A/N – Written for Photogirl1890 who won a bet and, for her prize, requested, "Just throw me over a snowball." While there is plentiful snow around here right now, I fear that I lack the arm strength for a toss across the Atlantic and so I sent this as a substitute. Definitely rather fluffy (the temperatures over the last couple of days have been too low to pack a nice, tight snowball...) but she found it acceptable nonetheless.
Oh, and then she beta-read it for me. Because she is awesome that way.
I still do not own Voyager, neither the crew nor the ship. To avoid issues with The Powers That Be, I tried to clean up after myself here.
A Snowball's Chance...
"What the hell is going on in here?"
Tom looks up from the holodeck control panel where he and Harry are frantically at work and takes in the sight of the less-than-happy engineer standing with hands on hips in the holodeck entrance. B'Elanna Torres can be formidable at the best of times – and this is not the best of times.
"Tom?" she voices dangerously, narrowing her eyes as they come to rest on the probable cause of the issue at hand. "What have you done this time?"
He swallows hard but finds some comfort in her use of his first name. He also takes in that she is wearing civilian clothing (she was off-duty then...) and, before he can stop himself, his eyes scan down noticing the sleeveless cut of the top which highlights bare shoulders and arms and the rather flattering way in which the tunic and tights show off the rest of her petite figure all the way down to those high heeled boots...
...boots, the toes of which are covered with snow and the heels of which are already squishing in the slush that is melting onto the carpeted corridor floor through the open holodeck door.
She follows his eyes to her boots and to the clearly-not-entirely-holographic slush. Her eyebrows rise. "Paris?" On second thought, her voice hadn't really been that dangerous the first time; and so much for first names.
Tom looks to Harry who is busily – too busily – continuing to work at the control panel. No help there.
First things first then. Hands held up non-threateningly, he crosses over to B'Elanna and – gently – pulls her far enough into the holodeck that the doors close behind her. She glares up at him, arms now folded at her chest (maybe she's cold? That tunic she's wearing is sleeveless...), awaiting an explanation.
Okay, then... "Harry and I wanted to have a snowball fight..." he begins only to be cut off by a loud clearing of the throat from the direction of the console. Fine. "I wanted to have a snowball fight. A real one."
If possible, B'Elanna's eyebrows climb even higher. Reaching out, she brushes a bit of snow from Tom's parka – a remnant from his and Harry's antics an hour earlier when this had actually been fun – and holds it out to watch, and demonstrate, as, once in contact with her warm skin, it quickly melts . "A real one, hmm?" Disbelief floods her voice: "You replicated real snow?"
Tom rubs at the back of his head, turning to Harry for help. Harry looks up, but then quickly shakes his head. "Don't look at me. It was your brilliant idea."
The silence stretches for a moment before B'Elanna asks simply, "Why?"
Tom shrugs, admitting that his answer is weak at best. Meeting her eyes evenly though, he throws it out there. "Over two years in a climate-controlled environment. It doesn't get to you at times?"
And she actually flinches at that, the annoyance and confusion in her expression replaced by...what Tom isn't entirely sure. But totally unexpectedly, his volley seems to have hit a sympathetic mark.
"Okay," she says, her voice considerably more neutral. "So what's the problem?"
:Sickbay to Lieutenant Torres: B'Elanna's comm badge comes to life, carrying the dulcet tones of the EMH. :There is a situation in Sickbay which requires your attention immediately:
B'Elanna cocks an eyebrow back up at Tom, the annoyance returning, "I don't suppose...?"
Here, Harry – finally – decides to jump in. "There was a malfunction of some sort with the holodeck controls. We ended up with snow not just here, but..."
"...everywhere that has holoprojectors," Tom finishes with his most sheepish look of honest apology.
B'Elanna sighs. Heavily. And then taps her comm badge with resignation. "I'm already on it, Doctor. I'll keep you informed of my progress." Her quick addition of 'Torres out' cuts off the Doc's immediate protest.
Tom notices then that she is shivering and that the arms crossed at her chest have become tighter – more protective than angry. As unobtrusively as possible, he shrugs off his parka and hands it to her. She doesn't exactly accept it with overwhelming gratitude, but neither does she reject it. So that's a win.
Deciding it would be a good idea to turn quickly back to the situation at hand, Tom starts, "So you see the problem..." And Harry adds brightly, "At least we never got around to setting up those holoprojectors on the bridge and in engineering." B'Elanna sends a glare his way and he shuts up.
"There is snow covering both holodecks and Sickbay?" she asks; Tom nods in confirmation. "Real snow, which will turn to real water if it melts?" she continues and Tom nods again. "I assume you've already lowered the temperature in Sickbay and the other holodeck to prevent that?" A third nod. "Right. At least you two are good for something."
Tom considers whether that quip deserves some expression of irritation but, given the circumstances, she likely has a point.
"What options have you considered?"
"We thought about beaming the snow into space..."
"...but the components are too much a part of the ship's general atmosphere for the transporters to isolate them," B'Elanna finishes impatiently. "What else?"
Both men look at her blankly.
"Have you considered setting up conditions for the snow to sublimate?"
Tom blinks but is fairly sure his expression remains otherwise unchanged.
Harry, however, breaks into a broad grin. "Of course! Maquis, you're a genius!"
"Or, I actually paid attention during high school science classes." B'Elanna rolls her eyes. "Move over Starfleet," and she strides over to take control of the holodeck console from Harry, who quickly moves over to Tom.
"Care to fill in the peanut gallery?" Tom whispers to him.
"Sublimation: the process of a solid moving directly into a gaseous state," Harry intones and a dim memory of a physics lesson that hasn't been accessed in a decade and a half surfaces in Tom's brain. "She'll need to reset the environmental controls to be somewhat colder and remove some of the humidity..."
"...and provide an energy source," B'Elanna adds without looking up from the console. "Preferably something on the near-infrared end of the EM spectrum. This should do the trick." She presses a final control and vapor begins to rise from the snowfield which covers the holodeck. Tom picks up a handful of snow, pressing it into a snowball out of habit, and then watches with fascination as it steams away in the palm of his hand.
"The process will need to be monitored," B'Elanna continues, her voice turning eerily saccharine. "One of you should probably stay here and the other should head up to Sickbay: there's a lot more equipment there to be damaged if anything goes wrong." And she gives a wicked smile. "The process should only take a few hours."
Tom shivers, realizing how much colder it now feels with the environmental controls reset. "You'll probably need this back," and pulling off the parka, B'Elanna tosses it back to him with one more, all-too satisfied grin as she heads out of the holodeck.
Finding himself oddly mesmerized by that grin – and those now bare shoulders and the way the tunic sways around her hips as she strides away – Tom stares after her until the holodeck doors close. Next to him, Harry clears his throat loudly for a second time before clapping Tom on the shoulder. "Wouldn't go there, Paris. I believe you are holding the appropriate metaphor in your hand." And with one more pat, he too heads toward the door. "I'll go monitor Sickbay."
And Tom is left alone with the snowball in his hand still steaming its way out of existence, the billowing vapors from the snowfield around him giving the holodeck the look of a much different, perhaps even fiery environment.