by Suz

Disclaimer - yadda yadda. They belong to Paramount.

This is different from what I normally do so I would love some feedback. Oh. And it's not J/C for those who expect it from me. Not really. You have been informed and don't say I didn't warn you!


Sitting in a booth at Sandrine's, Tom Paris was slowly getting drunk. Life hadn't been going too well lately and the synthehol helped to make his mind go fuzzy. He knew that if he concentrated hard enough he could easily brush off the effects of the drinks, but hey - why the hell should he? It'd been a while since he'd drunk himself into a stupor.

Focusing on the people in the bar he became aware of the couples spread throughout the room. Smirking, he then gulped down another shot of whisky at the sight of Sam and Harry canoodling in the corner. He was grateful that his friend had found happiness, but it meant that Tom spent more time alone.

Shrugging, he sat back, further away from the table. To hell with Harry. To hell with them all.

The doors to Sandrine's creaked open and Tom's eyes were drawn to the couple who walked in. Guiding his 'date' over to the table where she sat, Chakotay then headed over to the bar and ordered two drinks - red wine, if he wasn't mistaken.

Once he had the drinks, the Commander walked back to his table and sat down. The couple definitely were *not* hugging and kissing, but they seemed to be having a pleasant enough time in each others company.

Tom shook his head. He hadn't seen that one coming.

Neither had the woman who entered the room a few moments later. Her appearances there had been so rare that it caused a few eyesbrows to raise, not least of all Tom's. Forging bravely ahead into the room she forced a smile to everyone she passed - Chakotay included - on her way to the bar. After ordering and receiving a drink that looked suspiciously like whisky she sat in silence for a while. Tom stared at her the whole time, his feelings stuck somewhere between shock and admiration that she had the balls to come here after everything.

Ten minutes passed and Janeway was still sitting by herself. Tom was beginning to wonder if he should go and join her, but he wasn't sure if his legs were working or not. That thought turned out to be moot anyway, because a few seconds later she was standing next to him.

"Mind if I join you Mr Paris?"

He blinked several times. "Sure Captain."

Smiling her thanks a little too eagerly she quickly sat opposite him in the booth. "How are you Tom?"

Pondering over her question he wondered if he should lie to her. She clearly wasn't at her happiest either, and maybe some false cheer would raise her spirits. Then he looked at her eyes and he realised that she knew what he was thinking.

"The truth," she insisted.

Chuckling, he played with the empty glass he held in his hands. "I've been better Captain."

Her wry chuckle matched his own. "I know the feeling."

They sat in a comfortable silence for a while before she spoke again, sounding surprisingly vulnerable. "How long have they been here?"

He shrugged. "I guess about twenty minutes. Not much longer than you."

Nodding and keeping her eyes lowered she took a sip of her own drink.

Tom almost wanted to laugh at the way things had been changing lately. It had seemed so ludicrous to begin with, but now...

He could understand why Chakotay might be drawn to someone like Seven. Apart from the obvious fact that she was very easy on the eyes, Seven was the only one he could trust, something B'Elanna had once informed Tom of. While she may have done terrible things as a part of the Collective, as an individual Seven had never betrayed Chakotay. All the other women he became involved with or might have had feelings for had. Seska, B'Elanna, even Janeway.

Seven of Nine may once have been Borg, but as a person she knew nothing about betrayal.

Hell, Tom didn't even know if they were dating. They'd been spending a lot of time together but that was all anybody knew. Both Chakotay and Seven were being notoriously tight-lipped about it - as far as anyone knew they could have just developed a close friendship. The problem was that Seven didn't spend a lot of time with *anyone*, and the crew had just drawn their own conclusions.

Looking over at the Captain again, he realised she was staring at him. In a rare moment of honesty she admitted something. "You know...I don't know who I'm more jealous of."

Made sense. Best friend and pupil. Possible lover and possible...? Tom had never quite known how Janeway regarded Seven other than a student. Maybe that's all she was. A student.


But he understood more than she realised.

His relationship with Chakotay had always been something he hadn't quite been able to figure out. The animosity between them had never really gone away, rearing it's head at occasional moments. It had never been discussed, never been resolved. What kind of friendship would he have with Chakotay if they had worked things out? He would probably never know.

And Seven...she liked him, he knew that. She might not have *liked* him, but she seemed to enjoy his comments that the rest of the crew only tolerated. And he had always been charmed by her innocence in the face of such challenges.

"I know," he admitted and Janeway looked rather shocked before nodding in comprehension.

"Would you like another drink, Lieutenant?"


His quarters were dark as they stumbled in and they quickly voted to keep it that way. Pulling at each others clothes between kisses they started to head towards the bedroom but then realised how far that was and quickly changed course for the sofa.

In the process, Tom hit his leg on the table. "Ow! Shit!"

Pulling away from him, Janeway held her hand over her mouth but it was obvious what was happening.

She was laughing.

Captain Janeway was laughing.

He had seen her smile, chuckle and roll her eyes in amusement. But in eight years he had never once seen her laugh.

He had done that. *Him*. Suddenly the pain in his leg vanished and he felt as if he could take on the entire Borg Collective himself.

By now Janeway had given up the pretense completely and let herself enjoy her amusement, something she rarely let herself do. Catching her breath she managed to speak. "You're supposed to go around the furniture Lieutenant, not bump into it."

No way was he going to let her get away with that. "I have a better idea Captain."

"Oh really?" she asked, seductively placing one hand on her hip.

"Oh yes," he answered, grabbing the edge of the table and pushing it out of the way. Within seconds he had his arms around her waist and they fell to the sofa.


As his body finally registered that there was no longer anyone next to him, Tom woke and forced his eyes open. At first his eyesight was blurry but it quickly focused to see the Captains legs, clad in her uniform. Turning his gaze upward he watched as she pulled her top on. He smiled, wondering how she was going to react.

When she saw that he was awake she smiled back.

He felt immensely relieved.

Bending down, Janeway touched the side of his face. "Thank you for last night. But I-"

"It's alright Captain, really. I understand." And the truth of it was that he did.

Tapping his face she stood. "Thank you, again. B'Elanna was a very lucky woman."

"That's what I always used to say but she *never* believed me!" he stated dramatically, trying to raise the mood somewhat.

Smirking, she turned and walked out of his quarters with "See you on duty, Lieutenant" as her last words.

Sighing, Tom watched her go before moving his head to stare at the ceiling. The truth of it was that he did understand. The other truth was that he discovered something that had never happened to him before with a one-night stand.

He wanted her to stay.


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