irritated, Tom wasn't listening to what she was saying. "The cost of manufacturing versus the gain in cubic storage space just isn't merited."
Tom stopped talking a moment and tried to figure out how he could get her to listen. "B'Elanna, think of it like this. On the trip down to the planet all of the stasis containers could be collapsed and stored in the storage compartment of the shuttle. We could take a full compliment of passengers. While on the planet they could be installed leaving room for a pilot and copilot who could go back and forth to Voyager."
"Mr. Paris, you've forgotten one point." The group jumped at Chakotay's voice, though soft, had come from less than five feet away. They had been so intent upon what they were discussing, they hadn't heard him come in. "The main reason for outfitting the shuttle with the stasis containers is so the shuttle can travel back to where Voyager is."
"Commander, consider if Voyager is at a system only 5 or 6 light years away." Paris was enthusiastic about his subject. B'Elanna had been a good warm up. "The shuttle could make a round trip in just a few hours including takeoff and landing. While the shuttle was gone another load could be gathered. If necessary, the containers could be assembled outside and the shuttle could be rigged to sleep the foraging crew if Voyager couldn't return before nightfall."
"You have a point Paris; however, so does Torres. Figure the various variables both ways and I'll present them to the Captain and she can choose which she likes better."
"Great, I just talked us into more work!"
Chakotay shot a look to Paris for his tone, but let it pass. This was the first time he had heard insolence from Paris since he'd been on Voyager. He wasn't sure what it meant. Paris merited watching. "At first, I came looking for Torres. I wanted to have you get started on the shuttle project. I am quite pleased to see you have not only started, you have obviously been discussing ideas for quite some time." Torres, Paris, and Kim shared a satisfied smile.
"That's not all, Commander." B'Elanna handed him a PADD and stood back.
Chakotay studied the PADD readout looking more and more pleased. "This is excellent work! And do you. . . Yes! you have included the individual specifications of each container. I see you went with the removable containers."
"Yes," Torres said, "Tom was arguing for containers that could be collapsed on themselves or taken apart. The engineering problems either option would pose are considerable. I don't know of any collapsible or take apart stasis chamber. There could be very real reasons it isn't possible."
Chakotay acknowledged her with a nod. "Have you thought about consulting the computer or even working on the holodeck?" Chakotay was amused by the looks of dismay exchanged by the group.
"I should have thought of the holodeck even if no one else did." Tom kicked himself.
"Don't be too hard on yourselves. You've done excellent work. Technically, you can preempt recreational use of either holodeck for official projects or ship's business. Practically, I'd avoid beta shift unless it's an emergency. People get bothered if they loose holodeck time they have scheduled. The holodecks can only be scheduled two weeks in advance. They are always booked beta shift." He paused thoughtful. "How would you like to have your schedule arranged?"
The trio again exchanged looks. Torres spoke, "Chakotay, we haven't planned past today. We've done all this since after our shifts two days ago. I knew you'd get on me if I didn't have some results. So here they are!" She was defiant.
Unexpectedly, Chakotay laughed quietly. "Down Torres, you've proven yourself. I'll report to the Captain what you've done. I'm sure she'll be pleased." He left the team to themselves.
As soon as Chakotay was out of earshot, Tom commented, "That was something I wouldn't have expected."
"What Tom?" Torres inquired.
"I'm willing to bet that if I had talked to him like you did now, he would have been all over me."
"Chakotay and I have been through a lot in the past year or so. He knows me really well. I came a couple of months after you left with the shuttle. They were still talking about it. You made a big splash for the short time you were there."
"I opposed him at every turn. Loudly and defiantly. I'm surprised he didn't flatten me more than once when I look back on it." He thought to himself that Chakotay's a better man than I'll ever be. Somehow though he just brings out the worst in me. "We never have decided when to meet again."
"I think we do well using larger blocks of time." Harry suggested. "It always seems like it takes us a while to get going. We can use say 1/2 of our alpha shift in the afternoons."
"Harry's not a morning person." Tom interjected to B'Elanna.
"That sounds good to me." B'Elanna pointedly ignored Tom's comment. "We can work for a while in the evenings alternate days on the shuttle bay. That way we'll still get to relax some."
"How about we work tomorrow in the evening and plan what trials we want to do in the holodeck the next day." Tom said, "I'm ready to quit today and we don't want to waste the holodeck time."
"I'll talk to Chakotay and tell him so he can adjust the schedule. Starting tomorrow evening, afternoon, evening, afternoon. Let's just take it that far and I'll ask him to schedule the holodeck for the afternoon sessions."
"Sounds good to me." Tom agreed. Harry nodded his assent.
The next morning Chakotay made his way to his early morning briefing with Captain Janeway with a different anticipation than normal. He wasn't afraid or anxious, nothing that definite. He was unsettled and he would have liked to avoid the meeting if possible. He didn't like incurring Janeway's displeasure any more than Tom Paris did. As he neared the turbo lift to the bridge, he realized that his hands were sweating and his uneasiness was increasing. He made a mental note to make this a subject of a vision quest. He exited the lift onto the bridge and proceeded to the ready room and entered.
"Good morning, Captain.
"Good morning Chakotay, how are you today?"
He hesitated a second too long and Janeway turned to look at him. "Something bothering you, Commander?"
"Well, Captain, to tell you the truth. Yes. If you remember last night in the gym. I understand you are not happy about that incident."
"No, not from what I saw." Janeway affirmed. "I always make a practice of hearing the participant's side of the story. I'd like you to tell me what happened."
"I need your word you will not discipline Tom Paris."
"I trust your judgement. I won't discipline him if you don't think it is merited."
"Were you aware that Tom has been trying to visit Ramsey? But Ramsey refused to see him."
"No, I wasn't."
"This incident actually has its roots in that. Once Paris gets an idea about something, he hangs on to it like a bulldog. Ramsey had told him again and again that he didn't want to see him. Paris kept coming back. Finally, Ramsey asked me to take care of it. I called Paris to my office and we started to discuss it. I confess that I lost control of the interview and of my self and sent Paris out telling him I would page him when I wanted him. I decided to work out my irritation by practicing the self defense drills. Paris was there doing the very same thing. I apologized to him for loosing my temper and walked toward him with my hand extended. He took my hand and as slick as you please had me flat on my back. From the floor I said, "Would you care to try that again?" He helped me up and we started to circle. I threw him once. He threw me. You saw the final throw where I won our impromptu match. After you left I took Paris to an unused room and was able to reason with him about Ramsey. I also discussed the possible ramifications of throwing a superior officer without permission."
"From your manner I get the feeling that this was a positive interaction between you and Tom."
"Very positive, Captain." Chakotay emphasized. "I see it positive on several levels. First, Paris operates on a primitive or gut level especially when he is angry or otherwise very emotional. I bested him decisively physically. That communicates to him that I am the stronger or dominate man. He may not even acknowledge it consciously but he should fit easier into a subordinate role now that has happened. Next, he had not thought of the possible consequences of throwing me without permission. Paris became very serious, very quickly when it was pointed out to him. He also realized that I could choose to press charges even after our bout. I let him know then I would not do that. Lastly, we had a good time together. That may be the first time that has ever happened."
"I can see where this experience was positive for you and Tom. Did it need to happen in clear view of probably 1/3 of the crew?" Janeway asked.
"It wasn't planned, Captain. I admit I didn't think of that. What do you think the repercussions will be?"
"We could see a lot more of it." Janeway thought for a moment. "Maybe we could structure it. We have an intramural program in place. Perhaps you could talk to Teri Kendall in fitness and recreation about the best way to organize something like that. It could turn into a real positive for the whole crew."
"I'll talk to Lieutenant Kendall today."
"Shall we continue with the agenda for today? Energy consumption and fuel reserves. Has anyone come up with any ideas."
"Nothing else has been presented yet. Kes is doing a good job on the hydroponics bay, but vegetables take time to grow. We are continuing to look for a planet that is likely to have food we can use on it."
"How is the shuttle project coming?"
"Very well. Torres corralled Paris and Kim three days ago and they have workable plans for a shuttle fitted with removable stasis containers. They didn't think of using the holodeck or we might even have had a mock up. I understand Paris is quite accomplished at holoprogramming at least from an entertainment point of view."
"Yes, I've heard about that also. He had Martin and Juneau helping him. He seems readily able to turn adversaries into friends given a chance." She turned to her first officer and looked at him significantly.
He returned her look solidly and commented, "I'm watching Lieutenant Paris closely. I'm willing to admit that he has made some changes. Even important changes. I need to see them sustained over a significant period of time before I'll believe they are permanent. We've been six weeks on our journey home. I want to see him at six months."
B'Elanna was excited. Her shift in engineering had gone unusually well. She'd been in there almost two weeks and it seemed like some of the people were beginning to pay attention to the things she said. Even Carey had listened when she had made a suggestion about how to do a procedure a little differently and improve the result. She was beginning to learn the strengths and weakness of her people also. Carey had been very helpful at first. He would make little comments as she was about to make assignments. She learned quickly he was right on with his evaluations.
Now she was on her way to the mess hall to pick up her rations and on to holodeck one. They were actually going to do a mock up of the first plans. Paris was already at the holodeck controls doing something when she arrived.
"Hey, Torres. Would you do me a big favor and call me Tom. I really don't like being called Paris."
"Sure, Paris." Tom rolled his eyes. B'Elanna smiled and said, "If you'll call me B'Elanna."
"Sure, Torres," Tom teased. "B'Elanna, I was given some time to do a trial on my Sandrine's program tonight at 1900. Someone cancelled and I was next on the list. So far I have about 10 people coming. I want between 15 and 20. That would make it complex enough to test the program but not too populated to make it impossible to see what is going on."
"Maybe I'll come."
"There's one character in particular I think you'll really love. I'm sure he'll seek you out. I'd like your opinion about him." Actually, Tom was talking about a character he was sure she'd hate, a cad and a womanizer. If B'Elanna thought he was a pig. . .
B'Elanna thought for a moment. "Well, if you really think I'll like him. I think I'm free tonight. Baring any explosions in engineering."
Now I've done it. Oh, well, in for a penny, in for a pound. "I'm sure it'll be like nothing you've ever experienced." Tom stopped what he was doing and looked around. "I wonder where Harry is?"
"Good question." She paged him.
"Harry, we were wondering where you were?"
"I'll be down in few minutes. Go ahead and get started. Kim out."
"Well, you heard Mr. Perfect Ensign. Let's get started."
It turned out he was about half an hour. His relief had never worked alpha shift and was having a major panic attack about doing it. Kim had needed to go over all the routines and calm him down before he left him. Kim understood why the man was only on gamma shift. Kim was as close to being angry as Tom had ever seen him when he arrived at the holodeck.
Kim went on for several minutes about his relief when he did get there. "I couldn't believe the man. Don't they follow procedures on gamma shift?! It seemed like he was afraid of Captain Janeway. He's been with her longer than I have!"
This was the first time Harry had dealt with a subordinate who was less than competent. At least in his eyes. "Harry, we all can't be Mr. Perfect Ensign you know."
"What's that supposed to mean, Tom?" Kim's tone was still annoyed.
Tom shrugged. "Sometimes people need different kinds of support." That was all Tom would say even though Kim questioned him further.
"We need to get started. Holodeck time is precious." Tom went on frustrating Kim further.
The team had planned well and in about three hours had finished the shuttle and fitted it with the stasis containers. They found that they could increase the size of several of the containers by using a non standard size or changing the location of a door. They even decided they could suspend two from the ceiling of the shuttle utilizing that space as well. They asked Chakotay to come and inspect their work when they finished.
"You've used about half of a standard size and the rest are chambers we are going to need to produce ourselves. That was sensible and good thinking to conserve our resources. Have you done any work on the collapsible chambers?"
"No sir, we wanted to get the first one to this stage. You never know when we might run across a planet we can forage from." Harry said thinking of the emergency rations. "It shouldn't take more than a day to fit the real shuttle craft with standard stasis chambers. I don't have the estimate for the time it would take to manufacture the other odd chambers."
"You've got a good point Mr. Kim. I'll bring it up to the Captain, I think you can plan on fitting the shuttle beginning your next scheduled work shift. Go ahead and develop a manufacturing schedule for it. Estimate the materials and hardware you'll need and if you want extra personnel or people with special skills to help you. Questions? Good work. Keep it up." Chakotay started toward the door and turned back. "Mr. Kim, could I see you for a moment?"
Tom looked after them thoughtfully and said to B'Elanna. "I'll bet he's called on the carpet for how he treated his relief today."
Tom and B'Elanna worked on the manufacturing plans for about a half an hour. They were almost finished when a very subdued Harry returned. He came in and asked. "Were you able to get anything done without me?" His words were flat and without humor.
Tom and B'Elanna exchanged a look. Tom asked, "How did it go with Chakotay?"
"It went fine, no problem." Harry snapped out. He was very defensive.
"Oh and that's why your chin is dragging on the ground and you just snapped my head off. Tell me what happened." Tom urged. "It's not like it's never happened to me."
"I'm really embarrassed, humiliated even."
"I told you Chakotay was good. He never raised his voice above a normal speaking voice. Right."
"Did he draw blood?"
"What? Oh, I see what you mean. Yea, he did." Kim sighed, resigned. "He took me back to his office all the time talking about our good work with the shuttle. When he got to his office he started talking about the bridge and got me to talk about my relief. I was still upset about it. Then he started to talk about the man's problems and the difficulties he has had. Then in a very personal manner he began to tell me how I had hurt him. I was nearly in tears he was so good at illustrating how I had hurt the man and my future relationship with him. He assigned me to get to know him by having dinner once a week for two months and apologize."
"The Perfect Ensign falls."
"It's not funny, Tom." Kim's defensiveness was turning into anger.
"I know Harry, but it's not as dire as you're making it. My punishments are always something like being confined to quarters or being docked replicator rations. Dinner with someone for two months doesn't seem so bad!"
"Look Tom, I don't want to talk about it any more. Just leave me alone!" Kim was definitely angry.
Tom just raised his hands in surrender.
"Why don't we get back to work. We need to show Harry the plans we worked up while he was gone." B'Elanna started to talk about the plans and then ask Harry a question. He didn't even answer. Tom even said his name and got no reaction. Finally Tom punched Harry in the arm.
"Hey, what did you do that for? Lay off!"
"Harry, have you heard a word we've said?"
"Sure I have. . ."
"Well?" B'Elanna said expectantly.
"OK, maybe I haven't. I'll listen this time, tell me again."
B'Elanna looked doubtfully at Kim, but started anyway. She stopped after two sentences. It was obvious that Kim hadn't taken anything in.
"Harry," Tom pushed him enough to brake his concentration. "You've got to let it go."
"You don't know how it is at all."
"Maybe not, that isn't the point. We need to work and you're preventing us from doing so." Tom had a practical side.
"You know Tom, I would have thought that I would have gotten a little more sympathy from you." In addition to being angry, Harry was starting to feel sorry for himself now.
"You're funny, Harry." B'Elanna started.
"FUNNY! Now you're making light of all this. You can just do this without me today. I'm going back to my quarters." Harry stalked out of the room.
Tom looked after Harry. "That's how it starts. He could be in real trouble if Chakotay finds out he's off shift. I'll give him a few minutes and go get him."
"He's really bent out of shape over this isn't he." B'Elanna commented. "I never thought getting into trouble could ever be an asset. I know it isn't the end of the world. Let's finish those plans." B'Elanna and Tom worked about a half hour and Tom went after Harry. Harry wasn't in their quarters, but he had left his combadge there. Tom called B'Elanna and asked her to come to his quarters. When she arrived he told her what Harry had done. They needed to find him as soon as possible. Harry's problems could go from almost nonexistent to serious in no time if the wrong person found out what he had done. Tom and B'Elanna could be in serious trouble, as well, for covering for him.
Huddling, they decided to look in the cargo bays first. B'Elanna asked the computer to scan for human life signs and they easily found Kim. He had locked the door, but B'Elanna over road it. Tom charged in and confronted Kim loudly, "Exactly what do you think you're doing?! Do you realize the regulations you have broken. And the regulations you caused us to break in order for you not to get in more trouble than you can think about!" Tom glared at Harry truly angry at him. "We took a big risk for you and I'll bet you don't even appreciate it."
"I. . .I didn't. . .think. I was just. . ." Harry turned away shaking his head. He was desolate and very wrapped up in the problem with his subordinate.
Tom turned him around and roughly slapped his com badge on him and said to B'Elanna, "Will you get him? We need to go back to the holodeck." Tom needed some time to cool off by himself. They worked the rest of the afternoon, but they were not very productive. They were a dispirited group when they separated to go their various ways.
Tom continued to muse about Harry. I think he's right. I don't understand him. I've been in one sort of trouble or another most of my life. He never has been. That may be partly because he doesn't like to be in trouble. He won't listen to B'Elanna and I. I'm going to see Chakotay about this. Tom called and could see him right away.
After the usual pleasantries Tom got down to business. "Commander," Now that he was here, he wasn't sure how to proceed. In a sense, he was telling the first officer his job. "Harry Kim is a good friend of mine. Today when he returned from a meeting with you he was quite upset. He was unable to concentrate on our work and at one point in the afternoon would have seriously compounded his error had the wrong person caught him. He won't listen to B'Elanna or I. Would you talk to him?"
"Mr. Kim is that bothered by out talk?"
"Maybe I came down harder on him than I thought I did."
"Probably not, sir, Harry isn't used to being in trouble. It's possible this is the first time he has ever been corrected for a mistake he made."
"He's really taking it to heart, is he. Thank you, Tom, I'll see him this afternoon." Tom left Chakotay's office and Chakotay asked the computer to locate Ensign Kim. He was in the mess hall. That's where Chakotay went. He observed Kim at a distance and noted he hadn't eaten much, if any, of his food and was sitting slumped in his chair staring at it. He barely looked up when someone walked by and said hello. Chakotay got a tray and the emergency rations. "Hello, Mr. Kim, may I sit down?"
Harry looked up and blanched. He swallowed, sat up and said, "Of course sir."
"Thank you. Not very hungry tonight?"
"Uh, no sir."
"Something on your mind?"
"Well, sir, I. . ."
"You're not bothered by our discussion this afternoon are you?" Kim just sat there not trusting his voice. He was afraid he was going to cry and further embarrass himself. Chakotay saw the struggle Kim was having and realized he could not address this matter directly with him. "Mr. Kim, pick up your tray and come with me." Chakotay led Kim over to the crew member who was in charge of seeing that the mess hall was cleaned up and asked where their trays could be stored temporarily. They had a errand and would return. The crewman showed them, and their trays were stored.
Chakotay ordered, "With me, Ensign." and left the mess hall.
Kim was made even more miserable with this development. He was immediately certain that Commander Chakotay had found something else wrong and planned to discuss that with him. Kim did realize a fact that puzzled him. They were not going to Chakotay's office.
"Sir, where are we going?"
"The observation deck."
The observation deck? Why in the world would we go there?
They entered the deck and after Chakotay ascertained they were alone, he placed a privacy lock on the door, uncovered the view ports, and motioned Kim to the best place for viewing the stars. They sat for several minutes.
"Have you been here before, Mr. Kim?" The Commander began in a soft, solemn voice.
"No, sir, it's spectacular." Kim answered in awe of the sight.
The room was completely dark except for the star shine coming in from the port. Chakotay could barely see Kim's face and felt that the darkness of the room and the awe-inspiring sight would combine to give Kim sufficient cover to discuss his feelings. "Mr. Kim, you have reacted strongly to our earlier discussion."
"Well, sir. . ."
"I'd like to understand how you feel about what I said. You may speak freely."
"It's not you, sir. Not what you said."
Commander Chakotay looked over at Kim and waited for him to continue.
Struggling and full of self reproach, Kim continued. "I should have known what to do. I should have done better. I. . ." his voice broke and he lowered his head.
"On Voyager we set a high standard. We expect promptness, accuracy, thoroughness, a high knowledge of the protocols connected with your station and others, the ability to work well with others and in many cases, the ability to lead others. Apparently Ensign, your standard for yourself is higher."
"Harry, we as human beings strive to do as well as we can. All of our lives, we will learn and grow and make mistakes. We hope that we don't make mistakes that cause others harm. Many times that happens. Then we have to make the best we can of the situation. The bigger our mistake, the more difficult it will be to makeup for. Ensign, do you believe you have been disciplined too harshly?"
"Oh, no sir."
"This question is more difficult. Consider well before you answer. Do you feel you are in need of further penalties?"
The question surprised Kim and frightened him. He pondered a long while, then realized he wasn't coming to a conclusion and skirted the issue. "I don't know, sir."
Chakotay smiled at Kim. "I'm not sure what I assigned you to do is even a penalty. It could be called a consequence. In order to right a wrong, one apologizes. The man you hurt will probably find it more difficult to eat dinner with you than you will with him. I hope you come to know each other better and he becomes less fearful of his superiors. Now, answer the question, are you in need of further penalties?"
Kim turned away very uncomfortable with the question. He asked himself why he was so uncomfortable and realized it was a childish reason. He didn't want to serve additional penalties and thought that he was probably writing his own sentence. Once that fear was recognized he was able to answer. "Yes sir, I am. Not for the incident with my relief. I made some very poor choices this afternoon and caused my friends to break regulations to keep me from being caught."
"What penalty should you pay, you know what you did."
"Well, I'm not sure, restriction to quarters, for two weeks?"
Chakotay didn't answer. "What about your friends. They broke regulations shouldn't they be punished?"
"Oh sir, please don't punish them, they were trying to help me. They did help me."
"I'm not going to punish them, Ensign. I'm not planning to increase your correction. I'm trying to modify what you are doing to yourself, right now."
"Sir, I don't understand."
"Tom Paris came to me and told me you were so unsettled by our talk this afternoon that you couldn't concentrate on the shuttle project. He also implied you took some irresponsible actions. Both reactions are way out of proportion to the seriousness of your mistake. Had this situation happened with any other person on your staff other than Ensign Capehart, chances are I wouldn't even have discussed it with you. It wouldn't have hurt them. The most important thing you need to learn is that people must be treated differently according to their needs. You must do your best to become acquainted with your subordinates in order to know their needs."
"I understand sir." Kim was beginning to truly hear what Chakotay was saying. "I think this is going to take some time for me to get over."
"There are probably issues you have that are impacted by being 'disciplined' by the first officer. Perhaps your self-image. Tom Paris no doubt has a self-image that encompasses being disciplined from his superiors. I doubt yours did."
"No sir, it didn't."
"I imagine your pride is bruised."
This came slower, mentally, he squirmed a little, "Yes sir."
"Perhaps Harry Kim thought he was just a little bit better than others because he had never been disciplined. He always did the right thing."
Harry thought a long time about this. Chakotay was precisely identifying his faults. When he spoke his words were scarcely audible. "I think you're right, sir."
"Mr. Kim, I'm proud to have you on Voyager. You are truly an asset to the crew. It is humbling to find out you don't know everything and that you have faults. Welcome to the human race. Now can you get your chin off the ground and accept the talk this afternoon for what it was. If you want to know trouble, talk to Lieutenant Paris. He is well acquainted with it."
"Sir, thank you for your time and advice.
"Have a good evening, Ensign."
Tom arrived at holodeck one early to put some finishing touches on a couple of his characters. He had programmed three pool sharks. All disreputable looking, all ready to fleece the mark. He debated about whether he should tone down the gigolo and decided to leave him alone. He was thoroughly disgusting, but Tom enjoyed watching women react to him.
"Hi Harry. Feeling better?"
"Yea, Chakotay talked to me again."
"I wonder how he found out you were bent out of shape?"
"You told him."
"Oh, he told you?"
"Yes. Thanks. I wasn't listening to you."
"No kidding. You also caused us to risk serious trouble for ourselves if we'd been caught."
"I really wasn't thinking clearly."
"That's how my problems got out of control. One thing lead to another until I found myself in the Maquis, then I got caught. The dishonesty and attitude had become a habit. One day in prison I took look at myself and decided I hated what I saw. I decided to change. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and tolerate myself. That was about a year ago. I still fight those habits sometimes." Tom paused and seemed to shake himself. "Let's take a look at Sandrine's. It's exciting and nerve racking to test a program. I want it to be so perfect and I know it probably won't be."
"Before that Tom, I want to apologize to you for being such a problem." Kim was sincere and wanted Tom to know it.
Tom gripped Kim's shoulder and said, "I figure I'm still way in debt. I'm glad you're my friend."
"Could I ask another favor? I was wondering if I could ask George Capehart to come tonight. He's the Ensign I was rough with."
"That sounds like a great idea, Harry. Why don't you go get him personally? You haven't had a chance to apologize and there's no time like the present! Come in when you get back."
The people who had been occupying the holodeck came out and Tom started Sandrine's. Initially the program looked good. The bar's atmosphere was correct, as were the furnishings. The characters all appeared to be acting and moving appropriately. They were even interacting with each other which was a good sign. Looks good so far. Tom thought to himself. He continued his inspection until Harry and George came in. Harry introduced George to Tom. "Glad you could come George. What we need to do is simply talk to the characters as if we were patrons of the bar. Will you help me to let everyone who comes in know what they should do. If anything happens they don't like or is otherwise a problem, send them to me. If anything dangerous should happen, you have shutdown authority, Harry. Just say 'Harry Kim, emergency shutdown.' That's very unlikely. I haven't tampered with the safeties at all. Let's go."
Tom immediately went over to the bar and started speaking with Sandrine the proprietress. The real Sandrine had been a true friend to Tom when he had been in the Academy and when he had been down and out after being cashiered out of Starfleet. He really wanted to get her character as close to the real Sandrine as he could. "Is this your place?"
"Ah, qui, monsieur. C'est mon."
Tom was recreating the first conversation he had ever had with Sandrine. "Do you speak English?"
"Qui, je parle l'anglais, un peut. Parle tu le Francais?" Sandrine was looking at Tom with the same provocative amusement she had the first time Tom had met her.
"No, not really."
"That's alright, cheri. For you I will speak English. But you must pay for the privilege." Sandrine had taken Tom's hand and led him down the bar. "My name is Sandrine. What is yours, cheri?"
"Ah, c'est bon." Sandrine had not released Tom's hand and in fact had taken the other one. "Do you wonder what my charge for English is? From one such as you, it is this." Sandrine had placed her hand behind Tom's head and kissed him. In life it had been several weeks before Sandrine had kissed him. "Be assured, I will collect regularly."
So far so good, Tom thought. Harry was already playing pool with George. He excused himself from Sandrine and went to check outside the holodeck. He had neglected to leave notification that his visitors could enter as they arrived. Several people were waiting when he checked including Martin and John. Tom gave them his instructions, ushered them in, and left the entrance message. By the time Tom went back in, Sandrine was busy serving so he wandered over to the pool table and watched the action. Two of the sharks were doing their number on Harry and it appeared he was falling for it hard. One of the girls wandered over to him and asked him to buy her a drink. Tom brushed her off.
The girl Harry programmed was eyeing him from across the room.
He smiled slightly at her and started a slow movement toward her. She smiled in return and preened. Tom continued over. Tom wanted to make dead sure she wouldn't smack any of his guests. "Hello, do you come here often." The girl opened.
"Well, this happens to be the first time I have ever been to Sandrine's." Tom answered her. Making and keeping eye contact. "Looks like a great place. My name's Tom." He said picking up her hand and kissing it. "What's yours?"
Tom put his arm around Tracy and walked her over to a booth. "Would you like to sit down?" She smiled up at him and did so. Tom slid in and turned toward her. He was moving very quickly to put as much pressure on the program as he could. If he was going to get slapped he wanted to know it. He leaned in toward her and picked up her hand. He started to kiss her hand and kissed slowly all the way up her arm to her mouth. Then to be certain he tried a couple moves he would never try were the woman not a simulation. Tracy passed.
"Tom Paris!" It was B'Elanna!
Tom practically jumped out of the booth. "Uh, hi B'Elanna. I'm glad you came."
"Yea, I'm sure you are. Were you planning to do something like what you did to that character to me?!"
"Of course not B'Elanna!" Tom was turning a deeper shade of red with every word. "It wasn't what it looked like. That was the character that Harry programmed to slap me when I kissed her. I had to make sure he had completely removed all of that command. Sometimes residual commands stay in the character if the programmer isn't thorough. I couldn't have the character slapping people. Could I?"
B'Elanna was somewhat mollified. She knew something about holoprogramming and everything Tom had said was true. She didn't want to let him off too easy though. She said, "Alright, I guess I believe you."
Over her shoulder Tom saw the gigolo bearing down on her and swiftly went to her side and escorted her away. "B'Elanna, you know that character I said you'd love. I lied, you'd hate him. He's a cad and a pig. Even worse than me."
"Is this Tom Paris protecting the innocent damsel? Would you let me alone." She pushed his hands away from her and moved away.
I can't do anything right! "B'Elanna, I didn't want you to get cornered by him after what you saw me do with. . ."
B'Elanna looked at him scornfully and turned and walked out the door. She stopped just outside the holodeck doors. She was breathing hard and her heart was practically beating out of her chest. That Paris, she used his last name purposefully, why do I react to him so strongly? He touched me and. . . She didn't want to acknowledge what she felt. How could she be attracted to that pig? Well, I'm not that's all. I think I'll go down to engineering and see what's happening.
Tom watched for several long moments after the holodeck doors closed on B'Elanna. Tom didn't know what he could do. It seemed like no matter what he did it turned against him where B'Elanna was concerned. He sighed.
"Tom! Tom." He looked around in the direction of the voice. It was Harry over at the pool table. He waved Tom over. As Tom went he glanced around at the people here. It looked like a full house. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
"What's up, Harry?"
"There's something wrong with the pool table. The ball disappears right before it is hit by the cue ball."
"OK, you guys, who's pulling the fast one." Tom eyed the three pool sharks who shifted and looked at each other.
"Uh. Gee Tom, it ain't one of us."
"Nah. We don' do nothin' ta bollix up a pool table."
Harry looked over at Tom and decided he was trying to pull his leg and wasn't going for it. He stood up and folded his arms. Tom grinned back at him.
"Computer, delete the balls on the pool table. Check program for inconsistencies. Repair if found. Report." Tom knew the procedure well.
"Inconsistencies were found in 24 subroutines. All were corrected." The computer reported.
"Computer what was the cause of the inconsistencies." Then to Harry and the others playing pool. "That's a lot of subroutines to have problems, especially if you consider it was one program."
Just then, Chakotay came in the door.
"Hey Harry look who's here! I think I'll send Tracy over." Tom walked over to Tracy and directed her to Chakotay.
"The problem was a localized programming error." The computer responded.
"OK, that means that it was simply a glitch. I'm going to check the table and cues to make sure." Tom proceeded to check them out and they were fine. All the while he was watching Tracy work her wiles on the first officer. He seemed to be enjoying the attentions. He had an odd half smile on his face. Later, he repeatedly removed Tracy's hands from his neck and appeared to want to talk to Sandrine. Finally, Sandrine shooed he girl away and Tom saw Sandrine grasp Chakotay's hand and lead him down the bar. Chakotay was completely oblivious of what the outcome would be and when Sandrine kissed him he jumped backward, but was unable to extricate himself from her and apparently decided to relax and enjoy the moment. After the leisurely kiss, Sandrine wrapped her arm around Chakotay's, fetched drinks from the bar, and guided them to her favorite booth. From the look on Chakotay's face Tom figured he had at least one satisfied customer.
The balls were back on the table and Tom was watching the sharks set Harry up. Tom thought of a wicked idea. He waved George over to let him in on the joke. The Delaney sisters were talking with some of the other visitors from the ship. He and George wandered over and at a break in the conversation asked them to come with him.
"You remember Harry's birthday party." They nodded in concert. Tom thought that was cute. "Would you like to be in on a joke on Harry?"
"Well, it's not mean is it? We like Harry."
Tom thought about it and said, "It's not exactly mean. It'll embarrass him. Come on ladies, he deserves it after what he did to me with Tracy."
They grinned at each other remembering how Tom had fallen for the prank. "Tell us what it is first."
"OK, fair enough. After everyone had gone home. Harry and I were talking. I mentioned he hadn't received a birthday spanking. . ."
They finished the details and the sisters started on the plan. First Jenny came up beside Harry as he was finishing a game and began to flirt gently with him. She asked him to get her a drink and when he straightened to comply she linked arms with him and intensified the flirting and flattery. Megan just happened to be sitting next to the only empty space on the bar and she linked with Harry's other arm. By now Harry was enjoying the attention, but a little floored by it. Jenny tasted her drink and smiled winningly at Harry.
"Let's show Harry a good time. Shall we sis?"
"We had a great time at your birthday party, Harry." The sisters are becoming more forward in the way they were touching him, but Tom had said to keep it proper, after all the first officer was present. "Tom said we might have had a better time though." Megan fairly purred and barely kept from laughing at the struck look on Harry's face. He had stiffened and looked panicked.
"What are you planning? Did Tom put you up to this?"
"Why Harry, we like you." Jenny coyly exclaimed. "We wouldn't want you to miss your birthday spanking."
As Jenny said her final sentence, Harry hastily and firmly disengaged himself from them and marched determinedly over to Tom. Luckily for both of them, Harry took a good look at Tom's face before he did anything. Harry had been angry enough to deck him. Tom had such a comically, bemused look on his face that Harry stopped dead and stared at him for a full minute. First, Tom started to laugh, then Harry joined in. Soon everyone who had been in on the joke which was most of the room, including Chakotay, were helplessly laughing.
Even the computer's announcement, "There are five minutes remaining of your scheduled time." seemed extremely funny and doubled the laughter.
And thus was Sandrine's born.