More Challenges © 1999
By Bridget Cochran
(Voy, J/P, C, NC-17)
Disclaimer: I own the ideas, Paramount owns the rest. Archive in
JuPiter Station and ASC only.
Summary: Paris and Janeway clash over management styles, among other things. Sequel to Life's Challenges.
Tom Paris was not pleased as he watched Chakotay, Torres and Rollins dematerialize from the transporter stage. He did not trust these aliens.
Since they had stumbled onto this system, Voyager had had nothing but problems from the Restrancal. Yes, they would barter; no, they
wouldn't barter. It was all Neelix and Chakotay could do to get the
meeting set up. Then, at the last minute, they refused to allow
Neelix to join the away team. Man, this deal stunk.
He turned to head back to the bridge, when the door to the
transporter room hissed open. Kate Janeway strode in dressed head-to-toe in black, a terrain pack slung over her back.
She stopped cold. "Where's everybody?"
"On the surface."
"You let them go without me?"
Tom frowned at her tone. "I don't recall that you were asked to go."
"Chakotay can't go down there alone."
Tom's brows pulled together. "He's down there and he's not alone--
B'Elanna and Rollins are with him."
"Might as well be alone," she muttered, staring at the empty
transport platform. We have to go after them."
Tom folded his arms and shook his head as Kate's eyes locked onto
his. "They'll be fine."
She trained her narrowed eyes on the hapless transporter
chief. "Beam me to Chakotay's coordinates."
"Belay that, crewman."
Her chin came up. "Janeway to Kim," she growled.
"Harry, has the Captain reported in?"
Her eyes took on a hard glint , as Tom spoke to the ceiling. "Paris
to Chakotay." No answer. "Paris to Torres." Silence.
"Paris to Kim," he barked, "What's wrong with communication to the
"It's been dampened, sir. And we're being hailed from the planet's
"Shit." Tom said and left the transporter room for the bridge. Kate
dropped her pack and was hot on his heels. He didn't know it yet, but
was going to need all the help she could give him.
"On screen," Tom called as he headed for the Captain's chair. Kate
remained up at the bridge rail, close to the lift door.
"You have kept me waiting, Paris."
"What can I do for you, Minister?"
"You can begin the negotiations."
Tom let his command face descend as fear clutched his gut. "I
thought the captain had completed the negotiations, Minister," he
drawled. He didn't acknowledge Kate as she moved to stand beside me.
"No, Paris," The oily humanoid was actually drooling. "Those
negotiations are now voided since we now have new bargaining chips." Tom very nearly cringed when he saw Chakotay, Torres, and Rollins all linked by some kind of metallic cord around their necks. "We would
like the specifications for this instant transportation device, then we will release the prisoners."
Chakotay, his eyes full of the purest rage, was nudged forward. "Get
the hell out of here, Paris."
"I'll take that under advisement, Captain," Tom drawled. Damn it.
He looked at the drooling, four nostrilled son-of-a-bitch that had
Chakotay and his crewmates tethered to each other, and cursed
colorfully to himself.
"You gotta give me a couple of hours, you have our best scientists
there, Minister," he lied.
"How long do you need?"
Tom pretended to think. "Twelve hours, minimum."
"Six," the minister huffed.
"Eight," Tom countered.
"Six," the minister said, taking a menacing step forward. He raised
his hand, bringing with it the yoke holding his crew members,
dragging them forward like animals on a leash.
"Six," Tom confirmed in angry reluctance. Harry disconnected the
link and Paris sank into Chakotay's seat. "God damn son-of-a-bitch.
It's two hours 'til dusk on that side of the planet. We move then,"
Tom said to no one in particular.
Kate looked down at Tom, her heart pounding for him. It was hard to
stay 'fleet against odds like these. This kind of tete-de-tete so
early in this impossible journey did not speak well for there
future. "Let's get a plan together," she suggested.
Tom squinted into the fog that accompanied the setting sun of the
planet. Suddenly, from the haze, a quick jab pushed him back, then a
hurtling boulder of a body smashed into him, hurling him into hard
contact with the rough rocked wall of the Merchant's Hall. He hit
with a thud and felt more than heard the snap of bone somewhere in
the area of his right shoulder.
"I told you to stay put," came an angry snarl as he was forcibly
turned and propelled into the darkness.
"Christ, Kate, couldn't you have just told me to move." The pain
almost blinded him as he moved forward.
"I'm telling you now: move." She kept prodding him forward with the
nose of her phaser compression rifle.
"I'm supposed to be in charge of this mission." He moved forward not
sure where he was going and why.
"When the situation calls for commando tactics," she poked him in the back, "I'm in charge. Understood?" The plan he had formulated
wasn't enough. These aliens were mean as hell. Tom just didn't
understand 'mean as hell'.
They rounded a corner, and Tom found himself pressed against the wall just as an explosion ripped open the front of the building she had
knocked him against moments before. Janeway hit her comm
badge. "Ayala, beam aboard all human and Klingon readings."
They materialized in the transporter room: Chakotay, B'Elanna and
Rollins sitting on the transporter platform. Janeway and Paris
plastered together. Janeway struggled to keep the younger man from
pitching forward as his good arm reached for support. She kept them
upright by stubborness. She didn't want to cause him anymore pain.
Released from her collar, B'Elanna beat Chakotay to Paris's side,
grabbing his free arm and eliciting a solid yell from Tom.
Reflexively, Kathryn pushed the taller Klingon away.
"Don't touch him," she growled, staring into the snapping dark
eyes. Chakotay now held his engineer by the shoulders. "I've broken his clavicle." And marked my territory.
Chakotay had to tighten his grip on B'Elanna, as he examined his
Exec. The man was pale and in pain, sweat was beading his brow and
he looked about to collapse. And these two targs looked like they
were about to charge. Chakotay spoke up:
"Torres report to engineering. Janeway, brief Ayala. I'll take
Paris to sick bay."
"Like hell, you will," Janeway's jaw was set. Her grip on Tom's arm
"That's an order, Kate," the Captain said as he stared her down.
With narrowed eyes, Tom watched Kate move across sick bay. The anger he'd felt for her in the past was such a dim emotion compared to the intense anger he felt at this moment. Fighting to breath evenly and not lash out at her, the younger man lay back down on the biobed, wincing as he made contact with the hard surface.
"How are you feeling?" came the soft voice of his least favorite
person in the universe. He stiffened at the touch of her hand on his
good shoulder. She removed it immediately. "That good?" Her voice
"You can't be done briefing Ayala," he said through his teeth.
"No. I blew him off. I wanted to make sure you were alright." She
couldn't stop her hand from going back to his shoulder. Her frown
was so deep, it looked etched around her mouth and between her eyes. But Tom was staring at the sick bay ceiling.
"Are you going to fill me in on why you're angry."
His jaw worked, his eyes still on the ceiling. "No one authorized
you to use explosives in rescue. I was in charge of the rescue.
There **is** a chain of command set up for everyone to follow."
"My, aren't you a pedantic little tin soldier?" she snarled. "If you
want to play it by the book, Mr. Paris, fine. As First Officer, you
had no business being on the surface of a hostile planet when your
commanding officer was in peril." Kate clenched and unclenched her
hands in an effort to keep control. Her eyes flared hot into his. "If you want to split hairs on following protocol, sir, you should never have let Chakotay go to the planet surface when anything was so uncertain. You're supposed to take the point and keep him protected, **Mr. Paris**."
One hundred wouldn't be high enough to count to subdue Tom's anger. He knew the holodoc was paying avid attention to this
discussion. "We need to talk about this privately," he said. "I'll
be out of here in a couple of hours." He looked at the doctor for
Janeway's mouth was tight. "I'll meet you at your quarters at 1600
"My office," Tom corrected.
Janeway leveled a look at him. So, that's how it was, was it? "Say
your piece now, Tom," she said. "I'm not dancing to your tune later."
So much for the chain of command, Tom thought. "I'm reassigning you to Stellar Cartography." He held up a hand to shut her up. "I don't want to hear it. I want you to see if we can cobble together an
Astrometrics Lab. Ensign Kim will be working with you. He's the
To her credit, she didn't kill him.
"Aye, sir," she said through stiff lips. If she got much angrier, he
was sure the artery pulsing at her forehead would breach and the
doctor would be regenerating her brain. "Why don't you just put me
on hull maintenance?"
"That would be a waste of your brain power."
"Fuck you," she said. She left sick bay without a backward glance.
She had been vascillating between licking her wounds and fuming since she left sick bay. Why she let the welfare of the senior officers of this ship effect her so, she didn't know. It was hard work taking
care of people who didn't want to be taken care of. Now she just sat
brooding, staring into space.
Kate's door chimed. "Identify," she called out.
"Lt. Commander Paris."
She stood and straightened her shoulders. "Enter."
The door slid aside to reveal Tom, complete with the look of ire that
had been his companion for the past eighteen or so hours. "You took
your things out of my place."
Kate stared up at him, hands on hips, irritated nearly beyond words.
The son-of-a-bitch had taken her off the helm, out of the command
loop and sentenced her to Siberia--as far away from him and the
bridge as possible. "I thought you made your feelings pretty plain
when you banished me to Stellar Cartography."
He shook his head. "That was ship's business. We weren't talking
about our personal relationship."
Kate just stood there, non-plussed. What the hell was he talking
about? "How could it **not** affect our personal relationship,
Tom?" And what was that look he was giving her?
"I had to reprimand you for disobeying orders."
"Because you couldn't reprimand me for poor judgement."
Tom's jaw was clenched enough to crack a walnut. "That is a matter
"So I was supposed to go home and make you supper while I waited for you to get out of sick bay? After you sentenced me to the bowels of the ship? What's wrong with you?"
He was getting mad now, flushing to the roots of his hair. "Kate,
that was business. It has nothing to do with **our** relationship."
She wanted to kill him. Beat him bloody where he stood. He really
didn't get it, did he? "Mr. Paris." Icicles formed with her words, and her chin shot straight up. "Perhaps you can compartmentalize our lives, but I find it extremely difficult to separate you from the asshole First Officer that is punishing me for using my brain."
Tom's long fingers curled. Kate was sure it was taking every bit of
his strength of will not to use his fists on her. She almost wished
the would give her the opportunity to pound him to the ground, to
take him out. "Why do you always see things in black and white?" He could barely get the words through his locked jaw.
Her eyes flared. She knew her blood pressure rose to a dangerous
level. "Get out," she hissed. Black and white--shit. Why was it
that men resorted to that argument when they realized she wasn't
going to change to suit them? The strength and resourcefulness that
attracted them to her finally overwhelmed them. What was wrong with
seeing black and white? Seeing black and white was pragmatic, god
damn it. It kept her alive.
"But, Kate--" he took a placating step toward her, but stopped at the
look in her eyes.
"But, Tom--" she mimicked. "Maybe you don't see a change in our
relationship. You weren't the one reprimanded. But it's going to be
damn hard for me to put your dick in my mouth and not want to bite it off."
His arms were crossed now, presenting a stone wall. "Now, Kate--"
Oooooo, that condescending voice. "Get. Out." Her face was
hard. "I'll report to Stellar Cartography at 0900. From now on,
stay the hell away from me, Mr. Paris."
He wanted to say more, that was plain enough, but his eyes narrowed
and his lips compressed. She took a threatening step forward, moving him back. "I'm going," he said.
The minute the door slid shut behind him, Kate turned into her room,
into the bathroom. Stripped naked in a moment, she called for water
as hot as she could stand and stepped under the spray. Coming out of the daze Tom had left her with, she tried to shake the pain away.
When that didn't work, she began to pound her fists against the
shower stall, not sure if tears or hot water coursed over her face. Had to be tears: she was sobbing.
Kate wasn't sure what time it was when the door chime sounded. She
didn't check to see who it was, didn't much care.
"Enter," she called out.
Harry Kim stood in the corridor and squinted into the darkened
quarters. He found Kate sitting at her work table, looking at a
bottle of something, probably actual alcohol.
"Come in or go away," she growled.
Harry took a resolute step forward. "Uh, it's a little dark in here."
"Lights seventy-five per cent," she called. "Better?" But she
wasn't even looking at him. Her hardened eyes rested on the empty
glass that stood beside the amber colored bottle.
Her hardness scared Harry. He'd never met anyone as rough. But
she'd rescued his butt from a potentially embarrassing situation in
the bar on DS9, then from a dangerous situation on Ocampa and waved it off as if it were of no consequence. He owed her his life.
"Is there something I can do for you?"
"Um. Tom--uh--Mr. Paris has assigned me to work with you in Stellar
Cartography. To construct an Astrometrics Lab."
"What did you do to deserve that kind of punishment?"
Harry shifted from one foot to the other. He'd been looking forward
to the project. "I volunteered."
She flicked her eyes up to his. "Why would you do that?"
Her manner scared him, her gruffness scared him, now her rock hard
stare scared him. He wondered why he just didn't wait 'til morning--
but he'd heard from the Doc that Tom and Kate had had a disagreement in sick bay shortly after everyone beamed back from the planet. A fight they had apparently carried on here in her quarters. Tom got on the turbo lift just after Harry had disembarked on Deck 6. Kate would be the only reason the First Officer would be on Deck 6. And the only reason he would look so angry. Harry just wanted to be here if she needed him.
"Because I did my junior work in Astrometrics."
Harry smiled. "Yes. Great lady."
Janeway didn't smile. "Yes, she is."
"Anyway," Harry, always intrepid, said, "when Tom wanted to do that,
build an AM Lab out here, I thought he was crazy. But when he said
you'd be part of the project, I thought it just might work."
Lord--he wanted to squirm under the scrutiny. She was so damn
intense. "You couldn't lie if your life depended on it," she
observed, taking his words at face value.
Harry wasn't so sure. He'd always preferred lies on omission to lies
of commission. That was true. He also found that often silence
"You're a born diplomat, Mr. Kim."
He immediately reddened and blinked. Had he spoken aloud? He was certain he hadn't. Guess there was diplomacy in silence. A smile
crept to his eyes.
Now something like a smile crossed her face. "Do you drink, Mr.
Kim?" She was looking at the empty glass again.
"Synthehol, sometimes. At a party." Was she drunk?
"Good. Keep it that way." She picked up the glass and turned it
over on the mouth of the bottle. She slapped the table with both her
palms and stood. "Let's go some place where you can buy me a cup of coffee. And we can talk about this project." He stood aside as he
strode past and through the door.
End of Part 1. On to Part 2.