Disclaimer - Paramount own 'em.
I was with Morgan last night, and she told me that I "have to write a story where *this* happens!" This is it. This is also a challenge response to Susannah.
"Tom, this is *so* not a good idea."
Tom Paris frowned as he grabbed the item that had just appeared in the replicator and pulled it out. "Look B'Elanna, you know as well as I do that we're stuck in here. How else are we supposed to pass the time?"
"Have you considered conversation?" B'Elanna asked, waving her arms about in a typically emotional manner.
Snorting, Tom thought about shaking the mat open. "Yeah, *you* ask Neelix what he's planning for dinner. *You* ask Chakotay for yet another fascinating parable. *You* ask Tuvok-"
Turning away from him, B'Elanna struck her com badge. "Torres to Carey."
"Carey here," He responded, and immediately pre-empted her question. "I still don't know and - as I've said - I'll contact you when I have an accurate estimate."
"Are the transporters still off-"
"-line? Yes, Lieutenant. I'll contact you if...when the situation changes."
"See that you do," She growled. "Torres out."
Turning back to Tom, she yanked the mat out of his hands. "Fine. But I'm being the spinner." Swivelling away she walked towards the rest of the group.
Gawking after her for a few seconds, he then shut his mouth and quickly caught up with her.
"Great news everyone!" Tom announced, throwing an arm around B'Elanna's shoulder that she instantly shrugged off. Trying to make the movement look natural, he laughed and swung his arm about. "B'Elanna and I have decided that we're all going to play a game."
As he spoke, B'Elanna stepped up to the higher level and spread the mat out on the surface. The spinner had landed in the middle of the mat, so she picked it up and idly spun it a few times until she realised she was being watched. By everyone. "What?"
Tom grinned. "They're waiting for you to explain."
"Well you know the rules better than I do! Besides, I doubt that they'd be willing to play nake-"
"Never mind!" He interrupted, leaping up the stairs in two leaps as B'Elanna smiled in obvious triumph.
Facing the throng that consisted of Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry, Doc, Neelix and Seven, he cleared his throat. Until Carey could open that door or get the transporters back on-line, he was determined that they should have a little fun.
The rules were simple enough: each player would place their feet on two spots, moving only after the 'Spinner' had flicked the 'Randomiser' (as he liked to call it). The Randomiser would determine which body part they would have to place on which coloured spot. The winner would be the last one who hadn't fallen over or given up.
There were surprisingly few volunteers.
The Doctor agreed straight away, always eager to try a new experience.
Neelix agreed also, always eager about everything.
Harry seriously considered taking part, but after a quick glance at Seven, he decided against it.
Tuvok, obviously, declined.
Seven said she preferred to watch. Tom nearly made a remark about that statement, but the threat of a broken nose from B'Elanna prevented him from doing so.
Eventually, Tom looked down at the Captain and Commander who were standing next to each other. "So..." He began in that tone of voice that he just knew pissed Chakotay off.
Chakotay shook his head. "I really don't think so. Besides, I know you'll just use it as an excuse to embarrass me."
The Captain said nothing, her arms folded confidently across her chest and a smile on her lips.
Sighing, Tom turned away and carefully climbed down the steps. Everyone watched as he walked over the door which - as expected - remained shut.
"Chakotay, come over here for a moment, will ya?"
The Commander frowned, but then they all did.
Tom beckoned him over with one hand. "Just...come here for a second. Please."
Still confused, Chakotay shrugged and headed over to Paris.
Once he was there, no one who was watching could be entirely sure of what was said. There were lots of murmurs and whispers, negative head shakes from Chakotay, and a fair amount of expressive hand language from Tom.
After a minute or so Tom finally muttered something that seemed to really grab Chakotay's interest. Immediately quietening, the Commander stood tall and a definite "Fine. Okay," was heard as he ended the conversation.
Turning away from Paris - who was grinning very much like a particular cat who got a particular canary - Chakotay swiftly ascended the steps to the higher level. "Okay...for the good of morale, I'm taking part as well."
B'Elanna frowned at him, then frowned as Tom reached the upper level. "What did you say to him?" She whispered.
"Oh, nothing," He shrugged innocently, then added is if it was an afterthought. "Oh, by the way...I'm being the spinner now." And he promptly snatched the Randomiser away from her.
"Don't worry," He hissed, not-so-silently willing her to be a little quieter. "I'm not going to force you to take part," He continued, as if he had a chance in hell of doing that anyway. "You can just stand here with me and look good."
"Oh...*thank* you for such an important and not at all condescending choice of role." She snorted, then crossed her arms across her chest and glared in the general direction of no one. Her gaze quickly found Chakotay, who was peering down at Janeway.
"Well, Captain..?" Chakotay asked, leaving the question unspoken.
She smirked, apparently amused as hell by the situation. "I don't think so, Chakotay. You go ahead and I'll just look on."
Not taking that for an answer, Chakotay advanced to the edge of the upper level and then slowly bent down. Their gazes locked intently and he opened his mouth to say something.
B'Elanna chuckled silently. There was nothing he could say to convince Janeway.
"I *dare* you."
His voice was calm, controlled, and utterly serious.
The Captain's smirk vanished, and her eyes widened. After a few seconds of looking like a guppy fish, the smirk crawled back onto her face and her eyes relaxed. "Very well, Commander. For morale." And just before she headed for the stairs, she leaned in and whispered something that was obviously for his ears only, but B'Elanna managed to hear: "Prepare to have your butt whipped, Mister."
After she made it to the upper level, the Doctor and Neelix quickly joined them and they each found their two spots on the Twister mat to start from.
The rest of the little troupe - Tuvok, Seven and Harry - gathered around the Astrometrics consoles in front of the upper level.
Pleased, Tom grinned. "Okay, everyone ready?" At their nods of affirmation, his grin grew even bigger. "Then let's begin!" Placing a finger next to the spinner, he stated dramatically "Activating the Randomiser!" and spun it.
His eyes tracked it as it moved. Round and round it went. Round and round it goes, where it stops...well, that didn't really matter anyway. Finally, it came to a halt.
"Left foot blue!"
"Right hand yellow!"
They bent down.
"Left hand green!"
They moved...and Neelix fell over. Landing with something that sounded disturbingly like a Talaxian profanity, he quickly scurried to his feet.
"Looks like I'm not flexible enough for this game!" He laughed, and then winced as his back twinged. Walking stiffly off the mat, his hand clamped onto the area just between his back and his buttocks, he quickly waved off everyone's concerns. "No, I'm fine-ow. Really, I-ow. It's-ow-just-ow-a twinge."
The game continued. The Doctor - being a hologram and perhaps having something of an unfair advantage - did very well, not looking in the least bit exerted. As more time passed, both Janeway and Chakotay looked as though they weren't really having fun anymore, but neither of them looked like they were ready to give up anytime soon.
From their vantage point next to the Astrometric consoles, Tuvok, Seven and Harry looked on.
"Right leg yellow!"
"Left hand blue!"
Tuvok almost frowned as the players moved once more. From a strategic point of view, it made much more sense for Commander Chakotay to place his hand on a different blue spot, not the one he was currently occupying that was placed under the Captains-
"Right leg yellow! Again. Spinning again!"
He opened his mouth to suggest a possible course of action that the Commander could take, as he was clearly not playing with the best of tactical expertise...when he decided against it. Closing his mouth, he realised that it would hardly be 'playing fair'. Besides, if their poses continued to go in the direction where they appeared to be going, the Captains wish to raise morale would indeed be granted.
Up on the playing level, B'Elanna was beginning to get bored. Oh sure, it was most definitely amusing to see the Captain, Chakotay and Doc in all manner of poses, but even that was starting to lose its appeal. Sighing, she glanced over at the...she sighed again...Randomiser.
Tom spun it, and the pointer quite clearly landed on left leg red.
Raising his head, Tom spoke. "Right hand blue!"
B'Elanna blinked, peering over his shoulder to double check. Again, he spun it and again, he called out the wrong body part and colour. As realisation quickly set in, B'Elanna's mouth opened wide. "What are *doing*?" She whispered frantically.
Realising he had been caught, Tom nonetheless continued, not wanting to disrupt the flow of the game. "Left leg red!"
"She'll kill you!" B'Elanna hissed. "And then she'll kill *me*!"
"Right hand green!" He immediately lowered his voice. "If you keep quiet she'll never have to know."
"Oh, and you think she's never going to guess?"
"It was the only - left hand green! - way I could get him to participate. What else was I going to do? We were - right leg blue! - desperately short on players."
"So this was *his* idea?"
As they continued bickering, the Doctor changed the angle of his head slightly to look at his competitors. True, at this current body angle they were sideways, but...
Perhaps now would be a good time for him to stop playing. He really did have quite an unfair advantage. Thus, he promptly gave up. "I think my programme is not used to being so...flexible. I'm quite sure I just felt a disruption in my matrix." Standing up, he walked away from the mat and down the steps. "Seven!" He declared, holding up a finger. "Perhaps you can help me. Do you have a tricorder around here?"
"I detected no such disruption, but...very well, Doctor."
"Yeah, Doc." Harry agreed, having caught on a long time ago. "It's best not to risk it."
Now the playing field was occupied by only two players - both determined to see this through, one way or another.
"Left hand yellow!"
"I'm...going to beat you," Janeway gasped, disturbingly aware of his-
"Don't count on it," He answered hoarsely.
"Right hand red!"
"My hand isn't the only thing that's going to be red in a minute..."
"Right hand blue!"
"Kathryn Marie Janeway! I was making a perfectly innocent comment about my face."
"It's not my fault you have a dirty mind."
"Left leg red!"
"A dirty mind?"
"Yes, a dirty mind! 'Commander Chakotay, your stick?' 'The next time I have any questions about mating behaviour, I'll know where to go.' Need I go on?"
"Oh please! You're a fine one to talk!"
"You! 'I hadn't even considered procreation, but I suppose it is the inevitable conclusion.' Hello?! Could that be any more symbolic?"
"That wasn't me having a dirty mind, that was flirting."
"No, flirting was that angry warrior spiel."
"Spiel?! That was from the *heart*, Kathryn."
"Well you haven't mentioned it since."
"Well maybe if you gave me some indication that you were interested-wait a minute."
"He's not calling out positions anymore."
Both turning their heads towards where Tom had been standing, they frowned when they saw that he wasn't there. Neither was anyone else.
Whispered exclamations of "Quick!" and "Get out of here!" drew their attention to the doors that they saw B'Elanna and Tom disappearing out of and everyone else must have already gone through. Carey stood in the doorway and waved feebly.
"Umm...bye," He said, before he bolted and the door hissed shut.
"They must have fixed the door."
"Yeah, they must have."
"Shall we call it a tie?"
Groaning in relief, Chakotay clumsily stood up, wincing as various body parts groaned at him.
"I can't move."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I can't move!" She snapped. "It's my right leg. It's not co-operating at all."
He studied the appendage dubiously. "How do you want me to help?"
"Help me get up, obviously."
Pondering her request, he studied the situation from several angles. Deciding a course of action, he calmly sat down in front of her.
"What are you doing?"
"You know, there's a tradition among my people involving an arrow..."
"That's all well and good, Chakotay, but hokey religions and ancient weapons aren't a match for a good phaser at your side. And believe me, I'd like to have one at my side right now."
Ignoring her, he closed his eyes. "If you just relax, you won't feel the burden on your body at all."
"And what does an arrow have to do with all this?"
He smiled. "If you follow the course of the arrow in your mind you will always find your target."
"What does that mean?" Kathryn demanded, exasperated.
Chakotay didn't answer. In one smooth movement he was up and had her over his shoulder.
She didn't even realise until she was looking at the floor from this new point of view. "What the *hell* are you doing?"
"You're up, aren't you?"
Leaving the mat where it was, he carefully stepped down to the lower level.
"Well put me down!"
"Do you really think you're capable of walking with that uncooperative right leg of yours?"
"Fine," He gave in and began to lower her before they reached the door.
And she knew - she just knew - he was going to dump her on the floor unceremoniously. Well, she'd just have to take him with her.
He thudded down to the floor with her.
Recovering, she quickly managed to climb on top of him and hold his arms against the floor. "Don't ever do that to me again, you understand?"
"Hell Kathryn, all you had to do was ask..."
The doors to Astrometrics hissed open and Paris...didn't step through. "Uh...never mind. I'll get the mat later. You two...make good use of it." And he quickly left.
Kathryn leapt up from Chakotay's body to stop him, but her right leg gave out and she collapsed into an angry, swearing heap on the floor.
This time when Chakotay picked her up all she said was,
"I want a bath."
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