TITLE: Kitty and the Paris-Mutuel


SUMMARY: Captain Janeway loses a bet. Or does she?

DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns the Star Trek universe and all it encompasses. This is a work of fan fiction, and as such intends no infringement.

NOTE: This story was originally written in 1999 for a printzine that has since disbanded. It has not undergone any significant changes since then.


Paris rested his cue against his cheek and let a self-satisfied, mischievous grin spread slowly across his face. "Game's over, Captain," he said with more than a hint of challenge in his voice. "Time to pay the piper."

Undaunted by her recent overwhelming--and unexpected--loss, Janeway grabbed the triangle from the bar and started to rack the balls. "Best four out of seven," she dared her opponent.

"Uh-uh," he said, resting his cue against the wall to drop the balls into the near corner pocket as fast as she could rack them. "I've bested you two of three and three of five," he almost crowed, leaning across the table, deliberately invading her personal space, to roll the eight ball into the far corner pocket. "This was supposed to be just a one-shot. One game, stakes to be determined by the winner." He winked at her as he backed away. "I've given you more than your fair share of breaks already. Game's up."

Vanquished, Janeway threw her cue across the table with a half-hearted growl. "You've been practicing, Lieutenant," she said. "I'm impressed."

Leaning his elbows back against the bar, Paris shrugged, although his false modesty did not fool her in the least. "Well, after you retired Captain Proton and the Doc started using this program to educate Seven in the social graces, I decided to polish my skills some." He laughed and took a swig of the beer Sandrine had surreptitiously poured for him. "You should play against Seven sometime, Captain. What with her Borg analytical skills and enhanced acuity, she's turned into quite the shark."

Janeway rolled her eyes, but laughed at the mental image of Seven hustling patrons in a sleazy pool joint. The young woman had many talents, but artifice was not among them. Placing her hands at her hips, she said, "All right, 'uncle'. What's my penalty?"

For a long time Paris was silent, studying her from head to toe. Were it not for years of command-track training, she might have felt a bit twitchy under the intensity of his scrutiny. Even with all her hard-boiled composure, however, Janeway felt nervous; when it came to wagering, Paris was a force to be reckoned with. He had long since passed on the time-honored tradition of creating betting pools of accumulated replicator credits, after having learned once too often how easily she could yank the carpet out from under him if she thought he had overstepped his bounds. In the absence of his one-man OTB, Paris had turned to a one-wager, one-payment system, with the exchange of 'favors' his preferred currency. His greatest triumph, as far as she knew, had come when he conned Tuvok into washing dishes for Neelix for a week after the Vulcan had, in a most un-Vulcanlike manner despite the inadvertence of his action, glanced at Seven's ample bosom after Paris had heckled him mercilessly on the Bridge about not being able to avoid looking at it. Janeway sighed. Poor Tuvok. He never had a chance, Vulcan upbringing or no Vulcan upbringing.

She continued to wonder just what sort of deviant, doubtlessly humiliating, price she would have to pay for her loss. Someone with Paris' talent for demanding the ridiculous out of his crewmates was dangerous indeed; she doubted even her rank could spare her too much embarrassment. What would he demand of her?

He must have come to a suitable decision; as she waited with increasing nervousness, he slid off his bar stool and sauntered--no, *prowled* was more accurate--toward her, his expression that of a half-starved leopard about to tear into the jugular of an unsuspecting wildebeest. Janeway held her breath, afraid even to encourage him, he seemed so delighted at the prospect of lording his victory over her.

He stopped in front of her, paused for what seemed to be an eternal moment, then bent slightly forward at the waist. In a flash of irrational panic, she feared he might be so audacious as to take an indecent liberty with her, and held one hand out before her to ward him off. Instead of kissing her, however, he advanced even farther to whisper in her ear.

Her spine grew instantly rigid. Had he just said what she thought he said? She looked to him for confirmation, and found it in the merriment sparkling in his eyes. Impudent little rooster, she thought. Rather than voice her thoughts, however, she growled, "I have no intention of humiliating myself or my position as captain of this ship for your personal amusement, Lieutenant."

His grin vanished, allowing disappointment and--hurt?--to radiate from his demeanor. "We had an agreement, Captain."

"I'm terminating it." To show she meant business, she crossed her arms over her chest.

"You can't do that," he protested with the hint of a whine. "You knew the risks when you agreed to the conditions."

"That's beside the point. What you're asking of me will constitute a severe compromise to my authority. I can't risk inviting insubordination."

To her astonishment, Paris began to laugh. This was no ordinary chortle or guffaw, however. Rather, it began low in his throat, a rumbling snigger that set his Adam's apple to hopping up and down like a kangaroo. Then, as his mouth opened to reveal two rows of even, white teeth, his eyelids squeezed shut, forcing tears to form two tracks of moisture down each reddened cheek. The laughter moved lower, swelling his diaphragm as it grew to such intensity he had to clutch his stomach with one hand and bend over, the other hand clinging for dear life to the edge of the pool table lest he collapse in a heap of hysterical histrionics. Annoyed at first, Janeway soon became amused, then alarmed as the laughter rose in volume and pitch to a near shriek. He seemed so close to the edge of mania she was tempted to call the Doctor.

Just before worry took hold, however, the laughter began to subside and Paris slowly eased himself upright, transferring the hand he had been using to hold on to the pool table to her shoulder. In between deep, shuddering gasps, he managed to hiccough, "'Can't risk inviting insubordination'? Is that the excuse you've been giving Commander Chakotay all these years?" He paused to wipe the tears from his eyes, apparently oblivious to the rigidity of her stance. "Captain, we're not children. We can handle a little corset-loosening." His arms spread in a broad, all-inclusive gesture. "You can't even distinguish the Starfleet crew from the Maquis, save the pips. Anyone who might've mutinied so far has done so already."

"Lieutenant," she threatened, deliberately stressing his title, "I suggest you stand down before I bust you all the way down to crewman and assign you to cleaning the nacelles with your toothbrush."

Paris backed away, but he did not stand down. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest--no doubt mocking her stance--and said, "No."

"What? Did I misunderstand you, or are you defying me?"

His grin would not even melt ice cream, much less her cultured frostiness. "You understood correctly."

"Lieutenant, if we weren't forty thousand --"

"If we weren't forty thousand light years from home, you wouldn't do a damn thing."

"I beg your pardon?" she asked in a tone that allowed no room for begging or pardons. "What did you just say to me?"

"I *said*, even if we were within spitting distance of Earth, you wouldn't dare."

"You're walking on thin ice."

He snorted. "For all I care, I'm walking on hot coals. I defeated you, fair and square, three games to two, and now you're *welshing* on a bet we both entered into while sane, sober, and uninhabited by aliens or other mind-altering agents. You're so worried about 'inviting insubordination,' yet you have no reservations about reneging on an honest and equitable gentleman's agreement." He approached her again and drew himself to his full height, looming over her with a scowl on his face. "How do you think your crew will react when they find out?" Then, in a high, mocking voice, he answered for her, "Free-for-all on Voyager! Cap'n's lost her nerve, all hands break ranks! Let's flush morality and ethics down the toilet!"

Janeway sensed he had realized he had gone a bit too far in his complaint and was trying to defuse the situation with a little sarcastic levity, but she was nonetheless irate. "That's it, Mister," she snapped. "You're on report. One more outburst like that --"

"I know, I know," he bit back, "one more outburst like that and I can pack my bag and move into the brig." He sighed and let his shoulders slump. "Oh, what the hell. What good is there in trying? Anytime things haven't gone your way, you've pulled rank. Why should a simple wager be any different?" He turned and trudged toward the exit, calling out, "Computer, end program."

As the stark black-and-grey grid replaced the wam, smoky ambience of Sandrine's, Janeway felt a chill course through her veins. Cringing inwardly at the plaintive note in her voice, she said, "I do not always pull rank, Lieutenant. I'm the captain; I shouldn't have to remind you or anyone else of that, least of all when it's the dignity of my position at risk."

His back still to her, he shook his head and said, "Of course not."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Paris slowly turned toward her. "We know you're the captain, and after standing behind you through thick and thin, for the past six years, we shouldn't have to *be* reminded." He paused, licked his lips, then took a tentative step toward her. "Question is, why do you need to keep reminding yourself of what the rest of us already know?"

"I do no such thing." She silently cursed the feebleness of her protest.

The nodding of his head belying his words, he said, "Of course not."

"Why do you keep saying that?" she asked.

He shrugged, then said, "You're the captain. Your word is law, even if it doesn't make any sense."


He threw up his hands to silence her. "I know, I know, I've already gone too far. Fine. You win. I just hope you're satisfied in your 'victory'." Before she could respond, he spun on his heel and stalked out, leaving her alone on the desolate and depressing holodeck.


Whether by chance or mutual design, Janeway did not see Paris again for several days, when their bridge duties happened to coincide. Although the details of their conversation had slipped to the back of her mind, the impact of his censure and disappointment continued to fester, gnawing on her conscience like an underfed rodent. As a result, when she stepped off the turbolift and saw him seated at the helm, her first instinct was to take flight and hide in her ready room until his shift was over. Before she could put her plan into action, however, Paris--who had apparently sensed her arrival as soon as the turbolift doors opened--piped up, "Hey, Harry, did I tell you about the mean game of pool I played against the captain the other day?"

Alternately apprehensive and intriguied about what game Paris was playing this time, Janeway stopped in her tracks. She saw Ensign Kim glance over at her, no doubt also wondering what Paris was up to. At her shrug, he then said, "No, Tom, you didn't. How many credits did you lose this time?"

She wondered if Paris' laugh sounded as false to the others as it did to her. He seemed to have fooled Chakotay, however; the commander laughed in kind and said, "Haven't you learned yet you can't beat the captain at her own game?" His unintentional reference to Paris' analysis of her command style made Janeway cringe.

Paris laughed again, this time with a little more ease. "Well, Commander, if I hadn't realized it before, I sure have now. She trounced me! But," he sighed, leaning back and rolling his shoulders to work the kinks out of them, "all I lost was my pride and self-respect. No credits this time--I learned *that* lesson ages ago. Nope, just a bruised ego for me this time. Isn't that right, Captain?" He swiveled in his chair to give her a jaunty grin.

Janeway could barely acknowledge Chakotay's congratulatory smile as he looked over his shoulder at her, she felt so ashamed of herself. At the same time, she hated herself for letting Paris' mind games have their desired effect on her. She knew what he was trying to do--unfortunately, he was succeeding, and she hated both herself and him for it.

Reeling from the overwhelming sensation of guilt, she descended to the command platform, but clung to the railing for moral support. "Actually, Lieutenant Paris is being uncharacteristically modest." The sight of his hands, frozen in place over the navigation panel, almost caused her to reconsider what she was about to do. Determined to restore his onetime high opinion of her, however, she continued, "It was not I who defeated Mister Paris, but the reverse--three games to two."

The loud whoop from the Ops station almost drowned out Paris' demurral, "Ah, but when you beat me, you thrashed me within an inch of my life!"

"Was this a game of pool, or a boxing match?" Tuvok asked with a shade of sarcasm in his voice.

"Perhaps a little bit of both," Janeway said, crossing the command platform to press her hand against Paris' shoulder. "Mister Paris left *my* ego quited bruised and bloody when he was finished with me. And now I believe it's time for me to pony up." When the shoulder beneath her hand tensed, she squeezed it and bent down to whisper, "Are our original terms still in effect?"

His Adam's apple bobbed once as he gulped before answering, "You don't have to do this, Captain. I didn't mean...those things I said the other day."

"Nonsense, Lieutenant," she said. "You meant every word you said, otherwise you wouldn't have said them. Now I can't have my helm officer thinking I'm the sort of captain who would welsh on a fair and equitable bet, can I?"

The Adam's apple bobbed again. "No, ma'am," he whispered.

She patted his shoulder for reassurement. "Good answer. Am I still allowed to choose who I'm to inflict my payment on?" Paris craned his neck to look up at her, then nodded. She then released him to turn and study her bridge crew.

Tuvok...no, she could not inflict such humiliation on her friend, especially after the shame he had endured at Paris' hands. Harry...well, Harry had potential, but then so did Neelix, and he was nowhere to be seen. Besides, Harry was just so green, even after six years in the Delta Quadrant. So Harry was out. There was Ensign Gallagher, but Janeway had always been more inclined toward the male of any species, so she was eliminated from consideration as well. Janeway glanced down at the young man less than an arm's reach away. *He* had potential, and he would certainly give as good as he got, if the rumors following his split with Lieutenant Torres were any indication. She also suspected he had arranged this scam in a devious attempt to wrangle just this sort of 'reward' for himself, and in her own devious way, she was half-tempted to give it to him. After the tongue-lashing he had given her the other day, however, she decided not to indulge him. Chakotay, of course, was the obvious choice, and Janeway had a gut feeling Paris had a side wager counting on her to choose Chakotay. As if those two factors were not enough to dissuade her, after spending the past six years with him as her second-in-command, she had come to the conclusion Chakotay was fascinating upon first meeting, but quickly revealed himself to be rather dull and predictable. Seska had been probably the most interesting facet to his personality, which disappeared about the same time she died. Janeway also knew that if she chose Chakotay, she would open an enormous can of worms she preferred to keep firmly closed and locked away. Thus, without any reservations, she eliminated Chakotay.

That left...yes. Of course. How could she have been so blind? Quite literally, how could she have been so blind--the man was a feast to the eyes. She was not the only person on board who thought so, either; almost all of the women and quite a few of the men would proudly agree. Even little Naomi Wildman had a crush on him, and often brought meals to him whenever he had to serve duty guarding the brig. He was not just handsome, either. Although Janeway was not as well acquainted with him as she was with some of the other Maquis, she knew he was loyal, obedient, intelligent, courageous, strong, well-muscled, reputedly well-hung....

She dropped that line of thought like a hot potato and tapped Paris on the shoulder. "I've made my choice," she whispered.

He swiveled in his chair and followed her line of sight. Once he realized who she meant, he asked, "Him?" She nodded. "Can't argue with your taste."

With his endorsement bolstering her courage, Janeway strode back across the command platform and mounted the steps in a single bound, painfully aware all eyes, save those of her soon-to-be victim, were on her. She felt like a teenager once again, about to fulfill a dare in one of those silly party games her sister often dragged her into. Taking a deep breath, she stopped before the auxiliary tactical station and said, quietly, "Lieutenant."

The bottomless warmth of his deep brown eyes almost shattered her resolve. As she stood there with her mouth hanging open like a fish out of water, he said, in a voice so deep and masculine her ribcage trembled, "Yes, Captain?"

Muttering "In for a penny, in for a pound," under her breath, she threw all caution to the wind, latched one hand to the back of his neck to pull his face closer to hers, and planted a kiss full on his lips.

Ayala did not move a muscle, not even when she released him and backed away. Instead, he stood stock still, his face whiter than any Borg. Behind her, however, she heard both Chakotay and Paris approach.

Then, very slowly, like a sequoia at the hands of an expert lumberman, Ayala toppled over. Janeway heaved a sigh and tapped her commbadge. "Doctor, we need you on the Bridge." Without waiting for his acknowledgement, she closed the link, turned on her heel and maneuvered past the twin pillars of Chakotay and Paris and their matching expressions of shock and disbelief.

"You're just going to *leave* him here?" Paris protested, shocked.

Janeway looked at Chakotay, then turned back to Paris. "He doesn't object, Mister Paris. Why do you?" She gave Paris a jaunty salute. "I consider my debt paid in full. Gentlemen, I'll be in my ready room if you need me."