Let's do a writer's challenge. We should write a story involving Tom
Paris (duh!) and his (new--see below) main squeeze (whoever that
is). It should be a 'first time together' story (b/c I really like
those); include the number 100; involve the writing of something
(holoprogram; love letter; conn report, etc.); have characters (major
or minor) named Jeanette and Sue; use bunkbeds or twin beds (dorm--
get it?); with food items of pizza, popcorn, your favorite candy bar,
and cookie crumbs.
Harry Kim slapped his best friend on the back and then picked up his
tray. “I’ll find somewhere for us to sit, Tom.” This was no mean feat
considering how crowded the mess hall was tonight.
This was no reflection on the talents of their chef/morale officer,
although Neelix’s skills were slowly improving; it was more a
reflection on the fact that it was the end of the week and replicator
rations were low. Most people were eating here because they had to,
not because they particularly wanted to.
Harry sighed as he surveyed the crowd, looking for two empty seats.
There were a couple of empty ones next to Chell, but... No offense to
the Bolian, of course, but he could be a little off-putting at times...
especially when someone was trying to digest one of Neelix’s more
Harry inspected his tray one more time, and decided that today’s dinner
was definitely going to be one of Neelix’s more creative efforts. The
thought of sitting next to the Bolian as he described enthusiastically
and in careful detail exactly what was happening in his digestive
system as he chewed and swallowed was more than Harry’s stomach could
No, empty seats or not, they would not be sitting anywhere near Chell.
Harry sighed again as he gazed around. He noticed the Commander was
sitting all by himself at a table in the far corner of the room. He
stared hard at the solitary figure wondering if he had the nerve to go
over there. Chakotay had not been in a good mood today. His commands
had been sharp and clipped, his eyes hard and cold.
Harry had no idea why the Commander was in such a bad mood, but he had
a horrible feeling it had something to do with Tom. He’d caught the
Commander glaring at the back of Tom’s head on more than one occasion
that day. In fact, the glare had been so intense, the first thing he’d
done as he and Tom had stepped into the lift at the end of shift was to
turn Tom around so he could inspect the back of his friend’s neck.
“Harry?” Tom had asked; feeling rather stupefied.
“There’s nothing there,” Harry had answered.
“Was there supposed to be?” Tom had turned around again to stare at
him in surprise.
“I thought the Commander may have bored a hole back there, that’s all.”
“Huh? What are you talking about, Harry?”
“The way he’s been glaring at you all day. I thought you would have
“Um… no, can’t say that I did.” Tom turned a rather interesting shade
of pink and refused to meet Harry’s eye.
“Yeah, right. The Commander’s been in a foul mood all shift. The
whole bridge has been tense. You could actually hear the relieved
sighs when he went to lunch. What have you done now, Tom?”
“Nothing! This time I’m completely innocent.”
“Why do I find that so hard to believe?”
“I have no idea,” Tom had answered airily. “I don’t know what’s up
with the Commander, but whatever it is; I didn’t do anything.”
Harry had snorted, not believing Tom for a second.
Now, standing here staring at the lone first officer, Harry decided it
probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go over there and join him. The
words ‘Leave me alone’ seemed to be radiating from him as he studied a
data padd from a stack on the table in front of him.
Movement in the center of the room caught Harry’s eye, and he smiled in
pleasure as two ensigns from engineering vacated their seats at a table
“Tom, I’ll be over there,” he called out, pointing vaguely, and then
racing towards the empty chairs before someone could beat him to them.
Tom, holding up the line while he argued with Neelix over the dinner
selections, looked over his shoulder and nodded. “I’ll be there in a
Harry placed his tray on the table and pulled out a chair. “Mind if
Tom and I sit here?” he asked politely.
Jeanette Kofoed and Sue Hayes gave a small guilty start as they looked
up from the padd they’d been huddled over. “No, of course not,” they
both said at the same time.
Jeanette pushed the padd towards Sue as Harry sat down beside her. She
gave a small nervous cough, causing Sue to discreetly put her hand over
the padd while she turned it off. Harry pretended not to notice the
“So, what have the two loveliest ensigns on the ship been doing?” he
asked playfully, taking a huge mouthful of food. He immediately wished
he hadn’t, as the bitter taste overwhelmed him.
Jeanette and Sue watched him as he screwed up his face in distaste.
“Jean and I haven’t been doing much,” Sue told him, trying not to
Harry took a great gulp of water and shuddered in horror.
Jean took pity on him. “The only way you’re going to be able to eat
that, Harry,” she indicated the strange stew, “is to eat *that* with
Harry gazed down at the purple lump of vegetable Jean was pointing to.
“Yeah, we don’t know what it is, but when you combine the two together,
it doesn’t taste too bad.”
“It’s quite good actually,” Sue added. “I know it’s hard to believe,
but just try it. You’ll see.”
Harry stared glumly at his tray. If he wasn’t so hungry... With a
resigned sigh he took a forkful of stew and then speared the purple
lump. It was halfway to his mouth when Tom suddenly appeared in front
of him and almost fell into the seat beside Sue.
“*That* was hard work,” he said tiredly.
Harry’s eyes were glued to Tom’s tray as Tom greeted Jean and Sue.
“What the hell is that?” he asked abruptly.
Tom looked at him in surprise. “It’s a pizza. What does it look
“A pizza,” Harry confirmed. “How the hell did you get a pizza when the
rest of us are stuck with this... this...” He waved at his tray,
unable to voice a vivid enough description of his dinner.
Tom grinned. “It wasn’t easy, I can tell you.” He leaned forward
conspiratorially. Sue and Jean leaned forward also, their eyes shining
with curiosity, eager to hear the details.
“It was like this,” Tom all but whispered. “There I was... holding up
the line... there Neelix was... arguing with me why I should be eating
nutritiously. And then there everyone else was... complaining bitterly
about the holdup. Neelix became all apologetic, I became all morose,
Neelix became all flustered, and everyone else became angry. He gave
me this to cheer me up and also, I think, to get rid of me.”
Tom smiled in triumph and bit into a slice of pizza with relish. Harry
watched sourly as he made a big production of enjoying every morsel.
“Maybe I should go over there and start complaining bitterly,” he
“You can try,” Tom said doubtfully. “I don’t think complaining will
help though. It’s the puppy dog look that works with Neelix.”
Harry shook his head. “I can’t pull that off the way you do.”
He looked over at Jean and Sue to see how they were reacting to Tom’s
rather bratish behavior. They were watching Tom happily, indulgent
smiles on both their faces. Oh great! How the hell did he do that?
He began eating his meal rather forcefully, as Tom launched into an
hilarious anecdote concerning a picnic lunch he’d asked Neelix to
prepare for him one day.
Harry chewed savagely, acknowledging that Sue and Jean were right.
This didn’t taste too bad after all, but... it wasn’t pizza, damn it!
His stomach churned in resentment as Jean and Sue started to laugh
uproariously at Tom’s story - he’d laughed uproariously the first few
times he’d heard it too - and seemed to hang off of every word Tom
Here he was with two of the most beautiful women on board, and they
only had eyes for Tom. Why didn’t anybody ever look at him like that?
He was cute, damn it! He’d been told so... many times. Okay, he
dashing the way Tom was, and he didn’t have that roguish charm Tom
seemed to have, but he *was* cute.
Harry ate his dinner hungrily, listening quietly to the friendly banter
going on around him. He wasn’t really angry with Tom - he could never
stay angry with Tom - and he didn’t really resent his ability to
others. He did sometimes covet it however, and he did sometimes think
about it wistfully.
But Tom was his friend, his best friend, and that meant everything to
him. He pushed his jealous thoughts away. Tom would die for him,
*had* died for him actually, and he’d do the same for Tom. That’s all
there was to it.
He smiled as Tom continued to charm the two ensigns at their table and
was rewarded with a slice of pizza being suddenly dumped on his tray.
“Here, Har. There’s no way I can eat a whole pizza by myself. Eat
Tom offered a slice to Sue and Jean too, and soon they were all
A shadow fell over their table just as they were finished. Harry
up to see Chakotay glaring down at Tom.
“Now that you’ve finished eating, Lieutenant, I’d like to discuss
with you.” He waved a padd around in the air.
“Oh?” Tom’s surprised tone was slightly exaggerated.
Chakotay nodded grimly. “This conn report is unacceptable. It’s...
“It is?” Tom’s surprise was even more exaggerated and now there was a
note of wry amusement there as well.
Harry winced inwardly. Tom really knew how to rub the Commander the
wrong way. Things had been rather smooth between them lately, but
now and then something would happen and hostilities would resume again.
And sure enough, if the look on the Commander’s face was anything to go
by, the fireworks were about to begin.
“Lieutenant Paris, please join me at my table. I think we should go
over this conn report together, don’t you?” The words themselves were
harmless, it was just the way the Commander said them through gritted
teeth that was the problem.
The Commander strode off towards his table at the far end of the room,
and Tom, with a roll of his eyes and a grimace to his companions, stood
up and obediently followed.
Harry watched in concern before turning towards Jean and Sue. They
gazing after Tom’s retreating figure with rapt attention. They were
staring at Tom’s butt, that’s what they were doing! He groaned in
frustration, wondering if he stood up and left if they’d find *his*
so fascinating. He doubted it.
Both women sighed wistfully and then tore their eyes away to study
“Is something wrong, Harry?” Jean asked him.
“No,” he said sullenly and then felt immediately guilty. “I’m just a
little worried about Tom. I wish he wouldn’t antagonize the Commander
“Hmmn!” Sue said thoughtfully, turning around to stare at the two men
on the other side of the room. Tom was slouched in his seat, a look of
resigned boredom on his face, although there was a definite flash of
resentment in his eyes as the Commander lectured him. Chakotay on the
other hand looked annoyed… very, very annoyed.
“Hmmn!” Jean echoed, staring as well.
Harry swore under his breath. These two ladies were lovely. Smart,
witty, and damn sexy as hell. He’d *make* them pay attention to him
somehow. He remembered the data padd they’d been so engrossed in when
he’d first joined them. Sue had tucked it neatly out of the way on her
side of the table.
He reached across and grabbed it, while the two women were still
watching Tom and Chakotay, and turned it on.
“Hey!” Jean cried out quickly. “Give that back.”
Sue swung around and gasped as she saw what was in Harry’s hand.
“That’s private. You’d better hand that back to me, Harry Kim, or
“I just want to see what it is,” Harry said innocently and then cried
out in pain as Jean punched him on his upper arm... hard. “Ow! That
hurt!” He rubbed his arm, but still held on to the padd in his other
Sue pulled back her leg and then kicked out, her foot connecting with
Harry’s shin. “Hand it over,” she growled.
“Ouch! God damn it!” Harry wanted their attention, but not this kind.
“Here, have the stupid thing.” His eyes glanced down at the screen as
he held it out. “What the...” he started to say as he read the
“Don’t read that, Harry,” Jean warned.
“It’s too late, I already did. What the hell is this? The
Guide to Perfect Coupling?” He looked up, his eyes wide with horror.
“Does this contain erogenous material?”
Jean and Sue snickered. “It’s nothing like that, Harry.”
Harry read on. “100 easy steps to ensure they’re the perfect couple?
100 guaranteed ways to get them together?” Harry’s voice ended in a
Jean sighed. “I told you not to read it.”
“What the hell *is* this?” Harry repeated. “And why have you got Tom
and Chakotay’s pictures on here?”
“Keep your voice down,” Sue hissed. “Someone may hear.”
“So tell me what’s going on?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jean asked. “Just look at the two of them.
perfect. They belong together.”
Harry gazed open-mouthed at his best friend and the Commander.
Chakotay was still lecturing Tom, his face red, his whole body taut
with anger, while Tom had a look of feigned interest on his face. The
look was so exaggerated that anybody could see Tom’s pretense. And
that would include the Commander. Tom was letting him know... none too
subtly... that he was pretending to be interested. It was a wonder
that Chakotay hadn’t throttled him by now.
“*They’re* perfect together?” he said incredulously. “You have *got*
to be kidding.”
“No, don’t you see?” Jean leaned forward eagerly. “It’s all an act.
Can’t you see the sparks flying? The chemistry between the two?”
Harry shook his head. “All I can see is Tom suffering an untimely
death if he keeps that up. And I think the Commander will make it a
slow and painful one.”
Jean and Sue laughed. “There is that,” Sue allowed. “But all that
tension between the two is sexual. We saw that immediately, the first
time they were together on the bridge. Didn’t we, Jean?”
Jean nodded. “It’s obvious to over half the ship. Haven’t you ever
wondered why the Commander reacts the way he does to Tom, Harry? He’s
far too angry around Tom, considering he’s so stoic and calm and in
control most of the time. The only time he doesn’t seem to be is when
Tom’s annoyed him about something.”
“And that brings us to Tom,” Sue continued. “Haven’t you ever wondered
why Tom goes out of his way to annoy Chakotay so much? It’s his way of
getting the Commander’s attention.”
“He goes out of his way to annoy Tuvok quite a lot, too,” Harry felt he
should point out.
“No, he teases him. Tests his Vulcan control. It’s different,” Sue
“I don’t see how.”
“It just is,” Jean confirmed. “And besides... we tested them. All 100
steps checked out.”
“All 100?” Harry asked dazed.
Jean nodded. “That doesn’t happen very often, Harry.”
“I can imagine.”
“That’s why we have to get them together,” Sue told him. “Now that Tom
and B’Elanna are no longer an item, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
Harry felt himself begin to flush. “They still care about one another.
Who knows? They may get back together again. They’re always
“But they didn’t fight,” Jean interrupted. “They just decided they
weren’t really suited and were better off as friends. They won’t get
“You can’t say that for sure.”
“Yes, we can,” Sue said proudly. “Besides, B’Elanna’s suited to
someone else. We did the test.”
Harry’s flushed face drained of all color. “You did? She is? Who?”
Jean smiled and squeezed his hand. “You, Harry. The ‘100 easy steps
to ensure they’re the perfect couple’ matched her with you, Harry.”
“Is that thing ever wrong?”
“We don’t think so,” Sue said. “But we only replicated it a couple of
“Listen, I have an idea,” Jean said suddenly. “Harry, you help us get
Tom and Chakotay together, and we’ll help you with B’Elanna. How does
“I... I don’t know. I mean... I don’t know if I should. What if
you’re wrong? What if...? I mean...” He swallowed. “Oh, hell.
Okay... I’m in. What do I have to do?”