The Mouse In Tube 32 By Kate O'Riley

Codes: P/T, slight J/C Time: Early season 4 Disclaimer: Paramount, Oh Great And Mighty, owns the characters. Kate, Oh Small And Lowly, owns the story.

Archiving: Fine with me, LMK.

Thanks to Janeway Freaks (http://angelfire.com/trek/jfreaks2), official sponsor of my stories.

"I once tracked a silicon-based life form through the neutronium mantle of a collapsed star." - Hirogen "I once tracked a mouse through Jefferies tube 32." - Tom Paris, "Hunters"

Author's note: I love that quote! Every once in a while, there's one scene, or a line, or something, and you just HAVE to write a story about it. This is one of those. Another one is the scene in "Scientific Method" where the Doctor is hiding in the holodeck in the Renaissance program. But that's another story. Pun intended.

=/\=

Kathryn Janeway was accustomed to many odd things. She was used to being in charge of the only Starfleet ship in the Delta Quadrant. She was used to having to scrape along, getting the food and parts needed to run the ship. She was, unfortunately, used to having to fight other races for the ability to survive.

She wasn't used to mice running around the ship.

Well, they weren't exactly mice. They had longer tails, bigger ears, and purple fur with green spots. But they looked enough like mice.

Even though she, a Starfleet captain, with years of training and service, had never been afraid of mice, she still let out a startled shriek when she felt something tugging on the leg of her uniform and saw a mouse.

"Captain!" Chakotay was instantly by her chair. He'd been standing by the tactical station discussing a security report with Tuvok.

Tom Paris swung around at the helm. Tuvok and Harry Kim pulled out phasers.

Janeway was slightly embarrassed by all the attention. "I'm sorry. There's just a.mouse."

"Mouse?" Tom asked.

"Well, not a mouse. It was colored wrong. It's probably run off. Harry, do a scan and see if you can track it down." She said.

"Aye Captain."

Janeway settled back. She was sure the mouse would soon be tracked down.

=/\=

"So was there really a mouse on the bridge?" B'Elanna Torres asked Tom as they walked down Voyager's corridor.

He shrugged. "I heard the captain shriek, but I didn't see anything. Rumor get down to engineering already?"

"Yes. How did a mouse get on Voyager?" she asked.

"Who knows? Probably beamed up with the food we just put in."

"I hope it doesn't find it's way into the warp core." B'Elanna said.

"Will you stop focusing on the mouse? Let's just catch it and fry it. It'll probably taste better then whatever Neelix made." He said as they entered the mess hall. A strange odor was in the air.

A few minutes later, as they were eating, B'Elanna commented, "You're probably right. Fried mouse would taste better."

Tom poked at the blue mass on his plate. He wasn't sure, but that thing coming from it had a vague similarity to a tentacle. "Most things would taste better. Bugs would taste better. Raw."

"The carpeting would taste better." B'Elanna said as she forced down a bite.

"The plate would taste better."

"You know, I could have replicated something if you hadn't conned me into putting most of my rations in the betting pool."

"How was I to know Ensign Johnson wouldn't ask Ensign Reeves for a date? Besides, I lost most of my rations too."

Their conversation was interrupted by a scream. "It's a mouse!" someone shrieked.

Instantly, the mess hall erupted into panic. People started flooding towards the door. Neelix came charging out of the kitchen with a frying pan. "No rodent's going to mess up my kitchen!" he shouted. B'Elanna quickly stood up on her chair. Tom wisely didn't laugh, despite the fact that he wanted to.

Tom stood up and grabbed Neelix's arm. "Whoa, Neelix. You don't need to smash it. The stain'll never come out. I don't see it anywhere. It probably ran off in the commotion. You can go back to your cooking."

Neelix reluctantly went back to the kitchen, mumbling about mouse traps and poison. Tom looked at B'Elanna. "You can come down now."

B'Elanna's cheeks flushed. She stepped down from her chair. "I don't like mice." she said.

"I guessed. Big, bad, B'Elanna, jumping up on her chair because she was afraid of an itty-bitty mouse."

"Shut up."

"Oh, B'Elanna's embarrassed!" Tom said.

"Shut up. I mean it."

"Wonder what Harry'll think when I tell him what happened?"

That was the last thing Tom remembered.

=/\=

B'Elanna gaped in amazement. She hadn't meant to punch Tom so hard, but there he was, on the floor. She quickly dropped to her knees and started shaking his shoulder. "Wake up! Come on Tom! I'm sorry!"

He moaned, but didn't wake up.

B'Elanna finally decided to use another option. "Medical emergency. Two to beam to sickbay." Her last thought before they dematerialized was that she wasn't going to like having to explain this to Captain Janeway.

=/\=

Kathryn Janeway entered Sickbay, Chakotay right behind her. "What happened?"

B'Elanna visually turned a shade paler. "Well, it, um, started with the mouse in the mess hall. While Tom and I were eating there."

Uh oh. Chakotay remembered what had happened once when B'Elanna had seen a mouse in the Maquis days. Her temper - and her fist - were a lot quicker back then.

"And?" Janeway asked.

"Well," B'Elanna said slowly, "I, uh, I.." Janeway couldn't hear what she said.

"What was that B'Elanna?" she asked.

"Ijumpedupontothechair!" she said quickly. She immediately turned bright red.

Janeway stared at her in amazement. "And how did Tom come to be in Sickbay?"

"Well, he was teasing me about it, and, I punched him. I honestly didn't mean to punch him that hard."

"He got a slight concussion from bumping his head on the way down." The Doctor came up and said. "He's asleep right now."

"Wake him, please."

"Gladly." The Doctor went over by the biobed. "WAKE UP!"

Tom bolted upright. "Wha?" he slurred. He blinked several times, then glared at the Doctor. "You could try waking people up like a normal person, not scaring the living daylights out of them."

The Doctor appeared to consider this. "I could, but where's the fun in that?"

Tom rolled his eyes. "Let's reprogram him. Why'd you hit me?"

B'Elanna sighed. "I'm sorry. I really am. I didn't mean to hit you so hard. It was just, the chair and all."

"I guess I shouldn't have been teasing you about it." Tom admitted.

Janeway watched with satisfaction as they apologized. "Good. You apologized on your own. You'll only have to clean three Jefferies tubes now."

The two turned towards her. "What?!?!?" they exclaimed in unison.

"Behavior unbecoming to a Starfleet officer. You need some type of punishment." Janeway paused, then added, "That's three tubes, each."

As she walked out of Sickbay, she allowed herself a slight smile. Life on Voyager was never dull.

=/\=

B'Elanna and Tom were crawling through the Jefferies tubes. They'd decided to pair up, in hopes they would get the tubes cleaned faster that way. Tom was in front of B'Elanna.

"This is embarrassing." B'Elanna groaned.

"It's your fault." Tom said.

"How is it my fault?" B'Elanna asked.

"I'm not the one who punched someone." Tom said.

"Well, I'm not the one who was teasing."

"Well, I'm not the one who jumped on the chair!"

"Well, I.I." Suddenly she shrieked. "Mouse!" She dove towards Tom, causing him to slam flat against the floor of the tube. B'Elanna landed on top of him.

"Oof! Get off!" he grunted.

He managed to twist his head around enough to see the mouse disappearing. "Get off me, B'Elanna!"

"Sorry." She crawled off of him.

He sat up. "I'm going after it. For one reason and one reason only."

"What?" B'Elanna asked.

"So you'll stop injuring me."

=/\=

Tom crawled on his hands and knees as fast as he could. These tubes were so cramped. Why did no one make them bigger?

He spotted the mouse ahead. He moved cautiously. Maybe he could catch it.

With a squeak, it ran off.

He swore softly and followed. The same thing happened twice more.

He was beginning to get slightly tired of this. Finally, he spotted it ahead yet again. This time, he dove - well, as much as he could in the cramped tube - and caught it by the tail.

It squeaked and started to wiggle. Tom used his free hand to hit his comm badge.

"Uh, medical emergency. One to beam to sickbay!"

=/\=

Tom materialized on the floor of sickbay. The Doctor walked towards him, scanning him.

"Medical emergency?" he said. "Since when does a bruised arm constitute a medical emergency?"

"Sorry. I just needed to get someplace with a containment field, quick. Take care of this for me, will you?" He handed the Doctor the still wiggling mouse.

"Mr. Paris, I'm a doctor, not a veterinarian. And this is a sickbay, not a kennel."

"Sorry Doc, but like I said, we need it behind a containment field."

The Doctor carried it over to a table, sat it down, and activated the field.

Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay walked in. "I see you've caught it." Janeway said.

"Yes ma'am!"

"Good. I've been thinking about what to do if we caught it, and we've decided we'll beam it down to the M-class planet a couple lightyears away. I'll order the helm to set a course."

"Aye Captain!" Tom started to head to the door.

"Where are you going, Lieutenant?"

He turned around. "To set a course?"

Janeway smiled, slowly shaking her head. "No. You have some Jefferies tubes to finish cleaning."

Tom sighed. "Yes ma'am."

He heard the laughter as the doors closed behind him.