Summary: J/P (only this time, it’s Jean/Paris). Some angst. Tom visits an old childhood camp and gets caught up in old memories. In response to Tom Paris Dorm’s 100th Author Writer’s Challenge.
Disclaimer: *grumble* I really hate doing these... Paramount owns all, blah blah blah. Don’t sue.
By Daffnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tom strode into the holodeck, looking forward to a nice relaxing evening after his double shift he had volunteered for. He groaned as he rubbed sore neck muscles and made a mental note not to ever do that for Harry again...that is, of course, if he got something out of it besides aching muscles.
“Computer, begin Paris holoprogram Alpha 100.” The scenery around him shimmered into existence, and he smiled to himself. He had made this almost perfect. Just a few changes here and there would do the trick.
Tom clasped his hands behind his back and strode into the nearest cabin, hidden in shadows and nearly imperceptible in the dark night. It was surrounded thickly with trees and bushes, mosquitoes swarmed in a giant, menacing mass, and from above, a full moon cast an eerie glow that somehow suited this antiquated camp perfectly. Somewhere in the distance, he heard the babbling river.
To escape the advancing insects, Tom quickly shut the thick door behind him and was greeted with the smell of something that was archaic on Earth. A fire crackled at the far end of the room, the only source of heat here in this small wooden structure. Against the walls were four sets of bunk beds, small chests for storing clothes or possessions with adorning oil lamps on each for light, and there was a giant black bear rug in the center of the single-roomed building.
He smiled in self-appreciation. It had been difficult to create this place in such detail, especially considering how he hadn’t actually been to this place in years. There were things that he would have never thought of adding until the memory of this place came flooding in. He put cookie crumbs on the beds (from their midnight snacks), a slight pine smell in the room, and an old clock on the mantle over the fire place that chimed after every hour. Now as he looked around, this place brought back welcomed memories.
A knock on the door startled him, and it took a moment to gather himself. He spun around and slowly creaked the heavy door ajar. A familiar head poked in, creating an instant smile on Tom’s face. This was one holodeck character he would have never forgotten to write into the program. She was an essential, and so Tom was happy to let her in.
“Hi, Tommy! So glad to see you here!” she exclaimed, her features always bearing her excitement so plainly. Her deep blue-green eyes shone in the flicker of the oil lamps, and her smile was, as always, genuine.
“Same for you, Jean. How on Earth did you manage to talk your dean into letting you come here?”
“I didn’t. I snuck out of the dorm,” she grinned, but it faded as she noticed Tom’s slight frown. “Hey, don’t worry about it! I’ll be back before they even notice I’m gone.”
Jeanette was the same mischievous girl Tom had remembered, but now, because of him, she looked older. Instead of being the twelve year old he had a crush on years and years ago, she was now a beautiful woman with that same gorgeous smile.
She cocked her head when she noticed Tom staring at her strangely.
“What is it?”
“It’s just...I never expected you see you again.”
This was the dire truth that Tom had to come to terms with...Jeanette never was supposed to be around again...ever. She drown in the river the day before the end of the summer camp. The medics tried to save her, and she was transported to the hospital, but nothing could be done to revive her.
...And what was worse, it was Tom’s fault. They were out on a canoe, he wanting to get a chance to get to know her better without his friends taunting him about his ‘girlfriend’. Jeanette, however, came out to see the scenery.
While Tom guided the canoe down the river, they chatted about school, about their parents, about their favorite foods and favorite teachers and favorite sports. Jeanette seemed particularly amazed when he told her he was co-captain of the Pre-Squares team at his school, and he couldn’t help but smile at her interest. She had never actually played the game before, and he was glad to explain it to her. Unfortunately, his explanation was interrupted when a storm brewed and began pouring its rain down on them. The rain was whipped around by the violent gusts of wind that suddenly appeared, and their boat was tipped over. Tom was able to wade in the water while holding onto the boat, but Jeanette wasn’t as fortunate. She wasn’t a very good swimmer, and Tom would soon find that out. He frantically looked around, trying to spot her through the downpour. Her head came out of the water for just enough time for him to see her, she gasped for air, and then went under again. Frightened, Tom swam over to where he saw her last. He dove beneath the surface and groped around the sand below, hoping to feel her. After what seemed to be an eternity, he felt her limp hand and pulled her up.
He snapped back to reality.
“What’s going on? Are you sick? You look pale.”
He stared into her eyes and lied.
“I’m fine. Let’s go get some pizza, okay?”
Jeanette nodded enthusiastically, then frowned, “Where are we going to get it in the middle of the night?”
“I heard that the dining hall is serving it right now...”
“What are you suggesting? That we raid their replicators?” she questioned, going along with their age-old game.
“I don’t see why not,” he smiled. “So, are you coming?”
“I don’t know, Tommy. Sounds kinda dangerous,” Jean said warily but could hardly keep from smiling.
“Oh, come on. It’ll be fun!”
“Alright. Count me in.”
It was like ‘good ol’ times’ again. Almost every night at camp, every year that they attended together, they would sneak into the dining hall. Once in a while, Jeanette’s friend, Sue, would join them for a little fun. Sue’s mother was an engineer, and from her, she learned everything there was to know about how a replicator worked. The group of friends could replicate so many things that its energy reserves were dry...without having anything show up on its records. They were never caught, although they had a few close calls.
Jeanette and Tom made their way through the trail, and soon the hall came into view.
“It’s just as I remembered it,” she mused as they rounded the corner and saw the front of the hall.
This was an obvious statement to Tom, he had programmed her to remember everything that had happened when they stayed here...except for the accident. He also included within her subroutines the education of a graduated med student and all the knowledge and experiences that would have lead up to that point. He had to make her around his age, too, otherwise it would feel awkward doing this with a twelve year old. Now, Jeanette was more than beautiful, she was intelligent and witty as well...just like always.
Then, as they climbed the four planks nailed to other pieces of wood that served as crude steps to the front doors, she began laughing hysterically. Tom looked at her, perplexed.
“What’s so funny?”
“The Moose!” she said between laughs.
Oh, the moose head on the wall of the dining hall. No wonder she was laughing. It was an old camp tradition, and one that he loved. If someone was caught with their elbows on the table while eating, everyone would start chanting ‘Kiss The Moose! On the lips! Kiss The Moose! On the lips!’. The person would have to stop what they were doing, go to the other side of the large hall, climb up the step ladder, and kiss the moose head. It was a bit juvenile, but it sure brought a lot of laughs. And poor Jeanette, she had a habit of putting her elbows on the table, and so she often was the object of their daunting. She never minded, though, and even shouted the phrase with them. Then she’d climb the ladder and give the moose a kiss that was quite over-exaggerated. A cheer would roar throughout the hall, and it was said that it could be heard all the way to the river.
Tom began laughing with his friend, thinking back to those moments that were lost to the past.
“I’ll be sure to keep the tradition, Tom. If you catch me with my elbows on the table, I’ll go kiss the moose head,” she smiled.
He smiled back, and they went into hall.
Inside, they spotted the replicator and went over to it. Jeanette stepped up near the console and said, “Computer, four slices of pepperoni pizza with extra cheese.”
“And some popcorn,” Tom added.
“Popcorn? That doesn’t go well with pizza, Tommy. That’s an unusual combination.”
He shrugged, “So? Since when have we been normal?”
“What? We’re not normal?” she quipped. “When did that happen, Tommy?”
“Well, by my count...we’ve never been.” Jeanette laughed and lightly punched his arm in a familiar, friendly gesture.
They stayed in the dining hall all night long, catching up on each other’s lives, eating their pizza, popcorn, and Milky Way’s, and discussing the theory of relativity over freshly replicated glasses of synthahol. Jeanette was caught with her elbows on the table, but she insisted that the Moose was too disgusting to kiss. Instead, she dubbed Tom the new moose, and he had no objection. In fact, Jeanette had her elbows on the table more than usual...
Tom was enjoying himself so much that he was almost convinced that Jean was back to life...and he was falling in love with her all over again. It was until the computer reminded them that it was 0600 hours when Tom finally came around to his sad reality.
“Sorry, Jean. I have to leave,” he said with drowsiness and remorse coating his voice. “Time to get back to work.”
She, being a hologram and not understanding, begged him to stay. He refused, but not without hesitation. It had been a long time since he had felt at home somewhere. The camp brought back fond memories, and he didn’t want to leave. Jeanette was so innocent, so kind-hearted, and so lovely that he really regretted returning to his life outside the holodeck.
“Don’t worry, Jean. I’ll be back soon. I can’t stand being away from you.”
And how true that was. How true, indeed...