Title: Beginnings (5/7)
Couples: 7 & Paris (P/T)
Rating: R (for language)
Disclaimer:  I don‘t own the characters... Paramount does.  I can‘t even
get a micron of Voyager‘s dust for myself.  I made no money off the use
of their characters, and I promise to return everyone when I‘m done,
happier and more sexually satisfied!

This is the *very* first part of the story I began in Welcomes.  As such
I have to establish the *old* dynamic *before* I can establish the one I
came up with in "Welcomes".  Don‘t worry, those of you who enjoyed my
pairings in "Welcomes" will enjoy this story as well.

WARNING! Spoilers for everything I‘ve seen so far (up to "Pathfinder" in
Voyager‘s Sixth Season)... so if ya don‘t want to be spoiled *don‘t*
read it!  

This story begins during the end of Season five... but before the events
portrayed in "Equinox I".

Thoughts of the characters are contained between the double forward
slashes (//).

Summary: The Winds of Change, they are a blowin‘

Sue has to control her instinct to laugh when she reads Harry‘s exiting line. She shakes her head, and bites her lip. //Harry, my good man, that collection of late 20th century dance music I introduced to you is affecting how you speak to me. But then, it‘s about time that he realizes my logic is *superior* to his! Oh crap, Lieutenant Torres is looking at me.//

"Something you‘d like to share with the rest of us, Ensign?"

"No, Lieutenant. Just a message from Ops, replying to an earlier query of mine."

B‘Elanna crosses her arms over her chest, and stares at Sue. "Does it have something to do with the project you are working on, right now?"

"No, Ma‘am." Sue swallows nervously, as B‘Elanna‘s opinion on ‚frivolous‘ comms or messages during working hours is legendary in the Engineering Department.

"Well then, remind Ensign Kim that we *actually* work down here."

"Yes, Ma‘am." Sue watches as B‘Elanna returns to whatever had been occupying her time before. //¡Dios Mio! That was close. But it‘ll make an interesting story to tell the girls tonight. Gotta remember to make copies of the pre-selected songs and put them on PADDs for everyone.// Continuing to make mental notes to herself, Sue finishes off her shift in Engineering.

Seven is standing near the computer console in Cargo Bay 2, a slight frown forming on her face. She glares at the terminal before her, and shuts it off with a sigh. Her head raises when she hears the doors to the Cargo Bay open. She turns, and spots Tom standing only a few feet inside her ‚home‘. She lifts an eyebrow, and says, "Can I help you with something, Ensign Paris?"

Tom gives her his cocky flyboy grin. "That depends on how far you are willing to *help* me."

Seven stares at him. "No."

"I haven‘t even suggested anything yet."

"My answer is still ‚No‘, Ensign Paris. You are observing my body in a manner I normally only associate with you observing Lieutenant Torres. In recent days you and the Lieutenant have avoided each other in nearly 87.6 percent of the encounters I have observed. Further, your manner towards me at this moment in time could be considered flirtatious."

"And that‘s a bad thing, how?" He leans in closer to Seven.

Seven eyes him warily. "I do not wish to anger a half-Klingon. Also, I am expecting company soon."

"The Gruesome Threesome?"

"If by that remark you mean, Ensigns Delaney and Ensign Nicoletti, then yes."

"Saints preserve us all!" Tom shouts to the ceiling. He looks back at Seven, noticing her staring at him quizzically. "I just meant that with the four most attractive women on this ship combining forces, *no* one will ever be safe again."

Seven is stopped from replying, by her comm badge beeping. "Nicoletti to Seven of Nine."

Seven taps her comm badge. "Seven of Nine here. State your business, Susan."

Sue‘s laughter can be heard coming over the comm channel. "Seven, I‘m running late, so why don‘t y‘all go to dinner without me. I‘ll head for the Cargo Bay after I get done up here."

"Very well. Thank you for informing me of your detainment, Susan. I will let Megan and Jennifer know of it. Seven out." Seven taps her comm badge, closing the channel. She looks at Tom again. "You are still here."

"Of course I am. You didn‘t get to respond to my last barb." He smiles at her, she smiles back. "I‘ve got an idea. How about you and me going to dinner together. We can sit with Jenny and Megan, or by ourselves. Either way, it‘ll get the gossips wagging their tongues about *you* again." He offers her his elbow.

She laces her own through it. "I accept your offer of accompaniment to dinner. We are eating in the Resort."

"Great! Sun, sand, and beautiful women surrounding me. What more could a guy ask for?"

Seven notices they are drawing many stunned looks on the way to the turbolift. "Perhaps a shuttle that does not crash?"

Tom guffaws with laughter as they enter a crowded turbolift. He calls out their destination. "Deck Six." He spots B‘Elanna standing at the back of the crowd, and merely tightens his hand on Seven‘s arm. Tom turns back towards Seven. "You‘re right. A shuttle that doesn‘t crash *would* make my life more perfect than it is right now."

The ‚lift stops at Deck Nine, and B‘Elanna elbows her way off. She turns and glares at Tom, locking gazes with him as the doors shut. Tom keeps a grin on his face, until they reach Deck Six and he and Seven exit. He walks over, and leans his head against a bulkhead.

"Shit." He says softly.

Seven notices his demeanor, and rightfully assumes that he is concerned about B‘Elanna having just seen them. "Nothing will happen."

Tom rouses himself to stare at her, his shock complete. "What?"

"Nothing will happen. Simply tell Lieutenant Torres that you were accompanying a friend to dinner. May I suggest roses of the ‚Fire and Ice‘ variety?"

"What are you talking about?"

"When you make your apologies to the Lieutenant. I found the breed of flower while researching Terran botany. It‘s not as beautiful as the ‚Arizona Sunrise‘ breed, but much more suitable to your situation."

"My *situation*? What, pray tell, do *you* know about my *situation*?"

His lowered voice a warning to anyone else, Seven just raises her chin, and stares at him. "You are fighting with Lieutenant Torres. In the time I studied your relationship, I found that you often made up to the Lieutenant with *red* roses. The same course of action is logical in this case, but after having studied the database on the ‚Language of Roses‘ I have determined that red may not be the correct color. White, often depicted sorrow or apology, while red tipped white roses, denoted ones apology towards ones lover. Since you are making up to your lover, I recommend the ‚Fire and Ice‘ breed, as I already mentioned."

"You are something else! Here I am, flirting with you and *you* are offering *me* suggestions on getting back together with B‘Elanna! Most women would take what I am offering them!"

"I am not most women, Ensign Paris. If you ever truthfully broke up with Lieutenant Torres, and flirted with me then, I would not be offering you this advice. But I can see in both of you a desire to remain together. Many others on board would not see it, but *I* have studied you." She glances at his chronometer. "Now come along. Megan and Jennifer will become concerned at my tardiness."

Tom lets himself be dragged into the Resort, laughing. He notices many people looking over at them as they enter. Seven leads him over to a round table, where Jenny and Megan Delaney are already seated. Both women glance up when they spot Seven heading their way, and their eyes widen when they see him with her. "I think maybe we should have called and warned the Delaneys," he whispers to her.

"And ruin the surprise?" she whispers back. "Where‘s the fun in *that*?"

He chuckles. "You hang out with *me* far too often for your own good, Seven." When they are standing at the table, he pulls out Seven‘s chair for her, and she sits down. He sits down in the fourth chair, and grins at the Delaney sisters. "I hope you ladies don‘t mind, but Seven was kind enough to offer me dinner, as Sue won‘t be joining us."

Both Delaneys whip their heads around to face Seven. "He speaks the truth, about Susan at least. Shall we order?" All three heads nod their agreement, and Seven signals the waitress their readiness to order.

The bronzed, sun-bleached blond smiles at them. "Hi folks, I‘m Cynthia. I‘ll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you folks?"

Tom begins. "I‘ll have an order of Paris-Alpha-four, hot."

The waitress notes that on her pad. "And to drink?"

"Water will be fine." He looks at Jen. "Jenny?"

Jen looks at the waitress. "I‘ll have J. Delaney-Gamma-seven. And I‘ll have water as well."

The waitress looks and Megan, pen at the ready. Megan smiles. "I want an order of Carey-Beta-four, heavy on the guacamole. Water will suit me just fine."

The waitress adds her order, and turns to look at Seven. "And for you Ma‘am?"

"I would like Kim-Epsilon-twelve, with extra chestnuts. Also, charge all the orders to me."

"You don‘t have to do that, Seven," Jen insists.

"Yes, I do. You treated me to dinner last night, and Ensign Paris has treated me to dinner many times. It is the least I can do." Seven keys her replicator code in for the waitress, who then leaves their table.

Megan smiles at Seven. "Well, next time we eat together, *I* get to treat you then."

Seven smiles back. "I accept, Megan."

Tom shakes his head. "I‘ve seen you smile more in the last three days, than the last two years, Seven. I think the Delaney sisters are good for you."

"They are, Ensign Paris."

Jen and Megan both laugh at her comment. Tom blushes, when he realizes how the comments *could* be taken. "Don‘t you think you should call me *Tom*? You‘re calling everyone else by their first names."

"Very well, *Tom*." Her stress on his name so obvious, it sends Jen and Megan into a fit of the giggles. Seven merely raises her left eyebrow at them. Tom shakes his head.

Their waitress returns with a large carafe of water and four glasses. "Your meals will be right up, folks." She hurries away.

Tom‘s comm badge chirps, and then Harry‘s voice can be heard. "Kim to Paris."

Tom smiles, and winks at Seven. "I think the gossips on this ship are getting more efficient." He taps his badge. "Paris here. What do you want, Harry?"

"I want you to tell me the rumor I just heard is false."

Jenny giggles then. "He can‘t Harry. It‘s true. Our secret is out. Tom‘s actually having an affair with me, Megan, and Seven."

While Tom glares at Jenny, Seven speaks up. "That is not entirely correct, Jennifer. We must not forget Susan‘s participation in this action."

Tom is trying hard not to laugh. From the other end of the comm channel, Harry Kim is going ballistic. "TOM! Are you *crazy*?!? B‘Elanna will have your head mounted on the warp core for this!"

"Harry, calm down. The girls are just playing with you. We‘re having dinner! You don‘t believe me? Check out our location, and that of Sue Nicoletti. Now, unless this is life threatening, I‘m going to close the channel because our dinners are heading towards the table." Tom closes the channel before Harry can say anything else.

"That was mean of you Tom, not inviting Harry to join in on dinner."

"But I want you three all to myself tonight, Megan. Can‘t start the tongues wagging properly if we have another *guy* join us!"

"You‘re bad, Tom!"

"But that‘s what you love most about me, Jenny."

"Your ego is quite impressive, Tom. Perhaps you two should have your own table?" Seven asks him in a completely deadpan manner.

Jen and Megan snort appreciatively, and Tom just looks at her. Their waitress and another server bring their dinners to them. "One tomato soup and PBJ sandwich for the man. One order of Chicken Pesto pizza for the lady. One beef burrito, all the trimmings, heavy on the guacamole for the lady. And one order of vegetarian chow mein, extra chestnuts, for the blond. You folks need anything else?" She pauses a moment. "Okay, you need anything, give me a holler."

"Thank you, Cynthia." Seven nods to the waitress, then begins to eat her dinner.

"I never pictured you for the Chow Mein type, Seven," Megan comments as she wolfs down her burrito.

"It is a pleasing combination of complex-carbohydrates and vegetables."

"Plus, Harry‘s chow mein programs have a *wicked* sauce to them!" Tom adds on.

The Delaneys merely shake their heads, and the foursome grow quiet as they eat their dinner. The companionable silence growing around them, so that they are able to hear the whispers about them.

  "Can you believe him?  Not even a week‘s gone by..."
  "How do we know the BORG didn‘t seduce him into coming?"
  "And those Delaneys!  Didn‘t I tell you about them?"

Seven hears Jen inhale sharply at that last comment. Megan looks over at her sister, but finishes her dinner. She whispers, "Don‘t let them get to you, Jenny. They‘re just jealous."

Jen swallows another bite of her pizza. "I know Meggie. But it still hurts."

Tom takes Jen‘s hand in his own. "Just remember what ‚Old Iron Britches‘ used to say."

As one the three ‚Fleet Brats intone, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me." They begin giggling together.

"I... do not understand."

Jen turns to look at Seven. "It‘s an old joke, Seven. It‘s a quote from I don‘t know where... but most ‚Fleet Brats learn it right away when we reach the Academy. I think Jen and I learned it from Wesley Crusher. I can‘t remember who he learned it from. Do you remember Meggie?"

"Nope. I think he learned it his freshman year, though."

"Yeah, I think you‘re right. Anyway, the quote helps us ‚Fleet Brats get through the taunts and stuff we get from our peers at the Academy. I think it‘s jealousy that we‘ve been exposed to ‚Fleet stuff our whole lives. But the quote still helps when you get a lot of gossip thrown your way as well."

"Interesting. I will remember this." Seven notices that all have finished their dinners. "May I suggest we adjourn to the Cargo Bay? Susan is likely waiting for us, and we have given the ships gossips enough material for one night." She rises and turns to Tom. "Thank you for joining us for dinner, Tom. Please feel free to join us again soon."

Tom stands up, and bows formally to the trio of women. "It was my pleasure, ladies. Might I escort you to your next destination?"

Megan smiles at Tom. "Sure, Tom. Just be careful what you say around Sue. She might take it the wrong way."

The foursome exit Holodeck One laughing. As the doors close on them, the volume level increases exponentially, and everyone there knows they will be telling friends who were not there all about it.

End Part Five

Helpful translation:
< Sue "&iexcl;Dios Mio!" (My God!)