The Con Game

RATING

PG

SUMMARY

A weird little tidbit of a story inspired by—though sadly not based on—real life events. (Viva Las Vegas!) Takes place just after the events of “Caretaker.”

CODES

P/T, what else?

DISCLAIMERS

No actors were actually stalked in the making of this story. But my hand is still tingling…

NOTE

For my favorite Church Lady on her birthday.


“We’ve met before, haven’t we?”

Tom was smiling a crooked smile as he extended his hand. B’Elanna wasn’t sure if she should shake it or spit in it.

“Yes, we have,” she said, forcing herself not to growl as she put her own hand in his. They’d more than ‘met.’ In addition to his practically carrying her out of the Ocampan tunnels, they’d worked together side by side for almost two weeks during Tom’s brief stint as a Maquis. Clearly she’d been only vaguely memorable.

“Well, then,” he said, still staring into her eyes, “it’s good to see you again…Lieutenant.”

Great. Was it possible he didn’t even remember her name? Maybe all that liquor he used to drink had left him with permanent memory loss of some kind. Or maybe she just didn’t merit any of the space left in his clearly damaged brain.

“Right,” was all she could manage to say before pulling her hand back and turning away. Still, she made a mental note: his skin was as soft and warm as she remembered it; his handshake firm and confident, but not overpowering. Despite the chronically too cold temperature of the ship, B’Elanna could feel herself starting to sweat.

Torres didn’t even know what she was doing there in the cramped forward observation lounge, surrounded by pips and Academy graduates. Captain Janeway had thrown this little meet-and-greet for the senior staff and their department heads; B’Elanna was just an anonymous Maquis engineer. Chakotay would probably get in trouble for sneaking her in.

It had barely been forty-eight hours since the captain had destroyed the Caretaker’s array—and their only way home—and B’Elanna was still coming to terms with her fate. One part of her felt guilty for abandoning the other Maquis and their fight against the Cardassians. On the other hand, it wasn’t as if anyone would really miss her back in the Alpha Quadrant. And she had to admit that part of her was looking forward to the challenge of life aboard a Starfleet ship, to finally seeing if she could cut it among the Federation’s best and brightest.

But serving on a starship wasn’t the same as commanding one, and B’Elanna was feeling antsy watching the other officers socialize so comfortably with each other. Even Chakotay looked like he was right in his element. Torres had never been an ensign—much less an lieutenant—before, and her provisional rank bar still weighed heavily on her collar. So she retreated to a table in the far corner and hoped she could just fade into the starfield for the duration of the event.

She’d been staring down into her tea for a few minutes when she heard a familiar voice. “Mind if I join you?”

Paris. She looked up to shoot him an annoyed glare. So, why did her heart start pounding a new rhythm every time she saw those pale blue eyes?

“Suit yourself,” she said, pointing at the chair across from her. He chose the seat next to her instead.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me,” he said evenly. “From the angry look on your face when Harry introduced us just now, I could see that you do.” His tone was wry, but self-depreciating, something B’Elanna didn’t expect.

“Of course I remember you, Paris,” she said, trying to resist the urge to go back to her quarters and pull the covers up over her head. “And I can reassure you that the rest of my Maquis friends remember you, too.”

Her thinly veiled threat didn’t seem to shake him. Still, when he answered, he sounded almost…sad. “Yeah, I suppose they do.” She could hear the rush of air as he exhaled.

They sat there for a moment in silence as she tried to figure out why she suddenly felt guilty. Before she could come up with an answer, she saw Harry walking toward them. “So I see you guys are getting to know each other.”

The swagger instantly came back into Paris’s tone. “Oh, B’Elanna and I are old friends, aren’t we, Torres?”

So…he did remember her name.

“Sure,” she answered, deciding to play along. “Paris and I go way back.”

“In fact,” Tom said, gently nudging her in the side with his elbow under the table, “we were pretty hot and heavy back when I was in the Maquis. Isn’t that right…sweetie.”

B’Elanna shot him a furious look, but when she met his gaze, he nodded almost imperceptibly in Kim’s direction, silently encouraging her to play along with his little game. She turned to look at Harry; his doe-eyed innocence made him an almost irresistible target. And she always had appreciated a good practical joke…

“Tom! I thought we were going to keep that little secret to ourselves!” she said, wondering why the hell she was agreeing to go along with this little ruse.

Paris slipped his arm around her chair and let his fingers dance up her arm. “I can’t help it,” he said, his voice turning low and sultry. “Just sitting this close to you makes me want to kiss you until you can’t breathe.”

B’Elanna noticed that she was having trouble catching her breath. “Not here,” she said as she wondered what it would be like to feel the crush of those almost perfect lips on hers. “Tonight, in my quarters. 0100 hours.” Suddenly, the ship wasn’t feeling quite so cold anymore.

“It’s a date,” he said, grabbing her hand and kissing her open palm. For a moment, B’Elanna thought she might swoon. And she wondered what Chakotay would say if he saw her flirting with the man who had betrayed them—twice.

She was distracted by the sight of her new friend, Harry, as he blushed the color of Tom’s uniform. “You’re serious. You guys were…are…?”

“Deeply, madly, passionately in love?” Tom whispered back at the flummoxed ensign. “Since the day I first laid eyes on her.”

This was going too far. Pretending to have had a fling was one thing. Pretending they were in love was something very different. B’Elanna opened her mouth to confess, but heard herself say, “And since the moment I saw that round, sexy ass of his in those tight suede pants.”

What in the hell was she doing?!?!?! Still, it was Tom who was blushing now, and the rush of power Torres began to feel over him was almost exhilarating. It might have been Paris who started this little game, but she was definitely holding the better hand at the moment.

“Why, snuggums,” he practically growled at her under his breath, “I never knew you felt that way…about my ass.”

She barely missed a beat. “It’s the one word that comes to mind every time I think of you.” At least this much was true.

They might have continued their faux left-handed love fest if not for the captain and the tapping of a fork on crystal. “I’d like to make a toast,” Janeway said, “to old adversaries becoming new friends.” She clinked her glass with Chakotay’s in a symbolic gesture of reconciliation.

“Here, here,” Tom whispered into B’Elanna’s ear, his lips so close she could feel them brush against her skin. Her entire body turned to gooseflesh at the sensation. It was the final straw.

“Excuse me, but, um, I have something I have to do…in, ah, engineering,” she stammered, trying to remember who she was and where she worked. As quickly as she could, she made a mad dash for the door.

~*~

Thanks to the Kazon, there was more than enough work to keep Voyager’s engineering staff busy, and B’Elanna had volunteered to pull a double shift to try and help them catch up on repairs. It not only gave her a way to pass the time, it helped her familiarize herself with all this new Starfleet technology. The gel packs alone were a revelation and she was determined to learn as much as she could as fast as she could.

Of course, now it was after midnight and she was exhausted. Exhausted and frustrated; the Fleeter in temporary command of engineering was a pinched little man who seemed determined to put her in her place. He shot down every idea she had—usually publicly—and it was everything she could do not to just punch him in the nose. B’Elanna wondered, as she walked back to her quarters, if she would ever be seen as anything other than a hot-headed Maquis to her commissioned counterparts.

She also wondered why she hadn’t thought to grab something to eat during the captain’s reception earlier that night. Her stomach was growling as loud as the warp core.

With barely enough strength to enter her access code, she opened the door to her cabin and stumbled inside. She almost jumped through the bulkhead at the sound of the strange voice that suddenly called out, “Computer, lights to 25%.”

With his order, her room was suddenly filled with what could have been candlelight, and she could see Tom Paris sprawled across her couch. “Hi, honey. How was your day?”

“Paris?! What the hell are you doing here?!” She was about to call security when he stood up and walked toward her.

“You invited me, don’t you remember? Sweetums?” He brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead and looked into her eyes. “‘My place. 0100 hours.’ I think those were your exact words. And I know I’m a little early, but I’m due on the bridge at 0800, so I thought maybe we could…”

“I don’t care what you thought! Breaking into my quarters, scaring the hell out of me like that!” she barked at him. She was about to forcibly remove him from her home when she caught a whiff of something…delicious. “What’s that smell?” she asked sniffing the air, the fire immediately lost from her tone.

Tom stepped aside to show her a perfectly set table: linens, real china, crystal goblets…and a covered dish that seemed to be the source of the mouthwatering aroma that filled the room. “Leftovers from Janeway’s party,” Paris answered. “Chicken in a garlic mushroom sauce, if I’m not mistaken. I noticed you left without eating anything, so I figured you might be hungry. But, if you want me to go, I’ll just take it with me and—”

“Actually,” B’Elanna interrupted him, her stomach overruling her brain, “I suppose a quick dinner wouldn’t be so bad. To um, keep up appearances. For, you know, for Harry.”

Tom smiled as he moved to the table and started dishing out the chicken. B’Elanna hoped she’d have the restraint to actually use her knife and fork—she was starving. “Did you see the look on his face when I said that we were—”

“Deeply, madly, passionately in love?” B’Elanna answered as she took a bite.

Paris’s expression changed at the words; he was starting to look as hungry as B’Elanna felt. “Yeah,” he answered. “Leave it to young Ensign Kim to fall for a story like that.” He stared into her eyes for a long moment, and she was relieved when he finally changed the subject.

They spent the next hour talking about Harry and the progress they were making repairing the ship, and the challenges of trying to plot a course for Earth from 70,000 light years away when none of the stars looked familiar. B’Elanna told him about her frustrations with Joe Carey, and Tom mentioned a holodeck program he was working on in his spare time. It was a friendly—if superficial—conversation, which made Torres forget how angry she had been at having her privacy violated so blatantly.

After dinner, they moved to the couch. B’Elanna was exhausted, but she didn’t really want Tom to leave. So they sat up talking—and yawning—until Torres just couldn’t keep her eyes open one second longer…

His body was tall and lean and she smiled as he pressed it against her. She’d wanted him almost from the second she’d first seen him staggering off the transport—their new hotshot pilot. And while her fantasies had once been limited to having him ravage her body with warm, deep kisses, she knew now that she wanted more.

“I’m in love with you,” she heard him whisper. “Deeply, madly, passionately in love with you.”

Her heart fluttered at the words. “Me, too,” she groaned as she grabbed his hand and placed it on her breast as her own hand reached for the fastener on his pants. She had always wanted him, but now it was something more. She needed him. Needed to feel his touch, needed his body to confirm what his words had promised. That he loved her as much as she loved him…

She could hear the klaxon sounding and knew that she should get up, but something was holding her down. Forcing her exhausted eyes open, B’Elanna instantly realized why she was having so much trouble standing up: Tom Paris was draped across her body like a sheet, his face buried in her neck, his right hand cupping her left breast, her own hand between his legs—as sound asleep as she had been only a moment earlier.

The realization startled her and she reflexively squeezed her hands—not only waking Tom up, but sending him rolling onto the floor in a spasm of pain, both from the viselike grip of a surprised Klingon and from the sudden contact his forehead had made with her coffee table. “What the hell?!”

“Wake up, Paris,” she barked as she tried to make her numb limbs obey her commands. Her arms and legs were tingling with a million electric pin pricks as the blood slowly rushed back into them.

“What’s going on?” he asked as he came to consciousness. B’Elanna noticed that his normally slicked down hair was tussled, making him look more like a little boy than a cocky, self-assured pilot.

“Red alert,” she said, trying to stay focused. “You have to get to the bridge.” She tried to stand up, but her rubbery legs dropped her onto the floor—and into Paris’s still sore lap.

“Ahhhhh!” he groaned as he tried to dump her off him, in the process ending up sprawled on top of her, their legs tangled together. He raised himself up on his arms—just as the klaxon stopped sounding.

He held himself there for a moment—a moment when B’Elanna thought he might kiss her—before rolling off her onto the floor. They lay there side by side for what seemed like an eternity before Tom spoke. “Sounds like the emergency’s over,” he said matter-of-factly.

“I guess so,” she answered, still trying to get her bearings.

“I guess we fell asleep after dinner,” he added after an awkward pause.

“I guess so,” she said again, feeling a little stupid that she couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Another moment passed. “I should probably get going,” he said, still not making a move to get up.

“I guess so,” she said yet again.

Just then the announcer sounded—someone was at her door. Both Tom and B’Elanna jumped off the floor and spent a moment trying to figure out what they were going to do. Silently, Tom pressed himself against the wall as B’Elanna blocked the entrance to the cabin with her body and opened the door. “Harry!” she said, startled to see her friend. “What are you doing here?”

He looked concerned. “I was worried. Didn’t you hear the battle stations page? I was in engineering when it sounded and when you didn’t show up I thought maybe something was wrong.”

Before she could answer, Tom stepped out of the shadows and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “Sorry about that, Harry,” he said as he leaned down to kiss the top of her head. “We were, um, otherwise occupied. By the time we got dressed, it was all over.”

B’Elanna closed her eyes so she didn’t have to see the stunned look on her young friend’s face. This little game was getting out of hand—soon everyone on the ship would think she and Tom Paris were…

He was kissing her neck now, and she felt herself lean back against him, tilting her head slightly to give him better access.

“Oh, well, um, I’m sorry I interrupted you. I mean, it was a false alarm anyway, but, well…I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” She opened her eyes just far enough to see that Kim had turned a lovely shade of pink.

“Good night, Starfleet,” she said as she took a step back, pushing Tom along with her and allowing her cabin door to close on the face of their embarrassed friend.

She thought Paris would stop as soon as they were alone, but instead he turned her to face him, caressing her jaw with his fingers as he looked into her eyes. “We really have him going now,” he said, his voice low and husky, his eyes locked with hers.

“Yes,” she said, committing every detail of his face to her memory. “Harry bought it hook…” He kissed her gently. “…line…” Then more deeply. “…and sinker.” He was practically swallowing her whole.

After a moment, B’Elanna pushed him away just far enough to catch her breath. “You should probably go,” she said, not really meaning it but concerned that things were moving way too fast.

“Probably,” he agreed, before unzipping her uniform jacket and slipping it down over her shoulders. “Of course, I should probably give it a few minutes, don’t you think? Give Harry enough time to make it back to his quarters.” He pulled off his own jacket and tossed them both onto the floor.

“No, I think you’re fine,” she said, pulling his shirt over his head and running her fingers through the satiny hair of his muscled chest. “Besides, we both have early shifts tomorrow,” she said as she guided his hands to the hem of her own gray tunic. “And we wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.” She slipped her arms over her head to make it easier for him to undress her.

“You’re right,” he said pulling her toward the couch and onto his lap. She straddled him and started kissing her way down his face. “After all, this is just a little harmless fun.”

B’Elanna nodded as she reached down to unhook the fastener on his pants. “Harmless,” she said. “Just an innocent con game.”

“Absolutely innocent,” Tom said as he flipped her onto her back and slid his hands inside her waistband. “So, um, I’ll be going now.” He had her pants off in less than five seconds.

“See you tomorrow,” she said as he climbed on top of her. “Pleasant dreams…”

~*~

Tom had finally crawled out of her bed and back to his own quarters a little before 0500. B’Elanna had laid there—wide awake—for over an hour before forcing herself into the shower. She kept checking her face in the mirror as she let the ultrasonic waves scrub her body clean. Who was this woman staring back at her? And what in the hell had she done?!

Forcing herself to get dressed, she headed for the mess hall, hoping against hope that the replicators were still online. Rumor had it that little orange fellow, Neelix, was going to have them ripped out in favor of an actual kitchen. Whatever…just so long as there was steaming hot coffee to help her stay awake.

As she stepped inside the turbolift, she wondered if it would be awkward seeing Tom again for the first time. Their little ruse had gotten way out of hand, and she suspected, based on his reputation, that she was just one of many women who had played his little game of make believe. Of course, she’d have all day to come up with a plan: Paris would be lucky to catch an hour’s sleep before he raced up to the bridge. In fact, he was probably passed out on his bed in yesterday’s uniform, if she read him correctly.

Just then, the lift doors opened two floors shy of her destination…and Tom and Harry stepped inside. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence as Kim looked first at her and then at Paris. “So,” he said smiling, “does Chakotay know about the two of you?”

A wave of panic washed over B’Elanna—and from the wide-eyed look on Tom’s face, he was equally concerned. “No!” they barked almost in unison. “And you can’t tell him,” Tom added hastily.

“In fact,” B’Elanna added, “there’s nothing to tell.” She looked at Tom and he nodded his agreement. “You see, Starfleet, it was all just a gag.”

Paris chimed in, “That’s right. I bet her twenty replicator rations that I could make you believe we were a couple. She said you’d never fall for it.” Tom turned toward her. “Pay up, Torres.”

B’Elanna wondered for a minute if this were all part of some stupid game Tom had concocted—if she was the one who had been conned. No matter; she didn’t have much choice but to play along. “I’m good for it, Paris,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her. “You’ll get your stupid rations soon enough.”

The lift stopped on Deck 2 and the three headed in silence toward the mess hall. Not that it mattered much anymore. B’Elanna had lost her appetite. She downed a too hot cup of coffee and left without a word to either man.

She stormed down the corridor and back to the turbolift, seething at how stupid she had been to trust a lothario like Tom Paris. She was so preoccupied with her plans for revenge, she didn’t hear the footsteps running up behind her until she stepped into the lift and turned around…

B’Elanna groaned as the doors closed. “What do you want, Paris?” she said angrily. “Unless you really think I have any intention of paying you twenty rations.”

He shook his head. “Computer, halt turbolift!” When he looked back at her, he just smiled. “Oh, I see, how it goes,” he said, knowingly. “Just when the game gets good, you chicken out.”

Her head was spinning. What in the hell was he talking about?! “Is that all this is to you?” she demanded to know. “A game?!”

Before she knew what was happening, Tom pressed her against the wall of the lift and kissed her like she’d never been kissed before. It was a deep, sensual kiss that practically stopped her heart, and she said a silent prayer as she stood there tasting him that she would live long enough to remember how good it had been. After what seemed like forever, he pulled away. “Sure,” he said huskily, “isn’t that what it is to you? A game?”

They stood there for a moment, staring at each other, as B’Elanna tried to process what had been the strangest fourteen hours of her life. “Yes,” she finally blurted out. “A game.” Then she reached up and pulled his face toward hers, returning his kiss with an equally passionate one of her own.

When she finally pulled away, she took a step back and wiped her swollen mouth. “So,” she finally said, “where do we go from here?”

She could see the wheels turning inside Paris’s head. “How about a new wager,” he said, grinning. “I’ll bet you I can convince Harry that I’m actually in love with Kes.” He reached down and laced his fingers around hers.

B’Elanna nodded. “And I’ll pretend I have a crush on Chakotay,” she suggested, pulling his hand to her lips and kissing it. “And I’ll convince Harry that I think you’re an obnoxious pig.”

Tom pulled her toward him and into a tight embrace. “Good, good. Then I’ll trick him into double dating with the Delaney sisters.” He let his hands slide down onto her ass. “All the while, he’ll think I don’t even know you’re alive.”

“Then,” she said, in between nibbles of his lower lip, “we’ll start flirting with each other in front of him. But neither of us will admit how crazy we are about each other. Then, we’ll make some excuse to go off together, we’ll get stranded in some dangerous situation, then we’ll confess how much we love each other when we’re convinced that we’re about to die—only Voyager will be sure to rescue us just in the nick of time.”

Paris kissed his way up her face, then pulled her against him once again. “But it will still take us a few years before I’ll get the guts to ask you to marry me.”

B’Elanna forced herself not to tense at the words. Still, she looked up and into his eyes. Was he serious? “Sounds like a plan,” she said, before giving him one last kiss. Pushing him an arm’s length away, she straightened her uniform and rubbed her thumb around her mouth to catch any stray lipstick.

“Computer,” Tom said, “resume.”

They rode the rest of the way down to Deck 11 in silence. As the doors opened, B’Elanna stepped out into the corridor—but Tom pulled her back. “Don’t forget, Torres,” he said, “you owe me twenty replicator rations.”

B’Elanna rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, Paris.” Then she walked away without a backward glance…

~*~*~*~*~

The End

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