TITLE: "When Irish Eyes Are Talaxian"
AUTHOR: RFK
CODE: Paris, Neelix, the Doctor, P/T, J/m, m/f/f
RATING: R
E-MAIL: june_daley@rocketmail.com
FEEDBACK: It would be nice to receive some. Please, no flames
SUMMARY: Voyager's crew celebrates St. Patrick's Day with another one of Neelix's special brews and chaos ensues. Set just before "Inside Man" in early Season 7.
DISCLAIMER: Sigh! All characters and etc. pertaining to Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount, Viacom and . . . well, you know who.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is another one of those stories about Neelix's weird holiday drinks, set around St. Patrick's Day. The idea for this story belongs to my sister, Roxanne. Without her urging, or should I say, harassment, I would have never written it.


WHEN IRISH EYES ARE TALAXIAN


Part 1

Staff meetings. As far as Tom Paris was concerned, they were the scourges of Starfleet duties. At least that was his opinion, while he sat inside Voyager's Conference Room with the rest of the senior staff, listening to the First Officer's report on duty assignments. Tom opened his mouth to yawn. A slender hand gave his left thigh a tight squeeze and he immediately closed his mouth. Tom shot his half-Klingon wife a grateful look. Yawning in the middle of Chakotay's report would have attracted unwanted attention from Captain Janeway. However, one look at Voyager's auburn-haired commander told Tom that she was on the verge of a deep sleep.

Chakotay finally finished the report. Everyone turned their attention to Janeway, who sat in her chairs with eyes half-closed. Both Tom and his close friend, Harry Kim, suppressed a snicker. Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok nudged the Captain's side. Gray-blue eyes flew open. "Huh? Oh." She quickly snapped to attention. "Well, I see that everyone has finished their reports." A small guffaw from Tom earned him one of his captain's legendary death glares. "Unless someone else has something to add, you're all dismissed."

"I have something," Everyone stared at Voyager's morale officer and only Talaxian. Neelix added, "Actually, Tom does."

Tom's eyes blinked. "I do?"

"We talked about it during breakfast this morning. Remember?"

This morn . . . Then Tom remembered. His idea on how to boost the crew's morale. Of course. The boredom of today's staff meeting seemed to have numbed his brain. "Right. Now I remember."

"Mr. Paris?" Janeway's eyes bored into his.

Tom cleared his throat. "You see Captain," he began, "St. Patrick's Day is in two days and I thought it would be great if the crew celebrated with a party. Or hold a St. Patrick's Day festival in the Fair Haven holodeck program."

"Oh no!" The long-suffering groan emitted from his wife and Voyager's chief engineer. "Not Fair Haven again!"

Tom ignored B'Elanna's interruption. "Like I was saying, I . . . Neelix and I thought it would be great to hold a festival at Fair Haven. We weren't able to last year, since I hadn't completed the program yet. And since your name is Janeway . . . I thought you would like to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a real
Irish setting." He flashed the Captain his most charismatic smile.

"There's no need for flattery, Tom," Janeway replied with her own smile. "The whole idea sounds wonderful. We can hold the celebration during the second half of the Alpha shift and the first half of the Beta shift. That way, the entire crew can have a chance to join in the celebration." She paused. "Where exactly in Fair Haven will the festival be held?"

Tom replied, "I thought the town's square would be nice. There'll be music, dancing, food . . ."

Neelix's bubbling voice added, "And don't forget drinks. Tom promised me I could serve Valax. It's a Talaxian whiskey much like your Earth whiskey. Very potent and absolutely delicious!"

Doubt clouded Harry Kim's face. "Talaxian whiskey on St. Patrick's Day? What's wrong with Irish whiskey?"

B'Elanna asked, "Now how would you know what Irish whiskey tastes like?" Her dark eyes riveted towards Tom face. The others' eyes followed her gaze.

"Why is everyone looking at me?" Under the relentless stares, Tom caved in. "All right, I had replicated a sample of Irish whiskey for Neelix. With synthehol." He directed his last words at Janeway.

Harry asked, "Why don't we do the same for the party? Replicate whiskey?"

"But I was looking forward to brewing Valax for the crew!" Neelix protested. "Why my Valax was renowned throughout my part of the quadrant before Voyager's arrival. Believe me, you will enjoy it. Besides, we can save replicator rations and it even tastes better than Irish whiskey."

Janeway smiled. "I doubt that any self-respecting Irishman would agree, Neelix. However, this festival seems like a good morale boost for the crew. And I expect everyone," she stared pointedly at both the Vulcan Tactical officer and the former Borg, who sat next to each other, "to attend."

Tuvok, who was notorious for avoiding parties, sighed. Out loud "I will be there as well," he added. His left cheek began to twitch, much to Tom's amusement.

"I'm afraid I cannot comply." Seven-of-Nine's cool statement took everyone by surprise.

Janeway frowned. "Seven?"

"I promised Lieutenant Torres I would help her complete the diagnostics on those new warp coil relays. It should take us at least three or four days. Isn't that correct, Lieutenant?" The former Borg gave B'Elanna a pointed look.

B'Elanna's eyes shone with immediate understanding. "Thanks for reminding me, Seven. I completely forgot about the warp coil relays," she replied. A little too eagerly to suit Tom. "And you're right. It's going to take several days. And Captain, since you did point out that the coils are a priority . . ."

"A priority that can wait, B'Elanna." Janeway's smile became pointed. "I hope to see both you and Seven," her eyes shifted to a very stoic Seven, "in Holodeck One, two days from now."

Forever relentless, Seven refused to surrender. "There is always the possibility that the holodeck might malfunction if the Fair Haven program is allowed to run for so long. Remember what happened last year."

"Seven's right," B'Elanna quickly added. "Perhaps the celebration should be held in the Recreational Hall." Tom did not know whether or not to strangle his wife. As much as he loved her. Even after nearly a year, B'Elanna had yet to develop a fondness for the Fair Haven program. Her opinion of the Irish town had lowered even further after Fair Haven's citizens held the Doctor, Harry and himself hostage for being evil spirits.

"I'm quite sure that nothing will go wrong this time," Janeway said. "Besides, that incident was a mere fluke. Nothing similar has happened since." Again, she smiled. "And I expect you two and Tuvok to be at the festival."

Tom added, "I'll make sure that B'Elanna shows up, Captain." His wife threw him a withering glare. He smiled.

"I don't think so, Tom." Chakotay looked enigmatic as usual. "According to the duty roster, you're scheduled to command the Bridge during Beta shift, two days from now."

"Tom?" Harry's voice rang with disbelief. "Since when did you start volunteering for command duty?"

B'Elanna piped up. "Since I suggested it would be good experience for him. After all, I'm doing it And the possibility of Tom taking command of the Bridge in an emergency is more likely than either of us." A sly look crossed her face as she met Tom's eyes. "However Tom, I could always take your place for that day . . ."

Chakotay interrupted in a quiet voice, "I'm sure the Captain would agree that it would be best to stick to the original schedule. Besides, we don't want to ruin Tom's first time in command of the Bridge, do we?" A devilish glint lit up his dark eyes. Or so it seemed to a sour Tom.

So that was it. Tom realized he would be forced to miss one half of the festival, while most of the crew get to celebrate. Including his wife, who would prefer to be somewhere else. Wonderful.

Janeway dismissed the staff. While everyone else filed out of the Conference Room, Tom turned to B'Elanna. "Nice try," he murmured in her ear. "You almost got out of it."

"Almost is not enough," B'Elanna grumbled. "I don't see why the Captain and Chakotay couldn't allow us to change places. I wouldn't mind a little time on the Bridge. It's a hell of a lot better than spending hours in Fair Haven."

"What you have against Fair Haven, anyway?" Tom demanded.

Dark brown eyes looked at Tom with an innocent air. "Why nothing," B'Elanna replied sweetly. "Other than I find it even more saccharine than the Doctor's original holographic family. Oh, and the lovely citizens of Fair Haven once tried to kill you, Harry and the Doctor, because they thought you were spirit folk."

"It's nice to know that your concern for my well being played some part in your feelings." Tom leaned forward, his lips inches away from B'Elanna's mouth.

However, B'Elanna jerked back. "Don't even think of it, Flyboy. I'm still pissed at you for suggesting that festival in the first place. You'll have to do a lot more to earn my good nature back. I only wish that Seven's little scheme had worked." She started for the door.

"Too bad for you that it didn't." Tom caught up with his wife. "You know, it almost makes me miss those days when you two could barely stand each other." Ignoring B'Elanna's glare, he swept past her and stepped onto the Bridge.

* * * *

Inside the ship's galley, Neelix stood behind the stove, stirring his first batch of Valax that bubbled in a large pot. Valax with synthehol. The Talaxian frowned at the thought of the extra ingredient in his beloved recipe.

As much as he valued his years spent on Voyager, Neelix could not for the life of him understand certain Alpha Quadrant practices. Like serving non-alcoholic liquor aboard a military vessel. Alcohol was part of a military tradition with nearly every species in the Delta Quadrant. Or at least in his part of
the quadrant. Why bother serving synthehol, if the regulations prevented the real thing from being served? The Talaxian continued to stir the Valax until he realized it was finished. Then he turned off
the fire and ladled a spoonful of the liquor. Neelix took a sip. Ugh! His spotted face formed a grimace. This tasted nothing like Valax! It must be the synthehol. Neelix figured that it did not mix well with fermented Leola root.

Panic struck the morale officer. What was he going to do? He could not serve this mess to the crew! They would hate it! Neelix paused momentarily. Maybe he should . . . He shook his head. No!
He couldn't! Captain Janeway had expected him to put synthehol in the Valax. On the other hand, if he served this to the crew, it would put a damper on their St. Patrick's Day festivities. Deciding that the latter seemed the greater evil, Neelix tossed out the pot of Valax and began preparations for a new batch. Valax without any synthenol. Besides, who would know?

* * * *

"What is this ridiculous outfit you chose for me?" B'Elanna demanded. She stood in front of the full-length mirror inside the Paris-Torres quarters.

Tom stared at the long, rose-colored dress that his wife wore with an appreciative eye. He thought she looked marvelous and especially appreciated the way both the skirt and blouse hugged her body in all the right places. "It doesn't seem ridiculous to me," he replied. "In fact, it looks quite
delicious."

"Not smashing?" B'Elanna shot back. A feral light gleamed in her eyes.

Tom stepped closer. "Delicious, smashing. I think you get the idea." His eyes fell upon the dress's low-cut neckline that barely covered his wife's cleavage.

"Keep your eyes forward, Hotshot," B'Elanna growled. "I'm beginning to think that you replicated the blouse like this in order to get an eyeful."

Tom's mouth curved into a wicked smile. "Well, I need to remember something positive in order to keep me from being bored out of my mind for the next several hours."

"Really?" One of B'Elanna's eyebrows formed an arch. "I can think of something better." She leaned forward and gently nipped Tom's lower lip. "What about that? Or maybe this." Then she pressed her lips against his. Tom drew her into his arms, the couple opened their mouths and settled into a deep, warm kiss.

His mind fixed on his wife's warm lips and soft body, Tom failed to hear his combadge chirp. "Bridge to Paris." His attention remained focused on B'Elanna. "Chakotay to Paris. Please respond."

Two pairs of lips disengaged with great reluctance. Tom sighed and responded to the First Officer's summon. "Paris to Chakotay. I know. I'm expected on the Bridge."

"You were expected about five minutes ago. And everyone is waiting for B'Elanna in Holodeck One."

B'Elanna withdrew from Tom's arms and growled. "When this day is over, you will have a lot to make up for."

Tom gently forced her back into his arms and smiled. "Why don't we start making up now? Both of us are already late. I'm sure that another ten or fifteen minutes won't hurt." As his wife did before, he nipped B'Elanna's lower lip before pressing his mouth against hers.

* * * *

Gray eyes swept appreciatively over the photonic landscape that served as the Fair Haven village. Green streamers hung from rooftops and windows. Booths that provided food, drink and entertainment circled the village square. Janeway never felt more Irish than she did at that moment. Tom Paris' idea for a St. Patrick's Day celebration had been inspirational.

All of Fair Haven's citizenry, along with many of Voyager's crew members, had gathered for the festivity. Like the former, the Starfleeters also wore late 19th century costumes. The combadges on their chests distinguished them from the holographic characters. Janeway beamed at them, until she realized
one person remained missing - namely a certain chief engineer. She frowned. What happened to B'Elanna? A minute later, the chief engineer appeared out of nowhere, drawing stares from others. That dress! Janeway's eyes widened. Where did B'Elanna get that dress? It was a simple, late 19th century,
rose-colored garment with white lace flowing from elbow-length sleeves and barely covering the scooped neckline. Bold in color, yet very simple and elegant. It made Janeway feel almost inadequate in her own steel blue dress. Well, almost. Not even B'Elanna's eye-catching outfit could not attract Michael Sullivan's admiring glances from her.

"Sorry I'm late," the engineer growled in a breathless voice. Janeway noted B'Elanna's flushed skin and eyes that shone just a touch too brightly. "I was held up." B'Elanna drew in one last breath. "In Engineering."

The looks on several Starfleeters' faces seemed to hint that the half-Klingon was somewhere else other than Engineering. Janeway glanced at B'Elanna's back and noticed the gap in the latter's dress. She was not the only one who noticed. A smirk appeared on Chakotay's lips. "What were you doing?
Crawling around one of the Jeffries tubes, B'Elanna? The last two buttons at the back of your dress are unfastened."

Several titters from other crewmen erupted. Harry smiled. B'Elanna shot her mentor with a dark glare. "I . . . never mind!" Her face became even flushed. She struggled to fasten the two buttons. Fortunately, Seven volunteered to complete the task.

Janeway allowed herself a quick smile before clearing her throat. "Everyone, please gather around!" she declared loudly. Once Fair Haven's citizens and the Starfleeters focused their attention upon her, she began her speech. For five minutes, Janeway talked about the joys of Irish culture, her ancestors and the origins of Saint Patrick's Day. When she finished, everyone broke into loud applause and cheers. At that moment, Janeway felt she was more than a starship captain. She began to feel like a well-respected head-of-state. Michael Sullivan, Fair Haven's respected tavern owner and unofficial mayor, grandly pronounced the commencement of the town's St. Patrick's Day celebration. Music
flowed from a gathering of fiddlers. Merchants hawked their food and drinks from booths and everyone began to mingle. Everyone, except for Tuvok and Seven-of-Nine. Janeway frowned.

"Tuvok, Seven," she said to the reluctant pair, "why aren't you mingling? Enjoy yourself."

The Vulcan security officer eyed his surroundings with a hint of disapproval. "If that is possible. However, I do not see the logic of celebrating one's culture in this manner. On Vulcan, we celebrate Kal Rekk by . . ."

Janeway quickly interrupted. "We're not on Vulcan, Tuvok. This is Ireland. And there's an old saying, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.'"

"But this isn't Ireland." As usual, Seven's Borg-like logic had come to the fore at the wrong moment. "This is just a hologra. . ."

"Excuse me, Seven." Janeway signaled both Chakotay and the Doctor. "Gentlemen, why don't you show Seven and Tuvok around town? Introduce them to the townspeople?"

Both the First Officer and the hologram appeared at Janeway's side. The latter gave Seven and Tuvok a benign smile. "I will be most happy to. In my capacity as Fair Haven's spiritual guide, I have become well acquainted with . . ."

"Doc-tor!" Chakotay interrupted. "Why don't we show them around, not bore them with your qualifications."

The Doctor gave Chakotay a pointed look. Fortunately, he also took the hint. "Of course." Then the hologram linked his arm with Seven's. "Why don't we sample some of Mr. Neelix's Valax? I hear it's quite delicious."

Being the recalcitrant creature that she was, Seven protested. "I don't think it would be wise for me to consume any alcohol. Nor do I see any need to introduce me to the people of this town. I happen to be quite familiar with this program." But the Doctor and Chakotay led her away before she could
finish. Tuvok threw Janeway a long-suffering look and followed the other three.

Janeway heaved a long mental sigh of relief. She returned her attention to the holographic barkeep. "Now that we're finally alone, how about that game of darts?" Her eyes twinkled mischievously. She and Michael had established a long-standing rivalry over the dartboard.

Only Michael did not seem to be listening to Janeway. He was busy frowning at Seven's retreating figure. "Now that is one odd young lady. I wonder what she meant by this program?"

"Don't mind Seven." Janeway linked her arm through Michael's. "She's always been a bit odd. Space travel affects her a little differently than the rest of us."

"Hmm." Michael's eyes remained fixed on the ex-Borg. "If you say so."

To distract him, Janeway gave his sleeve a tug. "About that game of darts?"

"Why don't we share a dram of Mr. Neelix's whiskey, first? He tells me it tastes a bit like Irish whiskey. If you can believe that."

Janeway's voice grew husky. Seductive. "Trying to get me tipsy, Mr. Sullivan? Are you that afraid I'll beat you again?"

One of the Irishman's dark brows rose. "Again? Katie darlin, have you forgotten already? I won the last two times."

"Not today, you won't." Janeway flashed a challenging grin. Michael responded with one of his own. He led her toward the tavern. "By the way, how did you know about Neelix's whiskey?"

Michael replied, "He told me. Wanted me to serve some to my customers."

"Now how does he plan to do that?" Janeway asked. Fortunately, Michael did not hear since she had spoken under her breath.

* * * *

"You're going to serve your Valax to the people of Fair Haven?" Harry Kim stared at Neelix. "How do you plan to do that? I thought the Valax was for the crew."

Neelix stood behind a booth erected in front of the Ox and Lamb restaurant, where he occasionally cooked. In front of him stood four barrels filled with Valax. "I asked Tom to add the Valax to the Fair Haven program." He patted two of the barrels on his right. "These two are holographic simulations for the townsfolk. I thought it would be nice for everyone tried a sample." He
reached for a glass and filled it with brew from one of the barrels on his left. "Here," Neelix handed the glass to Harry, "try it."

The young ensign took a cautious sip. A wide grin spread across his face. "This is delicious!" he cried. "Smooth, yet smoky." Harry took another sip. "Like real Irish whiskey." Neelix felt a surge of relief.

"I didn't realize you were familiar with real Irish whiskey, Harry." The remark came from B'Elanna, who appeared next to the booth.

A deep flush colored the ensign's face. "Not the real stuff, B'Elanna. You know, with synthehol. Neelix's Valax tastes like the whiskey I've had at Sandrine's."

"No need to explain yourself, Harry." B'Elanna gave her friend a pat on the arm. "It's just Tom's warped sense of humor getting hold of me." She pointed at the glass in Harry's hand. "How's the drink?"

Neelix immediately took the opportunity to serve a glass of Valax to her. "Harry seems to like it very much. Try it." The half-Klingon engineer sampled the Valax. Like Harry, she expressed approval. When B'Elanna asked about the main ingredient, Neelix told her. "It's Leola root, of course. Fermented
Leola root."

"You're kidding!" B'Elanna exclaimed. "So you finally made something decent from that stuff?"

What did she mean by that? Neelix pondered at the look Harry gave the chief engineer. "What's wrong with Leola root?" he asked. "I thought everyone liked it."

"Of course we do," Harry quickly answered. "B'Elanna and I were merely amazed that such a delicious drink came from something like Leola root. We thought it was mainly used for . . . you know, main dishes."

Satisfied with Harry's reply, Neelix flashed a bright smile. "So you really liked the Valax?"

"Really," B'Elanna replied, before she drained her glass. "How about another drink?" She handed her glass to Neelix. So did Harry.

While Neelix was busy filling glasses, Commander Chakotay, Tuvok, Seven and the Doctor joined the group. "Sampling Neelix's Valax?" Chakotay asked in a light voice. "How is it?"

Harry replied, "It's great. You should try it. Neelix even has barrels for holograms."

"How nice of him," the Doctor added dryly. "However, unless one is serving champagne or wine, I'm not really interested in alcohol. Why don't you give it a try, Seven?"

Seven responded, "Perhaps not. The last time I consumed any alcohol, it damaged by Borg nanoprobes."

"That was synthehol champagne, Seven," the Doctor corrected. "And your Borg nanoprobes were barely damaged. As I'm sure you won't be . . . damaged by Mister Neelix's drink. It's also made with synthehol. Am I right, Mr. Neelix?"

The Talaxian paused momentarily. Until he realized that he might draw unwanted attention. Especially form the ever vigilant and suspicious Vulcan security chief. "Most definitely, Doctor," Neelix replied. "In fact, Valax is less potent than authentic whiskey or any other Earth alcoholic drink." Neelix immediately shut his mouth, hoping he did not sound too enthusiastic.

Chakotay accepted a glass of Valax. Seven hesitated, until the Doctor convinced her to try a drink. Tuvok remained reluctant. Then Commander Chakotay mentioned something about how Captain Janeway wanted "everyone" to enjoy him or herself. The Vulcan sighed, accepted a glass of Valax and took a sip. He expressed approval with his trademark arch of the brow. "Impressive," he murmured. "You have outdone yourself, Mr. Neelix."

"Another drink, Mr. Vulcan?"

Tuvok hesitated. "When I finish this." And he took another sip.


* * * *

Never again, Tom promised himself. Never again would he volunteer to command the Bridge. Not if it meant spending hours watching others when he could be doing something else. Like being at
the helm. Or spending those hours with his wife. And if B'Elanna ever suggests he volunteer again, he
would resist. Even if she threw her naked body at his in a suggestive manner. Which is exactly how she managed to convince him the last time, while they were in the shower together. Tom sighed, remembering his wife's wet and soft . . .

"It is now 17:45 hours, Lieutenant." The announcement came from the former Borg adolescent, who now manned the Engineering station. Just recently, Icheb had received permission from Captain Janeway to receive academic preparation for Starfleet Academy. Both B'Elanna and Seven had suggested he spend some time on the Bridge.

Tom quickly erased memories of B'Elanna and glanced at the young man. "Thanks for the information, Icheb," he commented wryly. "But you don't have to announce the time every fifteen minutes."

"Everyone's attention seemed to be diverted by the chronometer," Icheb continued in his matter-of-fact manner. "I thought if I announce the time, everyone would stop looking at it and maintain their attention to their duties." The Bridge's other occupants squirmed with discomfort. Including Tom. "Does this have something to do with the festivities inside Holodeck One?"

Tom bit back a sigh. There was nothing more relentless than a curious ex-Borg. Might as well tell the truth. "Yes, Icheb. We're all waiting for the shift to end, so we can join the others for the St. Patrick's Day festival." He paused. "Why don't you join us? Seven will be there."

Disappointment illuminated Icheb's dark eyes. "I'm afraid not, Lieutenant. Seven is only there, because Captain Janeway requested her presence. And she believes that frivolous time spent inside the holodeck is irrelevant. Especially now that I'm preparing for Starfleet Academy. I am scheduled to join Seven in Astrometrics upon the end of the shift."

Trust Seven to put a damper on a young man's social life, Tom thought morosely. The former drone's educational schedule for Icheb eerily reminded him of his own experiences with Owen Paris. Maybe he should have a talk with Seven about Icheb's recreational needs. And if that fails, Tom felt that the Captain would find the subject interesting.

Several minutes passed before Icheb made his next announcement. "It is now 18:00 hours, Lieutenant Paris." Which meant that the shift had ended. All eyes automatically fell upon the doors for the turbolift. No one entered. Tom frowned. He had expected stragglers from the festival, but Tuvok had been scheduled to relieve him. And like Seven-of-Nine, the Vulcan was notorious for being prompt.
"Let's give them a few more minutes," Tom said. One minute passed. Two minutes. Then five. When the chronometer read 18:15 hours, Tom tapped his combadge. "Bridge to Tuvok." No answer. Again, he attempted to contact the Vulcan. "Paris to Tuvok. Please respond." When Tuvok failed to respond a second time, Tom let out an exasperated sigh. He stood up and started for the turbolift doors. "Ensign Ayala," he said to the former Maquis-turned-Security officer, "you have the Bridge. I'll be inside Holodeck One, if you need me." And he disappeared inside the turbolift.

* * * *

The doors to Holodeck One slid open and Tom stepped into the world of Fair Haven. One glance around the bustling activity around him, told the pilot that the St. Patrick's Day festival was a success. Everyone seemed to be enjoying him or herself. He spotted a couple against the tavern's wall, grinding their half-dressed bodies against each other's. Maybe some were enjoying themselves too much.

Gay laughter caught Tom's attention. He spun around and found one of the pilots under his command, Pablo Baytart, enjoying the attentions of two village maidens in an alley between the local haberdashery and the butcher's shop. Three townsfolk and two Starfleeters staggered about the village square in a group, bellowing drinking songs out loud. Tom frowned. What on earth was going on?

"Lieutenant Paris! Tom!" A familiar figure stumbled forward and threw an arm around the pilot's shoulders. "You finally arrived! What took you so long?" Crewman Mortimer Harren shot Tom a bleary grin.

Tom gave the usually anti-social engineer a wary smile. He still had not forgotten the other man's caustic response after he had offered his friendship. "I'm surprised to see you here. I didn't think hobnobbing with the crew was your forte."

The engineer giggled. "It isn't. The good captain had insisted I participate in the festivities. Now I'm glad she did." Another giggle followed. "Say, have you tasted Neelix's Valax, yet?"

"No, I haven't." Tom surreptiously removed Harren's arm. "How is it?"

"It's sublime!" Harren giggled once more. "Get it? Sublime! Can you imagine me using such a word?"

Oh Lord! Tom thought. Not only was Harren a jerk, but has a lousy sense of humor, as well. The pilot scanned the village, searching for Neelix's booth. He saw it, but not the Talaxian. Damn! He had hoped to dump Harren on the morale officer. "Where, uh . . . where is Neelix?"

"He ran out of Valax and left to fetch some more." Harren leaned forward, clutching Tom's left shoulder. "By the way, I never did offer my congratulations on your recent marriage. You're one lucky man." He leaned toward Tom's ear and added in a sotto voice, "If you know what I mean. How many men are lucky enough to share a warm bed with a Klingon woman, eh?"

Tom grabbed Harren's hand and gave it a slight twist. "I believe you're getting a little too personal, Mort. Don't you think?" The cheerfulness in the pilot's voice failed to reach his eyes.

Harren's own eyes grew wide with fear and he stumbled back as Tom released him. "Uh, so . . . so sorry 'bout that, Lieutenant. I . . . uh, I . . . I wondered where Maggie went. Excuse me!" He quickly staggered away.

His temper restored, Tom straightened his uniform and entered Michael Sullivan's pub. The moment he stepped inside, a blast of fiddler's music hit his ears. Tom's eyes focused on the group of
Voyager crewmen and Fair Haven townsfolk engaged in a dance. At another corner of the pub sat Ensign Chapman, fast asleep. And both Janeway and the EMH stood near the unconscious officer, obviously in the middle of an animated conversation. However, there was no sign of Tuvok.

Tom approached the bar. "Hi Michael," he said, flashing a smile to the rugged barkeep. "Has Tuvok been here? I'm looking for him."

The Irishman shot Tom a dark look. "Why? Is Katie looking for him?"

"Katie?" It took Tom another moment to reconcile the nickname with his commanding officer. "Oh, you mean the Captain! No, I'm the one looking for Tuvok. Have you . . .?"

"Where's the food?"

Tom blinked. "Huh?" Michael's question had caught him offguard. He was also beginning to wonder if he had drifted into some strange world. Or a bad dream. Tuvok was missing. Mortimer Harren acting like a horse's ass. . . Wait! That was normal for the loner. What was abnormal was Harren's friendly behavior. In fact, many of the people inside the Holodeck - both organic and photonic - seemed to be acting peculiar. Almost drunk. And now Tom had Michael Sullivan shooting glares at him that bordered on homicidal.

The pub owner slammed a glass on the bar and growled, "The food, Boyo! Katie sent you to get her a plate of corned beef and cabbage from the Ox and Tail. Frankly, I don't see why she needs you to get it."

"Look Michael," Tom gave the Irishman an apologetic smile, "I have no idea what you're talking about. I just came from the Bri . . . uh, my ship and . . ."

Strong hands grabbed Tom's jacket, forcing the pilot to lean over the bar. "Don't play with me, Tommy Boy! It's bad enough seeing you and Katie snuggling with each other, despite you being a married man. But don't think you can treat me like a fool!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Tom demanded, releasing himself from Michael's grip. He had to get away from this madman! "Before we start fighting over nothing, could you please tell me what's going on? And give me a drink, while you're at it. Preferably Neelix's Valax."

Glaring at the pilot, Michael picked up the glass from the bar, filled it with a brown liquid from a barrel labeled VALAX and slid the glass to Tom. Just as the pilot raised the glass to his lips, a voice cried out, "No! No! Don't drink that!" A hand belonging to the Doctor knocked the glass to the floor.

"Doc!" Tom cried out in exasperation. Now this was the last straw! "What the hell did you do that for?"

The EMH anxiously explained, "That . . . that Valax, or whatever it is, is poison! It's causing a great number of people to act strange." A second figure appeared beside the Doctor. A smile that struck Tom as unusually sultry curved Janeway's lips. A bad feeling began to niggle in the back of the pilot's mind. The Doctor sighed. "Including the Captain."

"Lieutenant Paris." Janeway immediately latched herself upon the pilot. "What happened to my corned beef?"

Confusion whirled in Tom's brain. Corned beef? A side glance at Michael Sullivan's furious face told him not to expect help from that quarter. "Uh, Captain? What corned beef? I just got here."

"Captain?" Another voice caught the foursome's attention. Tom's eyes widen at the sight of . . . him. A second Tom Paris, dressed in late 19th century costume and holding two platters of corned beef,
cabbage and potatoes. Déjà vu struck Tom with the force of a plassma storm. Seeing his double reminded him of Tuvok's "Alpha Insurrection" program and his encounter with another holographic Tom.

Before anyone could comment, Janeway ordered, "Computer, delete the Tom Paris character."

"Acknowledged," the computer's voice replied. And Tom Paris II, along with the food, dematerialized.

Janeway tightened her grip on Tom's arm. "That's better," she added huskily. "I've always found the real thing more interesting than fiction. Don't you?" The auburn-haired captain glanced up at him with come hither eyes. Tom could not think of a damn thing to say. In less than ten minutes, he had received more shocks than he could ever remember.

"That's it!" Michael's growl snapped Tom out of his shock. "I've taken all I can." The tavern keeper marched around the bar and stood in front of Tom and Janeway. "Now get your bloody hands off Katie!"

"I wish I could help you, but her hands are on me!" Tom protested. He struggled to break free from the Captain's grip. "Captain . . . Captain, could you . . ." Before he could finish, Michael forcibly wrenched Tom out of Janeway's grip. Then without warning, he swung a fist at the pilot. Fortunately, Tom possessed quick reflexes and ducked. And instead, the fist smashed into the Doctor's face, sending the latter sinking to the floor unconscious.

"Doc!" Tom cried out. He glanced at the EMG's inert figure, before turning on Michael. "What the hell have you done?"

The pub owner began sheepishly, "I . . . I'm sorry Tommy . . ." Before he could finish, a bottle smashed upon his head. Michael fell heavily upon the floor. Janeway stood above him, brandishing a broken piece of glass. Smiling.

"Now that we've gotten rid of distractions," the Captain cooed, as she grabbed hold of Tom's arm once more, "how about a little relaxation? My quarters with a bottle of Valax, some of that jazz music you like so much, myself and thou." Her voice dropped a decibel or two.

To Tom's utter relief, Neelix appeared inside the pub, carrying several bottles. "I'm back everyone! And with a few more bottles of Va . . ." He paused as his eyes surveyed the two figures on the floor and Janeway, clutching an anxious Tom. "Good heavens! What is going on here?"

"Neelix!" Anxiety and relief mingled in Tom's voice. He removed the Captain's hands from his arm in a not-so-gently manner. A frown appeared on her face, but Tom ignored it. "Neelix, am I glad to see you. I need help." He knelt beside the EMH.

The Talaxian placed the bottles on the bar and knelt beside Michael. "How did this happen? Was there a fight?"

Tom slapped the Doctor's face. "Somewhat." He paused. "Michael punched him . . . while trying to punch me. C'mon Doc! Wake up!"

"Why don't we try a stimulant?"

Feminine hands clamped around Tom's arm. "I can think of another kind of stimulant," Janeway's husky voice purred.

Tom immediately shrugged the Captain off. Gods, he hoped she would forget this moment when she became sober. "I'm going to try something the Doc once used on me. Step back." He leaned closer toward the Doctor, his face inches away from the latter. "Doc! Doc? HEY DOC! WAKE UP!"

The shout brought the EMH into a sitting position, with eyes wide open. "Wha . . . Huh? I . . ." He glanced around, wearing a dazed expression. "Mister Paris, what happened?"

"You got in the way of Michael's fist, Doc. I guess you didn't have time to desolidfy yourself." Tom nodded at the unconscious pub owner. "As for Michael . . . uh, let's just say that the Captain came to my rescue with a bottle of Valax."

Mention of the Talaxian drink brought the Doctor to full consciousness. "Valax?" His dark eyes blazed at Neelix. "You! That drink!"

"Me?" Neelix blinked. "Is there something wrong with the Valax, Doctor?"

The Doctor snapped back, "Of course there's something wrong! It's poi . . . don't touch that!" He directed his last cry to Janeway, who now held a glass of Valax. "Don't let her drink that!"

Tom helped the EMH from the floor. "It's a bit late, don't you think, Doc?" From the corner of his eye, he saw the Captain empty the glass in three gulps. "Besides, it's obvious she's had more than one drink already. What we should do is find out how the Valax affects everyone."

"Mr. Neelix!" The Doctor glared at the Talaxian. "What exactly did you put in that drink?"

After stuttering a bit, Neelix finally replied, "No . . . Nothing, Doctor! It's just fermented Leola root. That's all!"

"With synthehol, of course."

Neelix's eyes shifted back and forth. Tom could have sworn he saw guilt swirling inside them. "You did add synthehol in the Valax, didn't you Neelix?"

"Well . . ." Again, the Talaxian hesitated. "I did . . . at least at first I did."

"At first?" The Doctor's expression grew agitated. Tom tried to calm him down. Ordered him to take a deep breath. Which the Doctor did. He continued, "What did you mean by . . . at first?"

Neelix nervously cleared his throat. "Well, I made some Valax with synthehol. And to be honest, it just tasted awful! Since I didn't want to disappoint everyone, I decided to make the genuine stuff. Everyone seemed to like it."

"And that's not all!" the Doctor bellowed. "No wonder everyone has been acting bizarre! That . . . that poison must be more potent than any alcohol native to the Alpha Quadrant!"

The Talaxian stated otherwise. "On the contrary Doctor, the Valax is less potent. Why your Earth whiskey contains more alcohol than Valax. I looked it up in the computer's database. Besides, I've had three helpings, myself and it's barely affected me at all."

"Then why is everyone else acting so strange?" Tom asked. Again, he noticed Janeway helping herself to another glass of Valax. She knelt beside Michael Sullivan's body and began to stroke his forehead in a not-so-motherly manner.

Neelix shrugged. "I have no idea."

"Obviously, fermented Leola root is more potent to those not used to it," the Doctor grumbled, shooting the Talaxian with one last glare. "Including natives of the Alpha Quadrant." He sighed. "How I wish I never heard of Leola root."

Tom immediately took charge of the situation. He ordered the Doctor to return to Sick Bay and find an antidote to the Valax. Meanwhile, he and Neelix will round up all of the crewmen who attended the festival. "It shouldn't be too hard," he added. "Most of them are probably somewhere inside the Holodeck. I'll have Ayala send a few Security people to help us." Tom lifted his hand to activate his combadge when a sudden movement nearly lifted him off his feet. "What was that?"

"Bridge to Paris" the combadge chirped.

Tom responded, "Go ahead."

"An ion storm caught us by surprise. We need you on the Bridge." Ayala's voice paused. "And Commander Tuvok, if he's available."

"Unfortunately, the commander is no where to be found. Oh and Mike? Send a few people from Security to Holodeck One. Neelix will explain."

Ayala acknowledged the order and ended the transmission. The ship rocked once more. Tom faced the other two. "I have to return to the Bridge. The ship's external sensors are down and we have an ion storm to deal with. Neelix, start searching for any missing crewmen. You'll have help from Security." He started to turn away.

"Tom! Where are you going?" Janeway abandoned the Irishman and rushed to the pilot's side. Once more, the ship rocked, hurling her and Tom against the bar's edge. The Captain grabbed his arm.

Slowly and deliberately, Tom extracted himself from Janeway's grip. "I have to go now, Captain. There's a bit . . ."

"Kathryn," she purred.

Tom's eyes flew open. "Captain?"

"My name is Kathryn. And you're Tom." Gray eyes radiated heat.

Tom didn't know whether to be embarrassed or aroused by his captain's sudden interest in him. In other words, it was time to make his escape. He flashed Janeway with his mega-watt smile. "Okay, Kathryn. Uh listen, I have an emergency on the Bridge. But I'll be back." After patting her arm, Tom
finally made his escape toward the exit. "Let's go Doc!"

The EMH rushed forward to join Tom, muttering, "Captain Proton to the rescue." Unfortunately for him, Tom heard the remark.

"I'll remember that Doc, the next time you try to talk me into a double-shift in Sick Bay so you can spend more time in the holodecks." Tom shot the Doctor with an evil grin and the pair left the Holodeck.

END OF PART 1