The Driving Lesson
Summary: Tom teaches B'Elanna how to drive his 1969 Camaro in 1969 San Francisco. It's not an automatic shift car.
Disclaimer: These folks belong to Paramount. The story is mine. Copyright 1998.
Warning: Can't think of any beyond a little bad language.
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Please Archive at ASC/EM. PT Collective. Please leave all disclaimers and warnings intact.
"No!" Tom shouted. "No. Gently."
Tom sat in the passenger seat of his 'mint condition' 1969 Camaro. Much to his developing regret, he had urged B'Elanna to
learn how to drive it. It was a stick shift and it was giving the woman who could face down a warp core breach a few
problems. The car's transmission combined with the fact that he had her driving the hills of 1969 San Francisco as simulated on
the holodeck, created situations that required delicacy and timing. On a good day these qualities were not necessarily
B'Elanna's strong suit. Here on the holodeck it was difficult to determine whether her ire was directed more at Tom for his
tactlessness as a driving instructor or at the car he'd programmed.
"It's the hills, Tom," she grated at him, just briefly taking her eyes off the street.
"Watch it!" He gasped as she barely missed a car parked on his side of the Camaro.
"Oh, no," this came simultaneously from both of them.
She had driven up to a red light at the top of a hill. "Tom-m," she warned.
"Maybe I should drive," he groaned.
She bridled at that suggestion. "Are you saying I'm not competent to do this?"
He swallowed hard. "Just remember to ease up on the clutch, and gently give it gas. It'll be all right," he pleaded.
"Uh-oh, Tom," she muttered. "A car's pulled up behind us."
He looked back through the rear window. She'd called that one right. And the light was turning green. "Gently," he coached.
The car bucked forward, bucked again, then began to roll backwards.
"Brake!" Tom shouted.
She braked and the car stalled.
The car behind them honked and pulled out and around them. The driver flipped her the bird as he went. Glaring at the other
driver and then at Tom, B'Elanna tried to restart the car.
Taking a deep, calming, cleansing breath of the exhaust from the vanishing car, Tom turned his body towards hers. "Maybe . .
Her growl shut him up quickly.
All right, B'Elanna checked off in her mind, the car has started. She tensed her feet, encased as they were in these ridiculous
seven centimeter platform heels. Tom told her they went with her dress, a gauzy, multicolored shift that hung shapelessly from
her shoulders to her ankles. Of course, without the authentic 1969 shoes her feet would never have reached the pedals. This
was obviously a programming glitch of Tom's which she considered a gross indignity. If Tom wanted her to drive his damn car,
then he should have made it so she fit in it. Back to the problems at hand, she thought, I've got my right foot on the brake and
my left foot on the clutch. Now, all I have to do is take my right foot and transfer it over to the gas pedal. And while I do that, I
gently, yes Tom gently, start to ease up on the clutch. Okay, down on the gas, up on the clutch. It can't be that hard. Damn!
Another car was behind her and the light was green. Okay, coordinate it. Down and up, easy now. Good!
She almost had it in first and it really hadn't rolled backwards that far. Whoops.
Tom was screaming at her again. "Brake! You've got to stop!"
The rear end of the Camaro had collided with the front end of whatever it was behind them. Tom's head was buried in his
hands. Unseen by him, B'Elanna glowered at him. Had he seen her look, he might have wished for instant death. Disgusted,
B'Elanna realized that he wasn't going to be of any use to them at all if he planned to spend the next several minutes cowering in
B'Elanna looked out the side window. Coming toward her side of the car was a large man in a very impressive dark uniform,
complete with baton, sidearm, bullets. Bullets? She tried to divert Tom's attention from his self-created misery. "Uh. . .Tom?"
He looked at her and past her to the large form outside of her window. "Oh, gods," he murmured to himself. "Did you put on
the parking brake?"
Well, no, because she still had her foot on the brake under her right foot. Exactly where she'd put it when she'd tried to stop her
slide down the steep San Franciscan hill. She was a little upset by the loud crash noise. And by Tom's totally nonsupportive
reaction. She managed to set the parking brake. "Tom. I could use your help here."
He gave her a sick smile and that was about all he could provide at that moment as he tried to catalogue the damage to his
beloved car and the hours it would take in the future to fix it. If B'Elanna let him fix it. "Yes?"
She hissed at him, "The man I hit . . . whose car I hit," she amended, "he's here, Tom, and he's wearing a uniform."
Well, finally, she thought. That jolted him.
Tom opened his passenger door and came around the front of the black and white muscle car. His black, hip hugging jeans
flared over the hiking boots. His tie-dyed t-shirt clung to his body. As he rounded the front, he saw the imposing figure of the
officer. A little nervously, he put on his 'everything is going to be all right, here' smile and greeted the man. "Uh, officer." He
read the name plate on the officer's uniform aloud, "Officer Higgins."
"What's going on here?" The officer motioned back to his car, a police cruiser, colored lights flashing.
"I was teaching my girlfriend to drive?" Tom admitted, shrugging a little.
Giving Tom a steely eyed stare, the officer bent down to B'Elanna and spoke to her through the window. "License, ma'am."
Tom could hear B'Elanna stalling for time, "License?"
"Uh, officer," Tom interjected.
For his trouble, Tom received another icy glare from the very large man. Tom amended that description to very, very large
man. At least ten centimeters taller than him and many, many kilos heavier.
B'Elanna's head shot out the window and she added her own glare to that of the officer's. "Tom. Explain it."
"Right," Tom agreed. "Officer, I can explain . . ."
Apparently, Tom's explanation that this was a holodeck simulation and they were practicing driving the car as their starship
sped through space, didn't go over too well with the officer. He placed them in the back of his damaged police car. In
handcuffs. Doors locked and no way to open them from the inside. For his part, Higgins took his time parking the Camaro,
inspecting it for contraband, drugs, whatever. This was San Francisco in 1969.
"Tom," B'Elanna threatened. "I think it's time we ended this simulation."
"But my car," he protested.
"Screw your car and the garage it was built in," she spit at him.
When the officer got behind the wheel of his car, he turned around to look at the squabbling couple. "Shut up, both of you."
"Officer,"Tom tried again.
Not a good move, Tom, B'Elanna thought to herself as the officer really glared at him. With relief, she realized that Tom was
going to be quiet.
Well, not yet.
"Computer," Tom ordered, "end program."
The computer not only said nothing, it didn't end the program either.
Tom tried to get it to end the program one more time, but in the process he managed to antagonize the already irritated officer.
"Sonny, if you don't shut up, you're going to be one sorry hippie."
Hippy? B'Elanna thought. Tom didn't look hippy to her, maybe a few months ago, but not now that he was as slim as he'd been
when he first arrived on Voyager. Regardless of what the officer called him, Tom finally managed to stop talking. Uh-oh, Tom
was looking at her as if he wanted to speak. She shook her head, he took a look at the thick neck of the driver and was quiet.
Clearly, he was puzzled, and maybe a little apprehensive, by the failure of the computer to halt the program.
B'Elanna simmered in her seat on the drive to wherever it was the officer was taking them in his rattling police car. Prudently,
Tom kept his distance from her and looked out the window at the city scape they were driving through. From his body
language, she detected the excitement of a little boy at this unexpected turn of events, but the excitement was mixed with fear.
Grumpily, she thought that he started this program. This was all his fault.
At one point during their drive he turned to her to say something, caught her warning look and closed his mouth. Good boy,
Tom, she thought, you're learning. She sighed and turned away from him, looking out her own window much as Tom looked
out his. They seemed to be going through an interesting area. Young people with long hair, colorful clothes, and blissed out
expressions on their faces crowded the sidewalks, even spilling out onto the streets. They traded fat cigarettes with each other
and inhaled deeply. Glancing back at Tom, she noticed his full attention went to the street scene outside his window as if his
body was ready to leap out and join the partiers if only his hands weren't handcuffed and a few other inconveniences.
Finally, the officer parked behind a building, let first one and then the other out of the back seat, and indicated that he expected
them to precede him inside the building. Tom led, his curiosity almost causing him to stumble as he looked at just about
everything but where he was going, until B'Elanna nearly collided with him tottering on her platforms. A fierce growl from her
and his attention centered on the task at hand. It wasn't easy to walk in handcuffs and take in the sights at the same time.
They were taken to a room with a lot of desks and officers and escorted by the large man to a set of chairs by a desk. "Sit
down," Higgins told them, unlocking the handcuffs from one wrist and, for each, relocking the free cuff to a ring on the chair.
"Look," Tom began, "this really isn't necessary."
The officer glared at Tom. "Shut up. Answer my questions and don't speak otherwise. Got it?"
"But . . . "
B'Elanna rolled her eyes. Didn't Tom ever quit?
The officer placed a paper form in a box like machine, rolled it in and when he had it where he wanted it, he looked expectantly
at Tom. "Your full name, last name first."
"Paris, " Tom began, "but . . . "
"Is 'but' your first name?"
"No, but . . . "
The officer stopped, his big hands spread over the letters on the machine. "Sonny, let's get one thing straight here. I want your
answers to my questions and nothing else. Do you have that? If you don't understand, or if you make one more statement I
didn't ask for, you're going to get some time behind bars to cool your heels. Now, do I make myself clear?"
B'Elanna saw Tom blanche and swallow hard. Hmm, she thought.
"Yes, sir." Tom answered and much to her surprise there was no smirk in his voice or on his face. The other man must have
made an impression on him.
They got through his name all right. But then he was asked for his date of birth. Tom managed to get the month and day right,
but he stammered badly over the year. The officer took a deep breath and stared at Tom. "One more time. Year."
"Uh. . . 1940?"
The officer didn't laugh, but he did point out that Tom didn't look twenty-nine years old. Sighing, the officer asked, "How old
The officer looked at him closely, a faint smile almost breaking through. "Thirty. Is that your story?"
The officer shook his head. "Are you even eighteen? Are you a runaway? Whose car was that?"
"Mine," Tom replied indignantly.
"No registration. No license. Son, you're in trouble. Now, telling the truth is the best thing you could do here. And no stories
about starships, got it? Cause if I have probable cause to have you tested for drugs, I doubt if you're going to like the outcome.
Particularly when your parents find out."
"But, I haven't . . . " Tom turned to B'Elanna. "Tell him."
"Tom. This is your show."
From the man's comments, Tom surmised that they must look like teenagers to Officer Higgins.
"All right, let's start over. Is Thomas Paris your real name?"
"And you're from San Francisco?"
Good, Tom, keep it short, B'Elanna encouraged silently. He looked at her and seemed to take heart from her quiet support.
"Do your folks know where you are, son?"
"No." Tom had caught on that the officer saw him as some young kid who had taken the car out joyriding. Well, it had been a
joy ride until he'd asked B'Elanna if she'd like to learn to drive the Camaro. And now the stupid computer wouldn't stop the
program and he didn't know how he was supposed to get them out of this.
"All right. Suppose we call your parents, what will we learn?"
"Um . . ." Tom was stumped. He had no idea. "I don't know."
"Who does the car belong to?"
A long silence, followed by a meek answer. "Me. It's my car."
The officer shook his head and stood up, looming over the young man. In his eyes, these two kids were best taken care of by
their parents. If he could just break the boy down and get some straight answers out of him. He'd looked at the girl and she
seemed like a tough cookie. Higgins wondered what this boy was getting into, going joyriding, hooking up with a hard looking
girl, sounding like he'd been smoking a joint or worse.
"It is," Tom assured him, wide blue eyes fixed upwards on the officer's face. "Mine."
"I'm going to leave you here for a bit." With no more explanation than that, the officer strode off. He was going to check the
phone book first for families named Paris and he was going to check missing persons. But the kids didn't look as if they'd been
gone long enough to be missed. Probably got home from school, no, the officer amended, probably played hooky from school.
The boy took his parent's car or an older brother's car and went for a drive out to impress his girlfriend. His mistake, trying to
teach her to drive. Didn't the kid know better? If there was one thing he knew from long years of experience, you never, ever,
try to teach a girlfriend to drive, especially not a stick shift. Especially not in San Francisco.
Higgins returned with a plains clothes detective from the juvenile division. The detective looked an awful lot like Harry Kim. As
soon as he saw his friend, Tom tried to get out of his chair. Of course, the handcuff yanked him back down. "Harry! Harry, get
us out of this."
'Harry' looked at Higgins with a raised eyebrow.
Tom kept talking, "Harry, the computer won't stop this program. Tell him who we are."
Dressed in a suit, dark shirt and psychedelic tie, Harry merely stood on the other side of the desk of the miscreants. He raised
his eyebrow again as he looked at the pair. "My name is Detective Chung. Officer Higgins tells me you've been out joyriding
and won't cooperate." 'Harry' paused and looked sternly at them, "I suggest you change your minds. If we can locate your
parents, we can release you to them, and no harm done. If you don't cooperate . . . "
"Harry," Tom said the name as if he were a little tired of the game.
Higgins came around to stand as close to Tom as the chair would allow. He lifted Tom up under his arms, chair and all, and
marched both over to the wall where he hoisted Tom up high enough that he looked him in the eye. Tom gulped. Eyeball to
eyeball the officer looked pissed enough to do him serious damage. "I'm getting a little tired of your mouth. Your parents find
you with a few bruises, it's all the same to me you got 'em when your girlfriend crashed into my cruiser. Do we understand each
Seriously wondering if the holodeck safeties were really on, and given the unresponsiveness of the computer, they could be
down as well, Tom had cause to worry about his bodily well being. "Yes, sir."
Higgins set the chair down with a bang, jolting its occupant's tail bone. "Ouch."
'Harry' turned to B'Elanna. "Well, miss, what do you have to say for yourself?"
"This man is not my boyfriend. He kidnaped me and forced me drive that stupid car. I want protection."
B'Elanna glared at Tom and he tried to appeal to her, "B'Elanna . . . "
Higgins smacked his hands together just inches from Tom's ear so hard that his head rang.
No, Tom thought to himself, it didn't look as if the safeties were still on. And what had B'Elanna just said? "It's not true. She's
mad at me and . . . "
"I'm going to take her statement," 'Harry' said and uncuffed B'Elanna from her chair and led her out by the elbow before Tom
could make a further protest.
"Well, it's just the two of us. We've got a room in the basement for the likes of you," Higgins threatened.
Tom caught on that he was not to say anything. Higgins was way bigger than he was and had the advantage of not having one
hand cuffed to a chair. Slumping a little in his chair, Tom's free hand probed around the still ringing ear that Higgins had
threatened. He wondered what his options were. File a protest to the computer that the hologram he hadn't programmed had
been mean to him? Tom decided to occupy his time with studying the floor.
"I spoke to you," Higgins reminded him darkly.
Tom looked up, a smirk on his face. Higgins wasn't going to trap him into speaking again.
As Tom sat there in silence, Higgins took a seat behind his desk. "How about if we try this paperwork again. Address?"
"The Starship Voyager, the Delta Quadrant," Tom said softly. He didn't know what else to say.
"What the hell are you on?" Higgins asked irritably. "You back to that science fiction stuff?"
With a small smile, Tom shrugged.
Doggedly, Higgins read off the next item on the form. "Phone number?"
"Sorry, don't have one."
"Date of birth."
"November 9, 2344."
Higgins hands had almost touched the keys on his machine, but they stopped mid-air when the year registered. He glared
darkly at Tom, "Are you enjoying this?"
"No, sir." And that was the literal truth. He wasn't enjoying any of this. He was supposed to be out in his car with his girl . . . on
Apparently he looked convincingly contrite. Higgins seemed to be wondering whether he should call the local drug crisis center
or the local psychiatric ward. "Stay put."
Tom wondered if he'd won as Higgins lurched up and headed toward the room where 'Harry' had taken B'Elanna. No, he was
still handcuffed to a chair, his car was gods knew where, and he had no idea what was happening with B'Elanna and her
Eventually, Higgins, 'Harry' and B'Elanna reappeared. Higgins unlocked his cuff and stepped back. A little warily, Tom stood
up, rubbing his wrist.
'Harry' told them, "You're free to go."
Tom couldn't help asking about it, after all he'd invested hours and hours in it, "What about my car?"
B'Elanna rolled her eyes. Higgins narrowed his eyes and hissed, "It's where we left it, parked in a parking place."
"But . . ." Tom wanted to know how he was supposed to retrieve it.
B'Elanna pulled on his hand. "Tom. Tom. Let's go."
"Where are the keys?"
Officer Higgins took them out of a pocket and tossed them to B'Elanna. "Next time, miss, do your therapy elsewhere."
"Yes, sir," B'Elanna replied and pulled Tom away before he could ask any more questions.
Retracing their steps out of the police station with the eyes of Higgins and 'Harry' on them, Tom wanted to know, "What did
you say to them?"
"I told them the only thing that made sense," she announced firmly.
"I told them you were crazy and that I was your nurse."
"What!" Tom exploded.
"And it's the truth! You are crazy, trying to get me to drive that . . . that thing. And then telling good old Officer Higgins you
were from the 24th Century and . . . Tom, I can't tell you how mad I am at you."
"But . . . But we were supposed to have fun."
They had been walking out of the building up until he said that. She stopped and turned to face him. "Was this last hour *fun*,
"No-o," he admitted.
"And what made it that way?"
"The holodeck computer wouldn't stop the program, Officer Higgins was downright unfriendly, and even Harry was like
someone I didn't know."
"I couldn't have said it better myself, only apply what you just said to the hour *before* this one."
The light finally dawned. "Oh. The car wouldn't go, and I was downright unfriendly and . . ."
". . . and acted like someone I didn't know. Face it, Tom, you are not a good driving instructor."
Totally contrite, Tom admitted, "You're right. I'm not." His voice turned hushed as he gazed fully in to the dark eyes of his love,
"How can I make it up to you?"
"Which bones do you want broken first?" she asked without a smile, her lips mere inches from his.
"I screwed up that badly?" He allowed himself to look totally woebegone as he whispered the words to her.
"Aw, the hell with it," B'Elanna growled, "Computer. End program. Play Torres Beta 2."
As Tom stood there stunned, slowly realizing that she had broken into his holodeck program and reprogrammed it, Officer
Higgins, the Harry look-alike, the police station, all of it, the holodeck transformed itself from a police station to a boudoir.
Noting with satisfaction that the computer had complied with her request, B'Elanna leaned forward that extra inch and kissed
Tom. Startled, he stepped back a pace, then realized that B'Elanna had, in fact, kissed him. Which could possibly, just
possibly, mean she wasn't quite as pissed at him as he'd thought she was. He did what he should have spent their holodeck time
doing, he kissed her back. Fervently, passionately, and thankfully.
As their lips remained locked, she led him over to the bed and together they tumbled on to it as Tom wondered if he'd ever see
his beloved Camaro again. Then, B'Elanna's mouth began to suck out the air from his throat. He was lost, then, hoping he'd
have the stamina to fulfill her fantasies. It just didn't look as if necking in the Camaro was going to be one of them.