Title: A Play for Naomi
Author: Julie Evans (Juli17@aol.com)
Series: Voyager
Rating: PG
Codes: Humor, all main characters with some P/T Summary: Tom convinces the senior officers of Voyager to put on a play based on a 20th century children‘s classic, as a birthday present for Naomi. Set shortly after the episode "The Fight", toward the end of the fifth year of Voyager‘s adventures in the Delta quadrant.

Disclaimers: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Viacom/Paramount. I am just borrowing them for fun, not profit. The Wizard of Oz is the property of Turner Entertainment, and I intend no disrespect or infringement in any way.

Notes: I have a theory that the Voyager crew must have fun sometimes. Life can‘t always be as grim as it seems in Season Five. So this is written in good humor, and small jibes aside, I adore all the characters involved, from Star Trek and The Wizard of Oz alike. No small dogs were injured during the writing of this story (and neither were any of the other characters). I acknowledge with admiration Frank Baum‘s original book that inspired the film version of The Wizard of Oz, and the lines I quote freely in this story are for the most part directly from the filmed version. Okay to archive to PTF, PTC, ASC, and BLTS.

"A Play for Naomi"
by Julie Evans (Juli17@aol.com)

The Before: Rehearsals…



"I am NOT wearing that!"

"It‘s just a costume—"

"You tricked me!"

"No, I didn’t‘—"

"Yes, you did! You told me you wanted to do an Earth classic. I thought you meant Shakespeare, or Williams, or the Iliad. Not some children‘s book—"

"B‘Elanna, we‘re doing the play for a child," Tom said patiently. "You were expecting maybe Macbeth?"

B‘Elanna‘s gaze remained simmering as he added, "Besides I‘m not really basing it on the book, I‘m basing it on a film version—"

B‘Elanna was off again. "And you said I‘d have a small part. This is not a small part. And you certainly didn‘t tell me I‘d have to wear a…a…"


"And pigtails!"

Tom gave her an impish smile. "Come on, B‘Elanna, I think you‘ll look kind of cute in pigtails." B‘Elanna‘s glare, now scorching enough to strip the atmosphere from a small planet, told him exactly what she thought. He tried another tactic. "It‘s just acting, B‘Elanna. No one will really believe you‘re a sweet, demure, soft-hearted teenager."

B‘Elanna stared narrowly at him, obviously trying to ascertain if she was being insulted. He looked back at her innocently. Finally she simply added, stubbornly, "You also didn‘t say I‘d have to sing."

"It‘s a musical, B‘Elanna. Everyone sings." He opted for a more reassuring smile this time. "Besides, you have nothing to worry about. I‘ve heard you sing, even if only in the shower—" his smile widened unintentionally at the memory, "and you have a good voice."

"And if I‘d known you‘d use that against me…" B‘Elanna muttered darkly.

Tom was sure from her tone, now peevish rather than threatening, that she was going to give in. Eventually. "Just go through rehearsals, B‘Elanna. If you can‘t do it…" that earned him a flinty look, "then you can quit. Everyone else is willing to give it a try."

"That‘s probably because you tricked them too," B‘Elanna scoffed.

"Hey, everyone was pretty enthusiastic about the idea," he protested. "Okay, maybe they all agreed before they knew what the play was, but they were still eager. Well, except Tuvok. And maybe Seven. But she‘s easy. Just tell her it‘s another human socialization experience, and she‘ll agree to just about anything."

B‘Elanna gave Tom a warning look. "Just because you can manipulate Seven, that doesn‘t mean you can manipulate me."

Like he hadn‘t noticed that before. Or at least that it took a lot more work on his part. "I would never do that, B‘Elanna. Really." Tom gave her his most sincere smile. "I just thought it would be something new to try, an interesting challenge, the whole senior staff doing a play together. And, god knows, we haven‘t had a lot of opportunity for fun lately. Besides, it‘s for Naomi‘s birthday."

That was Tom‘s whole arsenal, and B‘Elanna said nothing for several moments. Finally she sighed in capitulation.

"Fine I‘ll give it a try. But I‘m still not very happy about this, Tom, and when I‘m not happy…"

She let her words trail off, but Tom got the message. And he hoped she was kidding, at least a little. "Thanks, B‘Elanna—"

"Tom, are we about ready to start?"

Tom turned to see Captain Janeway striding toward him, and nodded. "This won‘t be a dress rehearsal tonight." He dropped the costume he‘d been holding onto the chair behind him, though he didn‘t miss B‘Elanna‘s glower. "We‘ll get the feel of the sets and read through the first few scenes of the script."

Janeway nodded, and glanced at the datapadd in her hand. "This is interesting choice for a play, Tom, and I‘m sure Naomi will enjoy it. But the next time you come up with the idea to do a play based on a truly classic novelist, I still suggest you consider Jane Austen."

"I‘ll remember that, Captain," Tom said.

Janeway nodded, satisfied, and B‘Elanna rolled her eyes as the captain walked away. "I hate Jane Austen."

"The captain wanted to do "Sense and Sensibility"," Tom whispered.

"You don‘t like Jane Austen?" Harry asked B‘Elanna as he joined them.

B‘Elanna gave Harry a disdainful look. "Have you ever read Jane Austen, Harry? The men simper worse than the women, and nobody ever says what they mean. They‘re boring, they have perfect manners, and they‘re so worried about following every little rule—"

"Oops, sorry I asked," Harry said quickly. "Though as I recall "Emma" never acted that way. She was pretty spirited, she didn‘t care much about social niceties, and she always spoke her mind." He gave B‘Elanna a speculative look. "In fact you remind me of her a

Tom, who was only half listening, waved his arms.

"Everyone! Gather around."

"Really, B‘Elanna. You have to read "Emma" sometime," Harry insisted.

B‘Elanna shrugged, indicating that she might think about it, later. No doubt much later.

Tom waved again, as everyone gathered around him on what could be termed as Voyager‘s only true stage, in the main meeting room. He could have used the holodeck, but he preferred the more authentic feel of an actual stage and sets. Neelix had readily agreed to help design and build the basic sets, and the portable holographic projectors would display the various backgrounds and items too costly or difficult to reproduce in solid form. Right now the gray, weathered buildings of a Kansas farm surrounded them, and behind was projected the background of dun colored cropland and an endless leaden sky.

Tom spoke again to those now gathered around him in a small circle. "We‘ve got a lot of rehearsing to do to get this ready in time for Naomi‘s birthday next week. So let‘s get started."


By the time the first rehearsal ended, Tom had the beginnings of a small headache, though he had to admit it had probably gone as well as could be expected. The first read-through of the early scenes in the script went fine, if you discounted all the mumbled lines, the numerous times the actors missed their highlighted cues on their marked datapadd scripts, and the general fact that no one knew what they were doing. But they‘d never done a play together before, although several of them had done an individual reading or two on "talent" nights. But the last one of those had been…months ago. Tom knew he had a job ahead of himself to loosen them up and make them into natural actors. Surely he was up to it.

At least the sets had looked good. Up until Neelix had initiated the first effect to see how it would work; the tornado. No harm done, since Neelix had agreed to repair the Kansas sets before the next rehearsal. And wisely no one had commented on the state of Janeway or B‘Elanna‘s or Seven‘s hair after the over enthusiastic wind had blown across the stage. In fact, Tom had released everyone at that point, before someone could be so imprudent, with instructions to read through the script and watch the holovid of the 20th century two-dimensional movie version of the classic story. And after watching the rather hesitant approach of his would be actors, he decided a full immersion might be in order if the play was to be ready before Naomi had her next birthday. So he ordered full dress for the next rehearsal, and handed out the piled up costumes, already adjusted to the correct size for each actor by the computer. He ignored Seven‘s apprehensive look at her costume, and B‘Elanna‘s disgusted growl when she snatched hers from his hands. At least Neelix had looked completely enthusiastic about his Munchkin costume. Tom just hoped the Talaxian could differentiate it from the everyday outfits in his closet when it came time to dress for rehearsal.

Chakotay, the last to receive his costume, offered Tom the evening‘s only definite words of support. "I think this is a great idea, Tom. We could certainly use a little diversion. We‘ve all gone through some tough times this year."

Tom knew the truth of that. After that recent chaotic space experience even Chakotay had lost his usual unflappable equanimity briefly.

"And now that we‘re going through a relatively quiet, uninhabited area of space, this is the perfect opportunity for the crew to do something fun."

The cast scattered quickly after that; off to conduct the rest of their evenings in whatever method of relaxation and companionship they desired. Except for B‘Elanna, who not surprisingly informed Tom with her sweetest, most ingenuous smile that she unfortunately had some matters to check on in Engineering, and then would be fully occupied afterwards reading the script, as he‘d required. He gave her an understanding nod, then mentioned offhandedly that she might want to test out her singing voice in the shower before the next rehearsal. Her eyes narrowed, but he saw an almost appreciative gleam in her eye before she turned and stalked out the door.

He grinned as he followed a minute later. Never let it be said Tom Paris couldn‘t give as good as he got, or that B‘Elanna Torres didn‘t relish an equal opponent.

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There‘s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream Really do come true.

"Someday I‘ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That‘s where you‘ll find me.

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why, can‘t I?"

Tom noticed that the entire cast was completely silent as B‘Elanna finished the song. He wanted to tell her how good she was, and he could see by the appreciative looks of everyone else that they thought so too. But he wasn‘t sure B‘Elanna realized that her husky contralto not only had a lovely clear tone, but that she had—perhaps unknowingly—inserted a soft edge of vulnerability into her voice, that gave the song a hauntingly beseeching quality. Or maybe she did realize it, because her expression changed and she stepped forward quickly, as if acutely uncomfortable, and headed off any comments from the rest of the cast with her quick dismissive words. "I guess that was competent enough. We don‘t have to go over it again."

Tom held her gaze for a long moment, then nodded. They moved on through the rest of the Kansas scenes, with everyone managing to hit their cues, even if Tuvok‘s delivery as the professor was dispassionate, B‘Elanna‘s as Dorothy was unenthusiastic, and the Doctor‘s as Uncle Henry was over-emotive. At least the captain seemed to have no difficulty lecturing in a snippety stern tone as Miss Gulch. But then, she‘d had some practice from time to time.

And this time the twister was kept reasonably in control and didn‘t rearrange the sets, or anyone‘s hair. Not too much, anyway.


Tom stepped gingerly among the bright flowers and trees, yellow brick paths, and gnomelike thatched houses that made up the set of Munchkinland. He looked toward the holographic background, now a vista of bright green and yellow fields dotted with more colorful little gnome houses. In the midst of it all was Dorothy‘s weathered gray farmhouse, plopped haphazardly in the middle of Munchkintown. It had fallen from the sky perfectly, but then it was a holographic house rather than a set. No sense in inviting real disaster.

The cast was gathered in small groups talking among themselves as Tom waved his arms again and raised his voice a little to be heard above the general din. "Okay, everyone, let‘s get started on the next scene!"

"Who died and made you director, Tom?" Harry teased, as he came up beside Tom.

"Someone who forgot to spread the word, since I‘m being ignored," Tom groused. This time he resorted to shouting, "HEY!"

That got their attention, and in a few moments they‘d all gathered around him, ready for their next direction, some looking eager and relaxed and others looking less so, and one in particular looking mutinous. Tom thought again that despite her frown she did look pretty cute in that blue checked gingham pinafore, with those blue ribbons tied around her pigtails…

When B‘Elanna‘s gaze collided with his and her eyes narrowed dangerously, he immediately dismissed his lascivious thoughts and repressed the grin that threatened to take over his face whenever he saw her in that outfit. He valued his life, after all, and it would be hard to direct with his arms broken. "Okay, let‘s move on."

The moving on was a slow process and a couple of minutes later Tom sighed. "B‘Elanna, please don‘t throw Toto."

B‘Elanna glared at the little dog standing where he‘d landed after she‘d flung him, in a small stand of bright yellow flowers. The little beast was still yapping. She glared with equal ferocity at her director. "Then make it stop that noise."

"It‘s a good thing that dog is animatronic," Harry whispered to Chakotay from the sidelines.

Tom heard and shot Harry a quelling look, then looked at B‘Elanna again. "He‘s a neurotic little dog, B‘Elanna. He‘s supposed to bark a lot." Tom reached for the animatronic ball of fur as he spoke and Toto growled at him and yapped again. Tom picked the dog by the scruff of the neck and handed him to B‘Elanna. A low threatening rumble erupted from B‘Elanna‘s throat as she snatched Toto out of Tom‘s hand and stuffed him back in the basket she was carrying.

"Don‘t worry, B‘Elanna, you growl much better than Toto," Tom said, then stepped quickly out of her way before she could stomp on his foot. "Seven!"

Seven, who had retreated during the ruckus, perhaps looking for a way to escape, now moved forward. Before she‘d taken two steps she stumbled, and with difficulty regained her balance before she toppled over. Everyone moved quickly out of the path of her enormous dress.

"Seven, how come you can walk fine in five inch heels, but you can‘t take two steps in that dress?"

Seven gave Harry a look cold enough to freeze molten lava, proving once again to those who still had any doubt that the women on Voyager were much scarier than the men. Then she readjusted the massive shimmering satin and silk folds of her dress over the gigantic hoop attached to her waist.

"That dress does rather hide her best assets, doesn‘t it?"

The doctor mused in low tones to Harry.

"Shush," Harry warned, though he did notice that Seven looked like a walking wedding cake. Still, it didn‘t hide all her assets, since the neckline was appreciably low—

"Hit it, Seven."

Seven had caught on to Tom‘s stage slang, and she took up her position again and began to sing where she‘d left off.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are, and meet the young

lady who fell from a star. She fell from the sky—"

"Smile, Seven. Extend your arms in invitation to the Munchkins. Look cheerful. Benevolent."

Seven gave her director a long cool look. Then she bared her teeth, stretching her lips as far as she could. It was a frightening sight, and Toto took immediate refuge back inside his basket. "She fell very far, and Kansas she says is the name of her star."

"And Kansas she says is the name of her star—uumph! Oops, sorry, Mr. Director."

Dozens of flowers were trampled and one tree was knocked sideways as Neelix made his entrance among a dozen other holographically created Munchkins.

Tom sighed. "It‘s okay, Neelix. Let‘s move on."

They moved through the wind switching, the house pitching and the hinges unhitching, and Neelix quickly got back into character as the Munchkins danced and banged drums and banged drums, celebrating that the witch was dead and that she‘d gone below where the goblins go. Then they welcomed Dorothy/B‘Elanna to Munchkinland.

"We represent the lollipop guild, the lollipop guild, the lollipop guild. And in the name of the lollipop guild we wish to welcome you to Munchkinland."

B‘Elanna managed to roll her eyes only a little as Neelix finished his ditty and bowed deeply in front of her in his red striped tights and bright yellow shorts. "Yeah, whatever."


B‘Elanna huffed. "Fine." She clasped her hands together. "You are all so wonderfully kind," she gushed, her voice suddenly quavering with gratitude. Then she turned quickly to Glinda/Seven, who‘d been watching the scene with a definite impression of disinterest, though now her eyebrows raised to her hairline as she looked at Dorothy/B‘Elanna with apprehension. "This is such a tremendous welcome! I don‘t know what to say!"

Seven backed up a step, as if she expected further evidence of B‘Elanna‘s sudden apparent mental disassociation to manifest itself. B‘Elanna turned her simpering gaze from Seven to Tom. "Okaaay?"

Tom found his voice. "B‘Elanna, that was actually very good." He gave her a genuine smile. "You were perfectly in character. You have talent."

B‘Elanna looked unsure whether she wanted to accept Tom‘s sincere encouragement, but she didn‘t give him her usual mutinous glare either. Tom glanced down at his director‘s padd. "Okay, next is…aah, yes. Neelix."

Neelix nodded eagerly at Tom‘s cue and palmed the small control just under his sleeve. A moment later a poof of orange smoke appeared. Too large a poof, Tom realized, as the cast began to cough and wave their hands in front of their faces. Tom caught Neelix‘s gaze, and the Talaxian gave him a contrite nod to confirm that he would take care of this latest problem also. And as the smoke finally cleared, a figure dressed in black appeared.

She was hunched over, her black rags gathered around her, and she slowly threw her hands out, fingers extended and curled, and made a slow pirouette, spearing everyone with her piercing gaze. Then her eyes in her green painted face narrowed into slits, her nose wrinkled and her lips curled up into a sneer, revealing her pointed yellow teeth. "Whooooo killed my siiiister?"

No one spoke for several silent moments, though most of the cast did finally manage to close their mouths and look away, concentrating their gazes somewhere among the eye burning foliage.

Yikes. If she‘d seemed competent in the more reserved role of the snotty, bad tempered Miss Gulch, Captain Janeway was completely in her element as the Wicked Witch of the West. She‘d obviously watched the vid he‘d passed out. More than once. Tom noticed that B‘Elanna was still staring at Wicked Witch/Janeway with a look of astonishment.

"Cat got your tongue, girl?" Janeway spat, devouring the scenery.

The rest of the cast watched as Janeway delivered her lines, carrying B‘Elanna and Seven along, who both said their lines on cue, if with somewhat less exuberance than Janeway. Though once the holographic Wicked Witch of the East‘s shriveled legs disappeared under the house, and Glinda/Seven placed the also holographic ruby red slippers on Dorothy/B‘Elanna‘s feet, Seven‘s performance jumped up several notches.

"You have no power here," Glinda/Seven told Wicked Witch/Janeway with what could only be termed as unbridled smugness. Then she waved her wand imperiously. "Begone, before somebody drops a house on you too."

Wicked Witch/Janeway‘s eyes narrowed until they were all but closed, and she looked at Glinda/Seven for several seconds longer than strictly necessary. "Fine, I‘ll go," she finally spat. "But I‘ll be back."

Then she turned abruptly and pressed her face close to Dorothy/B‘Elanna, and even B‘Elanna couldn‘t help but automatically back up at the sudden aggressive invasion of her personal space. "But I‘ll get you my pretty," Wicked Witch/Janeway hissed, and Dorothy/B‘Elanna held her ground this time and glared back. Wicked Witch/Janeway pulled back and looked at Toto peeking out of his basket. "You…and your little dog, too!" she added with evil glee, pointing her finger threateningly at Toto, at which point the little furball promptly shot out of the basket just far enough to bite it.

"Ouch!" Janeway jumped back, out of character, and stared at the drop of blood oozing from her finger. Those animatronic teeth were sharp.

"Bad dog," B‘Elanna muttered, then shoved Toto‘s head back into the basket. She gave the captain an apologetic shrug.

"Uh, sorry, Captain," Tom said as Janeway waved her finger to alleviate the sting.

Janeway shook her head. "The tricks of the trade, Tom."

"I‘ll take care of that for you in sickbay for you, Captain," the doctor said from the sidelines.

Janeway nodded, and then glanced at Neelix, who belatedly recalled his cue and pressed the control under his sleeve again. A large poof of smoke appeared and Janeway made her exit, leaving a spreading cloud of haze and hacking actors behind her.

"Neelix. The smoke next time."

Tom dismissed the cast then. He‘d—they‘d—had enough for one rehearsal.


During the quick review of several scenes from the previous rehearsal B‘Elanna only threw Toto out of his basket once, Seven stumbled twice in her dress, and the poof of smoke didn‘t choke anyone. And the yellow brick road number, which Tom had the entire cast sing as a chorus, went off reasonably well.

"Follow the yellow brick road,
Follow the yellow brick road,
Follow the, follow the, follow the yellow brick road…"

Neelix was scampering in front of Dorothy/B‘Elanna with the other, holographic, Munchkins, who had popped up from behind bright flowers and trees and their miniature thatched houses to join in the chorus. And amazingly, B‘Elanna was skipping, if not with enthusiasm for the musical number, at least with an apparent eagerness to get out of Munchkinland.

"…If ever oh ever a wizard there was, the Wizard of Oz is one because, because, because, because, because, becaauuse… because of the wonderful things he does.You‘re off to see the wizard, The wonderful Wizard of Oz."

As the chorus finished and Dorothy/B‘Elanna skipped her way offstage, Tom gave the cast a ten minute break while Neelix dealt with the change of scenery with a minor glitch or two Tom could only hope would be cleared up by the time of the performance. In the meantime he had other problems.

"I believe you misrepresented my part."

Tom sighed. "Tuvok, I said you‘d be playing a wizard, and you are."

"I envisioned a traditional classic character of Earth literature such as Merlin. This character is not a wizard, he is an inept man masquerading as a wizard."

"You should be glad you have a real part," the doctor groused.

Tom hadn‘t realized the doctor was right behind them as they negotiated the new set, avoiding a fencepost that separated the yellow brick road from the saffron, magenta, and kelly green fields of the Ozian landscape.

"I‘m stuck playing a bit character, Uncle what‘s his name…"

"Henry," Tom supplied.

"All I get to do is pat Dorothy‘s hand at the beginning and end, and hope Lieutenant Torres remembers to stay in character and doesn‘t punch me in the nose for it."

"And sing with the chorus," Tom pointed out.


"You may have the part of the Wizard, Doctor," Tuvok offered at the doctor‘s disgusted grunt. "The costume will be a close enough fit."

"Forget it, Tuvok. You‘re the wizard."

"I can emote with much more realism than a Vulcan," the doctor protested at Tom‘s blunt refusal.

"I concur," Tuvok agreed, unfazed by the doctor‘s disparaging tone.

Tom was aware that the doctor had a talent for excessive emoting, which had nothing to do with acting. He already had enough over-enthusiastic actors, juxtaposed by the under-enthusiastic approach of the other half of the cast. "It‘s acting, Tuvok. You don‘t have to feel the emotions of the character, you just have to pretend to feel them. I sure your logical mind can separate the two. And don‘t forget I‘ve seen a Vulcan opera…" he paused briefly, an intentional reminder that he was the one who‘d helped Tuvok fine tune that particular program, one nearly as ornate as a Klingon opera, if only about a tenth as interesting, "so I know Vulcans can dramatize in the name of art."

"The concept of "art" is a very subjective one," Tuvok noted superciliously. "However I have given my word, so it appears I have no choice."

"Nope," Tom agreed, a complacent look on his face.

"I still think you should reconsider," the doctor grumbled as Tuvok nodded his acquiescence and turned away. "I can do—"

"No, Doc. I want Tuvok to do it." He gave the doctor a conspiratorial grin. "I have to find some way to loosen him up…"

The doctor rolled his eyes at the unlikelihood of that goal ever being achieved.

"And we need to get the next scene started. Everyone!" Tom turned and stepped forward as he spoke, ready to call for attention, and promptly collided with Harry, who was encased from head to foot in soft gold-colored velveteen material.

"Hey!" Harry jumped back as Tom stumbled into him, then he raised his velvet-encased hands—paws—and waved them threateningly in Tom‘s direction. "You wanna fight?

Well, put ‚em up, put ‚em up. I‘ll fight ya. I‘ll fight ya with my eyes closed, I‘ll fight ya with one paw tied behind my back—"

"Harry!" Tom backed up as Harry danced around him, tossing feinting boxing punches at him with his "paws", his whisker painted face scrunched up in implied threat. The effect was marred by the cuddly velvet costume he wore, complete with cute little ears and a mane of blond ringlets. He waved Harry‘s hands away. "We haven‘t gotten to that part yet."

Harry dropped his hands and shook his head. "Amazing how people change once they‘re in charge and power goes right to their head."

"Everyone!" Tom glanced back at Harry, having not heard a word he‘d said. "What?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Tom, you‘re sort of a cheerless director, you know that?"

Tom shrugged. "I‘m also constantly ignored," he said.

The cast continued to mingle and talk among themselves. Yelling seemed to be the only way he could recapture their attention. "EVERYONE!"

"Maybe it‘s hard for them to take someone dressed in rags with bits of straw sticking out everywhere seriously," Harry said, giving Tom an innocent smile. "Though you do make a really captivating scarecrow. I wonder how B‘Elanna can manage to keep her hands off you."

"How, indeed," Chakotay said as he approached. He met Harry‘s smirk with a grin of his own. "You‘re looking pretty adorable yourself, Harry, with all those lovely blond ringlets. The red bow is a precious touch."

"Speaking of adorable…" Harry mused, giving Chakotay a malicious look. "Chakotay, I love what you‘ve done with the black eyeliner. It really brings out the beauty of your deep brown eyes against your silvery skin. And those kissable red lips—"

"Guys, guys, a little more congeniality, please," Tom ordered sternly. And speaking of congeniality…if it wasn‘t "Dorothy" advancing on him, swinging her basket with enough ire to give poor Toto a concussion. She stopped in front of him so abruptly he was sure he heard the little bundle of fur thud against the inside of the basket.

"I‘ve got real work waiting for me in Engineering, so if you boys can quit arguing over who‘s the cutest here, maybe we can get on with this rehearsal."

The "boys" down to the last man managed to suppress several obvious comebacks about who looked cutest in their costume as B‘Elanna stood in front of them in a gingham pinafore and pigtails tied up with blue bows, mostly because they valued their continuing good health.

And Tom didn‘t want to chance B‘Elanna walking out after she‘d kicked them all where it hurt, so he bit his lip and confined his words to a simple direction. "Okay, let‘s move on to the next scene."


"I could while away the hours, conferring with the flowers Consulting with the rain, And my head I‘d be scratchin‘, while my thoughts were busy hatchin‘ If I only had a brain."

"Tom has a pretty good voice, " Chakotay commented from the sidelines.

"Yes," Janeway agreed. She also noticed that B‘Elanna‘s enthusiasm jumped up a notch as the chief engineer nodded vigorously at those crooned words and sang her part, lamenting with total conviction Scarecrow/Tom‘s lack of a brain.

"With the thoughts you‘d be thinkin‘, you could be another Lincoln, If you only had a brain."

"He has some pretty good moves, too," Janeway noted a few moments later as Tom tripped through his intentionally awkward dance as the hapless scarecrow with a surprising amount of grace for a man so tall, while giving Dorothy/B‘Elanna his most disarming smile.

"I would not be just a nothin‘, my head all full of stuffin‘ My heart all full of pain.

I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry, If I only had a brain."

"In fact, they sing well together," Chakotay commented, as the two finished the song and skipped off down the yellow brick road together in search of the wizard.

"And now it‘s your turn, Chakotay." Janeway gave her tin-plated first officer a speculative look, a small smile playing around her lips. "I don‘t think I‘ve ever heard you sing." She grinned at the apologetic look on his face as he heard his cue and moved away.

A few minutes later the doctor was shaking his head. "It‘s a good thing the part calls for the commander to be stiff," he said dryly, as Dorothy/B‘Elanna and Scarecrow/Tom finished loosening up Tin Man/Chakotay‘s stiff joints with the oilcan.

"I think it‘s just the costume that‘s supposed to be stiff," Harry replied, then he caught the captain‘s cool gaze on him and promptly shut up as Chakotay sang.

"I‘d be tender, I‘d be gentle, and awful sentimental Regarding love and art.
I‘d be friends with the sparrows, and the boy who shoots the arrows, If I only had a heart.
Picture me, a balcony, above a voice sings low,Wherefore art thou, Romeo…"

"Did I see the commander‘s eyes straying toward the captain as he sang those words?" the doctor asked. "And now the way captain is looking back at him…"

Harry wasn‘t about to look at the captain again. He shrugged.

"I‘d could stay young and chipper, and I‘d lock it with a zipper, If I only had a heart."

"It seems the commander has a tin ear as well as a tin costume," the doctor determined as Chakotay finished the song.

"I think I‘m next," Harry said gratefully, moving away from the doctor as Chakotay joined B‘Elanna and Tom tripping down the yellow brick road, all off again to find the wizard.

After Neelix‘s quick set change, the trio now strolled warily along the yellow brick road through the forbidding forest, speculating anxiously about the possible presence of lions and tigers and bears (oh, my), as Harry made his appearance as the Cowardly Lion. And a few minutes later

Tom was sighing again. "B‘Elanna…"


"You‘re just supposed to slap his nose lightly."

B‘Elanna glared at Tom. "I thought you wanted me to stay in character. I was protecting Toto."

"Yeah, that precious little dog you love so much," Harry muttered, still holding his stomach where B‘Elanna had punched him—thank god for padding.

"Dorothy isn‘t supposed to sock the crap out of the Cowardly Lion, B‘Elanna," Tom said, already starting to pine for B‘Elanna‘s previous under-enthusiastic attitude.

B‘Elanna spared Tom another dark look, then turned her attention to Harry. "I‘m sorry, Harry. I guess it was just a natural reaction."

Harry nodded at B‘Elanna‘s genuinely contrite apology.

"‘S okay. I think I can breathe again."

"Let‘s try it again. B‘Elanna…" Tom met her momentary glare, and muttered, "Just try not to kill anyone."

B‘Elanna did manage only to slap Cowardly Lion/Harry‘s nose—lightly— this time as he threatened Toto. And Harry‘s breathing had become regular enough for him to continue his part.

"Yeah, it‘s sad, believe me, missy, when you‘re born to be a sissy, Without the vem and voive.

But I could show my prowess, be a lion not a mou-ese, If I only had the noive.

I‘m afraid there‘s no denyin‘ I‘m just a dandelion,

A fate I don‘t desoive…"

Soon enough they were skipping along the yellow brick road arm in arm, on their way again to the Emerald City. The rehearsal continued with no further setbacks, except when Cowardly Lion/Harry accidentally landed on Toto as he fell backwards asleep into the poppy fields. Toto was quickly repaired, and Tom breathed a sigh of relief as another rehearsal was completed with everyone still alive.


"I am the great and powerful Oz."

"Perfect, Tuvok," Tom encouraged. Tuvok‘s deep monotone delivery was in fact perfect for the wizard, if less so for the bungling professor who was just impersonating the wizard. Still, he was glad to see the enthusiasm level had evened out on all fronts as the rehearsals had progressed. He suspected most of the cast was getting that actor‘s bug, and starting to feel proud of their accomplishment. They were all trying, and Harry was actually a pretty good actor. And certainly no one had anything on the captain when it came to facial expression. He couldn‘t judge himself well, but he assumed that he was doing a competent job. Seven had finally deemed it an "interesting experience" and seemed to be enjoying it. Chakotay had loosened up a bit, and B‘Elanna…well, she‘d begun to play along, even if her mercurial moods and innate physicality occasionally overwhelmed Dorothy. And though he knew she wouldn‘t admit even if he tied her down and tickled her mercilessly, he was pretty sure she was actually starting to have fun.

As for Tuvok…well, at least Vulcans were good sports even if they did have a certain attitude about it. And with everyone in a receptive mood this rehearsal was moving along well. Tom continued to prod Tuvok as they moved through the Emerald City scenes, until the Wizard demanded the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. Then he called a quick break as Neelix dealt with the set change to the Wicked Witches‘ castle.

Tom had cut several scenes as he‘d adapted the movie into a play script with the computer‘s help, mostly in this part of the story. He knew B‘Elanna was not about to sit in the witches‘ castle as Dorothy lamenting her fate and crying for Auntie Em. So he left just a few connecting moments to lead them to the confrontational scenes between the Wicked Witch, and Dorothy and her entourage.

He was amused but not surprised to find that the rest of the cast had gathered around silently as they progressed to the scene in the turret room. If Janeway had been a peerless Wicked Witch up to this point, he knew this climactic scene would be her eminent moment. And apparently so did everyone else. Even for rehearsal no one wanted to miss it.

"She‘s definitely in her element," Harry whispered to Chakotay a few minutes later as they cowered in costume in the face of the forceful evil presence of the Wicked Witch/Janeway.

"She certainly would have had a place on the stage if she hadn‘t chosen to pursue a Starfleet career," the doctor commented from the sidelines, loud enough for Tom to hear.

"Do you doubt that Captain Janeway uses her expressive abilities to great effect as the captain of this crew?" Seven asked the doctor.

Tom didn‘t hear any more, he jumped back again as the Wicked Witch/Janeway advanced menacingly.

"How about a little fire, strawman?" Wicked Witch/Janeway raised her broomstick in one green spike nailed hand and lit it on fire from one of the candles in the ceiling chandelier, then waved the burning broomstick at Scarecrow/Tom‘s arm and laughed.

Tom would have winced at the incredibly high pitched cackle the captain had perfected, except that he was busy making sure his flame retardant scarecrow clothing was just that. Next to him Dorothy/B‘Elanna was muttering her "oh, dears" with appropriate dismay, as she slapped at the flames on his clothing, rather hard.

"Ouch!" Tom protested, but Dorothy/B‘Elanna had already moved behind him, reaching for the bucket of water. She picked it up and tossed the entire contents, catching the burning edge of his clothing, though almost all of the water landed in the Wicked Witch/Janeway‘s face. Luckily the bucket hadn‘t followed.

"B‘Elanna, you‘re supposed to just throw enough water to melt the witch, not drown the captain," Tom whispered irritably, as Janeway sputtered at the water running down her face. Neelix ran up with a towel and Janeway wiped off her face, sparing a quick look at B‘Elanna.

"I‘m sorry, Captain," B‘Elanna said. "I guess I got carried away."

No one bothered to say "again".

"Let‘s try it once more, and since we‘re out of water for the moment, we‘ll just pretend on that score."

"Yes, director, sir."

Tom ignored the sweet sarcasm in B‘Elanna‘s voice as she picked up the bucket again and flung it toward him and Wicked Witch/Janeway as if she was throwing water.

Despite her still dripping hair under her pointed witches‘ hat, Janeway didn‘t miss a beat. She clutched at her clothing and looked at Dorothy/B‘Elanna with fury. "You cursed brat! Look what you‘ve done!" She began to sink toward the floor. "I‘m melting…melting…"

Dorothy/B‘Elanna pressed her fingers against her mouth in dismay. "It was an accident. You started my friend on fire."

"Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness." Wicked Witch/Janeway sank lower and lower as her voluminous black skirts gathered on the floor around her. "What a world, what a world…" she lamented despairingly, finally, her voice echoing as she disappeared, leaving nothing but a heap of black rags and her witches‘ hat. Tom abandoned his role momentarily and walked over and pushed the clothing aside. Just beneath the floor Janeway crouched in a moveable section of floorboard. Tom offered a hand and she took it as he pulled her up. Applause sounded and Janeway, now clad in a black leotard, took a dramatic bow.

The rest of the rehearsal was less eventful, as they rehearsed the celebration of the Wicked Witches‘ death and the unveiling of the wizard as the bumbling, apologetic professor. Though Tuvok refused to stutter over his lines, he did manage to convey a little bit of humility as the professor while he granted the wishes of the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man. Finally Tom called it an evening—a late one again, but a successful one.


After ten days of rehearsals, the final rehearsal went almost without a hitch. Everyone seemed to know their lines, or was able to ad lib to cover any minor forgetfulness. The props seemed to be fully cooperative; the tornado wind had been toned down so it wouldn‘t suck the audience out of their seats, the witches‘ smoke was nonirritating, and just in case B‘Elanna got unintentionally overzealous, there was a minimal amount of water in the bucket. They did a quick run through of several earlier scenes, then moved on to the final scenes, as Dorothy prepared to go back to Kansas in the professor‘s hot air balloon, then was left behind as the balloon rose into the Emerald City sky without her. B‘Elanna protested briefly that Dorothy should stay in the balloon and not bother chasing the recalcitrant Toto, but she acquiesced surprisingly quickly when Tom vetoed that idea, and they moved on.

"You‘ve always had the power to go home, Dorothy," Glinda/Seven said as the professor‘s balloon floated out of sight, and her compassionate smile was almost genuine. "You just had to find out for yourself."

"What did you find out, Dorothy?" Scarecrow/Tom asked.

"That no matter where you go, or what fascinating places you see, there‘s no place like home."

"Those magic slippers will take you home." Glinda/Seven smiled benevolently and waved her wand over Dorothy/B‘Elanna‘s head. "Just tap your heels together three times and say "there‘s no place like home", "there‘s no place like home"…"

Dorothy/B‘Elanna closed her eyes and clicked the heels of her sparkling ruby red slippers together and murmured,

"There‘s no place like home, there‘s no place like home, there‘s no place like home…"

The scene darkened and the holographic final set flickered on, overlaying the Emerald City set, and Dorothy/B‘Elanna was back in Kansas, in her own bedroom, where she‘d started, surrounded by her friends and family, who‘d all been in Oz with her.

B‘Elanna spoke her final line to those gathered around her, repeating again Dorothy‘s adage, "There‘s no place like home", and complete silence followed.

During those final scenes the set had been almost somber, since the parallels were not lost on the actors, this crew who‘d themselves been traveling through unfamiliar "lands" for nearly five years now. Beyond the inventiveness of the tale, and the enjoyment it would bring to Naomi, they‘d all certainly recognized the irony of the theme of this particular story.

Neelix finally broke the silence. "Of course, Voyager is the only home Naomi has ever known."

Tom nodded. "You‘re right, Neelix. She will just enjoy this play for what it is." And he knew for himself after nearly five years on Voyager, with these people who had for the most part become a family to him—if occasionally a contentious one—that the concept of "home" had muddied a little in his mind. He suspected it was the same for many others.

"A wrap, Tom?" the captain asked softly, in the ensuing second silence. Tom met her comprehending gaze for a moment and nodded.

"That‘s a wrap, folks," he addressed the entire cast. "Tomorrow it will be the real thing. Be here at 1800 hours to set up."

After a quick change out of their costumes, the cast began to disperse. It was nearly 2300 hours, and though Tom wanted to ask B‘Elanna to come to his quarters, but he knew from an earlier interruption that she had several minor crises in Engineering to follow up on. He also knew she really had made time for the long rehearsals by finishing her duties as chief engineer after the rehearsals every night, then going straight to sleep and rushing directly to Engineering for her morning duty shift, with no time left over for anything else. Boy, did he know. He‘d juggled his own extra Sickbay duties to give himself enough time to deal with directing the play, which left time for barely enough sleep to keep him alert enough to fly Voyager without accidentally steering her into a star. But he wasn‘t completely sure B‘Elanna wasn‘t making him suffer just a bit for getting her involved in the play more than she‘d wanted to be in the first place.

She was one of the last to leave and he looked at her questioningly as she approached him. "See you for breakfast?" she asked casually.

He nodded, and managed a smile as she started to brush past him. At least her gaze on him lingered for a second, and he thought he saw a little of the regret he was feeling reflected in her eyes.

She paused for a moment then, and her gaze on him became thoughtful. "You‘ve really put a lot of work into this, Tom."

It wasn‘t a question but an acknowledgement. "I really wanted it to work," Tom replied simply. "And I was hoping it would be something everyone would enjoy."

She smiled. "Well, Mr. Director, I think you may have pulled it off. It‘s certainly had it‘s moments so far."

"Thanks, B‘Elanna," Tom said softly, grateful for her genuine support.

"And I hope I haven‘t been too difficult to deal with," she said archly, not sounding at all contrite.

Tom chuckled. "You, B‘Elanna?" he asked with mock incredulity. "No more so than anyone else." He lowered his voice then to a throaty suggestive murmur. "Besides, you‘re always worth it."

B‘Elanna‘s eyebrows rose. "Am I?" she asked dryly, a half smile still playing on her lips. Then she slowly shook her head. "In this case, you might want to wait until tomorrow night. You may change your mind."

Tom heard the slight uncertainty behind her rueful comment and he shook his head. "I don‘t think so, B‘Elanna. You‘ll do fine."

She held his gaze for a moment then nodded at his reassuring smile, just as her commbadge beeped. She palmed it before whoever was looking for her could speak. "I‘m on my way."

Her curt statement didn‘t invite a rejoinder and there wasn’t one forthcoming. She shrugged and pressed her hand lightly against Tom‘s chest for a brief moment, just long enough for him to lean over and press his lips against her forehead. Then she was gone.


The After: Post-Performance Party

It went off as close to perfect as it could get. Everyone sang on key, with B‘Elanna‘s contralto being especially lovely, and Tuvok‘s richly resonant, if not particularly expressive, bass lending a solid foundation for the chorus. Everyone knew their lines, B‘Elanna didn‘t throw Toto once, Seven didn‘t trip over her dress, Janeway was gleefully menacing as the Wicked Witch, Tuvok managed to put one or two inflections in his voice, and the trio of Tom, Harry, and Chakotay were humorously deft in their interactions with each other and with B‘Elanna, who managed as Dorothy to convey, if certainly not helplessness, a sense of wonder. The audience, almost everyone on Voyager since all systems had been temporarily put on automatic or standby status, was enthusiastic. And from her awed expression and exclamations of delight, one little girl found the play indeed perfect.

Afterwards the cast mingled with their audience, indulging in Neelix‘s punch and snacks in an impromptu post-performance party. The accolades the cast received from their fellow crewmembers were genuine, and Tom noticed that if B‘Elanna seemed a little confounded by the attention and praise, she was accepting it with reasonable good grace. Even Seven seemed to be receptive to the good spirits. Especially Naomi‘s.

"Wow, Seven, you looked like a princess in that dress," Naomi said with frank admiration.

The cast had changed before joining the party, or Seven would have taken up half the mess hall by herself. And B‘Elanna would have walked through fire before she would have mingled casually with her fellow crewmembers wearing a pinafore and bows in her hair.

"Thank you, Naomi," Seven replied graciously to the compliment.

"You should wear it when you‘re not on duty," Naomi added in a wistful tone, obviously a little girl at heart, with her thoughts still on that monster dress. "It‘s a great dress."

Seven looked momentarily appalled at the suggestion, but recovered quickly. "I believe such a dress would constitute a health hazard in the corridors."

Naomi appeared to consider that possibility for a moment.

"You could wear it on the holodeck."

"I shall consider it."

Tom doubted Seven would do any such thing, but he was impressed by how naturally she showed sensitivity for Naomi‘s feelings by agreeing to consider the proposal. Naomi gave Seven a satisfied look, and turned to B‘Elanna, who had just a bit of a smirk on her face as she contemplated the idea of Seven wearing that dress for leisure.

"I liked your dress, too, B‘Elanna," Naomi said, her words pulling B‘Elanna‘s gaze away from Seven. "And you could wear yours all the time, because you won‘t knock anybody over."

Well, that depended on how she wanted to knock someone over, Tom thought. But he managed to keep his face expressionless as B‘Elanna‘s mouth gaped a bit, and he couldn‘t help but notice that Seven had picked up the ability to smirk with a talent equal to anyone on Voyager.

"I think it, uh, accidentally got…burned, Naomi."

Tom snorted unintentionally, though loud enough to earn a sharp look from B‘Elanna.

"Oh." Naomi looked at B‘Elanna, and though she was obviously unconvinced that the dress had spontaneously burned up in the past few minutes, she changed the subject with childlike agility. "I wish I could sing like you."

B‘Elanna looked a little flustered by Naomi‘s compliment.

"Thanks, Naomi."

"My daughter is right, B‘Elanna, your voice was beautiful," Sam Wildman said as she joined Naomi. She was more aware than her daughter of B‘Elanna‘s discomfort with accepting compliments, so she added almost immediately, "Tom, I don‘t know how to thank you and everyone else. This was a wonderful birthday present for Naomi."

Naomi nodded vigorously. "It‘s the best one I‘ve ever had."

"I‘m glad you enjoyed it, Naomi," Captain Janeway said as she walked up beside Tom. "I think it turned out rather well. And Tom did a fine job of directing."

Tom looked at Janeway. "Thanks, Captain."

"You‘re welcome, Tom." She looked at him consideringly. "You managed to pull a very diverse group together and get us all to achieve one goal in the space of a little more than a week. I‘d say that took some excellent leadership qualities."

Tom was momentarily speechless. He met B‘Elanna‘s equally surprised look, and she gave him a small smile. Then the captain patted his arm. "Don‘t look so surprised, Tom. I‘ve never thought you were lacking in leadership ability."

Naomi had apparently had enough of this conversation, which was not of much interest to her. She grabbed her mother‘s arm. "Did it tape, Mom?"

"Of course." Sam held up the palm size holovid recorder.

"For posterity."

Seven and B‘Elanna actually exchanged apprehensive glances at that thought as Naomi clapped her hands together, probably to keep from jumping up and down. "This is so much better than the old video we have, because you‘re all in it. And I have a great idea!"

Sam shook her head. "Uh oh, kid with a great idea."

Janeway smiled. "Sounds a bit scary."

Naomi didn‘t appear to catch the humor; she was looking excitedly at Tom. "Can you help me transfer this tape to a holoprogram, Tom?"

Tom saw B‘Elanna‘s and Seven‘s eyebrows rise as they now shared completely appalled looks. Twice in two minutes. Heck, maybe they were finally bonding. He shrugged at Naomi. "I don‘t know why not."

Janeway dropped a hand on Naomi‘s shoulder. "I think we can all be very proud of our artistic accomplishment tonight. I‘m sure no one will mind if you recreate our characters on the holodeck." Her comment forced B‘Elanna‘s look of impending death away from Tom, and both Seven and the chief engineer were momentarily at a loss for words. "That‘s as long as you don‘t use our performances for blackmail," Janeway added teasingly.

Naomi shook her head. "You were all too good for that. And you were really creepy and ugly as the Wicked Witch, captain."

"Uh, thanks, Naomi."

Sam shared a smile with the captain at her daughter‘s artless observation, then looked at Tom. "If you really don‘t mind, Tom."

Tom avoided B‘Elanna‘s gaze. "No, I don‘t mind."

"Thanks, Tom!" Naomi said excitedly. "This really was a great birthday present." She grinned delightedly, infectiously. "No, it was the absolute greatest!" she added, loud enough for just about everyone to hear, as she glanced around the room. Her gaze finally lighted on B‘Elanna, who still looked unhappy over what had just transpired.

"And you are the best, B‘Elanna," Naomi said quietly, then she wrapped her arms around B‘Elanna‘s waist and hugged her once, tightly. "Thanks." And then she was off, dragging her bemused mother in tow, spreading more thanks and cheer around the room.

//Damn// Tom thought, as he watched Naomi bound away, then glanced at B‘Elanna‘s stunned expression, //that kid is good//.


"It really wasn‘t so bad, was it?"

B‘Elanna shrugged. "It was okay."

She obviously didn‘t want to give him too much satisfaciton, but he prodded a little more anyway. "So it had it‘s moments?"

She gave him a sharp look at his repetition of her own words. "I suppose it was worth experiencing once," she said grudgingly.

Tom gave her a knowing look, as the turbolift came to a halt. "Acting kind of gets in your blood, doesn‘t it?"

She looked narrowly at the smug smile tugging at his lips. "Don‘t push your luck, Tom, because you‘re still in trouble."

"I am?" Tom asked as they exited the turbolift on their deck.

"Yes." B‘Elanna frowned. "For offering to recreate the play on the holodeck."

"Hey, I didn‘t offer," Tom reminded her. "Naomi asked, and how could I refuse her on her birthday?"

B‘Elanna gave him a reproachful look.

"It‘s not that big a deal, B‘Elanna," Tom said as they turned the corner. "You have nothing to be ashamed of. You were really good, and I mean that."

His compliment was sincere, and his honest admiration was making it damn difficult for her to stay annoyed with him.

"Besides, the crew saw your performance already, and liked it, and no one else is going to see that program."

B‘Elanna snorted. "And when we get home—"

"I‘ll make sure it disappears from the holodeck database." Along with a few other personal programs of his—and B‘Elanna‘s—that he had no intention of letting a gaggle of Starfleet inspectors accidentally trip over. "Honestly, B‘Elanna, you should be nothing but proud of your performance."

They‘d reached her door and she keyed in her door code, still not looking completely mollified.

"And if you‘re worried about being seen in that pinafore, you really did look awfully cute in it." He parried her cutting look with his most charmingly ingratiating smile. "In fact, would you consider wearing it—oomph!"

Tom staggered slightly as B‘Elanna pushed him aside, and stepped through her door as it slid open. "Not in your very best dreams, Tom," she said firmly.

Well, he had her there. That pinafore had started popping up in some of his best dreams lately, where, unfortunately, it was apparently going to stay. He shrugged as he followed her through the door, reading her mood, a talent it had taken him some time to perfect. Even though she was still trying to act outwardly annoyed, he knew she was also pleased with herself. He knew it wasn‘t always easy for her to try new things, especially something that made her feel vulnerable to criticism, but she‘d done it. And he was proud of her.

"I‘m still mad at you," she said as he walked close behind her, though her voice held no rancor.

"Does this mean you‘re not going to take me somewhere over the rainbow tonight?"

B‘Elanna turned around, and her expression warred between exasperation and amusement as he gave her an irrepressible grin. "Tom, that was really, really pathetic."

He could see how hard she was trying hard not to laugh.

"So, what‘s your answer?"

B‘Elanna rolled her eyes. "It‘s been a long evening, and I‘ve still got a couple of reports to file."

"I‘ll wait." He watched her walk to her desk and drop down into her chair. "That‘s if you‘re done punishing me."

B‘Elanna flicked on her computer console. "I haven‘t been punishing you, Tom. Between my job and your job, and all the time the rehearsals took, there just hasn‘t been time for anything else."

"Oh. Okay." Tom watched her rearrange a couple of data padds on her desk, doing her best to ignore him. But he had no doubt she was as feeling as impatient as he was, and that they were going to find some time tonight. And very soon. He walked over to her bed and knelt down beside it.

B‘Elanna caught his movement and turned to look at him as he reached a hand under her bed. "What are you doing?"

He kept his hand behind his back as he stood so she couldn‘t see what he‘d retrieved. She looked at him suspiciously as he walked toward her. "I got you a present."

B‘Elanna glanced at her bed and back at Tom, not commenting on the fact that he‘d snuck into her quarters at some point to put something under her bed. A present. "You got me a present? Why?"

Tom smiled and walked toward her, both hands now behind his back. "Because sometimes directors do that for their…favorite actors, as a memento to celebrate a great performance." And greater one to come, he hoped, though he wasn‘t stupid enough to say so.

B‘Elanna looked at his slightly too innocent expression.

Her eyes narrowed. "It better not be that dress, Tom…"

He shook his head. "Nope, it‘s not that. Close your eyes."

"I don‘t—"

"Come on, B‘Elanna," he cajoled, that irresistible smile still on his face.

She gave him a final suspicious look and closed her eyes. A moment later something soft and…furry fell into her lap, landing between her hands where they rested on her thighs. She opened her eyes and looked down, meeting the dark beady eyes of the stuffed creature sitting in her lap. A dog that looked just like Toto. She snatched her hands away and the stuffed animal, unbalanced, fell forward against her stomach.

"See, he likes you."

Tom backed away a couple of steps as B‘Elanna looked up, and her startled expression changed into something both threatening—and promising. Her eyes flashed as she closed one hand over the plush stuffed dog. He knew damned well how accurate her aim was, so he‘d been careful to request the replicator use only the softest material. He‘d managed to back up only a couple more steps before she threw it at him. Toto hit him square in the forehead then fell unceremoniously to the ground. A split second later B‘Elanna launched herself at him with a low growl and a fierce smile on her face that promised payback.

It was a stormy if thoroughly satisfying ride over that rainbow.

Make that rides.


The end