Several minutes later, Tom emerged from the turbolift and stepped onto the Bridge.  Actually, he stumbled after Voyager rocked from an encounter with an ion particle.  He steadied himself and barked in Janeway style, "Report!"

Ayala rose from the Command chair.  "The ship is still in the middle of the ion storm," he replied.  "With the external sensors off-line, we weren't able to avoid it in time.  And I've sent Andrews to Holodeck One with a Security detail."  A frown creased the tall man's brow.  "By the way, why are they needed there?"

"I'll tell you later," Tom shot back.  He eased into the Command chair and addressed the crewman standing behind the Ops station.  "Holman, where is that storm coming from?"

Holman informed Tom that the ion storm was moving at 43 degrees from the board.  And that the storm had damaged Voyager's hull.  With that information, Tom ordered the shields at full maximum and instructed the pilot at the Conn to follow the storm's direction.

"Sir?"  Wide blue eyes stared at Tom.  He saw the fear and anxiety expressed on Ensign Jenkins' face.  "I . . . I don't know . . . I mean . . ."

Following Janeway's example, Tom stood up and walked down to the Conn station.  He placed a hand on his subordinate's shoulder.  "Don't worry, Liz.  I understand.  This is your first ion storm.  So, we'll just take it one step at a time.  Okay?"  He flashed a reassuring smile at Jenkins.  Who immediately relaxed.

It took them nearly a half hour to ride the storm.  Once Voyager entered clear space, everyone on the Bridge visibly relaxed and heaved sighs of relief.  Tom complimented Jenkins on her piloting skills.  Then he faced the rest of the Bridge crew.  "I realize all of you are anxious to end your shift," he continued, "but I'm afraid you'll have to remain on the Bridge a little longer."  Groans and murmurs filled the Bridge.  "It seems a . . . situation has developed in the Holodeck."

Ayala frowned and stared at Tom.  "Lieutenant?"

Tom nodded toward the Captain's Ready Room and the two men left the Bridge.  Once inside the smaller room, Tom revealed what had occurred during the festivities.  The former Maquis' eyes grew round, until they nearly popped out of his sockets by the time Tom finished.  Although the acting Captain had left out Janeway's actions, Ayala seemed completely shocked by the whole story.  "You've got to be kidding!" he managed to utter.  "You mean to say that two-thirds of the crew are drunk?"

"I suppose you can call it that," Tom replied.  "To be honest, not all of them seem drunk.  Just a little odd."  The Captain's overt attempts of seduction popped into his head.  He began to wonder how B'Elanna had reacted to the Valax.  "That's why I had you send a Security team to help Neelix gather the crew.  Doc is working on a new kind of inaprovaline to counter it and I . . ."  His combadge beeped.

"Neelix to Paris"

Tom responded, "Go ahead, Neelix."

The Talaxian explained that he and the Security team had managed to round up several of the partygoers.  "Unfortunately, a good number of them have left the Holodeck, including Ensign Kim, Seven, Commander Chakotay, B'Elanna and a few others.  We could use more help in finding them."

"You've got it," Tom quickly replied.  "As soon as I check on the Doc in Si . . ."

Loud noises from his combadge interrupted Tom.  They were soon followed by a cry from Neelix.  "Oh my heavens!  Commander, what are doing?"

Tom and Ayala exchanged glances.  "Neelix," the former continued, "what's going on in there?"

"Uh, it's nothing, Tom.  Just Commander Tuvok climbing onto one of the tables.  I gather he is about to give us a taste of Vulcan culture."  A quick cough followed.  "I'll get back to you later, Tom.  Neelix out."

"Neelix?"  No reply came from Tom's combadge.  He heaved a sigh and faced Ayala.  "You might as well return to the Bridge, Mike.  I think you're going to be there for quite a while.  Meanwhile, I'll go and see what the hell is going on."

* * * *

It had not been difficult for Neelix and the Security Team to track down most of the missing Starfleet partygoers.  Since most of them were roaming about the Fair Haven simulation, the searchers managed to round up many Starfleeters inside Michael Sullivan's pub.  Yet, several of the partygoers remained elusive - including the majority of the Senior Staff.  Neelix conveyed this information when he contacted Tom.  

While he talked with the Chief Pilot, loud cheers caught Neelix's attention.  He glanced up and to his shock, saw Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok climbed upon one of the tables.  "Attention everyone!" the usually stoic Vulcan cried out.

More shock followed when Tuvok removed his Starfleet jacket, while onlookers whistled and clapped.  "Oh my heavens!" Neelix cried out.  "Commander!  What are you doing?"

Tom's voice demanded over the combadge, "Neelix, what's going on in there?" 

Time to nip this little problem in the bud.  Neelix quickly placated Tom, explaining that Tuvok had climbed upon one of the tables.  He did not bother to include Tuvok removing the jacket, much to the pleasure of others.  Especially the women.  "I'll get back to you later, Tom.  Neelix out."

The moment he broke contact with Tom, Neelix rushed over to the Security Chief standing on the table.  "Mr. Vulcan, please!  Stop making an exhibition of yourself!"  Tuvok ignored Neelix's pleading and proceeded to remove the gray tunic.  "Mr. Vulcan!  Tuvok!"

Strong hands grabbed Neelix's arm and dragged him away from the table.  Hands that belonged to Sue Nicoletti, one of Voyager's top engineers.  "Let him finish whatever he was doing, Neelix," she said in a voice huskier than usual.  "It's so rare to see Tuvok so . . . so open like this."  Her blue eyes glistened with lust.

"Lieutenant, I have to stop this.  Commander Tuvok doesn't realize what he . . ."  A gray turtleneck shirt soared in the air and landed on Neelix's head.  Laughter filled the pub.  The Talaxian removed the offending shirt and glanced up.  Tuvok now wore his gray undershirt, black pants and nothing else.  He had already removed his boots and socks.

The Vulcan stood upright on the table, his legs slightly apart and hands on hips.  "Since today is a holiday . . ."  It amazed Neelix that in a state of intoxication, Tuvok could still project a dignified appearance.  ". . . I will perform a song beloved on my homeworld.  It is called 'Falor's Journey'."  He cleared his voice and began to sing in a soft, deep voice.

Again, Neelix rushed toward the singing officer, only to be stopped by several hands.  Andrews and the other Security were even less successful.  Determined to end the exhibition, Neelix turned to another source.  He pushed his  way through the crowd and stopped before the fiddler who had began to accompany Tuvok.  Neelix attempted to tear the instrument from the hologram's hand, but others shoved him away and he found himself as frustrated as ever.

"Neelix, what is going on?"  The Talaxian found Captain Janeway at his side.  Her hands were busy fastening the buttons along the front of her blouse.  Even more amazing were the strands of hair that had escaped her bun.  Her eyes fell upon the Security chief in the center of the pub.  "Oh.  I thought I recognized 'Falor's Journey'.  What verse is Tuvok now singing?"

Stunned by the Captain's disheveled appearance and the events of the past few minutes, Neelix hesitated.  "Huh?  Oh, uh, I have no idea."

"I can tell you that you're in for a long performance.  There are 348 verses in 'Falor's Journey'.  Why is he half-dressed?"

I can ask the same about you, Neelix silently added.  "To be honest, Captain, I have no idea.  I tried to stop him."

"Why?  He looks comfortable."  A predatory light gleamed in Janeway's eyes as she continued to stare at Tuvok.  "And I'm not complaining."

The Captain's rejoinder knocked Neelix into a loop.  What was going on here?  And what happened to Tom and the Doctor?  They were supposed to help him.

"By the way," the Captain continued, "where is the delectable Mr. Paris?  Why hasn't he returned?"

Neelix nervously explained that Tom had an emergency to deal with on the Bridge.  

"Still?"  The Captain's eyes remained on Tuvok.  "And Chakotay?  Where is he?"

"Actually, I don't know, Captain.  I've been searching for him and the other senior staff members."  Neelix's eyes scanned the pub.  "I suppose the Commander is back in his quarters."  I hope so, the Talaxian thought.  Then he caught sight of  Michael Sullivan entering from the pub's back room.  Like the Captain, he looked relaxed and slightly disheveled.  "I see that Mr. Sullivan is available."

Janeway acknowledged the Irishman's presence with a sultry glance.  "I've already had my brief moment in the sun with Mr. Sullivan."  Her eyes returned to Tuvok.  "Besides, it's time to move on to other pastures."  A lavacious smile spread across her face.

Her remark shocked Neelix.  "Captain!  What are you . . .?"

"Paris to Neelix," chirped the Talaxian's combadge.  "Neelix?  Neelix, are you there?  What the hell is going on?"

Neelix let out a long sigh and answered, "Nothing at the moment, Tom.  Everything is fine.  Where  are you?"  Tom replied that he was on his way to Holodeck One.  "Oh, don't bother.  I have everything under control."  He glanced at the Captain, who seemed very interested in his conversation.  "I'll meet you in . . ."  Neelix broke off when he caught sight of a familiar figure standing in the doorway.  A wide-eyed Naomi Wildman.  "Uh, Tom, I'll get back to you, later.   Something's come up.  Neelix out."  
He deactivated his combadge before Tom could respond.

Forgetting Tom, the Captain, Tuvok  and just about everyone else, Neelix rushed toward the young half-Ktarian.  "Naomi!  What are you doing here?  Aren't you suppose to be back in your quarters by now, with your mother?"

Naomi's small mouth formed a pout.  "Mom is still on the Bridge.  And Icheb is in Engineering.  Besides, I'm lonely.  Why can't I stay here?"  Her eyes focused on the singing Vulcan.  "And why is Tuvok singing, dressed like that?"

Noticing his goddaughter's glance, Neelix grabbed hold of her shoulders and swerved her around.  "You shouldn't be here.  It's not safe.  Especially with everyone acting strange.  Now, why don't you say good-bye to the Captain and . . ."

"Where is she?"

Neelix glanced at the spot where he had left the Captain.  And noticed that she had disappeared.  A careful scrutiny of the pub revealed that she was no where to be found.  Oh no!  The Talaxian tapped his combadge.  "Neelix to Paris."

A heavy sigh echoed over the combadge.  "Paris here!  Neelix, what's going on?  Why did you cut me off like that?"

The Talaxian explained Naomi's sudden appearance inside the Holodeck.  "There's another problem, Tom."

"What?"  Even the combadge failed to disguised the pilot's exasperated tone.

Neelix continued, "It seems another member of the senior staff has gone missing.  It's Captain Janeway."

* * * * 

At that moment, it seemed that the Universe had turned against Thomas Eugene Paris - again.  He had already survived a great deal in his life - being the only son of Owen Paris, disappointment at being forced to enroll in Starfleet, Caldik Prime, the Maquis, prison, being hurled into the Delta Quadrant, the Warp 10 flight, Seska and the Kazon, the Atkirian prison with Harry, the Borg, the Hirogen, that damn DNA-snatching alien, B'Elanna's depression, his demotion, Alice, the war memorial on Tarakis, the B
org again . . .  Tom sighed.  The Universe certainly had a lot to answer for.  And now this.

After so many years of avoiding voluntary command of the Bridge, he had finally agreed to a little experience in the Big Chair.  And what happens?  He misses part of the St. Patrick's Day celebration in the Fair Haven simulation - a celebration that happened to be his idea.  Voyager drifts into an ion storm and the ship's external sensors are damaged.  And now, he learns that Neelix had served a non-synthehol drink to the crew, causing them to behave erratically.  What else could go wrong?

The moment those last words flashed through Tom's mind, the turbolift's doors slid open.  He stepped out and ran smack into a soft body in white and teal.  "What the . . .?" Tom murmured.  He shook his head before his eyes focused on the figure of a sprawled on the floor.  One of the Delaney twins.  Which one, Tom had no idea.

The young beauty wore a 19th century white blouse and teal skirt that fitted her body nicely.  She glanced up at Tom and smiled.  Dimples formed on each cheek.  Ah!  Now he knew!  "Gods, Jenny!  I'm sorry.  I didn't see you coming.  Here, let me help you . . ."

"I'm Megan," slurred the Delaney twin.

Tom blinked.  "Huh?  Oh, sorry about that."  He reached down and grabbed her hand.  Intending to pull Megan to her feet, Tom found himself being jerked to the floor.  "Hey!"  He sprawled on top of her.

Megan gave Tom a seductive smile and began to giggle.  "Oh Tommy," she whispered in his ear, "it's me, Megan."  A faint odor of alcohol reached Tom's nostrils.  She grabbed his jacket front.  "Tom-my!  Tommy Boy!  Come play with me."  Megan stuck her tongue into his ear.

"Jenny!  What the hell are you doing?"  Tom jerked his head away and attempted to free himself from the young officer's strong grip.

"I'm Megan, silly boy!  And stop fighting!   C'mon Tommy Boy!  Why don't you put on that tight, sexy Captain Proton outfit of yours, so we can explore where every man and woman have gone before."  Another burst of giggles followed.

Tom rolled his eyes.  There was nothing worse than hearing one's old pick-up line from someone else's mouth.  "Jen . . . uh, Megan, this is no way for a Starfleet officer to behave!"  He continued in his attempts to free himself from the young woman's grip  Unfortunately, he found himself losing the struggle.  Christ!  Megan seemed to have the strength of ten drunken Klingons on shore leave.  Or a pon-farred Vulcan out of control.

Female arms looped around his neck in a vise-like grip.  Megan inched her puckered lips toward Tom's face.  A little voice inside his head murmured, "Might as well give in, Tom.  One little kiss won't hurt.  And it will probably get her off your back."  However, another inner voice argued, "Are you out of your mind, Paris?  Kissing another woman behind your half-Klingon wife's back?  You might as well commit suicide!"

Survival instincts kicked in and Tom's common sense returned.  He made another attempt to pull away from Megan's grip, but she continued to put up a strong resistance.  "Megan, let go of . . ."

"Tom?"  He did not recognize the quivering tone, but he certainly recognized that voice.  Tom closed his eyes, praying that he might be mistaken.  Then he opened them and focused on a lilac skirt - the same skirt he had coerced B'Elanna into wear to the festival.   As his life began to flash through his mind, Tom glanced up into the pair of sable eyes that belonged to his wife.  "Tom, what are you doing?"

Tom smiled weakly.  "Uh, B'Elanna, let me explain . . ."

"What's going on?"  Expecting a swift kick to the skull, Tom frowned at the melancholy tone that seemed so unlike B'Elanna.  "Are you two . . .?"

Tom struggled to his feet.  Or tried.  Megan maintained a strong grip around his waist.  "B'Elanna, it's not what you think.  Let me . . .  Megan!  Will you please let go of me?  Let me explain, B'Elanna.  I had just stepped off the turbolift and ran straight into Me . . ."

 A strangled sob escaped B'Elanna's throat, catching Tom by surprise.  He had never heard such a depressing sound.  "Oh Tom!  Why?  Why do this to me now?  Is she the first?"

"No!  No, no!  B'Elanna you go it all wrong!"   Tom crawled toward his wife.  "This is purely a misunderstanding!  Nothing . . ."  He swatted Megan's busy hands away from his rear end.  "Nothing's going on!"  The turbolift's doors swished open again. Tears flowed from B'Elanna's eyes as she picked up her skirts and fled into the lift.  "B'Elanna?  B'Elanna!"  But the doors closed in his face before he could reach her.

* * * * 

Tom reasoned that he had no time to search the entire ship for his wayward wife.  Especially with over half of Voyager's crew acting like escapees from a lunatic asylum.  His first priority was to deliver the very randy Megan Delaney to Sick Bay.  Only how would he accomplish this?

An idea finally came to him.  Tom stood up and forced Megan to her unsteady feet.  While she gripped his arms, weaving back and forth, he whispered in her ear, "Say Jen . . . uh, Megan, instead of hanging around here, I know where we can find some privacy.  And play Captain Proton and Demonica to our hearts' content.  What do you say?"  Tom gave the stellar cartographer his most intimate smile

Lo and behold, it worked.  Megan's bleary eyes lit up with desire.  "Hmmm, your place or mine?" she slurred.  A giggle escaped her lips.

Tom struggled to keep his eyes from rolling.  He took a deep breath.  God, this was hard!  "Actually," he continued to whisper, "I was thinking of Sick Bay.  We'll have soft lights and plenty of beds to choose from."  Then he leaned forward and nipped Megan's earlobe.  B'Elanna, he prayed inwardly, forgive me.  "And plenty of privacy.  The Doc's still in Holodeck One."

Again, Megan giggled.  "Ooooh, now you're talking!"  She grabbed the pilot's arm and dragged him along the corridor.

Surprised by Megan's rough manhandling, Tom complained.  "Gods, Megan!  Why don't you just bash me on the head with a club and drag me by the hair to the nearest room?"

"Don't be silly, Tommy!"  A wide grin spread across Megan's face.  "I'm not Klingon and you don't have enough hair for me to grab!"

* * * * 
"Mister Paris," the Doctor greeted Tom in his usual curt manner.  He cut short his next remark when his eyes focused on the figure of a Delaney twin gripping one the Chief Pilot's arms.  His eyes narrowed.  "What is this?"

Tom dumped the squirming woman on one of the biobeds.  "This is a Megan Delaney," he shot back.  "I found her near one of the turbolifts on Deck 5.  And I had one hell of a time getting her here.  Now, about that antidote to the Valax," Tom heaved a sigh and straightened his uniform, "have you found one yet?"

"As a matter of fact, I have."  The Doctor picked up a hypospray from a nearby tray.  "It's right here.  It's an altered version of the usual inaprovaline I use for those who are intoxicated.  And all I have to do is apply it to all of those who drank Mister Neelix's concoction after we round them up."

"Will it work?"

Will it work?  After all the medical breakthroughs he had accomplished in the Delta Quadrant and the numerous times he had saved lives, someone had the nerve to question his ability?  Affronted by Tom's question, the EMH glared at the pilot.  "Of course it will work!" he snapped.  "I happen to know what I'm doing, Mister Paris.  Or have you forgotten . . .?"

"No, Doc!  I haven't forgotten about your programming.  Or your great medical breakthroughs," Tom interrupted in a weary voice.  "Now, will you please get on with it?"

Impertinent!  The Doctor seared his assistant with one more glare, heaved a sigh and pressed the hypospray against Ensign Delaney's neck.  "She should be rendered unconscious any minute," he announced.

A minute passed.  Ensign Delaney, to the EMH's consternation, remained conscious.  "Why are you two staring at me?" she slurred.  "Tommy, I thought you said that the Doctor would be at the party?"

Panic filled Lieutenant Paris' eyes.  The Doctor would have been amused if he did not have other concerns.  Namely, Ensign Delaney's failure to react to the drug.  "Doc," the pilot added, "I thought you said she would be unconscious."

The hologram frowned.  "I don't understand!  She should be.  The inaprovaline is supposed to work immediately."

Ensign Delaney's eyes grew round.  "Don't understand what?"  When the Doctor leaned forward to apply another shot from the hypospray, she flinched back.  "What are you doing with that?"

"Something's wrong," the Doctor grimly announced.  "The inaprovaline isn't working."

Tom muttered, "Maybe you should have tried coffee.  That's always a good remedy for a hangover.  Believe me, I know from experience."

Coffee!  The Doctor's holographic eyes lit up.  "Of course!  It would not hurt to try."  After returning the hypospray back on the tray, he walked over to the replicator and ordered a copy of coffee.  Once the drink materialized, he opened the hypospray and added two drops of the inaprovaline into the drink.  "Here you go, Ensign," he said to the young woman, "drink this."  The EMH handed her the coffee.

Ensign Delaney shied away from the drink.  "I don't want any," she whined.  "I want more Valax!"  She began to slip off the biobed.  "Tommy!  I thought you said we would be alone."

Interesting, the Doctor thought, noting the pilot's embarrassed expression.  Ensign Delaney seemed to be the second female under the influence of Valax, to express sexual interest in Tom Paris.  The Doctor recalled how the Chief Pilot had to fight off Captain Janeway's advances inside the Holodeck.  He had never taken Lieutenant Paris' reputation with women seriously before.  For years he had assumed that reputation had been a creation of the pilot's imagination.  Apparently, he had been wrong.  Curious.

The lieutenant took a deep breath and walked over to the wavering ensign, catching her before she could fall flat on her face.  "We will be alone, Megan," Lieutenant Paris replied in a soft voice.  "Just as soon as you drink some coffee."  He paused, his face just inches away from Ensign Delaney's.  A seductive smile touched his lips.  "It has Valax in it.  You know how you like Irish coffee."

Ensign Delaney glanced at the coffee with a wrinkled nose.  "It doesn't look like Irish coffee.  Are you sure?  Where's the whipped cream?"  It amazed the hologram that a completely inebriated woman could be so picky.

Still smiling, Tom took the coffee from the Doctor's hand.  "But it's just as good.  See?"  He tipped the cup to his lips and tilt his head back.  "Hmmm!  Delicious!  Try some."

Only a person who was blind or too drunk would not have seen that Lieutenant Paris never took that sip of coffee.  Fortunately, Ensign Delaney was too drunk.  Her interest perked by Tom's feigned reaction, she grabbed the cup of coffee and drank in several gulps.  Both the EMH and the pilot stared at her with great expectation.  Ensign Delaney weaved slightly before . . .

"That was delicious!" the ensign crowed.  "May I have another cup?"  She thrust the cup in front of the Doctor's face.

The hologram turned a sour face toward the pilot.  "So much for our 'hangover theory', Lieutenant.  Any other bright ideas?"

His eyes wide with innocence, Lieutenant Paris protested.  "Don't look at me!  I'm not the medical expert here!  Maybe your little concoction doesn't work!"

Doesn't work?  The Doctor almost went into a hissy fit.  After nearly six years in the Delta Quadrant, he could not recall any medical failures - aside from a handful of patients beyond any help.  Of course, his antidote to the Valax worked!  It had to.  "Of course it works!" the Doctor snapped back.  "I just need the right agent to administer the antidote."

Tom retorted, "Well, why don't you try Neelix's godawful coffee?  At least it's made of Leola root, like the Valax!"  He paused and stared at the Doctor.  Who returned the stare.  Neelix's coffee.  Of course!

The Doctor tapped his combadge.  "Sickbay to Neelix."

"Neelix here," the Talaxian responded.  "Is there something I can do for you, Doctor?"

The hologram continued, "Yes, there is.  Do you have any of your coffee available in the Mess Hall?"

"Uh, well . . . not exactly.  I meant to make some, but I never got around to . . ."

"Go to the Galley and start making a new batch of coffee, Mister Neelix.  Now, if you please."

A pause followed before Neelix replied.  "Well, shouldn't you be finding a remedy for the Va. . ."

"The coffee, Mister Neelix!  NOW!  The Doctor out!"  The hologram tapped his combadge one last time and sighed.  Tiresome man!

A drunken voice from the biobed whined, "Hey?  What happened to my Irish coffee?"

* * * *

It did not take Neelix very long to brew a fresh pot of his special blend of coffee.  He felt surprised, however, that someone would actually request a cup.  Or a pot.  Being a shrewd person, the crew's preference for replicated coffee over his own had not escaped his notice. Nor the pot of freshly brewed coffee that always seemed partially full.  Even when Captain Janeway visited the Mess Hall.

Neelix filled an empty canister with the brew.  The doors to the Mess Hall slid open.  "Seven," he greeted the newly arrived ex-Borg.  "What are you doing here?"

Seven-of-Nine slowly weaved as she walked toward the galley.  "Neelix."  She regarded the Talaxian with heavy-lidded eyes.  Neelix noticed that she did not seem her usual precise self.  "Have you seen . . .?"  The former drone scanned the Mess Hall, wobbling on her high heels.

"Seven, are you feeling well?" Neelix asked.

The blond woman gripped the edge of the galley's counter to steady herself.  Her usually confident voice now slurred.  "Of course, I'm fine."  She flapped her hand in the air.  "I'm merely . . ."  Again, she glanced around.  A conspiratorial smile touched her lips.  "I'm . . . I'm merely looking for some . . . have you seen the Commander?"

One of Neelix's bushy brows quirked upward.  "The Commander?  You're looking for Commander Tuvok?"

"No!  No!"  Seven shook her head.  Several strands of her well-coiffered hair loosened.  "Not that commander."

The only other commander aboard Voyager happened to be the First Officer.  Only why was the obviously inebriated Seven searching for Chakotay?  "Ah!  If you are referring to Commander Chakotay, I haven't seen . . ."

Once more the Mess Hall's doors slid open.  "Neelix!"  A jovial Harry Kim burst into the room with one of the Delaney sisters on his arm.  Which one, Neelix had no idea.  Wearing a huge grin on his face, Ensign Kim continued, "There he is!  The man of the hour!  Say Neelix, do you have any more Valax around?"  His eyes focused on the canister sitting on the galley's countertop.  "Is that it?"  Ensign Delaney giggled.

Neelix sighed and replied, "Not exactly, Harry.  This is coffee."  He picked up the canister and shook it.  "Would you and Ensign Delaney like a cup?"

Harry dismissed the offer with a wave of his hand and leaned over the countertop.  "Are you sure there's no Valax?  Megan and I were looking forward to more."  His eyes fell upon the ex-Borg.  Harry smiled.  "Seven!  What are you doing here?"

An annoyed expression flitted across Seven's face.  She heaved a gust of breath.  "Why is everyone so conce . . . con . . . concerned . . . over my pres-s-sence in the Mess Hall?"

"I'm not," Jenny Delaney replied cattily.  She received a glare from the former drone.

Neelix added, "Actually, Seven is looking for Co . . ."

"Who cares?" Harry said, interrupting the Talaxian.  He leered at the blond woman, much to his companion's displeasure.  "Say Seven, how about joining me for a little bottle of Valax in Holodeck Two?"

"Hey!"  Something like a cross between a pout and a frown appeared on Ensign Delaney's face.  "What about me?  I'd like some Valax!  And you."

Harry shrugged.  "Okay.  Both of you can join me.  I won't mind."

The stellar cartographer slapped the Ops officer's shoulder.  "I would.  I'm not in the habit of sharing my men!"

Seven snorted, taking Neelix by surprise.  He had never heard the ex-Borg snort before.  "Why not?" she shot back.  "It seems to be the only way you can attract a man."

Something like a growl escaped Ensign Delaney's mouth.  "Why you Borg bitch!"  She released Harry's arm and started toward Seven with hands formed into claws.

Time to end this fight before it starts, Neelix thought.  Forever the diplomat, he stepped in between the two women.  "Now ladies," he began, "there is no need for this fighting.  It's unbecoming on a Starfleet ves. . ."  Seven shoved him out of the way, causing Neelix to slam against the galley's counter.  Soon, she and Megan were engaged in a catfight.  By some miracle, Ensign Delaney managed to hold out against the former drone.  Neelix wondered if the Valax had affected Ensign . . .

The sound of rattling pots and pans cut into the Talaxian's thoughts.  He glanced across the countertop and spotted Ensign Kim rummaging through his galley.  "Ensign Kim.  Harry!  What are you . . . Harry, there is no more Valax!"  Neelix sighed and realized that the young officer had not heard him.  "Mister Kim!  Please, I need your help."  Realizing he would not receive any from the Ops Chief, Neelix tapped his combadge.  "Neelix to Andrews.  I need your help in the Mess Hall.  There seemed to be a . . 
"  A fist snaked out and clipped the Talaxian's chin.  Darkness soon followed.

* * * * 

Yellow-orange eyes snapped open.  Tom sighed with relief at the sight of his friend gaining conscious.  "Neelix?  Are you awake?"

The Talaxian slowly eased into a sitting position.  Blinked his eyes several times.  "Where . . . where am I?"  He glanced around.

"Sick Bay," Tom replied.  He explained that Ensign Andrews had responded to a summons from the Mess Hall.  Which led to the discovery of an unconscious Neelix stretched across the floor.  "He beamed you to Sick Bay.  What happened?"

Shock welled inside Tom, while Neelix revealed a fight between Seven-of-Nine and Jenny Delaney.  Over Ensign Harry "Eager" Kim.  Tom could not believe his ears.
The Doctor, on the other hand, looked concerned.  "Seven didn't injure Ensign Delaney, did she?"

"No.  I'd say that the fight was evenly matched."  Neelix swung around, until his legs dangled from the biobed.  The EMH pressed a hypospray filled with anglesic into his neck.  "Surprisingly, Ensign Delaney managed to hold her own against Seven."

Recalling his wrestling match against Megan Delaney, Tom was not surprised.  Fermented Leola root mixed with alcohol, obviously brought out brute strength in female stellar cartographers of Irish descent.  A voice from the other side of Sick Bay cried out, "That's my sister!"  Megan erupted into a burst of giggles and then demanded a cup of Irish coffee.

"Irish coffee?" Neelix repeated, looking confused.

The Doctor dismissed the question with a wave.  "Another Earth drink," he said airily.  "Where is the coffee you were suppose to prepare?"

"I guess . . ."  Neelix glanced around once more and shrugged.  "I guess it's still back in the Mess Hall.  I could go get it . . ."

Right on cue, the doors to Sick Bay slid open.  The tall, dark figure of Ensign Andrews strode inside.  "I came to check on Neelix," his deep voice rumbled.  "He might be looking for these."  Andrews held up a silver carafe in each hand.

"The coffee!" Neelix cried happily.  He took the carafes from Andrews and handed them to the EMH.  "Here you go, Doctor.  Of course, I'm still curious as to why you require my coffee."

The Doctor sniffed.  "You'll see."  He filled a cup with Neelix's coffee and added several drops of the new inaprovaline from a hypospray.  "Here you go, Ensign," he said, handing the cup to Megan.  "It's that Irish coffee you wanted."

Megan glanced at the cup in the Doctor's hand with suspicious eyes.  "That doesn't look like coffee.  And the whipped cream is still missing!"

Tom decided it was time to butt in and took the coffee from the Doctor.  "It doesn't need whipped cream," he added in a whisper.  "This is Neelix's special blend of Irish coffee.  With Valax."  He gave Megan the full blast of his blue eyes.  "Won't you try it for me?  Please?  I gave Neelix the recipe."

"We-el-ll," Megan slurred.  She smiled and burst into giggles.  "All right, Tommy.  Just for you."

The Doctor muttered, "Oh please!"  Tom seared him with a death glare worthy of Kathryn Janeway and Owen Paris, combined.

Megan took a cautionary sip.  "Hmm!"she murmured.  "I can even taste the Valax."  She then proceeded to consume the rest of the coffee.  The four men held their breaths.  Megan smiled and declared, "Now that's good coffee!" before she weaved slightly and slumped to the floor.  The empty cup rattled beside her.

"It worked!" the Doctor crowed.

Both Neelix and Ensign Andrews looked confused.  "What worked?" the former asked.

Tom explained the Doctor's antidote for the Valax.  "Apparently, this version of inaprovaline only works orally and with your coffee.  How soon can you make more?"

"I'll get on it right away," Neelix replied.  He slipped off his biobed.  "Meanwhile, I'll serve this coffee," he waved the other carafe in the air, "to Harry, Seven and Ensign Delaney in the Mess Hall."

Andrews spoke up.  "They're not there.  At least they weren't when I found you."

Tom sighed.  The entire situation was fast transforming into a major headache.  Harry, Seven and Jenny's disappearance meant more people to search for outside the Holodeck.  He took the carafe that the Doctor held and handed it to Ensign Andrews.  And he grabbed the other one from the Talaxian and placed several drops of inaprovaline inside.  "Okay Neelix, you return to the Mess Hall and begin making more coffee.  Doc, give him the inaprovaline, so he can add it into the coffee.  Also, help us search for 
more stragglers.  Neelix, once you finish making that coffee, get hold of the Security detail and all of you can serve it to those already inside Holodeck One.  Meanwhile, Andrews and I will . . ."

"Jarvis to Andrews," a female's voice crackled from the Security ensign's combadge.  "I've found Lieutenant Torres."

Before Andrews could respond, Tom interrupted.  "Paris to Jarvis.  Where is she?"

"Inside Jeffries Tube 37, Deck 3."

Tom ordered the computer to initiate a site-to-site transport of B'Elanna from the Jeffries tube to Sickbay.  "Unable to comply," the computer's voice responded coolly.  "Transporters are off-line."

"One. . .two. . .three. . ."  Tom muttered under his breath, utilizing the meditation exercises his wife had learned from Tuvok.  He never thought he would have to use them.  Until today.  He finally calmed down and tapped his combadge.  "Paris to Engineering.  Can someone please explain why the transporters are down?"

Joe Carey responded, "Sorry Tom, but we had to re-route power from the transporters and the replicator system.  The ship's external sensors proved to be even more damaged than we thought.  And that last ion storm also damaged part of the inertial dampners."

"Wonderful."  Tom turned to the others.  "I'll be in Jeffries Tube 37 if any of you need me.  Meanwhile, I suggest that all of you see to your tasks."  He quickly marched out of Sickbay.  Both Neelix and Andrews followed close at his heels.  The trio soon came upon Turbolift 2 and Tom pushed the button to summon it.  "I swear to God," he murmured under his breath, "if I have to go through another day like this . . ."

Neelix asked, "Did you say something, Tom?"

"Huh?  Oh, nothing Neelix.  I was just . . ."  Tom immediately clamped his mouth shut as the turbolift doors opened.  Sprawled inside was Voyager's answer to a male model - Ensign Larson.  Who wore nothing below the belt and a satiated expression on his face.

"Heavens!" Neelix exclaimed. "What happened to him?"

Tom smirked.  "Isn't it obvious?  Looks like someone finally got his or her way with the ensign.  Not that he seemed to be complaining."

"What's that he's holding?"  Andrews added.  He stepped inside the lift and removed a small object from Larson's hand.  "It looks like a hair comb.  Does anyone know to whom it belongs to?"  He held it up for the others to see.

The smirk on Tom's face immediately disappeared.  He had last seen that comb stuck in Kathryn Janeway's auburn tresses.  And he was not the only one who recognized it. "That belongs to the Captain!" Neelix declared.  "How did Larson . . .?"

"I think we can pretty much guess how he got his hands on it," Tom curtly interrupted.  He took the comb from Andrews and gave the other two men his version of the Paris stare.  "Now, as far as we are all concerned, this never happened and we have no idea of who owns this comb or how it ended up with Larson.  Clear?"

Neelix frowned.  "Yeah, but . . ."

"I understand perfectly," Andrews replied stoically.

The two Starfleet officers stared at Neelix.  Who immediately caved under the hard stares.  "Neelix?" Tom said.  The Talaxian nodded and Tom relaxed.  "Okay.  Andrews, help me get Larsons to the Doc.  And Neelix . . . well, you know what to do." 

  While Tom and Andrews lugged the heavy ensign back to Sickbay, dark thoughts ran rampant through the pilot's mind.  One day, he promised himself, somehow, he would pay B'Elanna back for talking him into volunteering for Command duty.  And when he did, she had better look out.

* * * * 

After he and Ensign Andrews delivered Larson to Sickbay, Tom headed for Jeffries Tube 37, on Deck 3.  There, he found Crewman Jarvis standing next to the opened hatch.  Tom heard loud sobbing emitting from inside.  B'Elanna.

"I don't know how long she's been here, Lieutenant," the tall woman said to Tom.  "I was just passing by when I heard loud crying and found Lieutenant Torres inside.  I tried to convince her to leave, but . . ."  Jarvis ended her litany with a shrug.

Tom nodded and climbed inside the Jeffries Tube.  There he found his wife huddled against the tube's wall.  Tears flowed from her eyes and she was using her skirt's hem to wipe them away.  Tom sighed.  This does not promise to be easy.  "B'Elanna," he called softly.  "B'Elanna, it's me.  Tom.  It's time to go."

B'Elanna shot back in an emotional voice, "Leave me alone!"  Ah, Tom thought to himself.  It heartened him to hear a touch of Klingon in her tone.

"I won't go away.  You need help.  The Valax that Neelix made is affecting you."  Tom held out his hand.  "C'mon.  Why don't you join me?  So you can get a little help."

Sable eyes filled with tears, stared at Tom.  "Why should I?  You don't want me.  You want . . ."  Loud sobs filled the Jeffries tube.  "You want he-e-er!"

A thump against the tube's hatch reminded Tom that Crewman Jarvis stood just outside and could hear everything.  He crawled back to the entrance and ordered the guard to join the search for other stragglers from the Holodeck.

"But sir," Jarvis countered, "the transporters are down.  Won't you need help in getting Lieutenant Torres to Sickbay?"  Despite her words of assistance, Tom thought he detected curiosity and a touch of smugness in the guard's eyes.  Jarvis seemed anxious learn the identity of 'her'.

Tom retorted, "I can get her out on my own, Jarvis.  Check with Neelix in the Mess Hall  He might need your help."

"But sir . . ."

"That's an order, Crewman!" Tom barked in his best Paris command voice.

The security guard flinched.  "Yes sir."  Then she gave Tom a nervous nod before leaving.  Probably to spread the word to her fellow guards that Lieutenant Paris' roving eye had resurrected.  Tom wondered how long it would take to live down this latest rumor-in-the-making.

Another sob from B'Elanna interrupted Tom's thoughts.  He crawled closer to his wife.  "B'Elanna?  B'Elanna, please!  There's no 'her'.  Just you and me.  Sweetheart?"

"Huh?" B'Elanna peered suspiciously through her tears.  "What did you call me?"


B'Elanna continued in a wavering voice.  "You never called me 'sweetheart' before.  Is that what you call . . . call  Me-ea-gaa-an!"  More sobs wracked her small frame.

Tom sighed.  He never realized that B'Elanna was capable of so many tears.  "B'Elanna . . . B'El . . . B'Elanna, please stop crying!  You have nothing to cry about!  Nothing happened between Megan and me.  I swear!"  Loud sniffles from his wife followed Tom's declaration.  He reached out to touch her arm.  "B'Elanna . . ."  She shrank back. "B'Elanna, I promise you there is nothing going on between me and Megan.  Nor have I ever called her sweetheart."

"Then why were . . . were you kissing her?"

Tom took a deep breath.  The memory of his wrestling match with Megan loomed in his mind.  "I wasn't kissing her," he finally said.  He crawled even closer to his wife.  "I was . . . defending myself."

B'Elanna replied in a passive whisper, "It didn't look like you were defending yourself."

"For crying out loud, B'Elanna!"  Tom's outburst caused B'Elanna to shrink back against the wall in a most un-Klingon manner.  He quickly softened his tone.  "I swear B'Elanna, I'm telling the truth.  Megan had drunken too much Valax and began . . . well, she began groping all over me.  She would have done a lot worse . . ."  From a particular point of view, Tom thought inwardly.  ". . . if I hadn't fought her off."

Another sniffle followed.  B'Elanna's dark eyes grew wide.  "Honest?"  Gods!  She almost sounded like Naomi Wildman. 

Tom moved toward her until he was close enough to gather her in his arms.  "Honest," he whispered back.  Then he began to stroke her thick hair.

"Tom?"  B'Elanna pressed her face against his chest.

He replied, "Hmmm?"

"What's that next to you?"

The Doc's new inapprovaline.  Tom had almost forgotten.  "It's uh, coffee.  Irish coffee.  With a little of Neelix's Valax in it."  He paused momentarily.  "Would you like some?"

B'Elanna nodded childishly.  "I like Neelix's Valax."

She wasn't kidding, Tom later realized.  Neelix's coffee, mixed with the Doctor's antidote must taste like Valax.  Or coffee with Valax.  The possibility relieved Tom.  It meant that the others would not hesitate to drink the coffee.  It took three cups of coffee to knock out B'Elanna.  Tom had enough trouble drinking one swallow of the stuff without gagging.  If that was how Valax taste, Neelix could keep it.

Eyeing his unconscious wife, Tom tapped his combadge.  "Paris to Engineering.  Are the transporters systems back on-line?"

"Negative," Carey responded.  "They're still offline.  But the inertia dampners are now working at 85%."

Tom sighed.  "That's thrilling to hear.  Paris out."  He glanced at B'Elanna's inert form and sighed once more.  He seemed to be doing that a lot, lately.  With the transporters offline, it seemed he had no choice but to carry his wife to Sickbay.  Then he remembered.  This Jeffries tube was located on the same deck as the Paris/Torres quarters.  Leaving his wife in their bedroom would be a lot quicker and easier on his back.  Still, it promised to be quite a haul.  Tom wrapped an arm around B'Elanna's wa
ist and began to haul her toward the tube's entrance.  While muttering obscenities to the universe at large.