Tom reached the agreed upon rendezvous point and joined Harry, who was the only other member of the away team to have already arrived. Well, this place was a bust, Paris thought dejectedly. Seemed like all the away missions had been like that lately. Boring. Boring. Boring. He needed something in his life that would add a little zest to what was rapidly turning into a routine existence. Now, if B'Elanna would only accept one of the dinner or holodeck invitations he kept throwing her way, but it didn't look like that was going to happen anytime soon. He heaved a sigh.
Harry looked up from his tricorder at Tom's sigh. "Problem?"
Tom shook his head. "No problem. Just . . ." he trailed off, not sure Harry would understand, but Harry was nodding sympathetically.
"I know," he commiserated. "I almost wish someone would attack us just to liven things up a bit."
Tom grinned at him. "You're starting to sound like me, Harry."
Chakotay and B'Elanna arrived at the rendezvous point at that moment, forestalling any reply Harry might have made. "Doesn't look like we're going to find anything here that will be useful," Chakotay said, privately thinking that Kathryn would be disappointed. "Let's beam back aboard the ship." As he reached up to tap his commbadge, Chakotay was startled by a loud exclamation of pained surprise from Paris.
Phaser at the ready, Chakotay whirled round toward Paris, prepared for anything, or so he thought.
"I've been shot!" exclaimed Paris in a victimized voice.
Chakotay quickly ushered his away team toward the protective cover of several large boulders. Harry assisted Tom as he hobbled toward the refuge while B'Elanna and Chakotay covered their backs.
"Did you see where the shot came from?" asked Chakotay as he turned to inspect Paris' injury. He fought back a smile when he saw where the injury had occurred. A tiny arrow, slightly larger than a dart, was firmly entrenched in the right cheek of Paris' rear end. Tom grimaced in pain but didn't appear to be in any immediate danger from the wound.
Before anyone had a chance to reply to the Commander's inquiry, a cry of surprise erupted from B'Elanna. Whirling, Chakotay saw a similar arrow sticking out of the back of her left shoulder. Tapping his commbadge, Chakotay quickly requested a beam-up to Sickbay.
As they were beaming out, Chakotay thought he spotted a small figure in a nearby clump of bushes that seemed to be hovering in midair. Was that a pair of wings he saw? wondered Chakotay as the transporter beam took him. And a bow and arrow?
Kathryn Janeway arrived in Sickbay just in time to hear an indignant Tom Paris tell the Doctor: "That hurt! Did you have to just yank it out?"
"Stop whining, Paris," came B'Elanna's voice from behind the same privacy screen. "You didn't hear me crying when he pulled mine out of my shoulder, did you?"
"Torres! Get out of here!" demanded Tom, his voice holding a note of mock outrage. Then his voice turned suspiciously playful. "Unless you want to kiss it and make it all better?"
"Ah ah ah, Torres," interrupted Tom. "That's my line."
Janeway's eyes met Chakotay's. They both grinned. B'Elanna and Tom's sniping was taking on legendary proportions aboard Voyager. Not to mention how entertaining it was to those witnessing it.
"What happened down there?" Janeway asked her first officer.
"We didn't find anything of interest, Captain. All in all, a rather barren planet. Whatever life form it was that shot Paris and Torres didn't show up on our scans."
"Did you see it?"
"I saw . . . something." Chakotay sounded hesitant. He lowered his voice. "Kathryn, this is going to sound very odd, but, well, I would swear I saw some sort of winged being holding a bow and arrow. It reminded me of--" He stopped himself. No, that was silly. That creature was a myth. It only existed in stories. Didn't it?
"What?" asked a curious Janeway.
Chakotay shook his head and was saved having to answer when the Doctor and B'Elanna emerged from behind the privacy screen. The Doctor held up two small arrows. "For such small projectiles, they inflicted quite a bit of damage."
Tom, rubbing his rear end, emerged from behind the screen. "I can attest to that," he commented ruefully. "Captain, I don't think--" He stopped, a rush of red effusing his fair-skinned face.
"Lieutenant?" quizzed the Captain.
Tom looked to the Doctor for help.
"I believe what Mr. Paris is attempting to tell you, Captain, is that he will be unable to take a seated position for the remainder of the day."
"Ah." It was with a great deal of restraint that Janeway kept her grin from emerging.
"I could use an extra pair of hands in Engineering," said B'Elanna, absently rubbing at her shoulder. "I'm sure I can find something for him to do that will keep him off his . . ." Her voice trailed off and Paris looked up to see B'Elanna giving his derriere a thoughtful appraisal. Rolling his eyes, he addressed the Captain.
"Permission to spend the rest of my shift in Engineering, Captain?"
"Granted, Mr. Paris." Janeway made a quick exit from Sickbay, dragging Chakotay with her. Once in the turbolift, she collapsed in a fit of laughter against the wall.
Grinning widely, his dimples in ample evidence, Chakotay said, "They make quite a pair, don't they?"
"They are entertaining," agreed Janeway as she regained her equilibrium. "I hope Mr. Paris survives a day under the tutelage of our chief engineer."
"Something tells me he'll do just fine."
The Engineering staff had come to the conclusion that Thomas Eugene Paris should come visiting their neck of the woods more often. His presence had certainly added some life to an otherwise humdrum day in Engineering. They all watched the unfolding production between Voyager's pilot and chief engineer with a great deal of interest as the two lieutenants spent the day going at it, each dishing it out as good as they were receiving it.
Currently, Paris stood before one of the relays attempting to remove it with a servo wrench. He wasn't have a great deal of success. Tom muttered Klingon oaths under his breath when the relay refused to budge. He was caught off guard when a pair of arms came around him from behind and a small pair of hands closed over his, adding their strength to his.
"What are you waiting for?" asked an impatient Torres.
Was she nuts? wondered Paris. What was he waiting for? Her body was snug against his back, her breasts crushed against him. Tom closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady the testosterone rush before attempting to twist the relay loose again with the wrench. With B'Elanna's help, he finally managed to get it free. As he finished removing it, B'Elanna's hands strayed to his shoulders.
He jumped at the way she drew his name out. Her voice had a definite purr to it. Striving for formality, he said, "Yes, Lieutenant?"
She ran a finger suggestively over his ear while her other hand dipped lower to rest on his hip. "I'm experiencing a problem with my warp coils. They seem to be overheating."
"Maybe we should take a look at them." Tom valiantly attempted to keep his attention on the next relay.
"You think you can handle a warp coil, Paris?"
"I can handle anything you can, Torres. Maybe your coils just need a little coolant."
"I don't think so. I think they just need a better grade fuel."
"Yeah? I can probably help you with that."
Tom licked his lips. "Uh, yeah. Tonight's good. You think your warp coils can wait 'til then?"
"Oh, I think so, Lieutenant." Much to his disappointment, she retreated. Giving him a swift swat on the rump, she walked away.
Tom turned to watch her and saw that every eye in Engineering was on himself and the chief engineer. Grinning self-consciously, he turned back to the relays to start in on the next one. His rear end tingled where he had been shot with the arrow, and where B'Elanna had just swatted him, but he refused to rub a hand over it while the whole Engineering crew was watching.
Tuvok frowned over his monitor on the Bridge. "Captain, I am picking up a strange energy reading approaching the ship. It is very small and the energy fluctuations are making it difficult to obtain an accurate reading."
Janeway swung around to look at her Ops officer. "Mr. Kim?"
"Confirmed, Captain. There is something -- wait! It's--" He was interrupted by the intruder alert.
"I take it we have company," commented Janeway.
"Captain, it appears to be headed for Engineering," advised Kim.
Janeway looked at her first officer. "Take Tuvok and check it out." Chakotay and Tuvok quickly exited the Bridge. The Captain tapped her commbadge. "Janeway to Engineering."
"Torres here, Captain."
"B'Elanna, we have an intruder on board. Harry has traced it to Engineering. Chakotay and Tuvok are on their way down. Keep your heads up."
B'Elanna turned to her Engineering crew. "You heard the Captain. Keep an eye out for anything unusual." Everyone returned to their duties while keeping a wary eye out for a possible intruder.
After a quick glance around Engineering revealed nothing out of the ordinary, Tom turned back to the relays he was working on. Moments later, he was caught by surprise when Chakotay's calm but tense voice said, "Tom. Don't move." He stilled immediately, something in Chakotay's voice warning him to comply.
Chakotay and Tuvok had arrived in Engineering just as a being of some sort popped into existence about two feet from Tom Paris' back. The pilot, intent on his repairs, was oblivious to the being's existence. Chakotay hadn't been wrong with his first impression of the creature he had seen hovering in the bushes on the planet. It looked like a cherub. It was nearly a meter in height and had soft downy-looking wings that silently beat back and forth as it hovered near Paris' shoulder. And it did have a bow and arrow. "Cupid," whispered Chakotay.
Tuvok looked at the First Officer. "Cupid? You recognize this being, Commander?"
"I recognize what it appears to be, Lieutenant." Chakotay tapped his commbadge. "Chakotay to Janeway. Captain, you may want to join us in Engineering."
"On my way, Commander."
Tom could hear Chakotay talking softly behind him but couldn't make out what was being said. "Uh, somebody want to fill me in?" he finally ventured.
"Turn around, Paris," instructed Chakotay. "Slowly."
Tom did so, his eyes widening as they took in the cherub that was cocking its bow and arrow, seeming intent on flinging another arrow at Paris. The being hesitated when B'Elanna came to stand at Tom's side, her hand sliding into his. Seeming to be satisfied by this turn of events, the cherub placed the arrow back in its quiver. It then flew closer until it was hovering inches from Tom and B'Elanna's faces. Looking them both in the eye, it smiled in satisfaction before flying upward to perform flying spirals of glee. It dove downward, zooming over the heads of those in Engineering, causing everyone to duck to avoid the flying cherub.
Janeway entered Engineering, her mouth dropping open at the sight of the small winged being performing aerial acrobatics. Sidling up to Chakotay, she softly said, "No wonder you didn't want to tell me what you thought you saw on the planet. Cupid?"
Chakotay shrugged. "We haven't spoken to it yet. It seems to have an interest in Paris. When Tuvok and I arrived, it was hovering over Tom's shoulder and looked about ready to shoot another of those arrows at him."
"What stopped it?" quizzed Janeway curiously.
Chakotay shrugged. "B'Elanna joined Tom and that seemed to satisfy it."
Janeway eyed "Cupid" -- for lack of a better term -- thoughtfully. The being was still winging around Engineering, as if in search of something. "Chakotay, if I remember my myth correctly, Cupid would shoot its victims with an arrow, causing them to fall in love."
"Tom and B'Elanna?"
Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok all turned to look at the chief engineer and Voyager's pilot. They were standing close together, hands intertwined, watching Cupid.
"Captain, watch out!" warned Tom.
Janeway looked up just in time to avoid one of Cupid's arrows being flung her way. She ducked and it whizzed by her shoulder, barely missing her. The next arrow was aimed for Chakotay. He easily sidestepped it.
"Not a very good shot, is it?" commented Chakotay wryly.
The cherub flew in close to them, hovering as it readied another arrow. "You be still," it commanded in a soft but stern voice.
"Who are you?" asked Janeway. "Why are you here?"
"Why I be here?" The being looked puzzled, as if nobody had ever asked it that particular question before. "I bring happiness. I bring love. They love." Cupid whirled to point at Tom and B'Elanna with its bow. They both ducked, fearing another arrow was coming their way, but then Cupid whirled back around and, fumbling with the bow and arrow, it took aim at Janeway. Tuvok stepped in front of her.
"No! No!" Cupid protested. "Not you! You already love." Its wings drooped. "Sorry your love so far away." Then it brightened. "I shoot them!" It pointed cheerfully to Janeway and Chakotay. "They very stubborn. I be after them for long time. At least they," it pointed at Tom and B'Elanna, "were willing. They want love with each other. They just need push."
B'Elanna snatched her hand from Tom's. Grinning, he snatched hers back. If Cupid wanted to help things along, he was all for it.
Cupid turned back to Janeway and Chakotay. "You two stubborn. You want love too but not admit it. You lonely. Cupid no like lonely people." It let loose another arrow in their direction, not even coming close this time. Doing the equivalent of a mid-air foot stamp, it exclaimed, "You stubborn! Why you push love's arrow away?"
Then Cupid's head cocked to one side, and it appeared to be listening intently to something unheard by the rest of those present. Sighing, Cupid waved. "Must go. Many loves to attend to. Cupid be back to check on you." It glared at the uncooperative Captain and Commander. Then smiling brightly, it whirled around to face B'Elanna and Tom. "You sweet," it cooed. "Probably didn't need love's arrow. He impatient one." Cupid indicated Paris before turning to Torres. "He not wait forever, you know." Cupid winked. "Expect big wondrous romance from you." With that, Cupid blinked out of existence.
Everyone present stared at each other dumbfoundedly. Shaking her head, Janeway remarked, "This should make an interesting report. Everyone return to your duty stations." As she, Chakotay and Tuvok exited Engineering, Janeway caught the edge of a conversation between Tom and B'Elanna.
"How are your warp coils doing?"
"Not good, Paris."
"Think they can still wait 'til tonight?"
"You afraid that premium fuel will lose its potency before then?"
"Well, no. But--"
Janeway smiled as the door to Engineering slid shut behind her. It would seem that Cupid's arrow, while a little off target, had managed to get the job done after all.
Email Sapphire (Fever) Home