TITLE: Heard it Through the Grapevine
AUTHOR:  ReAnne Moreau
E-MAIL:  reannem1@att.net
SERIES:  Voyager
PAIRING:  J/P, various crew
ARCHIVE:  any place as long as you leave my name on it.  This includes
Jupiter station and BLTs.
SUMMARY: The crew is hanging out at Sandrine's talking trash.  This is a
sequel to Bar Time.  I don't know why it popped into my head now, after so
long.  You don't have to read Bar Time to know what's going on, just know
that Kathryn finally got the courage to delete Michael Sullivan's program
and that it turned out Tom had based the character on his own ancestor.

The crack of a pool cue against a ball greeted Kathryn as she entered the
holodeck.  Looking around she saw that there were more people in Sandrine's
than usual.  Tom must have gotten a group together for one of his famous
Friday night parties - laid back affairs that involved eating too much,
drinking too much and exchanging significant numbers of replicator rations
over the pool table.  Kathryn nearly turned around and left, not wanting to
put a damper on the gathering, but she found herself impaled by the cool
blue gaze of her helmsman.

Tom called out across the bar.  "Captain, I'm glad to see you kept your
promise."  He smiled sunnily at her, his many-times great grandfather's

"I didn't have much choice," she replied, sauntering toward him.  "It would
have been unseemly to be dragged down the corridor by one of my officers."
He had threatened as much if she locked herself away again after deleting
Michael's program, and she didn't doubt that he would do it.

Harry, who had been playing against Tom, looked blankly from one to the
other and shrugged.

"Captain, you came just in time.  Tom about cleaned me out on the last game.
Maybe you can get some revenge for me."

Kathryn grinned and moved to the table, collecting a cold beer from the
bartender on the way.  She was suddenly happy she'd decided to come here
tonight.  No one seemed uncomfortable with the appearance of their
commanding officer at the gathering; several people called cheerful
greetings as she passed.  She did notice, however, that she was the only
person here in uniform.  Removing her jacket, she rolled up the sleeves of
her sweater and took the pool cue from Harry.

"Are you up to the challenge, Mr. Paris?"

"Always.  Are you sure you're up to it?"  He smirked ever so slightly.  "It'
s been awhile."

She swaggered past him, looking up from under her lashes.  "I have natural
talent, Lieutenant.  Practice has nothing to do with it."  Kathryn heard a
few muffled snickers from the crowd around them and could barely restrain
herself from joining in.  Tom had a way of bringing out the mischievous girl
who used to sneak out of her bedroom window at night.

"If you're so confident, maybe you'd like to make a small wager?"

"You're on, Tom.  I could use a housekeeper for a few days."

The captain had a policy of not playing for anything of value with the crew.
Harry went behind the bar to bring out the jar of forfeits, normally used by
those who had already lost their rations, making sure that he grabbed the
one containing innocuous tasks like polishing boots and cleaning quarters.
The other one, devised by the Delaney sisters, held items that could make
even Tom blush.  Each player chose a slip of paper and placed it on the bar
without looking.

Tom broke and began neatly picking off stripes.  He looked up to see his
opponent regarding him with a worried frown.  His game had improved
considerably since they'd last played together.  "Captain, if you ..."

"What happened to 'Kathryn?'

He missed the shot, badly.  She was obviously referring to the last time
they were together off-duty.  He'd called her 'Kathryn' when they parted
after deleting Michael from the Fairhaven program.  The pilot was half way
back to his quarters before he realized the slip.

Tom looked from the woman standing before him, smiling with an expression of
exaggerated innocence, to the pool table, which was now in the hands of the
enemy.  It was going to be one of *those* games.  Instead of apologizing for
his over- familiarity, he surrendered the battlefield and struck a
thoughtful pose.

"Kathryn is a lovely name, but it sounds too much like 'Captain.'  Now,
Michael had a good idea ..."

The captain leaned over the table and took her first turn, sinking a solid
on a tricky bank shot.  "They call me Katharine that do talk of me."  A few
more balls dropped into pockets.

It sounded like a quote.  Tom searched his memory for the reference.  "You
lie, in faith; for you are called plain Kate, and bonny Kate, and sometimes
Kate the curst; but Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom ..."  He broke
off, coloring slightly.

Pretty Kate laughed so hard she muffed the next shot.  She climbed onto a
bar stool and retrieved her beer.  "At least you read something besides
those twentieth century pulp magazines."

"Enjoying the view?"
Sue Nicoletti jumped as Harry slid onto the bar stool next to her.  She had
once told Harry that the finest view Voyager had to offer was Kathryn
Janeway in a tank top wielding a phaser rifle.  He'd never let her live it

"Don't tell me you've never looked, Harry.  I won't believe it."

Harry just grinned.  Of course he'd looked and liked what he saw, but still,
she was the captain and that put her in the category of 'never going to
happen, so don't bother thinking about it.'  He liked the captain and
thought she was beautiful, but he wasn't a member of the Janeway Junkies
like Nicoletti and the king of them all, Chakotay.

He sighed.  Too bad Sue wasn't interested in men.  She was gorgeous, smart
and didn't outrank him by several light years.  One way or another most of
the interesting people on board were out of his reach.

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes watching Tom and
Kathryn.  They were too far away to overhear the conversation, but it was
obvious that the pair at the pool table was engaged in their *other*
favorite game, teasing each other mercilessly.

"I'm glad Tom got the Captain to come out and socialize for a change," Harry
remarked.  "I was afraid she was going to sit in her quarters being all
depressed again."  He leaned closer to his friend.  "Did you hear about her
deleting Michael Sullivan's program?"

Sue shook her head.  Her eyes widened as Harry filled her in on the whole
story.  She watched the other couple across the bar.  It was good seeing the
Captain relaxing like this; Nicoletti knew that she was often uncomfortable
mixing socially with the crew, and to tell the truth, some crew members felt
that having their captain around put a crimp in their style.

Tom Paris was probably the only person on the ship who could make her loosen
up like this.  It was obvious that he considered it his mission in life to
make Kathryn laugh.  They were so 'in the moment' when they were together,
completely engaged in their conversation or whatever activity they were

"I wonder if they have any idea?" Sue murmured.

"Idea about what?"

Sue regarded her clueless friend.  Harry was oblivious to the electricity
that seemed to flow between Tom and the Captain.  She wondered if B'Elanna

"Sorry, Harry, I was just thinking out loud.  Hey, have you heard that
Chakotay and Seven actually went on a *date*?"
She couldn't believe it; Tom Paris actually beat her at pool.  Wearing a
scowl that would have terrified any sensible person, she challenged him to
play for double or nothing.

"It's a deal ... Katie."  Tom couldn't quite believe she was letting him get
away with calling her that and intended to take advantage of a possibly
limited opportunity.
Kathryn rolled the name around her mind, liking the way it sounded in Tom's
clear tenor, trying to ignore the way it made her feel.  "If you ever call
me that on duty ..."  Her glare promised dire consequences.

"I am the soul of discretion."

That earned him a raised eyebrow that would have done a Vulcan proud.
Having made a circuit of the bar, chatting with the other patrons, they were
relaxing at one of the small tables while another couple used the pool table
for a quick game.

Tom cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable.  "Speaking of discretion,
there's something I'd better tell you before you hear it through the

"If it's about the still in cargo bay four, Chakotay already told me about
it."  Kathryn enjoyed showing that she wasn't as far out of the gossip loop
as some people thought.

"That's old news.  Besides the maintenance guys only told him it was there
in case he ratted them out to you - which turned out to be a good idea."

Kathryn couldn't stop the grin that stole across her face as she
contemplated the Machiavellian machinations of her crew.  Leave it to Tom to
have the straight scoop on whatever was going on.  People just couldn't seem
to help talking to him.

"Captain, ..."

Captain.  Not 'Katie,' not even 'Kathryn.'  That didn't bode well.  She
watched Tom pick at his food, not looking at her as he spoke.

"You remember that when you deleted Michael you called up the entire
Fairhaven program, not just his character?"

"I remember."  She was confused.  Why would he be bringing this up now?

"Well, I programed in a storyline where he eloped with a woman from a
neighboring village to explain his absence.  It was quicker than deleting
every reference to him from the program."  He glanced up to see that Kathryn
was looking at him with a puzzled frown.

"The computer had to reconcile the events it recorded that night with the
story I programed in.  What it came up with ..."  He took a deep breath and
blurted out the rest.  "... was that Michael ran off with that woman because
he caught us having an affair.  The villagers have been gossiping about it."

There was a moment of silence as Kathryn leaned back in her chair and closed
her eyes.  She could see Michael running down the stairs after Tom that
night, accusing him of stealing Kathryn from him.  She had shut down the
program before Michael actually did any harm.  She opened her eyes to find
her accused lover watching her anxiously.  "How long has this been going on
and how many people know about it?"  The captain rubbed the space between
her eyebrows, feeling a headache coming on.

"I only heard about it yesterday and patched up the program right away.
Nobody ran Fairhaven until two days after you got rid of Michael, so I don't
think too many people heard the rumor."  He looked into worried gray eyes.
"Kathryn, nobody believed it.  They all knew it was some kind of computer
glitch."  A sardonic smile twisted his lips.  "Everybody knows you have
better taste than that."

Kathryn opened her mouth to protest, then shut it again.  What could she say
in reply that wouldn't put her foot firmly in her mouth?  "Everybody knows
that you're with B'Elanna."

The moment the words were out of her mouth Kathryn knew it was the wrong
thing to say.  The sparkle went out of her companion's eyes and he slouched
in his chair, looking suddenly weary.

"Tom?  Surely B'Elanna didn't believe that silly rumor?"

"No, it's got nothing to do with that.  We're just taking a little break
after our last fight - just to cool off a little.  We haven't gone around
telling people - it's not like we're breaking up permanently or anything."

"I'm sorry.  I hope everything will work out.  I know this isn't the place
for a serious conversation, but if you ever need to talk ..."  She laid a
sympathetic hand on her friend's arm.  He covered her small, elegant hand
with his own.

"Thanks, but this is something we have to work out ourselves."  He sighed.
"I'm glad you came tonight, Kathryn.  You were just what I needed."

She was touched by the simplicity and sincerity of Tom's words.  Under his
brash manner was a sweetness that few people got to see.

A smile quirked up one side of her mouth.  "I'm glad I could help, Tom, but
if you keep holding my hand we're going to start another round of rumors."

With a bark of laughter he let go and leaned back in his chair, once more
relaxed.  That small touch seemed to have spread a soothing warmth through
his entire body.

"Did my dad ever explain the hierarchy of starship gossip to you?"

Laughter danced in Kathryn's eyes as she remembered a long-ago lecture.
"There are things no one tells the captain," she quoted.

"Like just about everything interesting."  Tom chuckled and got a rueful nod
from his captain.

"There are things no one tells the first officer."

"Like why Crewman Chen beamed up from his last shoreleave in nothing but his
underwear."  Kathryn's eyes widened and Tom decided to satisfy her
curiosity.  "That's what he was wearing when he got thrown in the drunk tank
and he didn't want to call Chakotay for bail and a change of clothes."  He
was discreet enough not to tell her what Chen had been doing while

Kathryn shook her head and repeated the last part of the Admiral's lesson.
"Then there's all the good stuff that officers never get to hear."  She
grinned.  "Except, it seems for a certain pilot who hangs out in holographic
bars where people tend to forget he's an officer."

Receiving nothing but an enigmatic smile from her pilot she prodded him for
more information.  "So, are you going to tell me what they're talking about
on the lower decks?"

Tom shrugged.  "The same stuff starship crews always talk about.  The
captain's love life mostly.  They've got you sleeping with Chakotay, you
sleeping with Seven, or for a little variety, you sleeping with me."

He really hadn't intended to say that last part.  They looked at each other
and quickly looked away, each unsettled by the images forming in their

Tom cleared his throat and dashed back into his narrative.  "Then there are
the rumors about Chakotay.  For some reason there's a really persistent one
that crops up now and then.  Apparently Chakotay and I have been secret
lovers for years and, thanks to the doctor, I'm now carrying his child."

He suddenly realized that everyone was looking at them as the captain leaned
back in her chair and laughed until tears ran down her face.  Somehow he'd
forgotten that anyone else was around.

She got up from her chair, still chuckling, as the other couple finished
their turn at the pool table.  Kathryn squeezed his shoulder, smiling down
at him.  "Thank you, Tom.  I needed that.  I needed tonight."

Feeling slightly drunk on the sound of her laughter, Tom followed her toward
the pool table.

Tuvok slipped into a booth at the rear of the bar, scanning the room around
him.  He made it a point to attend informal social gatherings from time to
time to gauge the mood of the crew and pick up any useful information.  He
would have objected to the word 'eavesdropping.'

He saw B'Elanna Torres enter the bar, look around, hesitate and head over to
his table.  She smiled briefly as she greeted him and took a seat on the
other side of the table, but seemed rather subdued.

"So, Tuvok, have you overheard anybody planning a mutiny lately?"

The only reply was a raised eyebrow.  Tom claimed that the Vulcan had a
sense of humor, but she had yet to see it.

"I expected to see you here earlier, Lieutenant, since Mr. Paris is hosting
the event."

Nosiness, however, did appear to be a Vulcan trait.

"We've ... um ... decided to give each other some space.  I thought I'd drop
in and have a beer with Harry, just to be sociable, but he looks busy."  She
wondered if that sounded as lame as she thought it did.  The truth was she
was lonely and came to see if Tom wanted to take things off of hold, at
least for the evening.

The object of her affections appeared to be engaged in a serious
conversation with the captain.  After a moment, Tom favored her with one of
his dazzling smiles and they seemed to communicate silently before moving
apart.  Shortly afterward Kathryn broke into peals of laughter, a sound not
often heard on Voyager.  B'Elanna didn't believe the silly rumors going
around Fairhaven, but their easy friendship rankled.

"I don't get it, Tuvok.  She threw him in the brig.  She demoted him.  He
disobeyed direct orders and they're still thick as thieves.  I'll never
understand those two."

"Whatever their difficulties, the captain and Mr. Paris seem to have
overcome them."  Privately, he thought that the Monean incident had brought
them closer in a way.  The captain's over reaction knocked her off the
pedestal Tom had put her on.  They were now on equal footing as flawed human
beings who had hurt each other deeply and would do anything to repair the
damage.  Tuvok had never seen two people more miserable than Tom and Kathryn
when they thought their friendship was over.

There was a wistful expression on B'Elanna's face as she watched the pair
take their positions around the pool table.  She knew Tom and the captain
had talked after he got out of the brig, but Tom had never shared the
details with her.  They didn't seem to talk about much these days.

Tom's luck wasn't holding out.  Katie seemed to have gotten her game back in
the second round; she was calling complicated shots and sinking most of them
easily.  He bet her double or nothing which, since Kathryn had already
doubled the bet, was a lot.  He lost.

Kathryn turned over the slip of paper she'd placed on the bar earlier and
read it out loud.  "Personal wake up call and breakfast in bed for two
weeks."  She mentally adjusted the time period for their doubled and
redoubled bet and smirked at Tom, handing him her pool cue.  "I'll see you
at 0600 tomorrow, Tom."  She swaggered to the door, calling back over her
shoulder, "And don't forget the coffee."