If I Knew You Then--Part 1

Summary: This is completely AU, based off the line in Day of Honor when Paris and Torres are floating in space talking about the Academy, and he says "I wish I knew you back then." So that got me wondering...what if he did know her back then? How would their lives have been different? Just my take on it.

A/N: I'm a huge P/T fan, bordering on obsessive. Well, considering I write fan-fiction about Voyager, I'd say it goes beyond "bordering". I actually wrote this story a couple of years ago. My roommate really liked it, and has been bugging me about posting it since. It has four parts, which takes us from B'Elanna's first year at Starfleet Academy through Caretaker, the first episode of the show. Some parts may seem out of character, which bugs me a little, but I justify it by saying that their characters would be different if they met when they were younger... yeah, it's a cop-out. Sorry. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story, despite any inconsistencies you may find.

And onto the story.

"Tommy boy, it's Friday afternoon, and we have got to find us a pair of lovely ladies to accompany us tonight."

"Only you, Ryan, would find it necessary to try to pick up girls before we hit the bars," Cadet First Class Tom Paris replied with a chuckle. The two senior Starfleet Academy cadets were on their way back to the dorms after Nova Squadron practice, still in their flight suits, both eagerly anticipating the first free weekend they had had in months. It was November, only a few weeks until the semester's finals, and their commanding officer had lain off the Saturday morning practices to give them time to study, knowing full well that every one of her cadets would be abusing the privilege to the best of his or her potential.

"Come on, buddy," Ryan Addison replied, almost whining. "We need this weekend."

"And there will be plenty of girls at the bar who we won't have to worry about running into after tonight." He grinned shrewdly. "Or tomorrow morning."

"You do realize, Paris," Addison said, his tone demanding, "that it is November, and we have yet to try to pick up any plebes. Any. Come on, Tommy. We owe ourselves this much. We owe them this much. You're the captain of Nova Squad, and they are impressionable young ladies who have only been away from home for a few months." He leaned closer, his voice lowering. "They're getting lonely and homesick, and the stress of their first finals week is starting to get to them. What they need right now is the comfort of two handsome young men who have been there and know what they're going through." He leaned back slightly, a satisfied smile on his face for the speech he had just given.

Paris couldn't help but to laugh. "Okay, you've made your point, Ryan." He chuckled as he clasped his roommate's shoulder. "Lead the way, oh mighty hunter, to our unsuspecting prey."

It wasn't too hard to find girls on the grounds of Starfleet Academy; after all, there were almost four thousand students, approximately half of them female. Unfortunately, only about five hundred of them were the "unsuspecting prey" of the freshman class that Addison and Paris were seeking, and most of those were probably worried enough about the pending finals week to be in their rooms or the library studying.

"Oh, stop, I found one," Addison said suddenly, holding out his arm to stop Paris. Sure enough, about ten meters in front of them, was the retreating figure of a slight brunette—long, curly, dark hair in a tight plait, a Starfleet Academy track and field warm up suit failing to conceal a great figure, her left arm stiffly in front of her in the familiar posture of someone reading from a PADD while walking. Not definitely a plebe, but the unwillingness to miss a few minutes of studying to walk from track practice to the dorms was highly suggestive.

Even though he hadn't seen her face, Tom decided he approved. He liked brunettes, although he had a tendency to go for ones a bit taller than this one. To be perfectly honest, though, his "type" wasn't all that clearly defined. "One problem, buddy," he said with a frown. "There's one of her, and two of us."

"I saw her first," Ryan protested quickly. "You find your own plebe."

Paris frowned, but decided it was fair. "Fine. I'll be the wingman. What formation are you going for?"

"Standard swoop and grab," Addison replied. "We'll just go up to her and look all impressive in our Nova Squadron flight suits. And you," he said, jabbing a finger in his roommate's chest, "keep your mouth shut."

"Aye, sir," Paris replied with a quirky grin. "We better hurry, she's getting away. Pretty fast, too. If she's any indication, the track team is in good shape this year."

Ryan chuckled, and the two cadets quickly made their way to the retreating plebe. "Hey," Addison said smoothly as he walked up besides her. "Something I can help you with?" he asked, pointing at the PADD.

Paris grimaced slightly at his friend's words. Although neither of them had problems picking up girls, they used completely different approaches, and there was no way Cadet First Class Thomas Eugene Paris would be caught using a line like that.

Apparently it didn't impress the girl much, either. She turned to him quickly, her eyes flashing darkly. As she whipped her head, Tom caught her face in profile and had to fight to suppress a grin. There was no denying her Klingon heritage with those forehead ridges, although they looked faint enough to him to make him suspect a half-Klingon. She wasn't going to make this easy for Ryan, and he liked things easy. "Do I look like I need your help? Does a flyboy like you even know anything about Zimult's theorem on coherent warp core mechanics?" Her voice was rising, her words accelerating as she talked. She was clearly feeling some of the stress that Ryan had mentioned, but she wasn't going to have anything to do with his proposed suggestion. Her eyes went from Addison to Paris and back again. "So what is this?" she demanded. "Talk to the first years with your fancy Nova Squadron flight suits and expect me to swoon and fall into your arms? And what do you find so funny?" she demanded, turning to Paris, who was unsuccessful in containing his laughter.

"Oh, nothing," he replied with an innocent look on his face. "I was just recalling a conversation that Ryan and I just had, and thinking about how much happier he would be right now if he had listened to me."

The look on her face clearly said that she had no idea what he was talking about, and with a flash of anger in her eyes, he wondered briefly if she was going to strike him. Instead, she just muttered something under her breath and stalked away.

One she was out of earshot, Paris started laughing and clasped his friend on the shoulder. "Well, Ry, you tried. Come on, let's go back to our room and get out of these flight suits. I think we both need to get away from campus for tonight. Maybe far away. What time is it in New Orleans? I overheard one of the engineers saying something about the girls down there..."