By: R. Mackenzie

Date: May 10, 1999

Setting: While on shore leave, things don‘t go as planned for Paris and his friends.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them, I‘m just borrowing them.

Walking through the crowded street market, Tom Paris watched as his best friend, Harry Kim, and his girlfriend, B‘Elanna Torres, came to a stop at a booth across the way, both completely engrossed in their discussion of engineering this or that.

Sighing, he wondered if he and B‘Elanna were ever going to have time to themselves. Not that he didn‘t enjoy spending time with his friend, but they hadn‘t had any type of shore leave for months and spending the day talking about work was not his idea of fun. Besides, they were all off duty, shop talk was suppose to take place while on duty.

Deciding it was time to remind the other two of this, Tom took a step toward them only to find a tall, eloquently dressed, red haired woman standing in his way.

"You‘re one of the Voyager‘s aren‘t you?"

Tom took a step back and met the woman‘s appraising gaze, "Yes, ma‘am," he responded politely, "I‘m Tom Paris, Voyager‘s Chief Helmsman."

"Chief helmsman, huh," the woman repeated her gaze steady as she checked him out from head to toe.

Feeling uneasy with the scrutiny, Tom looked towards the booth B‘Elanna and Harry were at, hoping he could get their attention. Both were too engrossed in their shopping to even notice him.

"Are you with someone?"

"Uh, yeah, I‘m with my friends. They‘re right over there," Tom pointed and then made to move around the native woman, "And they‘re probably wondering where I‘m at. If you‘ll excuse me."

Placing her hand on his arm, the woman shook her head, "That‘s not what I meant," she moved so that she was again directly in front of him, blocking his way, "Are you attached?"

"Attached?" Tom questioned uncertainly.

"Yeah, are you bonded?"

"Bonded?" he asked just as uncertainly.

Rolling her eyes, the young woman asked, "Are you attached to someone romantically?"

"I guess you could say that," he responded, finally catching on to what the woman wanted to know. If you considered the fact that he was practically living with B‘Elanna, yeah, one could say he was attached. After all, B‘Elanna was half-Klingon, they didn‘t exactly take their relationships lightly. He had suffered the bite marks and broken bones to prove that.

"You guess?" the woman asked skeptically, "What does that mean, exactly?"

"Well, I‘m involved with someone, romantically," Tom explained.

"Involved, but not bonded?"

"No I guess not," the pilot admitted, "but then I‘m not sure what bonded means exactly."

A smile crept across the woman‘s face. "If you‘re not sure what it means than you are not bonded," she stated. She then turned to call to a man standing not more than four or five feet away, "He‘ll do."

Tom watched as the armed man stepped toward him and taking Tom‘s arm in his hand tried to lead him away.

"Hey, wait a minute," Tom exclaimed, "What‘s going on here?"

"My lady has claimed you as hers," the man explained, "you will now join her for the ceremony."

His blue eyes growing wide in realization, Tom tried to pull his arm free.

"Look, there‘s been some misunderstanding," he stated while glancing around frantically for his friends, "I‘m with someone already."

Releasing his arm, the man stepped back and looked toward the woman.

"He is not bonded, therefore he can be claimed," the woman stated with confidence, "Bring him along."

"Something wrong here?"

With a sigh of relief, Tom moved closer to his friends, putting as much distance as he could between himself and his would be claimer.

"Nothing that concerns you," the red haired woman stated with annoyance, "Gell, bring him."

As Gell stepped toward Tom and attempted to take his arm again, B‘Elanna intercepted him and easily pushed the man away.

"Anything that concerns Tom concerns me," B‘Elanna stated, "Now, who are you and what do you want with him?"

"I am Vessa, daughter of chancellor Dem. I have chosen this man to be my bonded. He will come with us now," Vessa stated while motioning Gell to fulfill his task.

No one could say what happened next or who in fact started the fight that brought security from both the local militia and Voyager, but once all the bodies had been pried off each other, everyone knew that they were in trouble as they were marched into a large room to await the local magistrate.

As the five parties involved stood and stewed, trying not to let their discomfort get the better of them, the door opened to admit Chancellor Dem, the local Magistrate, Captain Kathryn Janeway and Commander Chakotay.

Tom wasn‘t sure, but he could have sworn he heard someone snickering as their superior officers made their way over to them. Not that he could blame them, after all, they were covered in bruises, cuts and food from head to toe. But even he had to admit that this was not the time for humor.

Chancellor Dem and Captain Janeway stepped forward to address their respective parties.

"Would someone be so kind as to explain what happened?" the Chancellor asked, giving his daughter a disapproving stare.

Vessa shifted somewhat nervously before raising her head and addressing her father, "You did tell me that if I found a suitable replacement for bonding, that I could make my own choice. I have done so."

"Really," the Chancellor stated while casting a glance at the three Voyager crew members, "And which one have you decided would be suitable."

Raising a hand, she pointed to the trio of friends, "Him," she stated.

"Him?" her father‘s voice questioned as he followed his daughter‘s outstretch arm, "My dear, there are two hims over there. Would you care to be more specific."

"The fair haired one," she clarified, "He is the one I have chosen."

"I see," the Chancellor responded, taking a moment to look over his would be son-in-law before returning his attention back to his daughter, "And he had no problem with your choice?"

Vessa‘s gaze faltered and her eyes focused on the front of her father‘s robe, "Well..."

"Yes, daughter," the man prompted.

If Tom didn‘t know better, he could have sworn the man was mocking his own daughter and for some reason he found that completely rude. As he opened his mouth to tell the man exactly what he thought of the way he was treating his own daughter, a stern glance from Captain Janeway silenced him.

"Not exactly."

"Not exactly, what?"

Heaving a sigh, Vessa brought her dark eyes to once again met her father‘s, "He didn‘t exactly agree to my choice."

"And you had a problem with his rejection?"

Her anger returning, Vessa folded her arms and glared at her father, "I have made my choice, and as your daughter, I have the right to choose whomever I wish. I have chosen, now you must follow through with your end of the bargain."

"You may have chosen, daughter of mine, but that doesn‘t mean he has chosen or accepted you," the Chancellor reprimanded his only child, "I have spoken with Janeway, your chosen‘s commanding officer, and she has stated that he is taken."

"He had stated that he was involved with someone, but he is not bonded, therefore he is available," Vessa argued.

"By our customs he is available," the Chancellor clarified, "But by their‘s he is not."

"They are on our world."

"They are our guests."

"I have made my decision."

"You have chosen unwisely."

"You just don‘t want me to find someone else."

"You cannot force someone to your side."

"I won‘t be bonded to that oversized slob."

"He is a perfect match for you."


"I have decided."

"I disagree."

"Excuse me," Janeway finally interrupted, "I don‘t mean to be rude, but could someone please explain to the rest of us what exactly is happening here?"

The Chancellor reigned in his growing anger and turned to address his guests. "I apologize, Captain, we have been extremely rude," he bowed politely to demonstrate his sincerity, "My daughter is to be bonded on the next full moon to a man that I have chosen for her. Unfortunately she is head strong and in my haste to make her happy I agreed to allow her the opportunity to choose a bonded of her own."

"Which I have now done," Vessa added. She wanted this day over with and for everyone to just accept her decision and get over it.

Silencing his daughter with a look, he returned to his explanation, "She also seems to have forgotten that the law states that her bonded must be of our people, not someone simply visiting our world."

"Nowhere does it state that my bonded must be of our people.

You‘re making excuses, father..."

The rest of her argument was cut off as the magistrate held up the book he had brought in with him, making sure the Chancellor‘s daughter could read the page he had marked.

As she read, Vessa‘s anger continued to grow. She didn‘t want to marry a man she didn‘t know, not that she knew the one she had chosen either, but she figured that once they were bonded, he could go his way and she could go hers. No muss no fuss. But now, thanks to her father and the annoying pest of a magistrate, it looked like she would have to come up with someone else.

Slamming the book shut, she ignored the yelp of pain from the magistrate as she caught his fingers between the pages and turned to address her father, "Very well, your point has been made." Vessa then turned on her heel and marched toward the door.

"Daughter," the Chancellor called after his retreating child, "Where exactly do you think you‘re going?"

Turning with all the dignity she could muster, she explained, "I wish a bath and then I will continue with my search. I have but a few sun cycles left."

Shaking his head, Dem allowed his daughter to leave and then turned back to his guests, "Captain Janeway, I apologize for the way in which your crew members have been treated. I hope this most unfortunate incident has in no way deterred our negotiations."

Smiling diplomatically, Janeway returned the Chancellor‘s bow and then said, "Your daughter seems quite determined, Mr. Chancellor."

Casting his eyes downward, Dem nodded his head in agreement, "I‘m afraid I gave her too many liberties as a youth. She is my only child and I wanted to make sure that she could take care of herself, that she could be her own ruler," looking toward the now closed door, he admitted, "I‘m afraid I have created a monster."

"I‘m sure everything will work out for the best," Janeway comforted the stressed father, "As for our dealings, I see nothing that will in anyway keep us from proceeding as scheduled."

"Excellent," Chancellor Dem exclaimed, the fact that his daughter hadn‘t completely sabotaged the situation making the man more than happy, "Then if you will please excuse me, I will make sure everything is ready."

Bowing, he motioned for the magistrate to follow him as he made his way out of the room. So much to get done and not much time to do it in, especially if he wanted to make sure all transactions with Janeway and her crew were completed before his daughter did something else. Considering that her usual bathing time ran anywhere from two to three hours, Chancellor Dem figured he would have just enough time to get everything done before anymore problems could arise.

As the door swung shut, Janeway put on her firmest command face and turned to address her three junior officers, "Would someone please explain how this started?"

"I thought we‘d already covered that," Tom stated, somewhat surprised that the Captain was apparently holding them responsible from some part of this whole mess.

"We covered the why, Mr. Paris, what I‘d like to know is the how."

The trio looked back and forth between themselves trying to figure out just what exactly it was that their Commanding officer wanted to know.

"How what, Captain?" Harry finally asked.

"How about how exactly you three allowed yourselves to become embroiled in a fight, a food fight no less, in the middle of the city‘s main shopping center?" Janeway asked, her hands coming to rest on her hips, her eyes slanted in annoyance. What better way to get one‘s point across then to make one‘s junior officers think you‘re mad at them. Not that she really was, but she saw no reason to let them know that, not yet anyway, "You are Starfleet officers and yet you allowed yourselves to be drawn into an all out brawl by a spoilt little girl."

"She wasn‘t actually little.."

Tom let the statement go unfinished as Janeway leveled her glare at him.

"I expect better of all my officers, especially members of my senior staff," she reprimanded them.

As Tom moved to confront Janeway, Harry grabbed one arm and B‘Elanna the other. Neither had any desire for their sarcastic friend to get them into anymore trouble then they already were in.

"Consider yourselves confined to Voyager for the remainder of our stay," Janeway continued, "None of you, whether together or separate are to set foot on this planet again. Do I make myself clear?"

B‘Elanna quickly clamped her hand over Tom‘s mouth before he could say anything. As far as she was concerned, they‘d gotten off easy, no need to make it worse.

Janeway waited for the trio to acknowledge her orders before ordering them to return to Voyager before they actually did start an intergalactic incident.

"Not a word Tom," Chakotay and Janeway heard B‘Elanna state threateningly as the transporter beam coalesced around them.

No longer able to hide her amusement, Janeway burst out laughing, followed closely by her first officer doing the same. Leave it to Tom Paris to get propositioned and then get out of it by starting a food fight.

She wondered if the trouble-magnet pilot‘s bad luck would ever run out.

Stepping off the transporter pad, the trio ignored the stunned look from the transporter operator and made their way into the corridor.

"All I want to do right now is get out of these clothes and get into a nice, warm shower," Harry stated disgustedly, "You know, Paris, this is all your fault."

"How do you figure that?" Tom asked, somewhat offended that his friend, his best friend could hold him responsible for their current predicament.

"Simple," B‘Elanna explained for the young Asian, "If while on shore leave, there‘s trouble to be had, you‘re the one to find it and drag the rest of us into it."

"That‘s not fair," Tom exclaimed in his own defense, "I didn‘t ask you two to wander off, leaving me all by my little lonesome to be attacked by that red headed spit fire."

Harry shook his head, ignoring the pieces of food that fell to the ground and the crew members that were trying to become part of the wall in hopes that nothing falling would fall on them, "Tom, no offense, but if there‘s trouble to be had, you‘re going to find it. We know this. We accept this. We were just hoping..."

"...Wishing, praying..." B‘Elanna added for emphasis.

"...that for once nothing would happen," Harry concluded, "Obviously, we were wrong."

"Geez, don‘t I feel loved," Tom gripped, taking great offense at the accusations his supposed friends were making.

"Oh, you are most definitely loved, Mister," B‘Elanna stated emphatically, "Just you remember that."

Coming to a stop in front of her quarters, B‘Elanna keyed in her code and as the door opened, wrapped her arms around the man she loved, dragging him into her domain.

"See ya later, Harry," Tom managed to say as the door slide shut behind him.

Shaking his head yet again, having caught a glimpse of B‘Elanna trying her best to remove Tom‘s shirt, Harry made his way to his own quarters, knowing that his friends were going to have a whole lot more fun cleaning up then he was.

The End.