An answer to KT's challenge
Magick (Humor, PG-13)
Part 1 of 2
"Don't touch it, Tom," Harry squeaked nervously, fumbling at his belt
for his tricorder.
Tom rolled his eyes in amused exasperation at Harry's typical
"What's it gonna do? Bite me?" he mocked.
"It might. This is supposed to be an uninhabited planet, Tom. So, who
left these things here? It could be a trap or something."
"Or something. Yeah, right," Tom drawled sarcastically. "This stuff
has obviously been here for years, Haz. Whoever left it is probably
just bleached bones by now."
"But who *did* leave it?" Harry challenged.
"Some other poor fucking bastard sent down to this planet on a food
gathering mission because the TPB hated him."
"The `powers that be' don't hate us, Tom. Off-duty crew does food-
gathering missions on rotation and it's just our turn again. I agree
it seems a bit soon after that mud planet we nearly drowned on, but
it's probably just the way the duty roster fell. It's just bad luck
we got a hell hole again," Harry said, in exactly the kind of
reasonable tone he should have known was guaranteed to piss Tom off
"Yeah? Story of my life," Tom griped, "and guess who fixes the duty
rosters? Commander Fucking Chakotay, that's who."
Harry considered the accusation.
"Paranoia, Tom. I mean, it's obvious that Commander doesn't like you,
but he's not the spiteful type. Besides, the Captain wouldn't let him
pick on you, would she? Everyone knows she's sweet on you," Harry
Tom just shrugged moodily. He didn't care whether the Captain was
sweet on him or not. It didn't matter how often she defended him
because her support didn't even begin to make up for Chakotay's
He gave a doleful sigh, and turned to fix his eyes on the old book to
hide how much Harry's honesty had hurt him.
"Look, I'll just take a quick peek, okay? No-one will ever know."
"You know Away Mission protocol is that we should report this and let
the Commander come check the artefacts out," Harry whined. "He
understands about this kind of stuff."
"Sure, Haz. Let's call the Commander and try to explain what we were
doing in here in the first place. Then, after he's chewed our asses
off, we'll get thrown back out in that fucking sauna for the rest of
After five hours of gathering leola root under a baking sun, they had
stumbled across the cave by accident. Tom was tired, hot and bored
and although the scattered items they had found strewn inside weren't
edible, they were a hell of a lot more interesting than harvesting
Besides, it was *cool* in the cave.
"It's just some kind of book, Haz. Not a Borg cube," he mocked,
reaching for one of the dust-covered volumes.
Harry's eyes flashed indignantly and an expression of prim
disapproval descended over his features.
"The tricorder says the cover's made of skin, Tom."
"It's called leather, Harry," Tom snapped impatiently, wiping off
enough dust to run his hands over the wrinkled hide. He had expected
the leather to be brittle and cracked. Instead, it was soft, pliant
and oddly warm.
"I wonder what the writing says," Tom murmured, tracing his
fingertips over gold embossed hieroglyphics.
"It says `Don't touch alien artefacts made out of skin'," Harry
sniped. "It's a biological hazard, Tom. Now you've touched it, you're
going to have to go through decontamination when we get back to the
"It's just a book," Tom repeated, but his voice was a little subdued
because he realised what Harry was saying. There could be all manner
of long dormant DQ viruses lurking within the cracked hide. His
fingers began to tingle unpleasantly at the thought.
Then he shrugged. It was too late to worry about contamination now.
"May as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb," he quipped and
opened the book.
"What's a sheep?" Harry asked, racking his memory. Then it came to
him. A long extinct mammal that people used to breed for food and
clothing until the twenty-first century when people decided they'd
rather grow meat in a replicator than on the hoof.
"*You're* a sheep," Tom replied irritably, because Harry's comment
about Chakotay disliking him was still grating on his nerves.
"Don't take this the wrong way, Haz, `cos you're my best friend.
Well, come to think of it, you're probably my only friend. But you're
still a sheep."
"Which mean's *what* exactly?" Harry asked carefully.
Tom was too occupied with the spidery writing, on the faded parchment
pages he was turning, to notice Harry's wounded expression.
"You always do what you're told, Haz. You're wasting your life.
You've got to live for the moment, take a chance, bend a little
before you become a Chakotay clone." Tom gave a dramatic
shudder. "Take this book, for instance. No one knows it's here. No
one *needs* to know we came in this cave at all. What's the harm in
taking a look? We just won't mention it."
"Starfleet rules weren't written to ruin our fun, Tom. They're meant
to protect us and the people we encounter. We *have* to admit we came
in this cave because now you've touched one of the artefacts, we have
to make sure you aren't carrying a disease."
"Sheep," Tom accused.
"Very funny," Tom snarled, as he turned around to wipe the
sanctimonious smirk off Harry's face.
Where Harry had been standing was a large sheep. It blinked at him
"HARRY?" Tom yelled, and promptly fainted.
"Do you have anything to say before I have you thrown in the brig?"
Chakotay asked grimly.
Tom swallowed nervously.
"Oops?" he offered weakly.
"OOPS?" Chakotay roared so loudly that the rest of the Senior Staff
"Let's not over-react," Kathryn intervened. Tom cast her a grateful
smile across the Ready Room table.
"Over-react? Harry is now a sheep," Chakotay snapped.
"Baaa." Harry agreed, from the floor.
"I'm well aware of that," Kathryn replied. "However, you can't punish
Tom simply because of the *consequences* of his actions. The fact
remains that all he actually *did* was touch an old book. Even *I*
won't put someone in the brig for that."
Chakotay glowered but conceded the point with a reluctant shrug. He
knew perfectly well that where Tom was concerned, Kathryn always took
the pilot's side. It was one of the reasons Chakotay was always so
hard on Tom. *Someone* had to try to teach the irrepressible pilot to
think before he acted.
"There has to be some kind of alien technology in the cave," B'Elanna
interrupted. "There's no other explanation for what happened. All we
have to do is find it and reverse the principle."
"Unless it was *real* magic," Neelix piped up, only to cringe at the
baleful expression of disgust on Tom's face.
"Yeah, sure," Tom said, his words dripping with sarcasm.
"'There's more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your
philosophy,'" Chakotay quoted.
Tom looked at the Commander in amazement.
"Yeah, well. You believe in your witch-doctor stuff if you like. Me,
I'll stick with B'Elanna's theory."
"As will I," Tuvok agreed.
"What am I supposed to do with it? I can't have an animal in my
Sickbay. Do you have *any* idea how many diseases breed in wool?"
"It's not an animal. It's Harry," the Captain replied coldly.
"I assure you that even Mr. Kim has more personality than this, this,
*thing*," the Doctor replied with an offended sneer."
"This `thing' is Ensign Harry Kim and will be treated with the
respect appropriate to an officer," she warned.
"Can't you put him in the brig with Tom Paris or something? It's
*his* mess after all."
"Tom isn't in the brig," Kathryn snapped, wondering what it was about
the pilot that made people want to constantly throw the book at him.
Personally, she found him a constant source of entertainment. His
antics brought a light relief that eased the considerable pressure of
her job. "We don't know if there'll be any side effects of the
transformation. It's wiser for Harry to stay here just in case."
"And what am I supposed to do in the meanwhile?" the Doctor asked,
his photonic face screwed up in disgust.
After a considerable pause, the Captain replied, "Check the mainframe
for files on animal husbandry. Oh, and some knitting patterns might
come in useful."
She left before the Doctor noticed her barely concealed smirk.
"Oh, shut up!" the Doctor snapped.
"You can't be serious, Tuvok," Tom protested, three days later. "It
was obviously either a bizarre co-incidence or some kind of alien
"Such a `co-incidence' would indeed be bizarre, Mr. Paris. We haven't
ruled out the use of alien technology in Mr. Kim's metamorphosis but
we have been unable to locate any such device so far, despite
exhaustive scans. In the meantime, although it is highly improbable,
it is logical to at least test the Commander's assertion that the
book is a Grimoire that imparted magical powers to you."
Tom had to stifle a laugh of disbelief.
"Look, I know Chakotay's into that weird mumbo-jumbo crap but I can't
believe you'd fall for it too. I can't believe *you* believe in
magic at all."
"I do not. I do, however, believe that there are scientific
principles with which we are not fully conversant. Just because we
do not understand how it happened, the undisputable fact is that it
did. In absence of other options, the Commander's suggestion to re-
enact the situation on the surface is at least worth consideration."
"In other words you're stumped and clutching at straws," Tom accused.
"Indeed," Tuvok confirmed blandly.
"Look," Chakotay said in exasperation, "at least *try* to
concentrate, Paris. You turned your best friend into a sheep. The
least you can do is help me try to reverse the procedure. Or don't
you give a damn?"
"I did *not* turn him into a sheep. All I did was mention sheep and
touch the book. It's not *my* fault," Tom insisted, keeping his eyes
carefully averted from Harry's accusing glare.
"Nothing ever is, is it, Paris?" Chakotay asked, with exasperation.
"Baaa.." Harry agreed.
"How long are we going to try this for?" Tom complained.
He really missed Harry. He was feeling considerably guilty about his
own inadvertent role in the incident. He was desperate to find a way
of turning Harry back into a human being. He *did* give considerably
more than a damn!
He didn't see why he had to pander to the Commander's obvious
madness, though. Chakotay's insistence on continuing these ridiculous
attempts to reproduce the `magic' spell weren't impressing Tom one
They should both be concentrating on finding a cure, not messing
about in a dank alien cave playing witch doctors. *Everybody* knew
there was no such thing as magic. Except, apparently, the big lug in
the Commander's uniform.
"Until it works," Chakotay replied firmly. "You can't remember which
page was open when it happened, so you'll just have to keep repeating
the ritual with me until we find the right page."
"What if it works and I turn *you* into a sheep?" Tom smirked.
"Believe me, Tom. If I turn into an animal it would be something a
lot more hazardous to your health than a sheep," Chakotay promised,
with an evil grin.
Tom found himself swallowing nervously. How the hell could Chakotay
manage to seem `bigger' than him? He pulled himself up to his full
height and fixed his eyes firmly on the book before risking a reply.
"So you say, Commander. But I reckon you're just a big pussy cat
under all that hiss and spit," he drawled.
Then Tom released the book in horror. /Oh shit! What if?/ He barely
had the courage to turn around and look at the place where the
Commander had been standing.
"What?" Chakotay growled impatiently.
Tom shivered with relief. Hell, for a moment the Commander's madness
had obviously infected him too.
He turned back to the book and tried to co-operate, but since
Chakotay's whole idea was so damned stupid, it was hard not to let
his mind drift to Voyager, where the real problem solving was going
on. Another hour of fruitless paging through the parchment and Tom
lost his temper completely.
"This is stupid," he declared, folding his arms in front of his
chest. " We've gone through the book twice now and no change. We'd be
better off checking the cave for the source of the metamorphosis than
prancing around playing witch doctor."
"If you'd stuck to scientific methods of investigation yourself, none
of this would have happened, would it? I don't care what the Captain
says, this is your fault and the least you can do is try to put it
right," Chakotay said.
Tom glared at him.
"Why don't we forget the fucking book, Commander? It's obviously just
a prop. The only magic here is how well the matter converter or
whatever it is, is concealed."
"Give it here," Chakotay growled, thrusting his hand out for the
book. "Let me try instead."
He touched the ancient book and started a little at the sensation of
tingling that travelled through his fingers.
"There is something," Chakotay said, his eyes widening in wonder. " A
power source. I can feel it."
"Yeah, that's right, Commander. Show me how it's done, Sir," Tom
It was probably Tom's own mention of cats that suggested the image,
but Chakotay decided that the pilot sounded more like an affronted
cat himself than a man responsible for turning his best friend into a
Chakotay bristled with fresh irritation at Tom Paris's selfish,
irresponsible attitude. He slammed the book down and turned to give
the pilot a piece of his mind.
"Listen, Paris. I'm sick and tired of.." his voice trailed off.
"Oops," he mumbled.
Where Tom had been standing, a lean ginger tomcat just lashed its
tail and glared.
"Were you aiming for a flock?" the Doctor drawled.
"I was *trying* to turn Harry back into a person," Chakotay replied,
with an attempt at dignity.
"Well a cat's easier to look after than a sheep," Kathryn consoled,
rubbing at the sensitive spot beneath Tom's chin. "It's easier to
feed for starters. The replicators are having a hell of a job
producing grass for Harry."
"Can't sheep eat vegetables?" Chakotay asked.
"Yes," she admitted, "but it apparently affects the quality of the
wool." She looked covetously at Harry's lush curls and wondered how
far the Doc had gotten in downloading patterns.
Chakotay blinked in disbelief.
"Just being practical," Kathryn said with a weak grin. "If we can't
change them back, we may as well make the most of things."
Tom purred his agreement from her lap and began kneading his claws
contentedly into Kathryn's thighs. She smiled indulgently.
"What are we going to do with Mr. Paris?" the Doc asked,
suspiciously. "You aren't planning to leave him in sickbay *too*, are
"Oh, no," Kathryn smiled. "I think I'll take him with me."
Something snapped in Chakotay as he imagined Tom sprawled on a pillow
in Kathryn's quarters. He wasn't sure why the image offended him so
much, but he didn't wait to analyse his feelings. He just reached out
and wrenched the cat from the Captain's arms.
"I can't let you do that, Kathryn. This is my fault after all.
Besides, a lot of people have allergies to cat fur, Captain. We can't
take the risk that you might be one of them. I'll keep Tom in my
quarters, just in case."
Chakotay was alright until he reached the turbolift. It was only when
the doors whooshed shut behind him that Tom decided he'd had enough
of the indignity of being carried in Chakotay's arms.
"Yarrowwwwwl," Tom complained, adding a low hissing growl, his ears
flattening to his head and his long tail lashing angrily.
"It's okay Tom, we're almost there," Chakotay soothed, tightening his
grip as Tom began to squirm like an eel with claws.
If anything, Tom just increased his struggles. Obviously realising
Chakotay wasn't going to let him down, Tom reversed tactics and made
a charge upwards, the claws of his back legs digging into the
Commander's abdomen as he propelled himself towards Chakotay's head.
Face to face with six kilo's of spitting cat, the intrepid Commander,
hero of a thousand alien encounters, decided discretion was the best
part of valor and let Tom go.
Tom dropped gracefully to the floor, sat down on his haunches and
gave a haughty superior smirk. Then, after a last victorious glare
from his amber eyes, Tom proved his complete distain by coolly
proceeding to wash his whiskers with his forepaws.
Chakotay had met enough cats on his homeworld to know that the smug,
satisfied grin on the pointed furry face was a natural feline
expression. Even so, he was equally convinced that Tom was self-aware
somewhere in that small but surprisingly dangerous body.
When Tom gave a rumbling purr of surprise at his new body's gymnastic
capabilities and started to lick his own balls with obvious relish,
Chakotay became *almost* positive that he was right.
"I know you can understand me," Chakotay announced, although he felt
pretty damned stupid talking to a cat. "I'm sorry I turned you into a
cat. I'm sure you're pretty pissed off with me, but the fact remains
that you're still a Starfleet Officer and I'm your superior officer
and you'll damned well do as you're told."
Tom ignored him, only the odd twitch of his tail suggesting that he
might be listening.
"I know you don't like me, but would you honestly rather spend the
night in the Captain's quarters? I don't see you as the domesticated
type Tom. Then again, you've never been in her quarters, have you?
You think that because she's a hard-ass Captain she keeps her own
quarters regulation? Think again. She's a nester, Tom.
"She has little lacy doilies on the arms of her chairs. There's a
huge needlepoint in her living room that says `Home, sweet, home.'
Her bed's covered with a friendship quilt. She's been working on it
for years. You know those times you've put clothes in the refresher
and they've just disappeared? If you check her quilt out, you'll find
patches of those shirts."
Tom stopped washing himself and looked up suspiciously.
"Yeah, that Bermuda shirt you used to be so fond of? It's now two
dozen cute little patches on her duvet. That's not all, Tom. She
has," he lowered his voice to a near whisper, "a bottom drawer!"
Tom just blinked.
"Oh, yes. She has a huge chest brimming full of all the homey
little `touches' she's going to need when she finally traps some poor
unsuspecting fool into marrying her. You think she'd let you see her
man-trap and then just leave again? Once she's let you into her home
and paraded around in a flimsy negligee in front of you a few times,
you're going to pray you stay a cat, because believe me, Tom, once
she's got a male through those doors, cat or man, she's never going
to let him move out again."
The turbolift doors opened and Tom simply rose up and flounced out,
his tail high in the air and his whole body radiating contempt.
Nevertheless, he walked straight to Chakotay's door and waited to be
Chakotay hid his smirk as he let Tom into his room. His feeling of
triumph at winning Tom's co-operation more than made up for the vague
twinging of his conscience.
After all, he'd never actually set foot in Kathryn's quarters .
"You really think he's self-aware?" Neelix asked hopefully.
"Not completely. His behaviour patterns are consistent with an
animal's, but underneath that there's a definite spark of
intelligence. He definitely knows who you are and it's only natural
that he wants to spend time with a friend."
Neelix bit his lower lip uncertainly.
"Are you sure it's safe? I mean this *is* the kitchen. It doesn't
seem hygienic to me."
"I assure you there's no health hazard."
"Well, okay. You're the Doctor."
The Doctor smirked with satisfaction. It had taken him a week, but
he'd finally found a new sucker to look after Harry. He waited until
he was at the mess hall door before adding his parting shot.
"Just, whatever you do, don't mention Mint Sauce. It seems to make
him go all peculiar for some reason."
Chakotay groaned as his alarm went off. He still felt exhausted and
the entire right side of his body was numb with cold. He seemed to
have lost half of his duvet during the night.
He opened a bleary eye cautiously, then jumped in shock as he found
Tom's face only millimetres from his own.
"Get off my fucking pillow," he demanded.
Tom just grinned.
Chakotay gagged, deciding that the worst thing about cats wasn't the
way they seemed small but then somehow managed to steal all the
bedding, it was their early morning breath.
"YARROWWLL," Tom yodelled directly into Chakotay's ear.
Chakotay jerked upright as the noise ripped through his head. He
scrambled to a sitting position, looked down at his lap, flushed
scarlet at the realisation he had woken with a morning woody and fled
to hide in the bathroom.
He had a furtive shower, wondering exactly how good a cat's hearing
was. Maybe it had been a mistake to bring Tom to his quarters, he
decided. Chakotay had worked hard at maintaining an impenetrable aura
of mystical aloofness. It wouldn't take Tom long to realise that
Chakotay was just as human as the next guy. He took dumps, he woke
with woodies and he had a tendency to fart all night after his
favorite bean enchiladas.
It was going to be hard to revert to their previous relationship
after Tom had turned back into a human. If, of course, they could
work out a way to reverse the spell.
When he finally felt brave enough to emerge back into his bedroom,
Tom greeted his entrance by jumping off the bed and racing pointedly
to the replicator. Winding his supple body round and round Chakotay's
bare calves, he loudly demanded his breakfast.
Chakotay's stomach lurched as it crossed his mind what a carnivore
like a cat needed to eat. He replicated a bowl of milk to give
himself a little breathing space.
Tom sniffed at the offering, stiffened in obvious disgust and fixed
his eyes firmly back on Chakotay's face.
"Yarrowwll," he spat.
Fish. Chakotay decided he could cope with the idea of fish.
He programmed a plate of lightly boiled fish. Waited until the steam
had cooled from the flaky white chunks and placed it at Tom's feet.
Tom sniffed tentatively at the offering, took a hesitant nibble and
then spat it out in obvious disgust.
For the next ten minutes, as Tom's cries became more piercing,
Chakotay dialled a portion of every food stuff he could imagine a cat
eating until the carpet was lined by a procession of bowls.
"YARROWWLL," Tom wailed.
"That's it," Chakotay replied, shrugging his shoulders
helplessly. "I'm out of ideas and almost out of rations."
Tom's piercing amber eyes stared suspiciously at the Commander,
obviously judging his sincerity, then with a definite catty smirk, he
padded towards the very first bowl of fish and began to chomp happily.
/It was too hot/ Chakotay told himself as Tom devoured the fish with
relish. /He didn't *deliberately* make me use up all my rations/
It was only when Tom licked the plate clean and turned back to face
him with a satisfied purr that Chakotay *knew* he'd been had.
Impossible not to since the ginger cat gave him a slow, deliberate
"PARIS!" Chakotay yelled furiously, diving towards the taunting face.
Tom slipped easily through the middle of Chakotay's legs, raced
through the bedroom door and leapt onto the bed. Chakotay charged
after him and dove onto the mattress.
Tom sprang off the bed a moment before Chakotay hit it and landed
gracefully on top of the wardrobe, where he settled comfortably to
watch Chakotay's rage from the safety of his perch.
"You think that's funny, Paris? Just wait until tonight and we'll see
who's laughing then. It's going to be bean enchiladas for dinner!"
"Really, Commander. I don't know anything about sheep and I'm sure
the Captain is right about the need for hygiene in the Mess Hall,"
Neelix muttered. "But he looks so cold and miserable."
"Baaaaa," Harry agreed.
Chakotay looked grimly at the shivering sheep. Harry's thick woolly
coat had been completely shorn off.
"Maybe you should replicate him a coat or something," he suggested
Neelix perked up.
"Oh, what a wonderful idea. Why didn't *I* think of that? He'd look
so sweet in a little green plaid jacket."
"BAAAAAAA" Harry screamed and bolted back into kitchen, sending pots
and pans clattering to the floor.
"Oh dear," Neelix muttered. "Was it something I said?"
"What *is* that smell?" Kathryn gagged the next morning, as she
entered Chakotay's quarters for a private chat before the Senior
Chakotay blushed furiously as Kathryn wafted her hands desperately
over her face. Then inspiration struck him
"Tom," Chakotay lied. "Slight accident with the litter box."
"Oh," Kathryn said, shuddering with relief that she hadn't kept Tom
after all. "Well I really appreciate the sacrifice you're making,
Chakotay gave a beatific smile.
It was only when he looked over at the couch and saw Tom's lashing
tail and furious amber eyes that he realised there was going to be a
serious price to pay for his lie.
"We believe we have found a possible solution," Tuvok announced.
The Senior Staff, sans Harry and Tom, perked up appreciably.
"Analysis of the quantum signature of the leather binding of the
book, suggests that it originated from a planet with dense neutrino
activity," Seven added.
"So?" Chakotay asked vaguely. He was too distracted by the worry of
what damage a pissed off tomcat could do in his quarters to try and
follow the conversation properly.
Seven gave a superior smirk.
"SO, we have concluded that the planet of origin is in a twin-star
system. Using the astrological charts in *my* Borg enhanced and
therefore superior Astrometrics department I have isolated the likely
"The logical action would be to cease our attempts to reverse the
transformations of Mr Kim and Mr Paris," Tuvok said, "and travel to
the planet where the book originated."
B'Elanna grunted her reluctant agreement. She knew it made sense to
find the aliens responsible for the technology but, on principle, she
never showed enthusiasm for any plan that the Borgette had been
"How far is the planet?" Kathryn asked.
Seven's smug grin faltered a little.
"Well, at warp 9 we could get there in six weeks," she prevaricated.
"Don't tell me," B'Elanna groaned loudly, jumping on the opportunity
to pour cold water on Seven's victory. "It's six weeks in the *wrong*
Seven just glared at her.
"That's completely unacceptable," Kathryn announced
firmly. "Expending the amount of energy required to hold warp 9 for
six weeks, particularly travelling back the way we've just come, is
completely out of the question."
"You can't leave Tom as a cat," Chakotay protested. Then he flushed
as B'Elanna raised her eyebrows knowingly. "Or Harry as a sheep," he
Kathryn's eyes flashed dangerously.
"I have no intention of leaving them as animals," she growled. "They
are members of this crew and we will do everything in our power to
cure them. Set course to the planet at warp 3."
"May I point out, Captain, that at warp 3 it will take us almost six
months to arrive there," Tuvok interrupted politely.
"It's a more efficient use of energy," Kathryn replied firmly.
Everyone just blinked at her in disbelief.
She waited until they left her ready room before checking her data
padd again. Yes. It clearly stated that it would take six months for
Harry to grow another fleece and she just *had* to have a hat and
scarf to match the jumper she'd started to knit.
"Paris, you BASTARD!" Chakotay howled.
Tom just smirked from his safe perch on top of the wardrobe.
"The problem is that it's usually virtually invisible," the Doctor
"I'd noticed," Chakotay grated through clenched teeth.
"It only takes the smallest drop and a room the size of your quarters
is filled with the smell."
Chakotay just snarled.
"And unless you find the actual place that he sprayed and wipe it
off, no amount of air filters or deodorants will mask the scent," the
Doctor continued blithely. "You won't know you've even found it until
the smell clears and of course he could spray somewhere else in the
"Of course, since I have adjusted my olfactory sensors I am not
experiencing your discomfort," the Doctor added smugly, "But I should
point out that several people have made comments that suggest the
smell is beginning to permeate your uniforms."
"I smell?" Chakotay asked, in horror. His own nostrils had been so
clogged with the scent for a week that he had lost the ability to
"Put it this way, Commander. Unless you want to spend the rest of the
voyage doing bridge shifts on your own, I suggest you make your peace
with Mr. Paris."
"You seem really happy," B'Elanna said suspiciously.
Neelix finished his rendition of the great Maestro
Bantalentaxi's "Ode to the joy of rummaging through someone else's
garbage" by slapping his ladle in a flourishing gesture that sent an
arc of blue Leola stew over the counter. It narrowly missed the
Captain's table but fortunately she was too preoccupied with her
knitting to notice.
"I'm in love," Neelix confessed, his eyes sparkling happily.
"In love?" B'Elanna asked cautiously.
"He's such a *friendly* little chap," Neelix confided.
"Harry of course," Neelix replied, with a dreamy look on his face.
"I don't want to know any more," B'Elanna choked, before turning and
fleeing the mess hall.
Neelix turned sadly to Harry.
"Perhaps I should have pointed out that ours is the kind of love that
is so pure that it transcends the need for sex," he said
miserably. "But, then again, no one except the Captain has ever
understood *that* idea."
"Baaaa" Harry agreed,
"So," Chakotay continued as he lay sprawled on his bed, one hand
under his head, the other absently rubbing Tom's fur, "now I've
figured out why the Captain is delaying the journey, I've asked the
Doctor to figure out a way to accelerate the growth of Harry's wool."
Tom purred happily and began to knead his claws affectionately
against Chakotay's stomach.
"Owch," Chakotay complained, as Tom got a little carried away.
"Blert," Tom apologised, sheathing his claws a little.
"If it works, and Kathryn gets her fleece, we should be at the planet
in a fortnight. Then, hopefully, someone can turn you back into a
Tom bumped his head gratefully against Chakotay's hand.
"I'm going to miss you, though," Chakotay confessed. "I know we had a
rocky start, but now I'm so used to having you here when I get off
shift that my quarters are going to feel really empty without you."
Tom just purred noisily. It gave Chakotay the courage to say what
he'd been working up to.
"So, assuming we reach the planet, and you get changed back and you
go back to the helm," he began.
Tom rumbled encouragingly.
"You obviously won't be a cat anymore and you'll want to do human
things again," Chakotay continued
Tom's purring deepened.
"So, um, I was wondering."
"Well, feel free to refuse, of course."
"Well, I wondered whether you'd mind spending the next two weeks
concentrating on catching the rest of the rodents on deck nine."
"OW!" Chakotay yelled, as Tom launched himself of Chakotay's stomach,
leaving a trail of claw marks behind.
"I thought you LIKED catching the mice!" he yelled after Tom's
They were stood in a large cave that looked like a cross between a
dungeon and a classroom. At the front of the cave there was a huge
stone-hewn table that looked worryingly like a sacrificial alter. The
rest of the cave was filled with rows of tables and chairs.
Four of the tables were strewn with blank parchment and old fashioned
From behind the top table, the dark-robed alien's vivid eyes blazed
from beneath a tall, pointed hat. He glared at the assembled group in
"Don't you know better than to touch things you don't understand?" he
growled, tossing his cape dramatically to emphasise his annoyance.
"Baaa." Harry whimpered, glaring at Tom accusingly.
Tom just gave a cocky smirk and then showed his contempt of the whole
proceedings by noisily licking his balls.
The alien frowned over his flowing grey beard and struck his staff
twice on the ground.
A deafening cacophony rang out as though a huge bell was pealing
above their heads and the room filled with blue smoke. When the smoke
finally cleared, both Harry and Tom had been restored to human form.
The only evidence of their experience was Harry's badly shaved head.
"Oh shit," they said simultaneously as they realised they were naked.
Blushing furiously, they covered their groins with their hands.
The alien fixed his baleful glare on them both.
"Sit down," he snapped, gesturing at a couple of desks. "You're both
going to write one thousand times `I will not touch things that don't
belong to me'."
Both Chakotay and Kathryn smirked.
The Alien gave a cold smile.
"I don't know what you two think is so funny," he snapped. "You're
going to be punished too."
"Us?" Kathryn asked, plaintively.
"You will write one thousand times, "I won't let my personal desire
for hand-knits interfere with my responsibility to look after the
individual members of my crew.'"
"That's not fair. It's twice as long as their sentence," Kathryn
"It's either that or hand over the jumpers!" the Alien replied.
Kathryn swallowed heavily and picked up her quill.
"What about me?" Chakotay asked.
The Alien just grinned nastily.
Tom sprawled happily on the grass and decided life was good.
"It's a really nice program, isn't it?" he declared. "Sun, peace,
quiet, rolling hills and best of all, I paid for it out of your own
"Oh, lighten up," Tom declared. "The wizard guy said you'd only be
like this for as long as I was a cat. In the meantime, try and think
of it as a holiday or something."
Chakotay gave a disgusted huff, sank down on his haunches next to Tom
and nudged him impatiently.
"What?" Tom demanded lazily. He looked down at Chakotay and sighed.
"Okay then, but only once more," he agreed. "My hand still hurts from
writing all those lines."
Chakotay gave an excited grin and surged to his feet.
"Fetch!" Tom yelled, lobbing the stick as far as he could throw it.
The big black wolf charged eagerly across the field, his tail wagging
frantically as he chased the stick.
"Enjoy it while you can, big guy. Tomorrow you're gonna be on rodent