TITLE: Bar Time
AUTHOR: ReAnne Moreau
PAIRING: J&P with shades of J/P
ARCHIVE: Anyplace, just leave my name on it.
SUMMARY: We finally get rid of Michael with a surprise twist. This takes
place sometime near the end of the sixth season. There may be a sequel or
two, which will completely ignore the horrible P/T seventh season.
WARNING: Spoilers for any episode involving Fairhaven.
Sandrine's was no longer the `in' place to hang out. It had been eclipsed,
first by the tropical resort, then by Sullivan's in the Fairhaven program.
People still came to Sandrine's: lovers looking for a quiet romantic spot,
people tired from a long day who didn't feel like coping with a crowd,
melancholy souls who only wanted to brood into their beer and feel sorry for
Tom considered himself one of the latter as he surveyed the bar, taking
note of the usual suspects. He came here when things were going to hell with
B'Elanna and he needed refuge. He'd been spending a lot of time here lately.
There was another patron who was becoming a regular. Kathryn Janeway was
rarely seen in Fairhaven these days. She preferred to spend her time at
Sandrine's. Usually, the captain nodded a greeting to anyone she passed and
headed for a table near the fireplace. There was an air about her that said
she wanted to be let alone, and the other customers respected her wishes.
Sometimes she brought a PADD along and read. Sometimes, but rarely, she
scraped together a game of pool. Most of the time she just stared into the
flames, thinking her own thoughts - as she was doing tonight. She looked up
as Tom's shadow fell over her.
"Penny for your thoughts."
"You'd be wasting your money." A slight smile curved her lips, giving Tom
the courage to take a seat across the table from his captain. He hadn't
invaded her privacy before, sensing that she wouldn't welcome company, but
she didn't seem to object tonight.
"I haven't seen you in Fairhaven lately," he remarked casually. "Michael has
been asking about you." The only reply was a frown. Tom wasn't really in the
mood for this tonight, but he was here, she was here, and they had to do
something about the situation eventually. He sounded more irritated than
he'd intended when he spoke.
"Look, Captain, either you're going to have to straighten things out with
Michael yourself or give me permission to change his program. He's badgering
everybody about why you haven't been to see him lately and it's beginning to
Kathryn closed her eyes and sighed. "It's hard to remember sometimes that
he's not sentient." She received a sympathetic glance from the helmsman. She
would hardly be the first person to develop feelings for a too-accurate
simulation of a person.
"Captain, if that's your problem ..."
A hand waved him to silence. "It's just the opposite." She raised her eyes
to Tom's. "Have you ever been able to tell someone's looking at you without
being able to see them?"
"All the time. On the bridge I can tell when you're looking at me or just
staring at the view screen - it's like you're focusing a laser beam on the
back of my head." He leaned forward conspiratorially and grinned. "Tuvok
doesn't believe it, but I can tell when you're smiling."
She was smiling now, her chin propped in one hand. "Tuvok is an old
stick-in-the-mud, even for a Vulcan. I've been telling him so for years."
Tom snorted and stifled a laugh. If anyone had the guts to say something
like that to a Vulcan, it was his captain. Kathryn's smile dimmed and became
"You've written a wonderful program, Tom. Maybe too good. I find myself
getting lost in the fantasy, then something will happen to remind me that
it's not real. I'll turn around and find that Michael has been standing
there, watching me, but I never felt his presence. Or I'll look into his
eyes and there's no-one inside." She broke off, looking back at the flames,
afraid she had revealed too much. She didn't often discuss her personal
problems with the crew, but it was so easy to talk to Tom.
There was a knot in Tom Paris' stomach. Kathryn sounded so lonely. He really
was glad that Michael had provided a temporary distraction. The fact that it
made him sick to think about the hologram actually touching her was
consigned to a dark corner of his mind, where things were kept that
shouldn't be examined too closely.
After a moment Kathryn turned back to her companion. "Maybe it would be
better if you deleted the character altogether." She was surprised when Tom
shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
"If you don't mind, Captain, I'd rather not be the one to do it.. It
wouldn't seem right, somehow." He responded to her raised eyebrow with a
seemingly irrelevant question. "Did you ever meet my grandmother Paris?"
"No. She died before I started at the Academy and I never met her socially.
Of course we ran simulations of her most important battles in class."
The look on the captain's face said that she had no idea what this was all
about. Everyone in Starfleet had heard of Admiral Miranda Paris. Ruthless
and cunning in battle, she was known for turning a hopeless situation into
victory out of sheer determination - and for the number of times she nearly
got herself killed doing so. She was also a famous beauty, whose honey blond
hair, hour-glass figure and pale blue eyes had attracted many lovers, most
of whom became good friends. There had, however, been something of a scandal
when she refused to identify the father of her only child, even to her son.
She was an easy-going eccentric who had little use for protocol, yet no-one
under her command had any doubt who was in charge. The Admiral had started
out as a pilot and died testing a prototype space craft whose warp core had
become unstable. Tom couldn't help grinning just thinking about her.
"Grandma was probably the least stuffy person I've ever met. I think she was
pretty appalled by my father with all his talk about the dignity of the
family name. She kept a picture on the wall of her office of the earliest
traceable Paris ancestors. They were a couple of Irish tavern keepers named
Michael and Mary Sullivan. She said it was to counteract the effects of all
Kathryn stared at him with wide eyed astonishment. Finally she slumped back
into the armchair and closed her eyes. "I deleted your several times great
"Why the hell didn't you *say* something?"
"Like what? `By the way, that's my grandfather you just picked up in the
bar?' Look, I agree that he has to go, I just don't want to be the one who
does it. I know it's silly - he's just a hologram."
Kathryn shook her head. "It's no sillier than thinking I was in love with
him." She contemplated her companion's face, wondering how she could have
missed the resemblance. And Michael's attitude was pure Paris. She blushed,
realizing that the changes she implemented only made the hologram more like
a certain pilot.
"Alright, Tom, I'll delete the character myself.." She raised pleading eyes
to his face. "I want to see him one last time. Will you come with me?"
He nodded and rose from his chair, gesturing her toward the door. "After
It was the middle of the night in Fairhaven, well after bar time, but a
light still glowed in the windows facing the street. Kathryn ascended the
stairs, pausing in the door for a moment. Looking over her shoulder she
could see Tom leaning against a lamp post, a comforting presence in the near
He turned from stacking chairs on the tables. His face lit for a moment
before a frown descended.
"Katie. Or should I call you Captain? It was kind of you to take time from
your busy schedule to drop in."
How could she not have noticed that the shape of his face was so like Tom's?
As Michael lifted a hand to rub the back of his neck, Kathryn recognized it
as one of Owen Paris' nervous habits. Suddenly she saw him for what he
really was, a masterful bit of programming, made up of features and gestures
copied from real people. The final end of the fantasy was painful.
"I came to say goodbye." Kathryn wondered why she didn't just shut the
program down. This shadow of a person in front of her had no feelings to be
hurt, needed no explanation for her actions. Still, she felt compelled to
add, "I'm sorry, Michael."
Turning, she dragged leaden feet down the stairs, wondering how she could
have ever thrilled to the sound of his voice, the touch of his phantom hand.
The light from above was suddenly blocked. Kathryn turned to see Michael in
the doorway, fury contorting his face. He was glaring at Tom, still waiting
for her in the street.
"I should have known! I've seen the way the two of you are together, always
whispering, always laughing at your private jokes." He flew down the stairs
toward Tom, passing a mortified Kathryn on the way. He was nearly within
striking distance of the startled pilot before she had enough presence of
mind to call an end to the program.
Suddenly they were standing alone in a square room cris-crossed by yellow
lines. Kathryn leaned against a wall, exhausted. Tom tactfully refrained
from commenting on the melodrama he'd just witnessed.
Going to one of the control panels built into the wall, he began putting
together the program that had been taking shape in his mind. After a few
minutes Tom looked up from his work to request the captain's authorization
code so his changes could take effect. She looked even more tired and
depressed than when they'd begun their quest.
"OK, I've got Michael eloping with a woman from a neighboring village and
emigrating to America. Maggie O'Halloran is going to take over the tavern."
Kathryn nodded absently. "Thank you, Tom." She touched his arm as they left
the holodeck, even managing a small smile. "I'm glad you were here, despite
the ... misunderstanding."
"My pleasure, Captain. It's been awhile since I've been chased by a jealous
boyfriend. It's good for my ego."
They continued down the corridor in companionable silence, each thinking
their own thoughts. Kathryn's hand had slipped through the crook of Tom's
arm. They both took comfort from the contact.
It was hard to figure out how to console a woman who had just `broken up'
with a holographic boyfriend. Tom wasn't sure whether to offer his
condolences on the end of her fantasy or congratulations on this sign that
she was ready for a real relationship. He was still pondering this dilemma
when they arrived at the captain's quarters.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"I'll be fine."
She laid a reassuring hand on his chest, the most delicate of touches, and
looked up at him, conveying with her eyes the gratitude she felt for his
concern. Such an expressive face, delicate and strong at the same time, like
a sculpture of spun steel. Tom could see the relief that this episode was
finally over, the loneliness that she tried so hard to hide from others. A
fist tightened around his heart. He was afraid she would give into
depression again and seclude herself in her quarters.
If she had been anyone else he would have put his arms around her and
suggested that she have a good cry. He knew she would never allow it, so he
flashed her his best light-up-the-room grin as he started down the corridor.
"If I don't see you at Sandrine's within a week I'm going to come here and
drag you out."
"Understood, Lieutenant. I'll see you at the pool table." It was several
minutes before either one of them realized he had used her first name.