Accustomed to Royalty
Story Notes: Here’s the deal. Mary W. made me an offer I could not refuse. As a result, you have an upbeat story from me, and an angst packed tale from Wiecek. It all evens out in the end.....
Disclaimers: Star Trek and all registered subsidiaries are property of Paramount.
She couldn’t believe it. She was hesitating entering. It was ridiculous. She was a Starship Captain. More than that, she was Kathryn Janeway. She had stared down the Viidians, she had . . .
This was ridiculous. She was *not* going to stand outside a room giving herself a pep talk. She took a deep breath and starting walking.
And strode straight into the holodeck door. She swore loudly, and then looked up and down the corridors to make sure no one had heard. She had forgotten that this holodeck door was temperamental. She stepped back and forward a few times before the sensors registered her. She preferred not to entertain the existential dilemma that comes about when machinery refuses to acknowledge your humanity.
Making a mental note to remind the repair crew to work on the door, she collected herself and this time successfully walked into the room.
He was sitting in front of the control panel, as she knew he would be. Scattered before him on the floor were several instruments that she was sure Engineering did not know was missing. Even though she knew what he was doing, seeing it in action made her a little sad all the same.
“Tom.” She let him know that she was here.
He looked up at her, and then away again. Oh well, she thought, I deserved that.
“Tom.” She said again, this time moving to sit down on the ground next to him.
“I’m just taking down the Captain Proton programme, Captain. After all the trouble it’s caused, I imagine that you’d want it as far away from Voyager as possible.”
She picked up one of the tools laying before her and spun it in her hands.
“I don’t know, Tom. I liked Captain Proton. I wasn’t too keen on Choatica, but then I’ve never been one for balding men.” She smiled as he shot a look at her to see if she was joking. He couldn’t help himself, a grin broke out on his face. She had missed it, she admitted to herself.
“I knew that you would like this programme, Captain. I knew it.”
“Oh? Why is that?”
“Because it’s so easy. The same reason I love it. There is good and bad, and no in-between. I love this world where good always triumphs. And bad is always wearing black.”
“It is easy, isn’t it?” She looked around at the empty holodeck, remembering the animation of Chaotica and the Devil’s robot.
They sat in silence for a moment.
“Captain, I am sorry that we all got tied up in that programme. I can’t help but feel-”
“-Oh nonsense, Tom. Christ, I’m just glad it was that and not Neelix’s beach resort. Can you imagine what the photon life form would have thought of a planet perpetually in their swim suits?”
He didn’t answer, but snorted in response and continued to tinker away at the panels.
“I wanted to thank you, Tom.” She watched as his fingers flew across the control panels, making minor adjustments here and there.
“We couldn’t have sorted out this whole Aracnia mess without you. After the water planet, I wasn’t sure . . .” Her voice faltered off, and he turned to face her.
“Captain, you may have a low opinion of me,” he began, slightly offended, “but Voyager is all I have. Of course I would have helped. You could have put me under house arrest and I still would have wanted to pilot this big old heap of junk.” He banged down on the floor affectionately.
“Oh Tom . . .”
“What must you think of me, to think that I wouldn’t help?” He was sulking now, and it almost made her smile.
“I was worried about you. Because of the . . . the demotion.”
“Ah.” He shifted uncomfortably where he was sitting.
“No, don’t do that. Don’t pull away from me.” She said, leaning over to take his hand.
“Look, I’m not going to lie to you and say that I agree with you. The brig time, it hurt my ego. But I’ll bounce back, I’ve bounced back from bigger things before. And I’m not a ‘Fleeter, not really. I’ve been playing it pretty straight and narrow here, but it doesn’t mean that much to me. *Voyager* means something . . . but Starfleet? Not since I was seventeen. Ensign, Commander, Yeoman . . .it’s all the same. I miss the extra rations, but I have other ways of getting them back.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” She smiled. She was trying to formulate a response to the rest of his confession when he continued.
“I’m not asking you to take back what you did.”
“That’s good Tom, because I can’t. And I won’t.”
“I’m just asking you not to set impossible standards. Not to put yourself up for a fall every time.” Hell, why not go for broke? If she was going to throw him in the brig again, why not get it all out?
“Tom, what kind of Captain would I be if I didn’t aim for the best? Would you want me to compromise my decisions? To settle for something other than the best?”
“No.” He said, glad that he could focus on the panel in front of him and not her consuming gaze. “But you can take it easier on yourself. Life doesn’t have to be as clear as death rays and armies of evil, but it also doesn’t have to be about making the right decision every time.” He stopped and turned directly to her. “It can sometimes be just about life.”
There was a moment’s silence, when he saw the rank of crewman flash before his eyes. But then she reached out and touched his shoulder.
“How did you get so wise, Tom Paris?” Her voice was croaky, and she coughed to clear it up.
“The holodeck.” He deadpanned. “Everything I have ever learnt has been from the holodeck.” She laughed and slapped him arm gently. In a different time, or place, he may have construed it as something more. Here, he just smiled.
“So how about it?” She thumped the control panel in front of her, taking the easy way out of the conversation. “Will you leave this programme on-line?”
“No.” He said, but then continued quickly, “I’m a little tired of it. Besides, I have been researching a new one that we can all enjoy.”
“Oh really? What programme?” She tried to keep the trepidation out of her voice.
“It’s based on a 1970’s television show. It was called MASH. The characters reminded me a little of us; thrown into a situation beyond their control. There’s enough characters for all of us.”
“Who do I get to play?” She asked, standing to leave.
“The head nurse. She’s really cool, Captain. Her name’s . . Hotlips.” Despite the fact that he had lowered his voice, and covered his mouth with his hand, the word seemed to resonate around the holodeck.
She raise an eyebrow. “Hotlips, Mr Paris?”
“Well, it’s not. . . . it’s not . . .” He faltered. “She’s a major.” He finally offered.
“Oh good.” She drawled. “A demotion.”
“It’d be a more comfortable costume than the Aracnia one.” He shrugged, smiling a little at the recollection.
“Don’t push it, Ensign.” She said, putting on her best ‘Mr Paris, I am *not* amused’ voice.
“Yeah, I suppose being a major would be nothing compared to being the leader of the spider people.” He drawled, as she walked to the door.
She reached the door and looked back at him. There were many things she should probably say, or do. She just smiled, and said over her shoulder, “I am accustomed to royalty now, Tom. Anything else would be beneath me.”
And she walked straight into the holodeck doors.