Child’s play P3
I watched Tom leap off the bio bed and run over to me. He ducked behind my legs, putting me between himself and the exasperated Doctor. I looked down at Tom, and then back at the Doctor, “What are you two up to?”
The Doctor sighed at me, “Mr. Paris needs his inoculations, but he won’t hold still long enough for me to administer the drugs.”
I was later than I’d planned to be, it was 1700 already. I’d been caught up with a sudden burst of reports from engineering, they’d had a minor problem with the warp core and it had caused endless extra work: over time, parts taken, parts needing to be replaced, safety precautions taken, measures needed to prevent future occurrences, and so on for what seemed like an eternity. Reports aren’t supposed to flood in off duty, but I AM the first officer. I’d only torn myself away from the work because I promised Tom I’d spend some time with him. But I still had a hell of a lot of work to finish.
I picked Tom up, hearing him whisper softly, “He keeps calling me Mr. Paris, Kotay. He’s weird.”
I smiled and carried Tom over to the bio-bed, dealing with him the way I’d been dealt with when I’d shied away from the hypos as a kid, “Tom? Do you like being ill?” I asked feeling more and more like my father.
Tom frowned and shook his head, “No.”
“Well if you don’t let the Doctor do this, you could get very ill.” I said softly. Tom’s eyes slid worriedly towards the hypo-spray, obviously still thinking that getting ill was better than having something foreign stuck in your arm. I took hold of Tom’s small hand and squeezed it gently, “I promise it won’t hurt.”
“Promise?” he said hesitantly.
I watched Tom thinking, he looked up, “Kay. He can do it.”
I motioned the Doctor over and sat down next to Tom, sliding my arm around him. The Doctor rolled his eyes, clearly wondering what all the fuss was about, lifted Tom’s t-shirt and injected the hypo spray contents into Tom’s arm, “Done.” He said simply and walked off.
I tugged down Tom’s shirtsleeve and looked at him, “You had anything for dinner yet?”
“Nope.” Tom said twisting to look at his arm, trying to see if there was a puncture mark. He raised an eyebrow when he didn’t see one. “It really didn’t hurt Kotay.” He breathed in amazement.
“Told you so.” I smiled gently at him “Hungry?”
“Come on then.” I lifted Tom off the bed and set him down on the floor, then headed out of Sick bay with Tom on my heels.
Chakotay laughed. Even Tom and his desire to try new things disliked the Talaxian’s offerings. But, then again, he always had, would, spirits he would NEVER know which bits of Tom belonged to which time periods. “No we’re not. We’re going to a place called Sandrine’s, I think you might like it.”
Tom seemed satisfied with this and walked in relative silence. Chakotay wondered if taking him to Sandrine’s was okay. It wasn’t exactly made, ironically by Tom, as a child’s place. He decided it would be okay if he kept Tom away from the alcohol, and maybe deleted the gigolos.
Chakotay entered the bar with Tom on his heels. Tom looked around and Chakotay half-expected him to shy away from the loud music and the liveliness of the place. But instead Tom’s face lit up and Chakotay wondered why he’d ever doubted that Tom wouldn’t like Sandrine’s anymore.
Tom spotted another one of his friends, took Chakotay’s hand and led him through the, what was it? Simon’s, Sandy’s, he couldn’t remember. He took Chakotay through the place and found Harry. “Haz!”
Four-year-old Tom still acted with all the confidence of his older self as he greeted Harry with a high five and turned to Chakotay. “Haz, this is Kotay. Kotay, this is Haz. “ He beamed, knowing that the Doc’s social behavior classes would come in handy somewhere.
Chakotay grinned and held his hand out, “Pleased to meet you Haz.” He laughed.
Harry matched his smile and shook his hand, “You too Kotay.”
Tom frowned up at Harry who was holding some sort of stick thing in his hand. Had Harry been climbing trees? Tom couldn’t see any around here. “What’s the stick for?” he asked curiously.
“I’m playing pool.” Harry answered.
Chakotay noticed Tom couldn’t see over the top of the pool table, he hoisted him up and sat him on the edge of the table, “You’ve got to get those balls,” he pointed “into those holes.”
Tom frowned looking from the balls to the holes. So, why would you need a stick for that? He shrugged; he could beat Harry at that. He reached over, picked up one of the balls and deposited it in a nearby hole. “I win.” He announced.
Harry laughed, “You’ve got to use the cue to get them in though.” He demonstrated potting a ball into the pocket next to Tom.
Well that was just stupid. It was a lot easier to pick the balls up. Tom sighed, he was never going to play this game like Harry, his way was a whole lot simpler. He demonstrated his way again by dropping another ball, a black one, into the hole. “Easier my way Haz.”
Harry laughed again and Chakotay turned to Tom, “Want something to eat?”
Tom nodded, “Fries.”
“Just fries?” Tom nodded again at his bestest friend and Chakotay sighed, “How nutritious.” He said sarcastically. “Okay stay there.” He drifted off towards a replicator, which was disguised as a cocktail bar.
Tom swung his legs over the edge of the pool table and jumped down. He saw someone walking past with a drink in their hand and realized that he was thirsty too. He tracked his way through the crowds to find the place where people seemed to be getting their drinks from. He peered up at it. Hmm…another thing that was too big. He felt two hands underneath his shoulders, lifting him up onto one of the stools. He turned around to see Chakotay looking at him.
“What do you think you’re doing? I thought I told you to stay where you were?”
“I’m still in the room, I just got thirsty.” Tom shrugged, “People were coming from over here with drinks.”
Chakotay sighed, looks like Tom had always had the disobedient streak. Sandrine hovered over to him, and looked down over the bar to Tom. She smiled, “And who are you?” she cooed.
“I’m Tom.” He grinned, lapping up the attention. “Who are you?”
“Sandrine.” She smiled and turned to Chakotay, “He yours?”
“Oh, no. He’s just a friend.”
Sandrine nodded curiously and looked back towards Tom, “What do you want sweetie?”
“Lemonade?” Tom asked swinging his legs on the stool, watching the other patrons intently, exchanging ‘hi’ with a few.
“Okay.” Sandrine began to make it, “Usual, Chakotay?” he nodded, and she brought a pint glass over. “Speaking of Toms, I haven’t seen Tom Paris in a while. Any idea where he’s got to?”
“Oh, I’m sure he’s somewhere around.” Chakotay said, glad Tom hadn’t heard.
Sandrine nodded and pushed the drinks over to Chakotay, who helped Tom down and took the glasses. Chakotay directed Tom over to a table, already laden with a bowl of fries. Tom hopped up onto the chair and began to consume his food.
He looked across to Tom, “Will you be okay on your own for a while?” Tom nodded, and Chakotay looked him in the eyes, “Stay. Here. Promise?”
“Okay, Kotay.” Tom said, promising.
Tom watched ‘Lana and Kotay laugh at him and get up to dance. He munched on a stray, cold fry and shifted in his seat, bored. He considered going and joining Haz and playing that ball game again, but Kotay had made him promise to stay in his seat. He hated promises.
Kathryn made her way across Sandrine’s, weaving through the dancing couples. She spotted Tom Paris sitting on his own at a table, sucking on his straw. Making her way over she saw the small boy spot her and brighten, “Captain Janey!”
She drew up a seat opposite Tom, “Call me Kathryn, Tom.” She paused, now noticing how unusual it was for a four-year-old to be drinking alone in a bar, even if it was non-alcoholic. “Are you here alone?” she asked, grinning at how stupid it sounded. And she hadn’t even started drinking herself yet.
Tom shook his head, “Kotay brought me.” He nodded to where Chakotay and B’Elanna were laughing as they danced.
Kathryn watched her first officer and her chief engineer moving to the Latino feeling music, then she turned her gaze back to Tom. He had one elbow on the table and was absentmindedly blowing bubbles into his soda, itching to get into the middle of the action. She grinned over at him, “Want to dance?”
Tom looked up, “I don’t know how.”
She stood up and took his hands, “I’ll show you how.”
Tom slid off the seat and followed Kathryn out to the middle of the dance floor. He tried his hardest to follow Kathryn’s feet, giggling as he tripped over them once or twice. He looked back to see Kathryn’s face laughing back at him, “You’re a natural.” She smiled.
Tom looked to his left to see Chakotay and B’Elanna smiling at him from where they were dancing next to him and Kathryn. Chakotay looked down at him, Tom’s eyes sparkling, “Thought I told you to stay sat down.” He said with a teasing smile.
Kathryn looked over, “It’s my fault, I couldn’t resist him.”
Chakotay grinned and turned back to B’Elanna.
“No. They’re just good friends.”
“Why are they close together then?”
“That’s slow dancing Tom, they have to be close together.”
Tom pulled a face, “I’d never want to be that close to a girl. They’re icky.”
“I’m a girl.”
“No you’re not.” Tom said, as if stating the obvious, “You’re Kathy.”
Kathryn laughed softly, wondering what Tom would think of girls in another few months.
Harry joined us and said something that made Tom laugh, but Tom’s giggle was spoilt by another one of his yawns making an appearance. I glanced at my watch and turned to the rest of the group, “It’s getting late, I’d better get Tom back to sickbay. Come on Tom, let’s go.”
Tom frowned and started to protest, but stopped when he realized he could barely sit up without my support. Tom pushed his hands against the seat cushion, gathering enough energy to sit unaided and to argue, “Do I HAVE to go back there Kotay?”
I smiled at him and helped him up, “Afraid so. Go say goodnight to everyone.”
I immediately regretted my last sentence as Tom grinned mischievously and proceeded to literally bid goodnight to everyone in Sandrine’s. I watched him circle the room, charming a free lemonade out of Sandrine and closely observing a poker game Harry was playing in- innocently announcing Harry’s opponent’s cards every now and again. He did manage to earn himself lots of replictor rations, though, in return for him not revealing various people’s cards.
Half an hour later Tom came sleepily back over to the table sucking on his straw, seemingly not realizing that the glass was empty. Poorly attempting to disguise his frequent yawns, he turned to Kathryn and B’Elanna, “Night Kathy, night ‘Lana.”
“Night Tom.” The two women chorused.
I took the glass off Tom and walked
him out of Sandrine’s.