First line: "I believe the appropriate phrase would be, 'Foiled again.'"
Pairing: Either EMH or Seven with the character or characters of the author's choice.

Offense With Weapons

"I believe the appropriate phrase would be, 'Foiled again.'"

The EMH pulled off his fencing mask to stare at the woman who had uttered those words. His student. Seven of Nine raised an eyebrow, meeting his stare with one of her own.

Unable to decide whether to be pleased at Seven's word play (he'd been trying hard to expand her use of vernacular), or aghast at the tone she'd used (which was brusque, even for her), the Doctor's behavioural subroutines executed a high-speed calculation. As a result, his emotional output algorithms prioritised the latter of those two options. Feeling wounded, he frowned. "That is not an appropriate phrase to use in this instance, Seven," the Doctor admonished. "Remember the purpose of this lesson was for you to practise offering support to friends or colleagues when they engage in competitive activities, not to practise mocking them if they should happen to lo- … finish second. You were supposed to be cheering me on."

"You were clearly outmatched," Seven countered. "My cheering you on would not have affected the outcome."

"It might have," the Doctor argued. "Cheering supporters give the competitor a psychological boost. The phenomenon is well-documented."

Seven looked to the Doctor's holographic opponent. It stood masked and motionless waiting for the Doctor to signal his readiness to continue. "You have lost to this same adversary three times in a row," Seven recapped superfluously. "His reaction speed far exceeds your own. That is unlikely to change unless I make an adjustment to your program."

"Which makes your vocal support all the more necessary," the Doctor exclaimed with frustration.

If he were being honest, he had had ulterior motives when he'd proposed this lesson. As well as teaching Seven to offer moral support to her peers, he'd intended their session on the holodeck to be an opportunity to teach her about offering praise. He hadn't intended to 'show-off' with his fencing prowess, but he had wanted to impress her with sequential victories. The demonstration had not gone at all to plan. He should have had a trial run with this particular opponent before going up against him in front of an audience. He shouldn't have overestimated his own abilities.

In any case, the session was fast coming to a close. In a few minutes, this holodeck would echo with the sound of 'rayguns' and 'destructo beams'. The Doctor had to get back to sickbay in good time, or Mr. Paris would whine just like those ridiculous fictional weapons.

"Computer, end program," the Doctor called. The holographic simulation of the 2368 Olympic fencing venue dematerialised along with the Doctor's fencing attire and the weapon that had been in his right hand. "We'll revisit this topic," he told Seven evenly, brightening as he had an idea. "I'm thinking golf might be appropriate for next time."

"Perhaps you might consider a musical theme in future," Seven said, moving briskly towards the doors. "As you know, I do have an interest in music."

"But this isn't about your enjoyment, Seven," the Doctor explained wearily as the doors hissed open in front of them. "Sometimes we have to show enthusiasm for pastimes that other people enjoy, even if we find them to be tedious."

Seven exited into the corridor, pausing to let the Doctor catch up. "Then it is fortunate that you are medically qualified," she remarked to the Doctor's confusion, elucidating with another quirk of an eyebrow, "so that you can revive me when I am bored to death."

She turned on her heel leaving him standing there, slack-jawed. At that point, he concluded definitively that Seven's vocabulary was quite extensive enough and that he should prioritise the teaching of 'offering simple courtesy' over encouraging her to offer support or praise. Back to basics was the way to proceed if he didn't wish to be on the receiving end of Seven's rapier-sharp tongue again.

The Doctor, at least, had learned his lesson.