Summary: "In a way, Paris has been your personal reclamation project."
Characters: Janeway, Paris
Disclaimer: So much untapped potential with these two, Paramount. What were you thinking?
Notes: This story is an exploration of what could have, and may have, happened. I've kept it canon-compliant (and assumed that Mosaic and Pathways are accepted as canon) except where otherwise noted.
Warning: Some chapters contain references to violence and sexual assault. One contains elements of dubious consent, public lewdness and really filthy sex.
2. The Aide
August, 2358 – Starfleet HQ, San Francisco
It’s a good thing I brought a PADD loaded with games and comics, because my dad’s been shut in his office for two hours now. It’s well past the time he said he’d take me over to the flight school. I’m pissed, and I feel stupid because I knew this was going to happen.
Screw him anyway. I could’ve gone to New York with Mom this weekend, which still would’ve been less fun than the party Charlie’s throwing while his parents are away but would’ve been a whole lot less crap than this. But no, Mom had other plans. She wants me and Dad to spend time together, to bond, or some bullshit. I told her there was no way I’d call that a good time and neither would he, but apparently my opinion counts for shit around here.
What really makes me want to punch myself in the face is that my illustrious father fed me some line about it being good for both of us and slapped me on the back, and for about five minutes I actually started to believe him. I started to hope we might spend some time talking or doing stuff together, maybe even without him getting mad at me and calling me a lazy fuck-up and an embarrassment to the Paris family name.
He promised we’d only duck into his office so he could check up on his new aide and then we’d head straight over to the flight sims. Of course, when we got here some admiral commed him and he closed his door – “I’ll be ten minutes, Thomas” – and hasn’t shown his face since.
I guess at least that means he hasn’t had time to tell me how disappointed he is in me. Maybe today’s not a total loss after all.
I’m bored rigid and my ass hurts from sitting on this fucking waiting-room couch and I’m hungry enough to eat an Alvarian beetle sloth. Plus, I’m starting to feel sorry for his aide, who’s been stuck with babysitting duty. Although probably not as sorry as she seems to be feeling for me.
“Can I get you anything, Thomas?” she asks for the third time in half an hour.
Fuck this. “How about a site-to-site transport to my friend’s place?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” To give her credit, she does look genuinely sorry. “Your father shouldn’t be too much longer, though.”
I give her the flat-eyed stare that’s guaranteed to send my dad’s blood pressure through the ceiling. “Uh-huh,” I deadpan, making it pretty clear I don’t believe a word she’s saying, and that I know she doesn’t, either.
She gives me back the same look to the power of ten. Holy shit. Involuntarily, I straighten up; she probably punches half my father’s weight but she has a better “shape up, asshole” glare than he does. And his is pretty impressive. Suddenly I’m not quite as bored anymore.
“What’s your name again?” I ask her.
“Ensign Janeway.” She pauses. “Call me Kate.”
“Well, Ensign Call-me-Kate Janeway, since you got the shit end of the stick on your current posting, I’ll let you in on a little secret about my dad. It might be painful for you now, but in the long run you’ll be better off losing the hero-worship. He’s an asshole and a liar, and you can’t depend on him for anything.”
She just looks at me for a minute, and then she gets up from behind her dinky little desk outside the asshole’s office door and comes over to sit beside me on the couch. “You don’t remember me, do you?” she asks me.
“I suppose not,” she says thoughtfully. “We’ve only met once before, a few years ago. We sat on your jetty together, and you told me you wanted to join the Naval Patrol.”
That does stir a faint memory, but I’m damned if I’ll give her the satisfaction. “I was full of shit,” I shrug. “Who wants to screw around on boats when you can fly a starship?”
“So you’re planning to join the ‘fleet?”
“What else is there?”
She gives me a long, even look, and for some reason it makes me want to squirm. “Like father, like son, huh?” she says.
I’m so pissed off I can’t even speak for a minute.
“I’m nothing like him,” I manage finally, the shake in my voice pissing me off even more. Suddenly I’m on my feet, wanting to hit something. Luckily for Ensign Janeway, I’ve been brought up not to hit girls. Instead I drop-kick my PADD into a corner then give the legs of her desk a couple of solid kicks for good measure. After, I feel pretty stupid. And my foot hurts.
She’s still sitting on the couch, watching me with a mild expression. “Feel better?” she asks.
“Not really,” I mutter.
“What were you and your dad supposed to do today?”
“He promised he’d let me log some time in the flight sims.” Even to my own ears I sound sulky. Really making a solid impression here, Tommy, I think. Then I wonder why the hell I care about impressing some skinny, freckled ensign who sees more of my dad than I do. I’m sure the old bastard’s already given her chapter and verse on my shortcomings anyway.
She gets up and moves back to her desk, tapping something into her comm unit. “Simulator Two is free in about an hour,” she tells me. “Want to grab some lunch before we head over there?”
“Won’t you get in trouble?” I ask suspiciously.
“I’m due for a break, too. Give me a minute to route the Captain’s calls to my commbadge and we can go.” She taps a few commands into her console and straightens up. “So, what do you like to eat? Italian okay?”
“What does it matter? I can get anything I want from the replicator.”
“Oh, we’re not going to the replimat.” She smiles and holds out her hand, and before I can stop myself I’m taking hold of it. She starts pulling me toward the door.
“So where are we going, then?”
“A little place I know downtown. It’s been run by the same family for generations. The food is amazing.” Her smile widens into a grin. “And they make killer coffee.”
I can’t help grinning back. Today is looking better by the minute.
“Okay, that was good,” I admit as we lean back in our chairs after polishing off a couple of servings of linguine con vongole.
“Told you so, Thomas.” She gives me a half-smile, which turns into a full smile as the waiter places a pot of coffee in the middle of our table.
“Why do you call me that?”
She blinks at me. “You mean, your name?”
“Only my dad calls me Thomas, and sometimes the school principal. Call me Tom.”
“All right, Tom,” she says easily. She sips her coffee. “Do you often get called in to see the principal?”
“More often than you’d believe.”
“Well, that surprises me. According to your father, you’re the second coming of the Messiah.”
I stare at her. “Real funny, Kate.”
“I’m not kidding. My second day on the job, I was already sick of hearing your name.” She deepens her voice and puffs out her chest. “‘Thomas won the state mathematics championship three years in a row. Thomas beat the computer on a flight test sim only third-year cadets take. Thomas is going to be a captain by the time he’s thirty.’” She tosses her head, grinning, and returns to her natural voice. “People warned me Captain Paris was tough to work for, but they didn’t tell me it’s because nobody can measure up to his teenaged son.”
I’ve had enough of this bullshit. I toss my napkin onto my plate and get to my feet. “Well, thanks for lunch, Ensign. It’s been a blast.”
“Tom!” Chasing after me, she has her hand on my arm before I can open the restaurant door. “I wasn’t making fun of you. Your dad really does brag about you like that. Honestly, I’m a little jealous,” she says, her voice softening.
“Of me?” I stare down at her, just now realising how short she is. In her regulation boots she barely reaches my chin.
“Come on.” She tugs me through the doorway. “We need to get moving if we’re going to make your simulator session on time.”
She walks fast, but my legs are longer and I keep up easily. “Why are you jealous of me?”
It takes her a while to answer, and when she does her voice is soft. “I know my father loves me,” she says. “But he never talks about me the way your father talks about you.”
“How do you know?”
“I suppose I don’t,” she concedes. “It just feels like the only time I get any attention from him is when I’ve worked my ass off at something. And people wonder why I’m an over-achiever.”
“Well, the only time my father gives me the time of day is when I get my ass hauled into the principal’s office.” I think about what I’ve just said, what it reveals about me, and try not to think about it anymore.
She laughs, linking her arm through mine. “The shrinks would have a field day with us.”
“Are you sure you can get us in here?” I ask as we walk into the flight school. “I thought you had to be a command-level officer to sign in a civilian.”
She smirks at me and starts unbraiding her hair, shaking it out so it falls in waves down her back. I can’t help staring at it; it’s really pretty hair. “Watch and learn, Tom,” she murmurs, sauntering toward the security desk. There’s an extra sway to her hips as she approaches the crewman on sentry duty. “Hi,” she says breathlessly, and he looks up from his console with a smile that sparks in his eyes as Kate leans over his desk.
“Good afternoon, sir,” he says politely.
She gives a throaty little laugh, and I can practically see him stand to attention – and I don’t mean in the way a crewman responds to a senior officer. “Please don’t call me sir. I hate it,” she whispers, as if she’s telling him a cheeky secret. He smiles back at her as she tosses her hair over one shoulder. “I’m Ensign Janeway, from Captain Paris’ office.”
“What can I do for you, ma’am?”
“Oh God, that’s almost as bad. Anyway, the Captain asked me to bring his son here so Tom can log some time in the sims. He’d have brought Tom himself, but he’s been called away urgently. Some Intelligence briefing – I don’t know the details. Anyway, is Suite Two ready?”
“Ready, ma’am? Uh, Ensign?”
“For Tom,” she says, a little impatiently. “You must have seen him around before. He’s slated for Nova Squad.”
The security guard glances at me in faint disbelief. I can practically see him thinking, that kid? Nova Squadron? I do my best to look bored and mature.
“I’m sorry, Ensign,” he says nervously. “I don’t have any listing for, uh, Mr Paris today.”
Kate sighs. “Don’t tell me I forgot to reserve the slot. Look, I could try calling the Captain so he can confirm for you, but the last I heard he was still talking to Admiral Takeshi about the Cardassian situation and I’d really rather not bother him with this.” She gives the crewman wide blue eyes. “The simulator is vacant, isn’t it?”
“Great!” Kate favours him with a wide, sunny smile and turns to beckon me over. “C’mon, Tom, you should still be able to get about an hour in.” She turns back to the guard. “Thank you so much, Crewman, um…?”
“Symons, ma’am,” he supplies helpfully. “Jacob Symons.”
“Thank you, Jacob. I really appreciate your understanding. If you could just show us through?”
“Uh…” Symons dithers, and I feel a little sorry for him; he’s so clearly outclassed, and he knows it. “Yes, ma’am,” he says resignedly, tapping in the code to allow us through the forcefield.
Kate grabs my hand and yanks me through, smiling all the while. “Nova Squadron thanks you too, Jacob,” she calls over her shoulder, and tugs me down the hallway to Simulator Two.
She’s watching me with new respect when I finally shut down the sim. “Your dad wasn’t kidding,” she remarks. “You really are good.”
I shrug like it’s no big deal. It is, though. I’ve been told I can fly by people with a hell of a lot more know-how than Ensign Kate, but it’s her opinion that matters to me right now.
“One day, I’m going to be chief science officer on a starship,” she tells me as we make our way through the HQ grounds, heading back to my father’s office. “Maybe you’ll be at the helm.”
Her commbadge chirps before I can answer; it’s my dad, telling her to get back to her post immediately. “I’ll be right there, sir,” she says. “Oh, and I have your son with me. I left a message telling you we were going to lunch. I hope you weren’t worried.”
There’s a pause before he responds. ~Thank you, Ensign. I hope Thomas hasn’t been any trouble.~
“Not at all, Captain,” she says politely.
She sends me a sidelong glance as he cuts the connection, but I can’t meet her eye. It’s pretty clear my dad was caught out when Kate mentioned me. He’d forgotten I was even supposed to be here. I can tell she knows it, too, but she doesn’t pat my hand or say something comforting and meaningless. I’m torn between gratitude and wishing I’d never met her so she wouldn’t have to bear witness to my humiliation.
The door between my dad’s office and the anteroom is open when we get back. “Ensign,” he calls without getting up. “I need you to collate the reports from the past six months’ surveys of regions near Cardassian space and highlight any items of interest. Get it on my desk by 0900 tomorrow.”
“Trouble, sir?” she asks.
“Preparation. We’ll need all the information we can get if we’re going to be stationed near the Demilitarised Zone.”
“Sir?” I can see her shoulders tensing, hear the disbelieving excitement in her voice.
My dad looks up at her with a grin. “You heard me, Ensign. I’ll be assuming command of the Al-Batani for a scientific survey mission. Since one of our areas of study is closely related to your junior thesis topic, you’ll be a key member of the science department. Better pack your bags, Katie. We’ll be leaving in five days.”
“Yes, Captain,” she says, and when she turns around she’s beaming. I can’t help grinning back at her, but my smile fades when I hear my father calling me in.
“Thomas,” he addresses me in that tone that somehow manages to convey simultaneous expectation and disapproval. “I’m going to be very busy for the rest of the day. Ensign Janeway will make sure you get home safely.” He comes around from behind his desk, clapping me on the shoulder as he steers me into the anteroom. “It’d probably be best if you stay at a friend’s house tonight, son. I can’t say what time I’ll be home. Ensign,” he raises his voice, “see my son to the transporter, will you?”
And that’s it. No apology for forgetting he promised to take me to the sims. Not even a flicker of recognition that he’s completely fucked up my day. Thanks, Dad. It’s been … exactly as expected.
On the bright side, I guess I’ll be going to Charlie’s party after all.
Kate walks me to the transporter pad and dismisses the operator. “Are you going to be okay tonight, Tom?” she asks. “You won’t be all on your own, will you?”
“I’ll be fine,” I assure her. “I can take care of myself.”
“Okay.” She keys in the transport coordinates for my house, then rests her hands on the console. “It was a privilege to watch you fly today, Tom. And I really enjoyed lunch.”
“Me, too,” I tell her. “Thanks.”
“I hope I’ll see you again sometime. Maybe when I’m back from my mission.”
I watch the way her eyes light up. She’s so Starfleet, I realise; going into space, scientific missions, the whole idea of it clearly thrills her, and here she is, about to get everything she’s worked for. I wonder if I’ll ever be that ambitious. I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.
I won’t be counting on either of those things.
“I hope so, too.”
She smiles. “Energising,” she says, and as I dematerialise, I’m not thinking about my dad’s broken promises or reaching level twelve on the sims today; I’m thinking about the colour of her eyes.