Day One
by Kat

Author's note: After extensive replaying of the first three seasons this begged to be written. For those of you who recall "Starting from Zero" this story is in the same universe but there are no direct references, so that story needn't be read to enjoy this one. There is some angst here but I got a little bored with it, spread lightly with some in-jokes...and some hopeless romantic pixie dust. This is an Alternate History Story. Basically, we're playing...what if Kat was Jeri Taylor. :-) And now that I've frightened you, on with the story....

Dedication: My mother who sent up my first season Voyager tapes from home. Most of this was written in under a day...I'm so proud.

Credits: Datalaur. Wow. What a beta! I am eternally grateful and thankful for the minor miracle laur performed on this piece -- just, wow.J


"Henley, Chell, Ayala and Torres, all of you, you've been assigned to deck nine."

Chell bent to pick up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. Ayala grumbled something and Torres merely shrugged, head bent as she made her way towards the turbolift. Henley stood motionless.

"Nine?" she asked.


Henley shot him a look but picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder. "Yes sir, no sir, *commander* sir." She strolled down the corridor.

"Henley," he called.


"Cut the shit."

She turned her back on him and continued down the corridor, not uttering another word but Chakotay knew, all too well, that that wouldn't last very long.

He looked down at the padd, his finger tapping against its side. He hated this - and of course, being Maquis, they didn't make the task any easier for him. But it wasn't like the conditions were bad. Strangely enough, the novelty of having a whole bathroom to yourself was starting to settle in, as was the nicely air conditioned temperature, the new carpet smell that Voyager seemed to carry with ease.

The whole place would be very easy to get used, hell, even get comfy and fat and complacent in. He remembered ships like this, the buzz of the technology beneath your fingertips, the young excitable ensigns all scrabbling for promotions. He thought he'd be dead before he ever stepped onboard one again. No, make that *hoped* he was dead.


He turned. "Yes?"

"Am I staying with you? You did get us shared quarters, didn't you?"

She stroked his cheek with the back of her hand.

"Seska." He gave her a cool look.


"Just..." he sighed as he noted the malicious little smile curling her lips, the knowledge that she'd be able to seduce him, bat those come-hither Bajoran eyes and dig in those perfectly manicured nails and make him do anything she wanted. He shook his head, the sound of 'not this time' bouncing ear to ear. "Just...shut up."

With that, he moved off down the corridor.

* * *

"Keep moving."

Harry turned. "So," he said briskly, "no, 'Hi Harry' no 'Gee, glad you're okay' just keep moving..." He shook his head, quickening his stride to match Paris' pace. "You're in shit again, aren't you?"

"Why, my young friend," Tom drawled, hand on Harry's shoulder as he led him straight past the ensign's designated quarters and towards the turbolift. "Where's your sense of adventure?"

"In the Alpha Quadrant, damn, must have forgotten to pack it," Harry returned, darkly, struggling a little to match Tom as he speeded up. "Who's following you?"

Tom stopped. "How do you know they're following me?" The older man looked left and then right, indicating the totally empty corridor with a smile. "How do you know this isn't a drill, *ensign*?"

"Ensign?" Harry raised an eyebrow, and folded his arms, leaning back, smiling to himself, watching Tom's innocent -- no, wait, that didn't fit -- knowing smile. "When did you get a comm--?" He stopped cold, mouth agape.

He should have known.

"Commission?" Tom finished, the smile breaking into a fully conceited grin. Harry realised glumly that he'd be seeing that a lot.

"They promoted you past me? You've got seniority?"

Tom simply nodded, smug as the cat with the proverbial, full fat, straight from the dairy cream.

"Yeah, Ensign Kim..." Tom emphasised. "Let's face it, you need me and I am the best d--"

"Best damn pilot I'll ever see?" Harry nodded shortly. "You know what, I heard that already..."

Tom grinned, looking over his shoulder again before pushing Harry forward, forceful hand on his shoulder.

"So," Harry said, jovially, "this wasn't just an elaborate plot to rub my nose in it?"

Tom looked thoughtful for a moment, eyes narrowing. "No, I'm afraid not. This is 'help out your friendly neighbourhood ex-con on the run' day. Care to make a donation?"

"You're being followed?" Harry asked, as they rounded a corner, the final stretch to the turbolift.

"Four Maquis, big, nasty looking, hairy, you know...the ones who I'm supposed to have betrayed and ended up serving time for..."

Harry merely grinned, a glint in his eye. It did occur to the initiated-by-fire Ensign Kim that playing his 'green' status for all its worth would become a favourite pastime. Hell, he had 70 years to develop it as an art form. "Oh, *that* Maquis? Not the other one we now happen to be cohabiting with on the good ship Voyager? Thank you for the definition, lieutenant, I'll note it."

They neared the turbolift and Harry, as paranoid as Tom was teaching him to be, could swear he could hear the thud of boots pounding along Voyager's new carpets. Was it just him or did those carpets smell?

"Lieutenant?" Tom smirked. "I like the sound of that."

He would. "I hate you," Harry muttered as they stepped inside the turbolift.

"No, you don't," Tom retorted. "Deck six."

"Yeah," Harry said, louder this time, "I do."

Tom smiled at Harry. Tom's back was straight as the turbolift doors closed, obscuring from view the four or five Maquis that had been pursuing him. "You'll learn to love me...."

* * *

"Captain Janeway, you asked to see me?"

He frowned, looking at the woman before him, standing by the replicator - petite, red --or was that brown? -- hair, eyes, nose, very Human, very Starfleet, very self-righteous and prone to spouting the universe according to the Fleet Admiral at any given second.

Briskly, she moved to her desk and began sorting through the padds, no doubt into 'urgent' piles and 'not-so-urgent' piles. He knew the feeling. All morning he'd spent his time installing the Maquis crewmen into their new quarters. Dealing with arguments about cabins, holodeck privileges, uniforms that itched. Reprimanding Ayala and Gerron who'd managed to wipe out their replicator rations in less than three hours on candy and chocolate ice cream, hasperat and a whole number of other foodstuffs they hadn't seen in years. Suder had trashed his and Ensign Gilmore's quarters searching for surveillance devices. Gilmore had, unsurprisingly, requested a transfer, as he put it, 'to share with someone sane.'

And through all that surreal hell aboard a plush Federation ship, this was what he'd been dreading. Her, that look, her moralising, her endless 'Really Chakotay, we've just got to let them have time...'

She smiled at him. So calm, so clean, so prissy and hiding under all of it a martinet that wouldn't quibble at public hangings in hydroponics - his especially, his and Seska's, maybe B'Elanna's -- or Dalby's, who, for some odd reason, had pissed everyone off this morning. No, actually, knowing Ken, that wasn't surprising.

He coughed, politely, hand quickly to his mouth, something he hadn't done in years.

The smile widened, amused, her eyes lighting. "Yes?" she asked, moving a hand behind her to pat her bun and push a stray piece of hair back into place.

"You asked to see me?" he ventured, scratching his wrist. Spirits, Telfer was right, these things itched like hell.

"I did." She nodded. "Please, commander, sit down. Would you like a drink?"

What was this? What the hell was she doing? Hi, commander, sit down, make yourself at home before I think up some devious plot to get you off the ship? Hi, commander, want a drink, cut with some of the finest arsenic, enjoy your stay?

She was playing a game with him, he knew it, it was just in the way she...

"Commander, sit," she said a little forcefully, eyes pouring that smile onto him.

He felt nauseous. Too much. This was just too much.

He fell into the seat, comfy, not too soft and not too hard, supporting his back, taking the load off, gently, easing him into forgetting he'd spent the first five waking hours this morning on his feet. Seventy years. Seventy years in that chair. Actually, that public hanging didn't sound too much like a bad idea.

All it took was a nice band of marauding aliens and that neat little relay Torres had lined up would beam all the Maquis onto the shuttles. Then he'd be free of her, and her frighteningly infectious smile.

"So, have you worked out the duty shifts yet? Crew rotations - preliminary, of course."

"No." Just to see the look on her face...

It was an odd look at that. As though she was expecting it, like possibly she could understand, after all he had better things to be doing, but mixed with that edge. Disapproval. Disappointment. That narrowing of he eyes that said 'you were a good officer once.'

"Oh," she said, over-exaggerating it. "I know you're very busy, commander."

And the way she emphasised commander, like it was some kind of disease - no, a penance for some horrible crime, like having a cause, like doing something about it, like not letting big-brother Starfleet clear it all up for you, like having those fine and lofty morals and acting on them.

"Very busy," he returned, eyes dark and harsh at her. "Too busy."

She stiffened. Hers hands clutched the padd tighter, her knuckles turned white and he saw it. He saw the tension in her muscles and contrasted that to the poker face she wore, as she played him, pushed him, dominated him. Power -- she reeked of it, leaking from every pore, the profile of her face, the aura she carried, the look.

"Have you met Mr Neelix? Kes?" she inquired.

He nodded sharply, eyes still on hers. "They came down and introduced themselves."

"What did you think of Kes?" Janeway asked, leaning over and resting her head on her hands, the smell of coffee filling the room from the steaming cup sitting on her desk.

"Bright girl, skilled, I'm sure she'll be an asset to the ship."

"I'm sure she will," Janeway affirmed, still smiling, he noted the tension released in her back, vertebrae by vertebrae, colour returning to those knuckles. Spirits the woman was uptight. Uptight, probably, because the weight of a quadrant's worth of crap was sitting on her shoulders, plus all the Maquis bullshit he was considering adding to that...

He almost felt sorry for her, and being captain, for the first time that day, didn't seem like such an attractive prospect.

"How's the Starfleet end?" he asked, casually.

He tried not to smile when she grimaced at that, her brow knitting, an absent hand to a temple, that weight of the quadrant getting visibly heavier. "Don't ask. Anyway," she continued, brightly, "it's partly your problem too, now."

She grinned. He grinned. They grinned.

They realised they were grinning and stopped, almost in unison, concerned themselves with something else, something other than the grinning incident.

What the hell happened to playing it cool, he wondered. He'd grinned at her like some over eager idiot. God knows what she thought of him, but, he guessed, she was quite human looking when she smiled. Almost to the point where he considered making her smile more often, which was a line of thought that spoke of a permanence he really didn't want to consider.

"Your problem," he said, blankly.

"Yes," she said, without emotion. "My problem."

There was a pause. He looked down at her; she looked up at him. They managed a halfhearted smile between them. "Our problem," they said, in unison, but the tone was painfully forced.

* * *

"I thought I'd find you here," Harry said, clearly, loudly, looking around warily at the five or six Maquis at the bar.

It was a very Maquis thing to do, he realised. Three minutes anywhere and they find a bar...even if they did have to program the bar...and what the hell was that *smell*?

"Oh?" Tom said, just as loud. "Good thinking Harry." Quickly, the young ensign pulled up a stool. Sat on it and ordered a drink from the holographic bartender, sending a nod the way of the Maquis at the other end of the bar that was returned with a grunt. He smiled nervously and turned back to his companion. "Why are you here?" Harry whispered, still smiling broadly, through gritted teeth, looking unfavourably at the synthenol that was placed before him.

"Because there are a lot of people here," Tom returned, voice a whisper. "And it's not polite to kill someone with an audience." Harry shot another wary look the way of the Maquis.

"They're following you around the ship?"

"Well," Tom began, finishing off the drink in his glass. "First I thought they just wanted to welcome me to the ship, you know, pat me on the back and say 'Good job.' And then, well, I just thought they were being obsessively friendly, a bit taken with my debonair charm, but then, Harry, after a great deal of soul searching I came to the painful conclusion that they're out for blood, mine, today if possible, and by the litre."

"You're paranoid." Harry looked around him. A number of Starfleet in the corner, by some tables - smiling and laughing, not looking in fear for their lives. He breathed a sigh of relief.

"Yes," Tom returned, grinning. "So now I'm going to get very drunk and lament that fact."

"Wow, now it's really clear why they promoted you past me," Harry smiled. Tom returned the favour. He looked down at his glass and then back at Tom. "It's synthenol."

"Harry, Harry, Harry." Tom shook his head. A glint in his eye as he produced what looked to be a full bottle of scotch, just for Harry's view, before hiding it again. Harry's eyes widened -- he'd once had real alcohol at his cousin's wedding, that was, what, eleven years ago? And he'd become very intimate with the toilet bowl soon after. Still, what was there to lose, stuck onboard a ship with an ex-con and a homicidal bunch of terrorists?

"How did you get that?"

"The replicator," he replied as though it were obvious, as though it didn't take a two year vocational course at every down-and-out bar in the quadrant -- no, *alpha* quadrant, for all Harry knew they were probably twice as debauched and twice as populated by violent sadists in the good old DQ. And Tom Paris would probably find them all. Wait - and drag Harry along for the ride.

"But," Harry said, loudly. A few heads turned and he lowered his voice, "*how* did you get that?"

Tom just smiled, conceited and annoying as hell. "Two parts charm, one part magic."

"Tom," Harry sighed, frowning and picking up his drink. Just knowing that over the course of the next seventy years he was going to be saying that a lot.

"Okay." He held up a hand. "Two parts charm, one part hacking experience and a handy phase inverter."

Harry chuckled. "Janeway would kill you if she found out."

Tom looked distant for a moment before turning back to Harry, face blank. "But that's what makes it so much fun."

Harry sighed. It went something like, of all the starships in all the quadrants he had to end up in this one.

* * * *

"Torres," Seska purred, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Busy tonight?"

"Busy contemplating living out the next seventy years aboard a Federation ship, yes. What are you doing?"

"Chakotay's being peaky."

B'Elanna shrugged. "When's Chakotay not being peaky?" she asked, although she had no interest in hearing the answer.

Seventy years.

Seventy years playing Seska's contingency plan.

"He's got bridge duty," Seska said, neutrally. "I don't care, because you and me, Torres, are going to have fun."

"How exactly?"

It was always the way. She'd grin at her, drag her to the nearest bar, get drunk, insult B'Elanna's parentage a few times while singing some incoherent and off-key song underneath the nearest table before promptly passing out...or seducing one of the waiters...or waitresses...before finally passing out, drooling a little and mumbling something...

But on a Federation Starship they didn't have seedy bars, complete with gravelly-voiced bartenders and traders who'd chase anything in well...anything...

They did have Janeway, who was about as gravelly-voiced as it got, a couple of fresh-out-of-the- academy, up for anything Ensigns...and this really odd new carpet smell.

Unless, of course, Tom Paris was marketing himself for the lecherous, womaniser position on board ship. She had to give him credit, it seemed almost...natural for him.

"Well," Seska began, swinging her arm around her friend; "there was that cute Starfleet ensign that you were telling me about..."

B'Elanna stopped, and turned towards the Bajoran. "You mean Harry?!" she asked, trying hard not to burst into laughter.

"Yeah," Seska shrugged, eyes gleaming. "He's cute enough."

"You'd eat him alive," B'Elanna mused, aloud, smiling to herself as she set off down the corridor.

"Chakotay would kill him," Seska returned, following B'Elanna, determined, somehow, to have the last word.

"Then Janeway would kill him," B'Elanna added, smiling. "But I do recall there is some kind of chapter in the 'Fleet handbook for this, you know, 'How to avoid venomous Maquis rebels who tell you you're 'cute'.'" She laughed.

"But that was the Alpha Quadrant," Seska said pointedly. "This is the *Delta Quadrant*."

"New rules?" Torres returned, half interested in the lame ass reply she was sure to get.

"New scorecard," Seska shot back as they rounded the corner.

"Oh," Torres said blankly, "I'm positively quaking."

It was going to be a very long century.

* * * *


He nodded. "Captain."

She sat gracefully in her seat, centre of the bridge, right where she should feel at her most in control. He looked calm enough, sitting there, staring out into space, watching the beta shift rotation with those dark eyes of his...planning a mutiny - no, no, he was too good for that...executing a mutiny, as she sat there and offered him..."Coffee?"

He turned to look at her, a little blankly, although she guessed that was the plan, trying not to smirk at her.

"You drink that stuff?"

{No coffee? Was this man even an officer?}

"What's not to like?" she shrugged, leaning back in her chair.

"It stunts your growth," he said, neutrally, turning away from her and back towards the view screen, increasing his grip on the arms of his chair, no doubt ready to launch himself into action - for what action she had no clue. But sitting just didn't seem to suit him.

"Well," she returned, "hasn't hurt me any." She kicked herself mentally. Who, in their right mind, could get defensive over a drink? She shuddered to think what'd happen if he brought out the whole decaf debate.

He smirked at her this time, unable to stop himself, and she liked it...he had really cute dimples. Cavit didn't have dimples. And Cavit hadn't been sending Maquis 'casually' into every area of the ship for the four hours -- under the guise they were 'familiarising' themselves. The dimples thought was unwarranted, but they were nice dimples.

"Is this what a deep space mission's like?" he asked, voice low and near whisper.

She furrowed her brow wondering where the hell this was leading. She didn't trust the man as far as she could throw him -and considering his size - that wasn't very far.

"Deep space mission?" She looked thoughtful. "No."

He turned to her this time. "That's it - just 'no'?"

The officer at conn, a young blonde, tentatively turned - and for some odd reason, on seeing her Starfleet pips Janeway let out a small sigh of relief. She was doing it again - watching for foe instead of friend. She tried to believe it was the training, that trusty in-built paranoia. That wasn't even close. It was him. He was posing the biggest threat of all. Because he wrapped it up all so neatly in his matyrdom, his 'let's work things out,' his ideals that seemed to match hers just and then veer off sharply again...

He was a threat in his surface assurances and dark silences. He didn't talk much - who the hell knew what was going on inside that head? What wasn't he saying? He'd played the game before and won. She was hoping it wouldn't get that far. And planning contingencies if it did. She'd run through the mutiny protocol with Tuvok. Twice.

And now he was asking if being trapped in the middle of the Delta Quadrant trying to man a ship with a crew of Maquis/Starfleet was like a deep space mission? Was he up to something, or just really bad at idle conversation?

She turned crisply to him. "Yes," she said coolly, "just 'no.'"

"Oh," and he grinned again, "just checking." He let out a small chuckle. "I'm sorry..." He said, chuckling a little more, before putting his hand over his mouth to halt himself.

She frowned. He straightened and took a deep breath. "What's so funny, commander?"

He looked at her, straight in the eye. "I don't like to play the long game, Captain."

"Neither do I," she said, back straight although she was having trouble working out exactly the angle he was supposed to be playing. So, as any self-respecting captain would do, she remedied that. "What do you mean commander?" She had a need to get blunt, in fact blunt, if not completely honest seemed like the best idea for everyone. Except, of course, for the ever vague and oblique Mr Chakotay...was it Mr Chakotay...or was it just Chakotay? So many damn questions...

"Ask me a question - I'll answer."

She considered this. A couple of good ideas presented themselves, like, are you planning to have me assassinated?

Do you usually shoot right or left handed - for future reference, of course.

But there was one question that she had to ask, because if he picked the wrong answer, then it'd be a hell of a long century...

"Do you trust me?" she asked, smiling to offset the remark.

Because god knew she wasn't stupid enough to start playing house.

He smiled back, not at all unnerved by the statement. "Not at all."

She chuckled a little herself. "Good." As long as they were even.

"Any other questions?" he asked.

"Yes," she nodded, looking back to the viewscreen. "Have you ever considered hair dye?"

* * * *

"Trust the Maquis," Torres said glumly on entering the holographic bar. It looked pretty much like the one bar they probably had in Voyager's database. Grey, utilitarian, Vulcan bartender.

Seska turned, eyes flashing. "I don't know, adds a little 'spice' don't you think? Voyager's too...clean."

B'Elanna frowned and let out a long breath. "I guess. Water?"

Seska scowled but turned on her heel, calling over her shoulder, "Torres, when did you become so boring?"

Torres saw a free table over in the corner of the room and went to sit down. There were three Maquis tables behind her, to the left of the main bar. A couple of uniforms were around and they seemed to be clustering.

"Hey - B'Elanna?"

Harry. Oh God Harry...

"Starfleet," she said through gritted teeth. She stood and grabbed his arm. A couple Maquis heads turned. "You crossed the line."

There was the scuffle of chairs moving on the floor. A couple of grunts and some general nodding. B'Elanna couldn't make him out properly but there was someone coming towards them and...

"What line?" Harry asked amiably. There was alcohol on his breath - what the hell had he been drinking that got him suicidal?

"You okay, Torres? Fleeter ain't bothering you?" It was Ayala, smiling at her and giving Harry a look that would shrink the bravest of men, and positively shrivel Harry Kim...

She turned towards the newly installed Security officer. "Nope, Ayala, no problem. So why don't you go sit down and let me handle myself?"

He just raised both his hands in mock defence and shrugged his shoulders. "Woah Torres. Just being a friend, okay?"

"Sure," Harry grinned, slapping Ayala on the shoulder and letting his hand rest there. "Let's all be friends."

The look Ayala gave Kim was venomous at best. He moved his hand to cover Kim's and one by one pulled each finger from his newly replicated security uniform. "See you, enslime," he said, swaggering a little as he returned to his friends who let out a whoop of laughter.

Harry looked down, scuffing his shoes on the floor. "Jerk," he mumbled under his breath and then glanced up at B'Elanna. "So, how you bearing up?"

She motioned him to a neutral table, Harry sitting closer to the Federation side and B'Elanna still comfortably marked as Maquis.

"You know," she shrugged. "Looking at the state of this place that little Ocampa home world thing they had going doesn't sound so bad."

He laughed and then stopped laughing, the set to his face turning a little melancholy. "Yeah," he said, slipping into his seat and shaking his head noncommittally.

A laugh went up from the Starfleet tables and a couple of Maquis turned around, before, slowly, ever so slowly, turning back and grumbling to themselves.

Torres let her eyes drift over the scene and she was not surprised in the least - if only a little disappointed - to find who the centre of attention was. There were empty shot glasses on the table - no doubt something the Fleeters shouldn't have been engaging in - and a gaggle of young female officers. A couple of men were keeping their eye on proceedings, trying to look at ease with the fact that their designated paramour for the next seventy years hadn't looked at them all night and was instead entertaining herself with the real star attraction. In the flesh, live and grinning like the idiot he must be - Tom Paris.

Harry smiled. "That's Tom. You met Tom yet?"

She shook her head, a very convincing lie about to escape from her lips. "Nope."

"You want me to introduce you?" Harry asked, his smile faltering a little as he stared down at the table - because he had no drink, she surmised. So, Harry and Tom were actually friends. What was Paris up to? Interplanetary adopt an ensign week?

She shook her head. "If it's all the same to you Harry, I'll let Lieutenant Paris be the ex-Maquis piece of scum he does so well all by himself." She smiled. "Is he really as bad as they make out?" Yeah, she thought grimly, that really makes me look uninterested.

Harry considered this, looking first to Tom and then back down to where his hands sat on the table, drumming an easy rhythm against the holographic plastic. "Not really." He looked up at Tom again.

B'Elanna's eyes followed, some dark haired woman had herself wrapped around him, long curls trailing down her back. Pretty girl, Torres thought darkly. Pretty and dumb as hell.

Harry shifted nervously. "You want a drink?"

"Sure." She waved a hand. "Why not?"


"Commander. There is a matter of security that I wish to discuss with you."

Chakotay kept walking. "Tuvok, keep out of my way."

"Sir. I have already been to Captain Janeway with this matter but she wishes me to discuss it further with you. It regards, mostly, the Maquis faction to Voyager's crew."

"Faction?" Chakotay stopped. "Okay then, Tuvok. Let's talk about this little faction problem of ours."

"Somewhere more private?" Tuvok asked, standing strictly to attention and not looking the least bit intimidated.

He wondered, not for the first time, why he believed a Vulcan would have wanted to join the Maquis. Maybe he had just made himself believe it. Whatever the hell else Tuvok was - annoying was vying for supremacy with smug - he was a very fine Tactical officer. A tactical officer so good, it seemed, it was worth sending the fleet's baby to recover him all the way to the Delta Quadrant.

"No. Hallway," Chakotay said sharply. "What's up with the Maquis?"

He knew the answer. Everything was up with the Maquis. They hadn't even had three working replicators on their ship. Now they were moaning about replicator rations or lack of the same - holodeck privileges, space on the observation name it, a Maquis had lodged an official complaint about it.

"I do not believe Mr. Paris is safe aboard Voyager."

"No?" Chakotay nodded his head a little. "I don't think so either, Tuvok. Good day."

Smiling to himself, he walked quickly down the corridor.

Tuvok, although hating to show it, had to break into a small run to catch him. He'd expected the commander to be a little more malleable to his current situation. "Captain Janeway informed me that you personally were to supervise his safety."

Chakotay broke into a full smile. "It's touching how the traitors look out for each other, don't you think? Nice that you're so concerned, Tuvok, but I'm sure I've got it all under control."

"I did not betray you, commander," the Vulcan said blankly. A young ensign, female, passed by the pair with her mouth agape and eyes wide.

Chakotay didn't blame her. A senior staff brawl would have been quite the occasion, but then Tuvok would never let it get that far...would he?

"No, Tuvok, you did." He smiled again, a little bitter this time. "You were going to sell me out to the Federation. You were going to watch as they threw us in jail and then you were going to run back to Captain Janeway without a mark on your perfectly logical conscience."

"I am a Starfleet Officer. I was performing my duty while undercover aboard your ship." And if it was even possible, Tuvok seemed to straighten further. He was a proud man, of that Chakotay had no doubt - but he'd been lying to Chakotay. Lying all those months aboard his ship and a *lying* Vulcan was a rare breed indeed. A useful breed as well.

"I'm aware of that, lieutenant." Chakotay shook his head and his mind returned to Tuvok's request for his attention. "There was something you wanted to tell me?"

"I believe your provisions for Mr Paris' safety need to be tightened."

"Why?" Chakotay grinned. "I don't see his blood on the carpet yet."

"It soon will be."

Something told Chakotay that the Vulcan wasn't aiming to shock, and was telling him something he already, sadly, knew. Something else told Chakotay, that deep down, beyond the uniform, and the grim expression, that this really wasn't his day.

"I'll see what I can do." Again, Chakotay set off along the corridor. This time Tuvok didn't follow.


"So, Harry," she purred, running a fingernail under his chin, down his neck, sloping around the adam's apple and then smiling to herself as the sharp nail caught his turtleneck. "Where'd you grow up?"

He grinned. "California. Where'd you grow up?" He swayed a little, shiny hair sticking up some as he ran his hand through it to pull it from his eyes.

Torres sighed. She looked back up at Seska, her body mere centimetres from Kim's and sighed again. The bar was getting busier. There was another laugh from the Starfleet crowd in front of their table. She tried to stall the final sigh, it came anyway.

Seska looked at him, shuffling a little in her seat, readying herself to answer his question. "Bajor."

"No, like where?" Harry's eyes narrowed. "Which province?"

A shy smile appeared, it didn't sit well on Seska's lips as she shrugged the question off. "Buy me a drink and I'll tell you."

Harry looked blankly at her, as drunk as he'd ever been in his entire, mostly perfect life. But, Harry had decided that having been ready to die only twenty four hours previously, he was damn well entitled an evening of revelry. Or at least a bottle of scotch and the company of two exotic, if prickly, women. Seemed the Delta Quadrant had an upside after all....

Torres rolled her eyes and shifted to look at the dark-haired woman to her left, her body still linked to Paris', a huge drunken grin still on her lips. "Somebody's not going home alone" Torres said, wondering why what she'd meant to sound faintly amused came out so bitter.

Seska followed her line of vision. She smiled slowly as she watched the scene unfold before her. The dark-haired woman moved to sit on Paris' lap, her mouth close to his as she ran her fingers through his hair. "Yeah, Torres, I'd say you're right. Someone isn't going home tonight, one way or another..."

Torres looked sharply at Seska. "What do you mean?"

"She's called Megan Delaney. She has a twin sister..." Harry said, his fingers playing with the rim of his glass.

Seska pouted a little and reached out to pull some stray hair back into Torres' loose style. B'Elanna moved back to avoid the touch and glared at the Bajoran. "What do you mean?" she repeated, harshly.

"Woah," a liquor stained smile coloured Harry's lips. "No need to fight on my behalf, ladies..."

Torres' eyes narrowed on Seska's. Seska shrugged a little but held Torres' look. "Shut up, Starfleet," they said, in unison.

Harry shrugged, taking another swig. "Thought not," he said, glumly.

Torres turned on Seska. "What are you planning?"

"Nothing specific." Her eyes darted to Paris again, she leaned over the table and spoke in a low whisper. "I'm having an idea..."

Torres recoiled a little. "You're always--"

Seska reached a hand out and grabbed Torres' arm. Torres looked down at the held arm, and then glared at the Bajoran. Seska grinned, wondering why Torres was playing so innocent all of a sudden. It was unlike her to be uninterested in a little retribution. Make that a lot of bloody and grim retribution. "Just hear me out?"

Torres looked to her left. The dark haired woman - Megan Delaney - ran her finger down Paris' cheek and then spun from his grasp, giggling girlishly. Paris grabbed her waist and tickled at her skin beneath the restrictive uniform. Paris looked far happier than he deserved to.

"Okay," Torres said quietly. "Let's make this interesting."

Nodding approvingly, Seska looked to Harry. She patted his hand. "Why don't you get the round?"

"Okay," Harry said, smiling far too brightly and standing, wobbling a little as he found his balance. Tucking his chair back under the table, which earned a snort from Seska, he stumbled back to the bar.

Behind him, Seska gestured to Dalby and Ayala, Suder and Jonas.


"Captain," Tuvok said, walking slowly into the ready room, a little slower than usual.

Janeway pressed the small button that locked the doors; this was not a conversation she wanted overheard. "Report," she ordered coolly, sounding a little more detached than she meant to.

"Maquis crewmen have installed surveillance devices on the bridge, in Engineering and in Shuttle Bay One. I believe they have devised a way of getting off the ship first should the Voyager be boarded."

Janeway's head ached. She was being reasonable. She'd done her best to be civil and polite and smile when she was spoken to, and then reprimand, and frown and look generally domineering. She was treating them like any crew she'd ever commanded. She was being captain and they repaid her with surveillance devices on the bridge that could very easily turn into a means of mutiny. Had she not been the captain she would have approved of Chakotay's prudence, as it was he was being annoying, and pig headed, and stubborn...and, who did that remind her of?

She sighed. Which, she decided, was something she'd probably be doing for the rest of this long, no, make that very long journey. "Yes," she said at last, reaching behind her head to undo the clasp that was digging into her scalp and let her hair fall about her shoulders. "What did the background check show up?"

"Crewmen Suder, Dalby, Gates, Alaine, Christianson and Timmits all have previous convictions and have served time at Federation correctional facilities."

So had her new Chief Conn Officer, she thought grimly. She could see it now, Voyager the ship of thieves, intergalactic pirates, scourge of the Delta Quadrant. That thought raised a smile.

And for her trouble, the headache pounded louder in her ears. "Anything good?"

"B'Elanna Torres," Tuvok said, placing a padd on the captain's desk. "She was an Academy student of some merit. Her instructors were very impressed with her performance in Quantum Physics tutorials." He paused. "She left the Academy in her second year."

She rolled her neck, sitting back in her chair and turning it so she could stare out at the moving sky scape that streaked past them at a not-so-healthy warp two. "The bodies?" she asked, feeling her eyes willing themselves shut. She couldn't ever remember being so tired, even at the Academy when she'd spent hours pouring over her thesis, drinking coffee way into the San Francisco night.

She could tell, even though she couldn't see him, that Tuvok stiffened. "We will have a memorial service tomorrow at oh-eight-hundred-hours. Those unable to attend may listen to the broadcast."

Janeway's eyes found focus on a far moving star, slowly blurring as they sped past it. "How many Maquis?"

"Thirty-two," Tuvok said, moving to the window to follow her gaze.

"Arrange it so that they are commemorated too. We're a crew now, Tuvok. No Maquis, no Starfleet, just Voyager's crew."

He nodded. "It has been taken care of."

Sometimes the cool reality was more apparent, now was one of those times.. She'd lost good people, an entire sick bay staff, a Chief Engineer, a first officer, a conn officer and she would be the one who would have to face their families, their expectant families, when she got Voyager home.

She'd never lost a crewmember under her command before. It was an oddly numb feeling, one she could see herself coping with far too easily. And what she hated more, what she hated more than the dull ship's light digging at her irises, her chair that creaked a little as she moved within it, was that she knew, without a certifiable doubt in her mind, that she'd lose more people along this journey. That death was just another cool reality of this voyage. And somewhere along this line, maybe she'd even lose herself. And she wasn't sure if she meant her life, or her sanity.

She smiled a little, and stored the thoughts away. She was going to get them home.

"Anything else?" Janeway asked, leaning back in her chair and waiting for the comforting creak.

"Yes," Tuvok said, his soft monotone about the only comforting thing she could concentrate on at that moment. "We have discovered several warp trails. One, although hastily masked, appears to be Federation, two Cardassian, one Klingon, one Breen. We think these vessels were destroyed shortly after they attempted escape, explaining the debris field we have discovered, three light years from the last known position of the array. Sensors are too badly damaged to be completely accurate. I would not advise--"

"No," Janeway said, shortly. "I don't think that has to go beyond this room." She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. Who knew what surprises they'd be meeting, Alpha Quadrant style, as they continued their journey, their- ironically enough- voyage.

Tuvok came to the window, where she could see him, looking out at the stars through the large viewport. "She is a fine ship."

"Yes," Janeway smiled, looking out at the stars. "Yes, she is. I just hope I can keep my promise to her, Tuvok. I just hope I can get Voyager back to McKinley space dock."

"It is a fine ship," he repeated, the star shine on his dark skin. "With a competent and compassionate captain. I believe that you will get this crew home."

Janeway smiled, a full smile softening her features as her hair fell loosely around her face. "I'm glad I found you, Tuvok."

He turned to look at her. "Indeed, I am glad you found me."

And she realised, looking into his cool brown eyes that it could be worse, could have been so much worse. She could have been stranded in the Delta Quadrant, Maquis and Federation crews, Kazon and female caretakers, she could have been stranded without Tuvok at her side. In fact, that was a scenario she never wanted to consider.

She'd wait to dismiss him. She just liked watching him stand there.


B'Elanna looked down at him. "Well, well," she began, putting her hands to her hips. "If it isn't Tom Paris." She leaned forward, a hand on his table, a small smile on her lips. "You know I thought it was you, but I was sort of hoping you were dead."

"B'Elanna Torres."

Megan Delaney had been sitting on Paris' knee. She got up quickly, gave Paris a chaste and seemingly wholly territorial peck on the cheek. "You want a drink Tom?" she asked. He nodded, and she moved off toward the bar. As she departed Delaney shot Torres a predatory look for measure. Torres sent back an easy glare and wondered if this Delaney creature had even the slightest clue who she was messing with.

"And seeing as you're not dead," she breathed, feeling the Maquis eyes on her back. "I thought we could celebrate."

She'd given him too much credit. Paris was as dumb as a targ on synthale, a tribble on a very bad day. His eyes lit, he moved his body forward and met her gaze. "Celebrate? I think I can manage that."

She grabbed his hand, and this time it was Federation eyes who watched with ill-disguised disgust. Just who did this Paris think he was, they were asking themselves. Was he still Maquis? Had he always been Maquis? Was red really his colour?

B'Elanna, still smiling lazily, pulled him towards the holodeck doors and out into the brightly lit corridor. So busy was everyone watching the Klingon engineer proposition the ex-Maquis conn officer that no one had noticed most of the Maquis contingent disappear into the night. Only Seska, and Harry, who was so drunk he was holding himself up as 'honorary Maquis' for the evening, remained to watch.

When the holodeck doors closed behind them she took a deep breath.

She pulled him quickly along the corridor but Paris resisted and steadied her to his own pace. "How've you been B'Elanna?" he asked, sounding genuinely interested in her well being.

"Good," she said neutrally. "I'll feel better soon." The implication fell flat; he stopped dead in the corridor and pulled hard at her arm as she tried to move on. "Look, B'Elanna, there's something I've got to tell you..."

"Save it," she said, but her voice tailed off as she wondered where the hell he got off manipulating her like this. All she had to do was lead him to the turbolift and then...


Stupidly, she'd not asked what would happen 'exactly' when she got him there. She had a good idea, but, all things considered, he was not allowed to be so damn earnest and apologetic when she was about to lead him towards what would almost certainly fall under the impending doom category.

And he definitely wasn't allowed to make her fingertips tingle like some stupidly excited school girl.

"No," he said, sharply, blue eyes holding her there, completely involuntary on her part as he inexplicably made her feet stick to the carpet. "I know I seem like a total fuck-up to you, and yeah, I screwed up. But, I'm trying for a fresh start, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, and I like you, always have, and...shit..."

Tongue tied. Damn. What the hell was he trying to tell her? He looked kind of cute when he was struggling for words though...

{What the hell? Kind of cute? Am I suicidal as well as...}

"...look, I'm sorry, you may not believe me, and you've probably got cause to, and I'm really not good at this, but I'm sorry if I ever hurt you..."

"Hurt me?" she snapped. "Who the hell do you think you are? And what made you think you could ever, *ever* do anything that would even make me acknowledge your existence. I don't know what the hell you're trying to do Paris, but don't play so fucking innocent with me. Okay? I don't need your apologies and..."

She looked down at their clasped hands, the feeling in the back of her head like the world was about to fail in a massive core breach around her and..."Let go of my hand!"

Violently, she snatched her hand away from his. It suddenly became apparent that her Maquis 'friends' had grown tired of waiting. She could hear boots moving from the turbolift at the end of the corridor, after all Klingon hearing sometimes had its advantages. She was late, she knew it, and instead of aiding and abetting a little harmless -- wait -- painful retribution, about four Maquis were now about to storm onto the scene and wonder why she was stalling. Hold that thought. Why was she stalling?

{Fucking brilliant.}

There was a doorway to their left and quickly she pushed him into it, pressing her body against his. He grinned at her, so she dug her nails into his thigh and he stopped grinning.

"This is kinky even for you, Torres. So, I'm guessing this is all some kind of high-powered plan and really you're playing for the other team," he whispered, a familiar smile spreading to cover whatever real emotion he was having.

On the contrary, she thought. For some weird ass reason she was about to save him from a worse than death -- no, actually, saving him from death would be more accurate. He didn't deserve it. He'd looked earnest, and at least sounded truthful and had this really nice expression...

She was saving him because he looked cute tongue-tied?

{I need therapy}.

She raised an eyebrow, her fingers fumbling with the security codes she'd need to open the room, pressing against the all too clean and slippy padd lock on the side of the door. "Disappointed?" she ground out.

The boots grew louder. Paris pushed himself farther into the door, hiding himself from view. "Is this part of it?"

"No," she said glumly, her fingers still pressing the call buttons as she tried old Maquis trick after old Maquis trick. "This," she said, almost sadly, "is me saving your sorry ass."

She could hear voices now and knew, just knew, they were going to get caught. She also knew, on discovery, they'd chop her up into little pieces and serve her as Torres paella for the duration of the journey, and people would comment on how much nicer she was than emergency rations. That or she'd send them all into the middle of the next century, with that mean left hook she learnt in grade school. And she'd find herself spending the entirety of this little trip in the brig, or strung up by Janeway in the Cargo Bay as a grim reminder of what insubordination earned you. Neither sounded pretty.

"Computer," she whispered. "Manual override door five-six-eight-omicron-pi."

The voices grew louder.

:::Oral retriever required.:::

She sighed. "Open Sesame."

The door slipped open and they fell in, Torres landing heavily on top of Paris. The door closed behind them. "Initiate privacy lock."

Paris looked up at her, a bemused expression on his face. "Open Sesame, huh?" He began to laugh.

She felt like killing him. "I'm going to kill you."

"Doesn't look like it..." he began, still laughing.

"Shut up," she said, punching him hard in the ribs.

Kahess knew how, but he kept laughing. "Where are we anyway?" he asked, breathless.

She looked around and then pulled herself to her feet. "Shit. Captain's Dining Room. There isn't any jefferies tube access in here, because of privacy or something, so we can't get out any other way than..."

She made her way to the door, pressing her ear to the cool metal. There was a loud thump on the door. "Torres!" A voice barked. "You in here?" She stepped away from the door.

They could hear other voices outside, punctuated by sharp bangs on the door. "Well, B'Elanna," Tom said, moving to sit up, "looks like you're stuck with me."


Chakotay was sitting in his quarters. The lights were dimmed and he was sat facing the bare wall of the utilitarian senior staff quarters. Cavit's crate of belongings sat on the coffee table. There was a photo of Cavit's wife, some momentos, some kind of crystals he must have bought from the space station to give to his -- children? Grandchildren? Chakotay preferred not to think about it.

Chakotay's own meagre possessions sat bundled on the bed. The new XO hadn't touched those either. He'd thought he wanted sleep, and then found himself unable to shut his eyes.

There was something wrong about it, something he didn't want to acknowledge. This was his existence. Maquis were fighting and dying the other side of the galaxy and he was allocating holodeck time to Michael Jonas. That was wrong, everything was wrong.

He could imagine the next Seventy years. Starfleet/Maquis children being told two very different bed time stories as their parents tucked them into bed. Maquis growing accustomed to the luxury, people forgetting home, people finding a shaky peace with which to raise families on.

Maybe they'd even find a planet to colonise. Maybe he'd never see his home world again.

:::Tuvok to Commander Chakotay:::

He almost didn't answer. He didn't want to be Commander Chakotay. That was why a part of him had decided to ram the Selva into the Kazon battle cruiser. He wasn't usually so suicidal or eager to play for martyrdom.

He tapped his comm badge. "Here."

:::Captain Janeway would like to organise a memorial for all the deceased crewmen - both Maquis and Starfleet. She wishes to know if you would like to say a few words.:::

Of course he would. Without a doubt, and he was glad she'd thought of it. Sometimes, the way she'd talk to him, she made him think they could work it out. She would look at him, and he'd believe they could do this.

"I'd be honoured. But why isn't the captain asking me herself?"

There was pause the other end of the line. Chakotay smirked.

:::The captain is...resting.:::

Chakotay was glad she could.

"Thank you lieutenant. I'll do all I can."

And staring at Cavit's box on the table he realised that he would have to do all he could.

To make this work. To make Voyager work.

Even if he had to put up with Paris for the next seventy years. He frowned, although, on the other hand...


He fell into a seat, head of the captain's illustrious dining table, all clean curves and Star Fleet lines. He blinked and then looked up at her, smiling like it was a permanent fixture.

"You know, I had this vain hope that you'd died, some horrible and disfiguring death at the hands of a pissed-off Vulcan..."

"Vulcan? Oh...yeah...funny..."

"Slow today?" she asked, dropping to the seat next to his, lids low and resting her head against a hand. And why did she do it? Why didn't she just walk out that door? No, better, why didn't she replicate some kind of weapon, gut him, and place his remains in a box ready for public viewing in the holodeck? Too many whys.

"Repeatedly beating your head against a hard wall can do that to a person," he responded, a little grimly, still smiling, even as he inspected the unremarkable dirt beneath his fingernails.

"Or so I've heard. As can being cornered by two Maquis with a serious need for revenge and a craving for a decent Tom-Paris sized punch bag."

"Yeah," he smiled. "Or so I've heard."

She leaned back in her chair. "I like your pips. Two. Impressive." A small smile played her lips, watching him, uniform, crisply turned out, hair neat, looking not half as smug as he should have been. After all, Tom Paris had played the Maquis and won. But, won in an oddly masochistic way. Odd how fate dealt you a real bitch of a hand...of all the places to land up, he, unluckiest jerk in the cosmos, finds himself, back with the selfsame Maquis he betrayed...would make a good story for a holovid. That was, if the participants had a large threshold for emotional stress.

"Impressed? I thought I was a...what was it? Dishonourable coward or something equally Klingon. And, as I so clearly recall, you were right," he said, nodding with it, his hands folded on the desk, probably unconscious, and so very, very Starfleet. She resisted the urge to smile - he always would be Starfleet, in his blood, in the back of his mind, like some deformed angel on his shoulder, pushing him forwards.


"That was a long time ago," she noted. "I seem to remember telling you that you'd betray us..." she said casually, wondering what the hell was in that drink that Harry had given her...

He turned to look at her. "I remember."

"Wow, a non-selective memory? Maybe you should teach your new Starfleet friends a thing or two about that. Pity, they all forgot their promises to the colonies, the farmers...and the friendly neighbourhood terrorists." He shook his head and smiled at her, deflecting it, belittling her. "And don't think you're different. You were never Maquis. You betrayed us to your precious Federation. You're just another Starfleet P'taQ, a liar, a cheat and disloyal as hell...doing all you can for a uniform."

"Some personality profile, Torres. Now I'm impressed." He cracked a grin

"You wrote it yourself," was the easy reply, laced with that edge of -- what was that?-- disapproval, 'you could have done better' kind of moralising...Kahless, she sounded like her mother, no, worse than that, she sounded as self-righteous and stuck up her own ass as Chakotay. Which, of course, the big man himself would see as progress.

He ran a hand through his hair and sighed, leaning back in his chair, eyes half-closing. "No, it reads something like this. Paris, comma, Thomas Eugene, comma, convict period."

"Oh I'm sorry," she said, a little softly. "You know," and the tone was insultingly juvenile, "I find, when I commit high treason against the Federation that they tend to get a little pissed about it...or isn't it the same for spoilt little Fleet kids?"

He shot her a look, cutting through the malaise that was keeping him from that sparkling repartee she remembered with such a grim blur. "Don't."

"You deserve it," rolled easily off her tongue. "Count yourself lucky. If I wasn't on my best behaviour I'm thinking your teeth would be on the floor right now..."

"All talk," he shot back, lazily, like he couldn't care less if she killed him and paraded the skull around Voyager as the trophy.

"So are you," she shrugged, scared by his apathy, the lack of that scum-of-the-universe taint she'd convinced herself he carried around, maybe he still did, maybe she just didn't want to see it. Because, in the half light of this god-damned prison ship he didn't seem all bad, womaniser, drunk, ex-con...but not all bad.

What the hell was she doing?

"So," she asked, "what was it? Were you always on recon? Or was it more direct? What did you sabotage, Paris? Who did you sell off to the Cardassians? And why are you really here? Who are *you* working for? Because it isn't Chakotay, he hates you so much he has trouble looking at you, and it definitely isn't Janeway...who only stands you because Chakotay can't..."

He smiled, self deprecatingly, eyes down on the dull, vaguely reflective metal of the table. "Torres, you think too much."

"No," she said, eyes gleaming. "What's the deal? In it with your Dad, Paris?"

Their eyes met.

"Or did you think we wouldn't check up? Did you think you could screw us over and we wouldn't think about how we could return the favour?"

"Revenge?" he asked, intrigued, looking a little less tired, looking or trying to look more and more fascinated by what she was saying, those blue eyes widening, filling with that odd kind of self assurity he could turn on at the flick of a switch. "You planned revenge against little old me? I'm...I don't know what to say. Gee, Torres, gotta say it, I'm...touched."

"Are you going to tell me how you ended up here or not?" she asked, leaning back in the stiff chair, arms folding across her chest, waiting for the inevitable reply, because he wouldn't let her have the last word, just wouldn't.

He merely grinned. "Let's see - well, I was planning it from the start, even as Chakotay approached me, drunk and under three weeks of stubble at some god-forsaken bar, I was thinking 'wow, this is my way back into the Fleet.' And, assigned to your fine little ship, and getting the shit beaten out of me, and beating the shit out of others and getting just as drunk every night I was, every second, planting devices and spending my time, while not womanising, or playing the petty thief, learning about how your scrap yard of a ship worked and how I would turn you all in, in some grandiose gesture to return this prodigal son, absolved and sober, back to Starfleet. And then, when the opportunity presented itself, I thought 'Yeah, I'll save all these renegade Maquis and get my own ass thrown in some rehab colony...boy, they'll definitely have me back then.' And the real amazing thing? Through all that, through all that meticulous underhand planning, through all that bad boy schtick - where am I? What's it gotten me? Well, it has me here - sitting with you."

"You don't change," she said, without emotion, her eyes on his and narrowing, trying to work out exactly what was going on inside that head.

"Funny you should say that. I had this counselor once, beautiful woman, real dark eyes...and we talked, and she judged, and smiled at me, and pitied me, and told me that I should have never joined the Maquis. I was 'searching for a surrogate' that I'd never satisfy, that I'd never fulfil my hopes and ambitions of being a useful member of society."

She laughed. "You? A useful member of society?"

He shook his head, slowly, laughing quietly with her. "So hard to believe?"

She nodded. "Yes. Because that's not what you want."

"What do I want?"

She licked her lips, leaning towards him, half smile as she prepared to execute the words perfectly. "Whatever you can't have."

{What the hell am I doing?}

He grinned, his eyes right on hers as he leaned forward to match her. "And I can't have...?"

The smile grew, pupils widening against the dull light. "Megan Delaney," she said, softly, her tone low.

"You saw that, did you?" he returned, just as softly.

She nodded. "Uh huh."

"And why can't I have her?"

"Because you're Tom Paris," and she said it like it was obvious, too obvious.

"And she's...?" he ventured, slightly inebriated maybe, a fool, never.

"Megan Delaney."

"Oh, I see." He inched closer.

"Maybe." She shrugged lightly. "Maybe you're reading the signals wrong."

"She's not the type to tease."


"She didn't leave," he noted.

"She might just get up and walk away. She likes you, against her better judgement. You're cute when you're tongue tied, and she's heard your reputation...and you bought her a drink, a Selexian Sunrise...and she's thinking maybe, under all that, you have a heart of gold, a little scratched, just waiting to be her."

B'Elanna stood and moved away from her seat, turned her back and headed for the door.

"And what do you think, Torres?"

She spun on her heel, staring him down, half smile on her lips. "You're beyond redemption."

{What the hell am I doing?}

He stood and made his way towards her, eyes on hers "Can't even 'Megan' save me?"

She shook her head, hands on hips. "Not even sweet, naïve little Megan."

"You don't like her." He drew closer.

"She's a fool." He got closer, too close, but she didn't back away, determined not to, determined not to lose, and liking that look, the look that said he was going to kill her, or take her right there and then.

"And you're not?" he asked, edging ever closer and this time she backed to the wall, steadily, as he followed her, looked down at her, grinned that usual grin.

"I know you better," tripped gently off her tongue and she glared defiantly at him.

"Want me?"

She slapped him, hard, across the cheek and he shook it off, looking back at her, eyes dark and full.

He grinned.

He pushed her back against the wall, pinning her shoulders to the cool surface. "Hate me?" he asked, force increasing, fingers pressing her skin beneath the material of her shirt.

"Always," she responded, loving that look in his eyes, that look that said a lot, too much, or just nothing at all. And his smell, and the force of his hands against her shoulders and the way he grinned at her, but always, every time, the look in his eyes -- alive and living the moment with her, beside her, close to her

He leaned his head down to hers, cornering her, making it near impossible for her to escape, not that she wanted to, not that she even wanted to think. Because thinking would probably lead to the wrong conclusions. "What is it Torres, huh?" he asked, eyes on hers and black, shadows from the half-light of the dining room dancing across his face.

She lifted her hands and he grabbed those, pinning her arms to the wall. "For a start, you're sarcastic."

"Uh huh." He lowered his mouth to her neck, kissing her gently, his teeth pulling and nipping at her skin.

"Completely arrogant."

His lip brushed her collarbone and she took a breath, then another, felt her heart beat loudly in her chest, and realised for a person so clear headed, so decisive, that she'd never felt so uncertain and so good, so indistinct and revelling in it. As her senses heightened she stopped thinking and started feeling, everything, living every breath.

"Condescending as hell."

He kissed higher and increased his grip on her wrists, pressing her further back into the wall. She resisted, he pushed harder, nails digging into the material, mouth, soft, warmth on her neck, and she struggled to keep her breathing constant, stop her body reacting to him, hold on, hold on, because falling slowly would be the better way to go...


His teeth grazed the soft flesh beneath her jawbone. She shivered. His breath making her skin warm, her blood-shooting through her veins, her own breath quickening, the cold metal against her neck, slight perspiration on her brow.


He bit hard, drawing blood and then licked it away, tracing the blood as it flowed. Her legs nearly buckled, save the way he was holding his arms, her head light, the pain lessening and then pulsing as he brushed the mark, circular, and like nothing she'd felt before, coursing through her body, arousing her.

"Smart ass," she breathed.

His blue eyes connected with hers, dark but recognisable against the dim light. "Hey," he whispered, his eyes levelling with hers, "I always thought that was one of my good points."

And before she could respond his mouth was on hers, hungry, releasing her hands as he moved to cup her chin, tilt her chin, open her mouth with his tongue, let her bite his bottom lip. And for a moment, all of it, Tom Paris, the Maquis, Voyager, B'Elanna Torres didn't matter. And for so long - that, had been everything. She closed her eyes, liking the darkness, the dream that she was falling into.

Lips still locked he moved his hands to her waist and turned her, lifted her and pushed her onto the captain's table. Her hands were in his hair, warm mouth over hers, sensations flooding through her, skin alive and warm, feeling his hands on her hips, moving down her sides, his weight above her.

He broke the kiss, breathing a little heavier, his hands moving to the loose top, taking the material between his long fingers and pulling it away, quickly, with urgency yet still some grace.

She opened her eyes, straight into his.

The mark on her neck stung, her skin was clammy against the table, the illusion shattered, she knew exactly who he was - who he'd always be.

"No," she whispered.

"You don't want this?" If he had done anything, kissed her again, moved his hands back to her clothing, even looked at her that way, the way he'd looked at her before, like more than he wanted her, like he needed her -- she would. Instead, damn him to hell, he understood, his eyes softened, his breathing evened.

"It doesn't work."

"It never works, Torres."

She smiled weakly, he was trying, she owed him that much.

"You still call me Torres."

He nodded. "You don't want me to call you B'Elanna."

She considered this. She wanted him to be the twenty million things he wasn't. She wanted him to be a different person, she wanted to be a different person. She wanted someone else to make her feel the way he did, someone who wasn't Tom Paris, she somehow wished she'd never met him.

The cliché was there, and glaringly obvious, head spinning and lying on the captain's dining table of all places. And she hated him. Not the man before her, but the man he'd convinced everyone he was.

He moved away and she sat up. "No, call me Torres." She pulled her shirt back over her shoulders

She moved off of the table and dusted down he shirt. He followed. "Okay, *Torres*, I'll see you around?"

"You'll see me, yeah," she said, quietly. "Could you...?"

{I am going to be on this ship for the next 70 years.}

"Leave later?"

She nodded.

"Not a problem." He smiled graciously. "Good night, B'Elanna."

Her eyes narrowed.

He didn't apologise. "Allow me my little pleasures?" he asked.

She sighed and walked away.

Of all the people, anywhere, that she'd met, that she'd slept with, that she'd even talked to. It was her luck, her jinxed, sadistic, grating luck that had her, here, now, feeling like Tom Paris was someone worth screwing up her not-so-perfect life for.

Just her luck...

* * * *

"Ahh." Chakotay jogged a little down the corridor, grimacing, he placed a hand on Paris' shoulder.

The pilot spun. "Commander," he ground out.

"Lieutenant," Chakotay returned, equally dark. "Tuvok says I should be worried about you. Can't think why..."

Paris shrugged. "So?" escaped his lips.

Chakotay looked unfazed. "Come on Paris, I thought you could do better than that." He took a step back and eyed Paris, head to toe. From ruffled hair, to dishevelled uniform, to damn conceited smile. Chakotay crossed his arms and tried not to smirk. "Who was it? Who've you screwed this time?"

Chakotay realised somehow this was meant to be friendly banter. It wasn't coming out like that. Maybe, he mused, it was a physical impossibility for him to talk civilly to this man. After all, far weirder things had happened.

Tom grinned. "You know, old friend," he drawled. "I have no idea what you're talking about." He leaned back against a bulkhead, body held, noticeably, on the defensive.

"Some Starfleet idiot?" Chakotay inquired. "Or do I really not want to know?"

"My Commander, we are taking an interest in my personal life." He paused, and a slow, wry grin spread across fair features.

Paris was very easy to hate when he was smiling.

"Just making idle--"

Paris sighed, laughing quietly.

"--conversation," Chakotay finished, eyes narrowing. He turned to leave. "Keep out of shit, okay?"

Tom feigned shock. "Me? Gee, commander, you must be talking about that other Tom Paris. This one has no interest in being in the captain's bad books. I am the epitome.

of the Starfleet officer. Cool under pressure, responsible, moral, upstanding...great hair cut." Paris looked along the corridor to check it was empty before continuing. "One question."

Chakotay looked a little wary. "Go right ahead. Make my day that little bit brighter," he grumbled.

"If you like - nod your head now, or make some kind of weird secret handshake- my life is over. Correct?"

Chakotay nodded. "Officially?" The commander tried not to smile himself this time.

Paris didn't look so amused. "Yeah, go ahead Chakotay, surprise me."

"I say one thing, you die, Janeway spaces me and Tuvok does the happy Vulcan Mamba on my grave."

Paris made a face, before sighing and moving away from the bulkhead to stand squarely in the corridor and face his new 'commander.' "Unofficially?" he asked, dryly.

"I can make your life difficult. I can do things Janeway won't know about, nor Tuvok, nor anyone else round here. I can make sure that grin gets wiped off your face. And I can definitely make sure whoever the hell you were just fucking knows every little detail of your illustrious record." Chakotay paused a moment and took a breath, expected insolence from the pilot but was rewarded with silence, and the damnedest expression on the kid's face like he was sorry for something... "But I'm guessing he or she already knew."

"You'd do all that for me? All that trouble for little Thomas Eugene Paris?" It was meant to grate, instead it just slipped out a little flat. Tom's blue eyes looked- of all things- a little stunned. He shook his head. "Gotta say it, I'm..." He stopped, and looked up at Chakotay blinking, like he was remembering something.

Chakotay cracked a sadistic grin. "Don't tell me you fell, Paris? Don't tell me that Megan Delaney--"

Tom put up a hand to stop the older man, trying another, more tempered smile on for size. "You really do pay attention."

Chakotay shrugged. "Look Paris, let's agree not to talk--" He started off down the corridor.

"No," Tom reached out a hand to Chakotay's forearm.

"Don't piss me off," he growled, eyes levelled at his new conn officer. "Don't talk to me, don't get in my way, and don't touch me." Paris dropped Chakotay's arm. "Understand?"

"One more question," Chakotay was about to shake his head before Paris continued undaunted. "Is my company that bad?" The tone was meant to be playful, but his lips held an uncertain quality and something frighteningly like sincerity coloured clean blue eyes.

"I expect," Chakotay began, and then changed his mind. He was sick of playing nice with everyone, he was sick of Janeway, and the Maquis, and the damn new carpet smell that was following him around the ship. "No. Lieutenant, I'm sure you've got it all figured out and the crew of the good ship Voyager are positively falling over each other to be in your sparkling company. But do me a favour? Don't pretend to be better than you are. Don't amuse yourself by thinking you're some kind of worthwhile individual. You were a two-bit mercenary when I met you and now you're a two-bit mercenary in a Fleet uniform, getting by on your Dad's old connections. You manipulate anything, cheat your way through most things and are basically a huge pain in the ass. And you want to know what makes it worse?"

To his credit, Paris' bemused grin stayed fixed. "What?" he shot back.

"You're still smiling," and with that Chakotay moved off along the corridor and out of Paris' line of view.

Tom frowned. There was something about being told, for at least the fortieth time that day, that you were worth less than the bacteria that lined the pond scum, that finally made it hit home.

But he'd never really had the time for self pity. Well now, that wasn't all true. Still, somewhere along the line, probably sitting alone in Auckland somewhere, self analysis seemed like a real ugly concept. Ignorance a much nicer one. And denial best of all.

In fact...

He smiled. Then realised he was smiling and stopped and then smiled again.

Fuck Chakotay if he was pissed with the happy lunatic. And Torres...

He hit his comm-badge. "Paris to Torres."

A pause, a little static and then. :::Torres here,::: she didn't sound as angry as he expected, and her lovely, low tones were broadcast across the night lit corridor.

"I just realised you saved my life."

He could imagine the wry smile. :::Shit,::: a slight chuckle. :::I really had no intention of doing that. And you're *still* alive?:::

"Some might say I had an angel on my shoulder."

:::Well they would be trite, overly sentimental idiots.:::

God, he loved this woman. He began to walk down the corridor, towards the turbolift and sanctuary...and... "Hey B'Elanna, where'd you get assigned?"

:::You know::: there was a pause :::Perversely enough I think I live opposite a Delaney.:::

The turbolift doors opened and he stepped inside.

He wasn't quite sure what he was going to do. But showing up at her door was the start, and if she didn't want Tom Paris, then she wouldn't have Tom Paris.

He liked his idea. It had a neat simplicity.


"B'Elanna's been gone a while," Harry noted, his head nodding to the shaky electronic music blaring throughout the bar.

Seska was almost slumped in her chair, her eyes were glassy and her fingers loosely gripped her glass. "Yuh," she coughed out, moving languidly in her chair, hair loose and falling from the plaited bun.

"Wonder what they're up to?" Harry said, leaning back in his own seat.

The bar had been abandoned. Harry and Seska were alone. It took a while, as the information swam through his brain, for him to fully realise the implications of this.

Inexplicably, if asked, not so inexplicably, if telling the honest to God truth, Harry suddenly became a little nervous.

Seska had begun to hum. "Torres and Paris sittin' in a tree..." she said, her voice feminine and wafting gently through the still air.

Harry grinned, taking another long swig of scotch and wondering, with the dictates of biology, how long he could hold his last nutrition bar down. "You don't think they're..."

"What?" Seska's bleary eyes looked up. "Having sex?" She frowned a little and then broke into a large smile. "Noooo," she slurred, her arm holding her up slipping from the table and dropping her chin to the metal with a large thump.

"Ow," Harry said in sympathy.

Seska looked up at him and grinned. "There's as much chance of Paris doing Torres as there is of a Borg drone taking up a singing career."

Harry looked at her narrowly. "Weird metaphor."

"Hey," Seska shrugged. "I'm full of them."


"I'm not Tom."

She smiled in response. "I'm not B'Elanna."

He grinned at that and pushed her back onto the bed. She landed softly, with him on top of her, letting out a small, free, real laugh

He trailed his fingers down her side, gently brushing against the material of her tunic, barely even touching her. He moved his hands to the hem of her shirt, lifting it lightly, letting the soft material trail against her skin. He smiled again, his small and private smile, when he'd removed it completely and then threw it, balled, across the room.

"No," she shook her head, "I'm definitely not B'Elanna," huskily, dropping her voice, reaching a hand up and trailing her fingertips down his face, lingering at the feel of his warm skin against her own, the tingle in her fingers.

"We're not on Voyager," he whispered, mouth close to her ear, breath warm.

He ran his fingers up to her breasts, gently rubbing his thumbs over her nipples, her back arching towards him. Dropping his hands to her hips and then her waist, fingers running next to her skin, under the waistband of her pants. He found the clasp with ease and unlatched it, eyes focused and that damned smile on his face, that smile she couldn't help but return. The sheets a little coarse against her bare skin as she wriggled out of her trousers.

"A planet," she breathed, lifting her head to his, her breath against his cheek. "A colony."

He caught her mouth with his and pushed her back to the bed, and she moved her hands to his head, warming to the pressure of his lips against hers, the tease of his tongue as it found her own. She ran her hands through his hair, reaching back down the nape of his neck, grabbing a hold of the material there. As he broke the kiss she pulled the shirt gently, moving it over his head and throwing it to the other wall.

She sighed, contentedly, her eyes closing as he brushed his fingertips over her skin again, eliciting, with an easy sweep, a slow ripple of pleasure, heightening her senses, sensitive to the nearest touch.

"It's dark."

He moved his fingertips to her neck, gliding over the soft skin.

"We only just met."

His fingers trailed higher, reaching her forehead ridges, tracing them gently.

"You came in on the last transport."

She moved a hand to his back, feeling the warm skin beneath her fingertips. Touching gently she moved lower, fingers lightly dancing around his waist, reaching for the clasp and unbuckling it. Smiling she moved her hands to his thighs, pushing the material down slowly.

"And I saw you across a crowded room."

She moved her hand to his buttocks, applying a little more pressure as he began to run his hand down her left side. He stopped at her thigh and grasped it surely, taking her thigh and gently easing it higher, knee bending.

"Yeah," he smiled, eyes alight on her as she moved her hands, slowly, to the small of his back, making small circles with her nails, pressing into the flesh.

"You called me over..."

He moved his mouth to her neck, planting simple kisses along the intricate lines, his teeth nipping at the skin, teasing it gently.

"Because I'm sick of you just staring at me..."

Her hands went higher up his back, nails pushing into the muscle.

"I can't help it, you have this sort of look..."

With his hand, still stroking at her thigh, he made his way slowly down the inside of her leg. Running his fingers against the soft skin he found there, making her heart quicken a little as her body succumbed to the small sensations, the feel of his skin against hers, his smell.

"And I asked if you wanted a drink. And you said yes."

His cheek brushed against hers as he lowered his mouth to her ear. "Of course I said yes..."

He gently nipped her ear lobe, letting his tongue trail from just under her ear to the hollow of her throat.

"And then..."

His hand had come to rest just above her nub, and was moving slowly further down, parting her and pressing with the same light pressure he'd applied everywhere else. Her nails dug into his back, drawing first blood.

"I ask if I can kiss you." He moved further down, lips trailing tempered kisses over her body.

"" She writhed against the bed, her hands running through his hair as he dropped even further. His fingers moving slowly and lightly at her opening, brushing against her clit and sending more waves through her, her skin damp.

He kissed her stomach softly before looking up, blue eyes connecting with hers. "No...just overawed."

She smiled, her breathing quickening as he applied a little more pressure and then a little more, parting her and slowly moving his fingers deeper, higher. She gasped a little when his fingers brushed her sex and she could just count on the grin that was spreading across his face.

"I tell you I'm not going to leave."

He thrust a finger into her and she could do nothing, not even think but to spread herself wider, and give over, let him make her feel like this, fantasy or no, Tom Paris or no, damn Voyager and Maquis to hell, damn Chakotay and Janeway and everything else...

"I tell you I've got a place by the sea, small thing, apartment, went with the job..."

He withdrew his finger and then thrust again, sending waves of everything through her, everything and nothing and all that came between, and she tried to remember how to breathe, how to be, how to remember every little detail of this...whatever this was...because it was nothing like anything before...

"And the light is catching your eyes, your hair just held in this clasp and you frown at me..."

"Frowning?" she asked, a little, no, very breathless.

"Yeah, frowning." He looked up, straight into her eyes and shrugged a little. "I talk shit."

She was half way through an understanding nod when he thrust again and had to stop short as everything, breathing, movements, her ability to use language just...stopped.

And then, as something completely different, a little familiar, a little exceptional took hold the irony of the whole situation became real...because that instant, Kahless, she wasn't even sure who she was, but B'Elanna Torres, engineer of a ship now space dust, didn't seem like the right answer...

And that was a beautiful feeling.

If she could even remember what beauty was. Muscles constricting, hair damp across her face, blood rushing through her veins, breathing sharp and cool air even sharper against hot skin and all she could murmur, all she could think to even murmur was, "Now..."

Her hands reaching for him, grabbing at his back as he moved a little higher and thrust into her totally, filling her completely, looking straight into her eyes, looking at her, *her*, and being with Tom Paris, feeling him inside her, and wanting him, for *him* . Feeling the reality of his breath on her neck, his hands beside her, and the slow rhythm he started, pushing, sensation running up and down her, warming her, making her tingle, making her feel alive.

Feeling real.

He thrust again and she gave up the will to think, just decided to be, with him, there.

"Tom," she said, through shallow intakes of breath, hands on his back, moving with him, feeling the rhythm, about all she could recognise other than him, his feel, intoxicating, dangerous, still real.

His look intensified and he managed a half-smile, skin glistening. "B'Elanna," he returned, rhythm faster, higher, deeper and longer. Through her, him, taken, together.

She held his shoulders, gasping, fighting for breath, she felt her muscles tighten around him, felt him with every sense, the dizzying softness of the waves, pulsing through her skin, crawling through her mind.

"Tom," she breathed, as he let go, the release inside of her, pushing her, over the edge as she went with him. She shouted something unintelligible, bucking with the sensation, eyes open and on his, there, together, together, there.

All that mattered.

She didn't care what he'd done, who he'd been. She didn't care who she was, as long as she had him, as long as he made her feel like this.

And slowly, gently, the sensation ebbed away, sweating, fatigued, something warm, something soft, his hands on her face, through her hair. He moved out of her. His eyes, her hands on his back, remembering, recalling, storing, watching, the rise and fall of his chest, the shape of his shoulders, the contrast of his skin against hers, his scent, the smell of sex, the tingling sensation from stomach to toes, hair curling in an unruly fashion around her head, on the pillow.

She couldn't remember ever allowing herself to feel so free.

It was a while before they spoke. The lights were still low in her cabin.

"What do you think happened?" he asked, breathing still a little heavy.

She smiled, moving closer to him, curling into his arm. "To them?"

He nodded slightly, fingers tracing her jaw. "Did they find true love?" he asked, grinning lazily. "Or did they sell that nasty condo on the beach?"

She let out a deep breath, letting the feeling drift over her. "They found love," she said, sitting up and stretching cat like. She smiled down at him, "Only if they were looking for it." She looked thoughtful, poked him in the stomach. "And only as long as he worked out some better pickup lines."

His hand brushed her cheek, she reached up and grabbed it, held it in her fingers and then stared, the well cut fingernails, the slender fingers, her smell on them. Their eyes met and in a fluid movement she flipped him over onto his back.

He grinned. It didn't seem quite so hateful anymore.

"Tom," she purred, "exactly how much do you know about Klingons?"

Moving lower she licked a circle around his nipple.

"Not nearly enough."


Harry rested his head against Seska's shoulder. "So they're not having sex, huh?"

"Nope," Seska intoned, holding her glass up to the light. "There is, like I said, as much chance as that annoying holographic doctor up and walking out of sickbay."

"Yeah," Harry said, joining in. "As much chance as Kes leaving Neelix."

"As much chance," Seska began, "as Tuvok flipping out and threatening to kill everyone."

Harry grinned. "You never know..."

Seska glared. Harry held up his hands to appease her and she relaxed.

"Oh, oh," Harry said, excitedly. "There is as much chance of Paris screwing Torres as there is of you being a Cardassian spy."

Seska grimaced. "Quite," she got out through gritted teeth.