DISCLAIMER: Star Trek: Voyager and all its characters belong to Paramount Pictures; no infringement of copyright is intended. The stories however belong to me.

Chapters 1-6 written April/May 2013, chapters 7-11 written October 2013-January 2014.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: A big thank you to EwigeStudentin for organizing the "Guess the Pairing" contest and event!

The correct pairing is listed at the bottom of each story - I've put in some spoiler space, so if you want to guess, don't scroll down too quickly!


Settling the Score
by Hester (hester4418)
Rated G

It's a quiet night at Sandrine's. I have the pool table all to myself, so I just play idly, lining up impossible shots to keep my eyes sharp and my hands steady.

Then the door opens and I look up reflexively. It is her.

She looks around, her gaze passing briefly over the couple at the corner table and Sandrine behind the bar, before settling on me. I'm a regular; sometimes I feel like I'm always here. Many patrons don't even notice me, but she has an eye for detail. And for people.

I can't tell whether she is happy to see me or not. She's not my type, mind you – too skinny. But still there is something about her that makes me watch her every time she is here.

She comes a step closer. "I was looking for Tom."

"Haven't seen him," I drawl, and take aim. The eight ball shoots across the table in a straight line, dropping into the corner pocket with a satisfying clunk. "Care for a game?"

She hesitates. We only played once before, a long time ago. I won, but just barely. In the way her head lifts and her spine straightens, I can see that she remembers as well.

I beat her. We still have a score to settle. I'm actually surprised that she hasn't demanded a rematch before now.

She's the queen of the pool table, the undisputed champion. Few have managed to defeat her, but no one bears a grudge against her because of it. They all love to see her play and enjoy herself. I have a feeling that she doesn't get to do that nearly often enough.

She nods. "You're on."

I rack up the balls while she selects a cue, carefully examining several before choosing her favorite.

We toss a coin, she breaks, and two balls drop immediately, as if drawn by magnets.

"Solids," she announces.

I watch her circle the table in fluid movements. When she leans across to study her options, I find myself appreciating the fact that she's not wearing that hideous black and red outfit tonight. Blue suits her much better.

"Tommy tells me you're his boss."

She smiles, her eyes never leaving the table. "That's right."

Another ball gone. I have to distract her if I want to stand a chance. "How'd you manage that?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're a lady. He's…"

"A tramp?" she finishes, throwing me a shrewd look.

"Yeah," I say lamely. There's another clunk in the corner pocket.

She brushes past me. "I broke him out of prison."

I stare, slack-jawed. Of course I knew Tommy boy's done time. Hell, who hasn't? But that she not only knows about it, but had an active part in getting him out…

Then understanding dawns. "He owes you."

At that, she pauses. Her eyes come up to study me, and I suddenly feel like she can see right through me.

"In a way, maybe he feels he does," she says softly.

I shrug. "I don't think he minds."

She misses the next shot. Seems like I distracted her all right, but somehow I feel bad about it now.

I take up my cue and sink two balls in rapid succession. She's still lost in thought. I manage three more before I have to cede the table to her again.

A few minutes later, it's over. I don't know how she did it, but that one momentary lapse was her only weakness tonight.

She lays her cue down across the table and I tip my hat to her. "Good game."

"Indeed."

She lingers for a moment, as if about to say something else. I pretend not to notice. A few more of her people have come in during the last couple of minutes, and the bar is getting crowded. There is a change in her demeanor; it's subtle, but I have studied her often enough to notice. Whatever she had been about to say won't get said now, and maybe not ever. I wonder if she has anyone to truly confide in.

Then she bids us all good night and is gone. I rack up the balls again. The night is still young.

-==/ The End \==-


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-==/ Janeway and Gaunt Gary (the holographic tall, skinny pool shark with the hat) \==-


Who else would be able to beat Janeway at pool – did you remember him? If not, who did you guess?