The Tag Team Approach to Parenting Geniuses


By Tommyhawk1@aol.com

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[The action in this story takes place two years after "Shore Leave." Hal is now seven years old.]
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Paris and Chakotay moved down the corridor of the ship with a quick urgency. They spoke in rapid staccato phrases as they moved.
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"Who plays Starfleet Officer?" Paris asked.
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"My turn." Chakotay responded. "Besides, it's Ensign Galloway as well."
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"Which will you start on?"
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"What are my choices?"
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"A cage full of wildcats or a furious boy genius."
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"I'll take Hal."
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"Throwing me to the lions? B'Elanna reported over twelve in there."
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"I'll be in to relieve you as quick as I can."
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They rounded the turn and there, standing guard over two opposing doors, were Harry and B'Elanna.
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"Status?" Chakotay asked Harry.
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"Calmer but defiant." Harry reported.
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"Tension's building." B'Elanna warned. "I wouldn't send a male in there myself."
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"Wish me luck." Paris said.
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"Me, too." Chakotay said. "Five minutes each."
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"Done."
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"Luck!"
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"Luck!"
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A quick kiss and Chakotay walked into the door Harry was guarding, while Paris cleared his throat and stepped up. "We who are about to die salute you." he muttered to B'Elanna.
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"Good luck, Tom." she said sincerely.
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The door opened and Paris was met with a sea of hostile faces.
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"About time you showed up!" Ensign Merriweather said, her face scowling.
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"Have you seen what your son did to Trisha?" Ensign D'Elan stated huffily.
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"That boy needs a sound thrashing." opined Ensign Morven.
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"Ladies, ladies, please!" Paris said soothingly. "Let me get the facts so I can figure out what to do next, all right?"
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"What's to figure out?" Ensign Merriweather said. "Just look at poor Trisha!"
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Paris looked and fought back a smile. These women were in no mood for any kind of joke right now.
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Ensign Galloway was sitting at the mirror of her dressing table, her eyes swollen and red from hysterical weeping. Her hair--her hair was bright, neon purple!
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"I see." Paris said carefully. "When did this happen?"
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"Right after her morning shower." stated Ensign D'Elan. "I was going to borrow her shampoo and I'm glad I saw what was happening before I used it myself."
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"We've tried three different kinds of hair dyes trying to fix this." Ensign Morven said. "Every kind of dye just washes right off. Seems to make the color even brighter!"
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"What makes you think Hal did it?" Paris said.
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"Oh, come on!" Ensign Merriweather said. "Don't try to defend that little scoundrel's actions. He said yesterday evening at shift change that he was going to get Galloway just because she disagreed with some of his opinions about how to fix the transporter coils. Hal keeps wanting to tinker with the coils and Galloway was keeping to specs. They exchanged words and he said, "I'll fix you for this. You'll see!" and he ran out."
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"All right, ladies, I think I understand." Paris said. "Now if you'll forgive me, I'll go ask Hal what he thinks happened."
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He was then surrounded by a squad of yammering, offended females. He kept his face placid and his temper in check.
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This was no time for a joke or a comment. Let them talk out their anger, he thought, and then they'll listen to reason.
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Maybe.
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* * * * *
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Chakotay walked into the room to face a smaller version of himself wearing a Starfleet uniform with Ensign pips. Hal took one look at his father's stern countenance and shifted into "Starfleet" mode.
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"Commander!" he said, thrusting his small chin out proudly. Chakotay noted with approval that he kept proper attention stance.
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"Well, Ensign Paris, what do you have to say for yourself?"
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"Nothing, sir!" Hal snapped out.
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Chakotay had won, not lost, the argument over his son's last name. Native Americans of the 24th Century didn't use patrimonial naming conventions. Instead, they use first the name their parents gave them, and then selected their own names when they get old enough and changing them when they see fit. As Hal had chosen his own Indian name that Chakotay used when in private and personal situations. Which this wasn't. It helped them divide their private and professional lives better.
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"I understand that there's been some disagreement between you and one of the ensigns you were working with last shift?"
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"Yes, sir!" Hal said. "Nothing worth reporting, sir!"
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"Well, she's reported it." Chakotay returned. "Says that you have played a very cruel practical joke on her. Is this true?"
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"Uh, yes, sir!" Hal said.
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"I don't know the details yet, but I'll get them later. For now, would you care to tell me why you felt it necessary to pull this joke on Ensign Galloway?"
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"Sir...." Hal hesitated. "No, sir! I have no excuse for my actions, sir!"
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Chakotay judged it was time to drop the "Commander" act. He let his shoulders slump down and a smile touch his face, and used his son's Indian name. "Tecumseh, what happened?"
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"There was a disagreement about the best method for repairing the coils in Transporter Room Three. I wanted to make an improvement to the design and she insisted on sticking to regular specifications. Dad, with the Restor technology we picked up last month, we can double the speed of transportations. She wanted to slow down the technology in order to keep the transporter at its standard speed. And it isn't necessary!"
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"I see." Chakotay said. "And you consulted with B'Elanna about making these improvements before trying to install them?"
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"Uh, no, Dad." Hal said.
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"Son, you didn't follow the chain of command." Chakotay said disapprovingly. "Ensign Galloway was correct. All variations from specification must be approved by command staff before installation."
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"But she...." Hal stopped. "Yes, Dad."
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Chakotay saw the distress and said, "Son, when you finished your college education six months ago, we had a command staff meeting about you. It was decided to go ahead and use your skills aboard ship, if you could handle it and if you were willing. You have a talent for tools and a intellect that none of us really understand. So we made you a cadet, and raised you to Ensign status when you finished cadet training four months later." Chakotay shook his head. Four years of training over in four months! Where would his son be in a few years' time? "But I know that you're a seven-year-old boy being asked to do a man's job. If it's too much for you, just say the word. You can take off that uniform and go back to being a regular boy, playing with your friends and doing just what you like."
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"Take off the uniform?" Hal seemed upset.
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"Son, the Starfleet uniform isn't a prize we've awarded you for being good in school. It's a duty and a responsibility. We put that uniform on you to put you in the chain of command. That's a heavy burden to lay on one so young. No one's going to think any the less of you if you can't handle it."
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"I can handle the uniform." Hal protested. "It's Ensign Galloway I can't handle!"
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"What's the problem, son?" Chakotay said.
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Hal shook his head. "That'd be telling. No one likes a tattle-tale."
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"But...." Too much too soon. Back off, Chakotay! "I'd better go talk with Ensign Galloway. Ready to talk with your other father?"
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"I guess." Hal said.
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* * * * *
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Chakotay and Paris met in the hallway again. "Well?" Chakotay asked.
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"Bright purple hair. Says Hal put something in her shampoo."
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"Hal admits it. Won't tell me why."
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"I can get it out of him." Paris said.
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"I know, that's why I didn't try. I'd better hear Galloway's version of what happened last shift."
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"She disobeyed his orders to improve the technology rather than sticking to specifications."
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"Hal admitted not clearing the improvements with B'Elanna."
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"Ouch! I'd better lay it on thick with Hal, then."
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"Good luck!"
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"Luck!"
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Another kiss and they passed each other to walk in the other door.
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* * * * *
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Paris walked in to see his son sitting down. Hal looked up, eyes wet but not exactly crying. "Are you here as my Papa or as Lieutenant?" he asked.
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"I'm here as an admirer." Paris said.
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"Really?" Hal said, brightening immediately, his near-tears forgotten.
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"Yeah! How'd you get that bright purple color? It almost glows!" Paris said appreciatively.
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"It does glow in the dark!" Hal said proudly.
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"Really?"
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"Yeah!" Hal said. "It'll last for six or eight months. It'll have to wash out little by little."
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"How did you get it to glow in the dark?"
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"Micro-encapsulated phosphorus."
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"On a person!" Paris was startled. "Is that safe?"
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"It is when your capsules are buckyballs." Buckyballs, spheres of interlinked carbon atoms which can form around another atom, are the perfect lubricant, 100% frictionless, if difficult to keep inside anything. They tended to flow out until they formed a sheet a single molecule thick. And God help you if you fell into a puddle of them. You'd never get out!
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"True." Paris said. "Nothing gets in or out of a buckyball. But how did you get them to bond to her hair?"
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"The electrostatic charge of the singleton phosphorus atom." Hal said as if it were obvious. "Hair carries a strong charge, you know. I just transferred the charge to the buckyballs and they cling like anything."
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"I see." Paris said, not seeing at all. He shifted the conversation back to safer ground. "But that sure is a bright color. I'm wondering, though, why you did it to her?"
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"She's a jerk." Hal said.
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"She's got a crude sense of humor." Paris admitted.
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"She keeps laughing at me when I give her an order." Hal said. "I was in charge of the transporter coils, and she argued with me. When I told her to go ahead and do it my way, she said, "I don't listen to miniature Napoleons, you little snip!"
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"That was uncalled for." Paris agreed.
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"Yeah." Hal warmed to his attack. "So I told her to follow orders and she stood up and looked over my head, acted like she couldn't see or hear me. I'll be glad when I get taller."
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"Doesn't do any good." Paris said. "That woman can look over the head of anybody, the way she lifts that nose of hers."
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"Yeah." Hal said.
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"But why didn't you report her behavior to Lieutenant Torres? Or Commander Chakotay or me?"
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"I want to handle this myself." Hal said.
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"Well, you certainly showed her you could fix her. Of course, now she's angry and probably going to try to retaliate against you."
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"I can handle her."
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"What's going to happen to Voyager while you're having your vendetta with Ensign Galloway?" Paris said. "Are we all going to be breathing vacuum one day, just because that's how bad things have gotten?"
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"I wouldn't do that!" Hal protested.
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"But jokes can get out of hand." Paris pointed out. "And they usually do when it's a game of one-upmanship."
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Hal sagged. "I guess it wasn't a very good joke."
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"I didn't say that." Paris said. "I think it's hilarious! But now what are you going to do?"
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"If she'll apologize to me and agree to take my orders when I'm in charge from here on out, I'll give her the antidote." Hal said. "I'll have to use the replicator rations I was saving up to buy a grav-ball mitt, but it's worth it if she'll stop arguing with every order I give her."
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"I'll relay all this to Ensign Galloway." Paris said. "I don't know if she'll go for it, though. She feels she's the one who's been wronged."
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Commander Chakotay walked into the lion's den and promptly was besieged.
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"Attention!" he shouted abruptly, his voice carrying over the crowd. They looked bewildered. "Form lines, on the double! Move, ensigns, move!"
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Ship protocol took over and Chakotay found himself reviewing a weaving line, all that could be accomplished in this small, crowded room. He walked down the line as if it were a standard inspection. "Now, I have just been speaking with Ensign Paris and he has admitted his transgression in failing to follow chain-of-command in the repair of the transporter coils." He timed his stride so that he reached Ensign Galloway when he finished this line. "Now I need to find out why YOU!" he shoved his face into Galloway's "Have failed to follow the orders of your commanding officer."
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"Sir?"
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"Ensign Paris was in charge of the repairs to the transporter coils and in designated authority over the ensigns assigned to assist him. That's you, Ensign Galloway. You chose instead to disobey his orders. What do you have to say for yourself, Ensign?"
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"Nothing, sir!" Galloway said.
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"You admit to refusing the orders of your commanding officer?"
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"Yes, sir!"
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"What is standard Starfleet procedure when given an improper command by a superior officer?"
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"You ask that the order be put in writing."
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"And."
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"And you do the job the way the superior officer orders you."
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"Correct." Chakotay said. "Why didn't you follow the procedure if you knew what it was?"
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"Sir, I...I'm sorry, sir." Galloway said.
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"Is it because your commanding officer was a seven-year-old child, Ensign?"
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"I don't know, sir."
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"Do you feel entitled to choose which officers you will obey and which you will not?"
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"No, sir!"
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"I will consider the appropriate disciplinary actions to take and inform you of my decision." Chakotay finished his "review" which took him to the door. "Good day, Ensigns."
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He felt himself trembling as the door closed behind him.
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Paris again met Chakotay in the hallway. "Galloway was definitely insubordinate when he gave her a direct order." he told Chakotay.
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"I reamed her out about it. Have to decide on the disciplinary action now."
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"So he decided, instead of reporting her, to try to handle it himself."
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"By turning her hair purple? Not that she doesn't look really good with purple hair."
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"I guess so. He says if she'll apologize to him and agree to follow orders in the future, he'll give her the antidote."
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"Do you think that's sufficient?"
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"I doubt it." Paris said. "But Hal had to use his saved replicator rations to make the dye and the antidote. I'd like to get her to pay him back for it."
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"How?"
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"By her buying him the grav-ball mitt he was going to use his rations for."
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"She'll have to eat Neelix's cooking for a month or more to do that."
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"Hal's been eating Neelix's cooking to save up those rations." Paris pointed out.
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"Yeah. All right. You can inform Ensign Galloway that will be her punishment, official."
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"And you need to restore some father points with Hal." Paris said. "You've been playing commanding officer around him a bit too much lately."
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"Yes, dear."
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"Let's get his over with."
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Another kiss and they went in the opposite doors.
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Galloway was back at her desk, tying a scarf around her head. "Would you like to get rid of that purple hair color, Trisha?" Paris said kindly.
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"How?" Galloway asked. Her friends in the room watched all this silently.
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"Commander Chakotay has set your punishment for refusing to obey orders. Hal had to use his saved replicator rations to make this dye, and will use the rest of them to make you the antidote. He had been saving for a grav-ball mitt he wanted. You buy him the mitt in exchange for the antidote, and Chakotay will forget this all ever happened. Provided you don't argue with Hal in the future on repair jobs. Hal's gotten his own reprimand from Chakotay. You won't be asked to follow improper orders again."
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"All right." Galloway said. "But I wish your son was on some other Starfleet vessel. Or that I was."
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"Voyager is breaking down. We have to mesh several alien technologies just to keep it running. Hal is our best hope for continuing to do that. I know he's young, but there's no reason to make his job any harder by squabbling with him while he's trying to save all our lives."
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"I know." Galloway said. "All right, he'll get the grav-ball mitt."
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"Very good." Paris said. "Though I'd like to say that I think that color looks really good on you."
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"Why, Lieutenant!" Galloway said with her old fire. "I'll tell your husband on you."
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"He's the one who mentioned it to me." Paris said.
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"Really?" Galloway took off the scarf and looked at her bright hair with appraising eyes.
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Paris had been waiting for that. As he exited the door, he waved his hand and killed the lights. As the door closed and Ensign Galloway saw her hair shining in the dark, she let loose with a very satisfying scream.
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"Oh, I'm going to regret doing that!" Paris said as he walked over to join Hal and Chakotay. Then he snorted a stifled laugh. "No, I won't!"
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As Paris walked in, he saw Hal at the computer keyboard with Chakotay looking over his shoulder. "You see, Dad, if we combine the Rastor communications grid with the borti coating on Voyager, we can have instantaneous communication. By also hooking the grid into our communications station and using it to modulate the frequencies, we could communicate with Starfleet."
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"Actual contact with the Federation?" Chakotay asked as if not daring to believe it.
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"Any time we want to for as long as we want." Hal said. "Of course, it'll take some research to find the right conversion techniques, but that's a piece of cake."
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"Did I hear we could talk with Earth?" Paris said.
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"Sure, Papa." Hal said. "I got it figured out. We could consult with the Federation on how to keep Voyager functional and relay the technologies of the Delta Quadrant we've acquired. And if my theory is right, we could even open small wormholes at will. Not big enough to do anything like send Voyager back through, or even the information of a person's transporter beam, but we could send multiphasic holograms through, hooking them into our virtual environment. You could use it to actually stand on Earth again, seeing and hearing it. You'd be like a ghost, but you could be there."
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"Hal, you have managed to cease to amaze me any more. You can do absolutely anything." Paris said. "I would really like to stand on Earth one more time, even as a hologram ghost."
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"I'll start working on it." Hal said. "With your permission, Commander?"
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"I'll need the Captain's authorization, but I can't imagine her saying no." Chakotay said. "Son, I have to agree with Tom. You're incredible."
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Hal flushed. "Thanks, Dad."
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"No, thank you, Tecumseh." Chakotay said. "I'm so proud you're my son. It was worth coming to the Delta Quadrant so our family could be together."
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"I'll second that motion." Paris said. "If my father could see us now." He shook his head without completing the thought.
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"I'd like to see my other grandfather." Hal said.
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"He can be your first target for the hologram, if he's still alive." Paris said.
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There was a signal at the door.
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"Enter." Chakotay called out.
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Ensign Galloway was there, a grav-ball mitt in her hands. "Permission to speak, sir?"
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"Granted. Come on in, Ensign." Chakotay said.
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"I've brought the grav-ball mitt like I said I would." Paris saw the familiar crooked smile and looked at the mitt closer, groaned silently. Too late to say anything now, though. It'd all have to play itself out.
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Hal looked at the mitt and grinned. "All right, Ensign Galloway. I'll get you the antidote like I said I would." He tapped his keys and the room's replicator station hummed. Hal got up and took out a small vial. "Wet your hair and rub this in. Leave it in for two minutes and then rinse. Do a thorough job. And thanks, Ensign."
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"The pleasure is all mine." They exchanged the items and Galloway left.
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"I'm going to go play a quick game of grav-ball." Hal said.
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"Have fun, son." Chakotay said.
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"Knock them dead, tiger." Paris wished.
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"Thanks." And Hal was gone.
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Paris looked at Chakotay and sighed. "You saw it?"
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"She manufactured a temporary replicator item." Chakotay agreed. "Do you think she actually fooled Hal with it?"
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"Not a chance."
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"What do you think is in that vial Hal made for her?"
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"If I know our son, it'll be a temporary antidote. Her hair will turn back purple at the same time as the mitt decomposes."
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"Agreed. So we have three hours of peace and calm and then the next round begins." Chakotay sighed.
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"Like the eye of a hurricane." Paris agreed. "Just like when you were in the Maquis, finding your fun in the brief rests between engagements. So what do you want to do for the next three hours? I suggest we spend them strictly on ourselves."
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"Lunch?"
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"A bit early yet. And that'll only kill a half hour."
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"I could use a back rub." Chakotay said as he put his hands to his back and strained against them. "I'm getting too old for this. My fiftieth birthday isn't that far off, you know."
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"I'll rub your back." Paris said. "But that still leaves us with some time on our hands."
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Chakotay looked at Paris and smiled. "I vote for a back rub before and lunch after."
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"I thought you'd never ask." Paris grinned.
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"And Tom...."
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"Yes?"
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"If we ever have another child...."
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"I'll kill the Doctor if he selects a single gene." Paris said. "One genius in this family is enough."
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"Yes. Next time it's strictly pot luck."
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"Yeah, next time." Paris said.
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And the two locked eyes with each other amid a heavy silence.
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"Are we talking about what I think we're talking about?" Chakotay said.
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"We'd have to be crazy to do this all over again, wouldn't we?" Paris said.
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"Yeah." Chakotay said.
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Pause.
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"Still, we've done pretty good with Hal, haven't we?" Paris wavered.
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"He's a wonderful kid."
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"The best."
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"I can't imagine life without him any more."
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"You know, even the bad times have been good times."
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Pause.
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"Well?"
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"I'll speak with the Doctor." Paris said.
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"I'll see who we can borrow another egg from. Captain's run out, you know."
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"We make a great team, Chakotay."
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"Let's move."
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"Good luck!"
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"Good luck!"
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Kiss.
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And they walked out the door.
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THE END