Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, I know, just playing around, don't sue, you know the drill. The story, however, is.
Dedication: To Diane, who gave me the idea.
Predictably, the first person at Ensign Elizabeth Henna's door was Harry. He was always just a little earlier than everyone else, the better to get a good seat in her living room, and he acted as co-host for these little gatherings. She smiled when she saw him, however, having nursed a secret crush since she had first met him almost five years before. Predictably, he was utterly clueless, so she let her sigh stay interior and welcomed him in.
He came bearing food, what appeared to be what he referred to as "tortilla chips" and a very spicy sauce made of several kinds of peppers. She took them to the table she had brought up from the messhall earlier that day, with Neelix's enthusiastic help, and invited him to sit in one of the purloined chairs, which he did, accepting a glass of the wine she had replicated that afternoon for this purpose.
"Who's due tonight?" he asked as he sipped. She took the chair across from him and pulled out three separate PADDs, sorting quickly before finding the one containing the list.
"Umm…Neelix, you, of course, Megan Delaney, Jenny Delaney, Sue Nicoletti, Vorik, Ayala, let's see--oh, Samantha Wildman, Michael Baytart, Joe Carey and Commander Chakotay."
She looked up when Harry abruptly began to choke, watching with concern. After a moment, he looked at her, eyes wide.
He shook his head, and then the rest of the group began to arrive.
* * * * *
"Kim to Vorik."
"Understood. Kim out."
* * * * *
:::Vorik to Ensign Kim.:::
"Kim here. Go ahead."
"Oh, God, are you sure?"
:::Approximately one minute until arrival.:::
"Shit. Got it. Kim out."
* * * * *
"Is he sure?" hissed Henna, rapidly taking the PADDs from the other participants. Almost all the scheduled participants had arrived a few minutes before, making themselves comfortable in her living room. All watched her and Harry's quiet panic with concern.
"It's Vorik," Harry explained as he swallowed one of the raw vegetables that Neelix had brought, with his spicy version of ranch dressing. He stumbled into Ayala, who had just came in, and took the young man's extended PADD with one hand. As co-host, he helped Henna sort out everyone's choices, and began to record the choices quickly on the "master" PADD before making his way to the large white wipeboard that Neelix had replicated after the last dispute and began to fill in the names under each category.
"I want to add an item," said Samantha over a mouthful of chips. Harry turned obligingly, and Sam finished swallowing before speaking again.
"Number of items broken in one minute."
Harry thought about it. That was a good one.
"Okay, let's bring it up for a vote. All in favor?"
"Aye!" Lots of them, he counted quickly, noticed no one looked uninterested, and added it, along with the numerous yells of odds. Samantha looked oddly satisfied, but he didn't have a chance to decide why, because his commbadge chimed.
Harry waved his hand and conversation hushed abruptly.
"Give us the time."
A long pause, and they heard the soft slide of a door.
There were numerous groans, and Harry checked the board, then smiled at the First Officer, quietly flirting with Megan Delaney.
"You win." He handed Chakotay the official PADD for him to authorize the transfer of replicator rations, and everyone settled themselves with their drinks, awaiting the main part of the evening.
"Start clock!" Harry ordered, and Henna obeyed instantly. Vorik rushed into the room and handed his PADD to Harry to add the contents to the board, before solemnly taking a small cup of juice from Sue and sitting down.
The room echoed with the sounds of groans, and the thud of items being thrown against a wall.
"Time!" Harry's voice was breathless.
Henna finished adding and compared her count to Harry's.
"Twelve. Congrats, Sam." She won quite a bundle, and he noticed that it was not the first time since this particular "pool" had begun that she had a big payoff. That odd smile again. But then came more noises, and the company grew silent. His attention was diverted.
"Tom--oh God, Tom…yes, do that…yes, Tom, do it…oh Tom, Kahless, yes, hurry, hurry, Tom…"
Harry made notes carefully, aware Henna was doing the same, until finally, a loud wail shook the room, then a roar, then silence. They knew it wouldn't last long, so Harry hurried.
"I have 'Tom' at sixteen times," he announced. Henna agreed, and they checked the board. Sam again. Another nice bundle, this one had been complicated to predict. She authorized it again, and new bets were made quickly during the very short rest period that everyone knew only meant that someone, probably Tom, was recovering. Maybe regenerating, but as yet, no one had figured out how to bet on that one.
"Encounter number two begins now," Harry said, listening carefully at the wall. "Faster than usual, is refraction time on the board?"
Henna checked. Frowned.
"No. Do you want it added?" She looked interested.
"Next time, yes, you know the rules, no new items added during." Henna made a note and Harry listened for the beginning of foreplay.
It wasn't long.
At the end of the night, Samantha's uncanny accuracy in prediction came to great profit, and with real delight, she authorized the addition of replicator rations to her account and volunteered to clean up after it seemed Tom and B'Elanna had finally exhausted each other. She was the last to leave, bidding Henna goodnight, and walked out the door.
Checking each way carefully, she turned and stepped down to the next door, asking quietly for entrance.
B'Elanna, in a dark green nightgown and robe, answered, and invited her in. Tom, casual in pajamas, was dealing a new hand of poker on the floor of the living room and smiled at her entrance. She noted the broken coffee table and the cushions against the wall, the soft sounds had almost cost her that bet, she'd need to remember to mention that. B'Elanna looked at the total and whistled, and handed the PADD to Tom. His eyebrows jumped.
"Nice. Does anyone guess?" The blue eyes sparkled mischeviously at her over the edge of the PADD. She grinned back.
"Not yet. Neelix, Ayala, and I take turns. You both owe me lots of babysitting, you know."
"I know. Willing and ready. You are wonderful friends. Why, with this, pizza for…" he glanced at B'Elanna, shook himself. "I mean, nice dinner, good wine, you know, for days. Not to mention a new coffee table." His amused glance caught B'Elanna's and they both had to stifle a laugh.
"Any new items?" B'Elanna asked as she downloaded the revised betting list into her terminal. Sam showed her the refraction period bet, which impressed them both. Tom looked smug. B'Elanna laughed.
"He wishes." Her voice was derisive, and Tom snorted. "You want anything to drink?"
Sam shook her head and authorized their cut of the proceeds. She studied them for a moment, noticing the lack of any signs (other than ruined furniture) that anything had happened between them. Yet…they had that look, and she had been married, she *knew* that look very well.
And was very, very tempted to ask.
"Tom--how much of what--I mean to say, was this a performance or…" she found herself flushing. B'Elanna smirked. Sam decided she didn't want to know.
After she was gone, B'Elanna sat down against Tom's leg, reading the PADD carefully.
"Really not bad. They are very thorough." She marked the most interesting (and largest pot) items carefully, trying to decide which of their co-conspirators they would induct for the next "performance".
"Who do you think taught them, B'Ela?" He slipped an arm around her, reading over her shoulder. "I liked the 'number of time per night,' bit."
"What good is a reputation if you don't use it?" B'Elanna answered, turning to kiss him lightly. "We should think of a few more, I've been wanting to update my wardrobe."
"Since when are you interested in clothes?"
"Since such a windfall of replicator rations appeared in my life. What, you don't like things in red silk now?" Her voice dropped to a low purr.
"Ignore me, I am only a foolish man." He nuzzled her neck. "Ready to play?"
"I guess so. If you aren't too tired after six times in four hours." She rolled her eyes derisively.
"I think I can manage. I'm doing okay so far."
"Do you think they will figure it out?"