by Jinny & Bodie
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and all it contains. Though why they'd take offense at a silly story like this, I have no idea.
Summary: The crew are bored and decide to occupy themselves by playing a little game based around the behaviour of their senior staff. But who's fooling who?
The mess hall gradually filled with tired people. The staff who had just come off the day shift struggled in, only restrained from collapsing in their quarters by the gnawing holes in their stomachs. That, and the mystery of what Neelix would be cooking up for dinner tonight. This mystery firmly divided the crew. Some relished the anticipation caused by not knowing what their next meal would be. Others, however, found it to be an annoying inconsistency amid their well organised daily routines.
Luckily for Ensign Jenkins she was a member of the former group. Neelix had generously covered her plate with a steaming orange gelatinous substance. It didn't smell that great, but she was trying to save up some replicator rations, and had to eat what she was given. Whenever she was faced with a less than appetising meal (which was more often than she would have liked) Jenkins just remembered what she had been forced to eat during her survival training at the academy. Compared to the taste of raw caterpillar larvae, Neelix's food came up trumps every time. She reminded herself of that fact as she carried the quivering mound of food back to her usual table.
Once again Jenkins was the last of her friends to arrive. She grinned around the table at Crewmen Jor and Yosa from engineering, Ensign Murphy who worked on a science station near her on the bridge and Celes and Jurot from astrometrics. As the last one to arrive Jenkins had to sit in the worst seat - the "worst seat" being the one directly facing Lieutenant Torres' usual seat. If the noise level at their table ever got above a dull roar, B'Elanna would flash whoever was sitting in that seat the look of death until they quietened down. It was not a fun way to spend an evening.
"Do I have to sit here again?" she groaned. "This is the second day in a row. Torres is already giving me a dirty look."
"We'll I'm not sitting there," replied Ensign Jurot, who happened to be a Betazoid. "You only have to put up with her glaring when you sit there. If I sit there I have to tolerate all her hostile thoughts too. And they're not pretty, believe me."
Jenkins sighed. "So what have I missed? I presume we're all complaining about our days."
"Are you sure you're not Betazoid too?" responded Crewman Yosa sarcastically. "This boring patch of space is really starting to take it's toll on everyone. It's been quite a while since I've seen Torres this grumpy in engineering. And that's really saying something."
"Seven of Nine's pretty bad at the moment too," piped in Celes. "I mean she probably hasn't changed her behaviour that much lately, but at least when something interesting is happening she's easier to ignore. Or at least she ignores what I'm doing," she added as an after thought.
"The bridge isn't exactly a funhouse at the moment either," said Murphy. "You should see how annoying the habits of the command crew are when there's nothing to do but spend all day listening to them."
"You think Little Miss Perfection isn't irritating?" Celes shot back.
"I know Torres' habits backwards," added Yosa quietly, so his boss at the next table didn't hear. "Anyway, it's only week one of the dayshift, so we'd better think of something to keep ourselves entertained," he said.
"Bingo!" said Crewman Jor loudly, for no apparent reason.
B'Elanna flashed an angry look at the table. Jenkins began carefully studying her meal. She poked the corner of the sticky mound with her fork, grimacing as it wobbled in response.
"Are you OK?" Celes asked. "Perhaps you should go to sickbay."
"I'm fine," Jor said with a grin. "Bingo - it's a game. Some of us used to play it during boring moments in the Maquis. Before I worked with Chakotay, anyway. You draw up a grid and write in things that you're waiting to happen. Like..." he thought for a moment. "Like things our captain would say regularly when we were hiding in the badlands. Every time he said one of the things on our card, we crossed it off. Whoever got four items in a straight line crossed off first won. That's called a bingo."
"You think we could make up our own cards?" Celes asked.
"Sounds like fun," said Murphy with a grin. "We always complain about the officers' habits. We could come up with enough things in our respective areas of the ship to get the game going."
"So what's the point?" Jenkins asked, looking up glumly from her still vibrating dinner. "What do you win?"
Murphy's grin grew broader. "We could make the game a little more interesting by adding a wager. How about everyone puts in one replicator ration, and whoever gets bingo first in the day wins the six rations? We could play a new game with a new card each day." He looked around the table. "Is everyone in?"
Jenkins shrugged. "Sure. I know as well as you do how irritating the bridge crew are. We're bound to win."
"Don't speak too soon", Jor said. "Torres has her moments. Doesn't she Yosa?"
His engineering crewmate nodded his agreement.
"All right then", said Celes, who had long ago abandoned hope of stomaching this particular dinner. "Let's get to work. What should we put on the cards?"
The ready room door swished opened and Captain Janeway strode out in her usual confident fashion. Murphy peered around at Jenkins, winking as Janeway took over her seat from Chakotay.
"Exciting day, Commander?" she asked.
"The usual," he smiled and leaned in closer to her. "I did hear that the captain had a handsome lunch date today."
Kathryn grinned at him. "Did you really?"
Chakotay shrugged. "I get around."
"Do you?" She raised an eyebrow. "Well, don't let your lunch date hear you talking like that. She'd be most disappointed."
As they continued their casual banter Murphy and Jenkins both unobtrusively reached for their padds.
"Two!" Jenkins signaled wordlessly to Murphy. He gave her the thumbs up in return, then checked off the corresponding squares.
THE CAPTAIN AND COMMANDER SHARE A MEAL TOGETHER.
THE CAPTAIN AND COMMANDER FLIRT ON THE BRIDGE.
It was shaping up to be a good day.
"Insufficient", Seven snapped. "You will do this again. Properly this time."
Celes bit her lip. "Yes sir", she said.
As Seven turned her back she reached for the padd that was resting on her console and began marking off items. She noted that in his corner station Jurot had started to do the same.
SEVEN SAYS INSUFFICIENT.
SEVEN CRITICISES CELES' WORK.
She sighed. Sometimes it was nice to be consistent.
"Yosa", hissed Jor.
"Any bingo squares."
"You're supposed to do it individually. It isn't team work."
Jor rolled his eyes. "You would have lasted a long time in the Maquis".
"You two", B'Elanna called down from the top of the warp platform. "Are you getting that diagnostic done, or are you going to keep chattering like a pair of Gennalian househusbands?"
"We're right on it sir", Yosa called up to her. "I guess that's one", he said softly to Jor.
"I beg to differ," said Jor. "She told us to hurry up with our work and she insulted us, all in the same sentence. That's two by my book. Not that you need my help," he added with a straight face.
"Or that you need mine", Yosa agreed. They both grinned as they came to a silent understanding and reached for their bingo padds.
ONE WEEK LATER
Despite their initial enthusiasm Jenkins and Murphy had still not won a single game. In Astrometrics, Jurot had won one game and Celes had won two. In engineering, Yosa and Jor had won two games each.
"How are you guys doing it?" Jenkins hissed at the others over dinner, as she pushed another of Neelix's gastronomic creations around her plate. "The Captain's been so touchy-feely this week, I was sure I was onto a winner. But you guys still manage to get there first."
Celes shrugged. "Don't blame me. I just suck at my work, you know that. And we did put different types of criticism on the astrometric cards."
Jurot giggled. "As well as all those Borg expressions. I hadn't realised how many times Seven actually does say 'irrelevant' each day."
Jor smirked. "Maybe you guys should encourage the Commander to be a little more romantic in response. That would shoot you off the scale."
"Right into the brig", Murphy countered.
Yosa grinned. "Mmm. And we didn't think of putting that one on the cards."
Jenkins sighed and gave up all pretence at eating. "I'm sorry to leave such a festive gathering, but I've got a holodeck booking in ten minutes."
"Rock climbing on Vulcan again are we?" asked Yosa.
"No, the ends of my fingers are getting a little calloused at the moment. I thought I'd settle for a gentle hike in the Scottish highlands tonight."
"Send my regards to the Loch Ness Monster," Celes called towards Jenkins' back as she left the mess hall.
Jenkins had gone back to her quarters and changed into some more appropriate clothes, in this case shorts and a T-shirt. She always set the weather on her programs to sunny and twenty two degrees Celsius. She found the concept of making herself uncomfortable for the sake of realism rather silly. The Scottish Highlands were beautiful, but she could do without the bone chilling cold. As she arrived at holodeck two, right on time for her booking, Jenkins found the holodeck still in operation.
"Computer, who is currently in holodeck two?"
"Lieutenant Paris is in holodeck two."
"What program is he running?"
"Lieutenant Paris is running program 'Paris golf two'."
Given that the program wasn't of a particularly personal nature, Jenkins decided to enter and let Tom know his time was up. As the holodeck doors opened she saw that Tom was on the eighteenth hole at St Andrews, attempting to sink a three foot putt. As he clipped the ball with his putter the ball headed straight for the hole, but at the last moment clipped the lip of the hole and went shooting off in another direction. Tom accompanied his missed putt with an appropriately chosen expletive. She grinned at his sour expression, deciding that now would be a good time to alert Paris to her presence.
"Excuse me Lieutenant," she said politely.
Tom wheeled around. "Oh, Ensign Jenkins. Excuse my bad language... and my bad putting for that matter."
"That's OK lieutenant. It's nothing I haven't used before myself."
"What can I do for you?" he asked, as usual oblivious to the time.
"It's seventeen hundred hours Sir. I have the holodeck booked."
"Oh I'm sorry. I lost track of the time. Computer, end program." With the command, the green surrounds of St Andrews was replaced with the hologrid and Tom made for the door. Just before he left, he paused and turned around.
"Is everything OK with you at the moment? I've noticed that you've seemed a bit distracted lately." Both times he had been lieutenant recently, Tom occasionally felt that he should reach out towards the junior crew members. It was partly a type of fatherly patronage, partly covering his flanks in case he was ever demoted to ensign again.
Jenkins was quiet for a moment, considering her response. "It's true that I have been a bit distracted lately sir. Things haven't been at their most interesting. And... I don't know if I should tell you about this."
"I'm all ears ensign... and a few other body parts."
"OK, but you have to promise that you won't tell anyone else about this."
"You have my word," Tom vowed sincerely. Tom was generally sincere when making promises. It was keeping the promises that he usually had problems with.
"Well," she hesitated then decided to go for it. "Have you heard of a game called Bingo?"
Tom's smile was all the answer she needed.
A short message appeared on Jenkins' console on the bridge:
Jurot to Bingo group
Seven's in fine form today. All she has to do is insult the intelligence of someone down here and the game is mine! Count your rations as they fly away (Again).
Jenkins snorted and glanced across at Murphy. So far today they had each only checked two squares. With the captain in a distant mood, they had to count entirely on Chakotay to get anything checked off at all. At least he could be relied on to sit in his chair and not move or speak for periods of longer than ten minutes. Jenkins was glad that Murphy had thought of putting that one on their grid cards.
The doors to the bridge opened and Paris strolled out.
"Sorry I'm late captain. I was doing some work on the Fair Haven program and lost track of the time. But I think you'll like the modifications."
She smiled at him tolerantly, "Well, I'll let you get away with it this time Mr. Paris. Just don't start making tardiness a habit again."
"Yes Ma'am," Tom replied.
Jenkins resisted the urge to look at Murphy and quickly reached for her padd.
PARIS IS LATE FOR BRIDGE DUTY.
Check, she thought, not bothering to put the padd down.
"Excuse me," Tom said to the nightshift pilot. "It's time for a real pilot to take the helm."
Jenkins smiled and ticked again.
PARIS BRAGS ABOUT HIS PILOTING SKILLS.
Jenkins now had three boxes in a row checked. Could this be her first victory? All she needed was one more square. Tom didn't miss a beat.
"So, it's another quiet day is it captain?" he asked, swiveling in his chair.
"I'm afraid so Mr. Paris," she replied. "There doesn't appear to be a great deal of interest in between us and the alpha quadrant."
"Perhaps we could have a good old fashioned Irish pub sing along to pass the time," Tom suggested wryly.
Tuvok frowned at Paris from the security console. "Mr. Paris, the bridge of a Starfleet vessel is not the appropriate place for a 'sing along'. The appropriate place for an 'Irish pub sing along' is an Irish pub. If at all," he finished.
Jenkins grinned broadly. Good old Tom. She checked off her fourth box.
TUVOK SERIOUSLY NAY-SAYS THE JOKING SUGGESTION OF SOMEONE ELSE ON THE BRIDGE.
It had been hard fitting that one into a single square, but worth the effort. She began furiously typing on her console so she could get her message out before anyone else.
Jenkins to Bingo group
BINGO! I'll collect my winnings in the mess hall after the shift.
She sent the next message to the helm.
Jenkins to Paris
BINGO! See you after the shift.
Tom whistled to himself as he approached the replicator in B'Elanna's quarters.
"A full rack of lamb, medium rare, and a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 2174," he ordered. Tom knew that lamb tended to get B'Elanna in a good mood and the bottle of champagne couldn't hurt his cause either.
"Well someone's throwing their replicator rations around like there's no tomorrow," commented B'Elanna from the table. "Not that I'm complaining mind you," she added as the smell from the serving tray reached her nose. "You haven't been gambling again have you?"
"Absolutely not," Tom replied, trying to look affronted. "It took me a while, but I've finally worked out that gambling is a mug's game."
"So how can you afford to splash out your rations on something like this?" she questioned, gesturing towards the impressive spread on the table in front of her.
"Let's just say that I've found a new source of replicator rations," Tom said, allowing another wry smile to cross his lips.
"Completely legitimate I hope," said B'Elanna suspiciously.
"Absolutely," replied Tom putting the first forkful of lamb in his mouth, ending the conversation before he said too much.
B'Elanna shrugged. "Well, if you say so, I believe you."
Tom wasn't the only one capable of lying through his teeth.
Yosa enjoyed doing maintenance work on the warp core. As a crewman he usually found himself ensconced in a Jeffries tube after the assignments had been handed out for the day, only to emerge from tube at the end of his shift with his hands covered in grease. Spending the whole time in the main engineering room also increased his chances of winning bingo. There wasn't a lot of action in a Jeffries tube. At least not in his tubes, he corrected mentally with a sigh.
As he worked he mused on the fact that B'Elanna had been acting a little strangely today. She seemed to be keeping a very close eye on him. Assuming that he was undergoing a performance appraisal Yosa had been on his best behaviour.
Looking around at the thought, he caught Torres staring at him again.
"Is everything alright Lieutenant?" he asked.
B'Elanna looked away and fiddled with a padd.
"No, nothing at all crewman. I was just looking at how you went about realigning the power converters. I don't think I've seen someone do it quite like that."
"I didn't realise that my method was that interesting," replied Yosa.
"Yes, well, sometimes I'm just amazed by how many different ways there are to skin a cat."
Yosa thought that the response was a little strange, but he was in need of coffee and decided to let it pass.
"I'm just going on my short break Lieutenant. I'll finish up the job when I get back."
"That's fine Crewman," Torres responded, watching his back as he left the room.
Yosa wasn't too far down the corridor before he suddenly remembered he'd left his bingo padd sitting on the warp core diagnostic terminal. With a curse he turned around and headed back towards engineering. As he stepped through the doorway Yosa spied Torres hunched over the very console that he had been working on.
"Lieutenant?" he began nervously.
B'Elanna jumped with alarm and then swung around to face him. "Aren't you supposed to be on your break crewman?"
"Yes sir. I just forgot my novel," Yosa replied.
"Interesting novel you're reading here", she observed, with a smirk on her face that Yosa found scary. She tapped the padd against her palm.
"So why don't you tell me all about 'bingo'."
Yosa felt his knees start to tremble. "Well, um, you see sir, err, it's just a silly little game that I play with some friends for amusement. It's harmless really."
B'Elanna raised an eyebrow. "'Harmless really'," she repeated slowly. She waved the padd in the air. "As harmless as me calling someone a 'P'tak'? As harmless as me breaking equipment? As harmless as me threatening to hurt my staff?"
Yosa gulped loudly. "I'm in trouble, aren't I sir?"
"Well I could throw the book at you. Or I could break a couple of your bones."
Yosa grimaced, unsure how seriously to take B'Elanna's response.
"Or I could help you win... if you made it worth my while," she said, then in quick succession ticked off two boxes.
B'ELANNA MAKES A CREWMEMBER NERVOUS.
B'ELANNA THREATENS A CREWMEMBER WITH VIOLENCE.
Their eyes met and Yosa smiled. Yep, the warp core beat the Jeffries tubes hands down.
Chakotay sank down next to Kathryn with a sigh. It had been quite a day. Nothing of great importance had actually happened, but sometimes the routine days could be the most exhausting. He suspected it had something to do with the crew thinking he'd be less busy and choosing to bring him their problems en masse.
"You look a little worn", she commented.
He shrugged. "Just the usual."
"Too much excitement for you?"
Chakotay chuckled tiredly. "Something like that", he said.
Kathryn took a swig of her coffee and waggled a padd at him.
"Well, I have something that might cheer you up."
"Someone else wants to be first officer for a while?" he said hopefully.
"No. Not that I know of. I could ask around, if you like." She put her empty cup down on the table. "No, this is more along the lines of a crew morale issue."
"Morale?" Chakotay frowned. "Shouldn't you be talking to Neelix then?"
"No. This is something they've already done to cheer themselves up. Or keep themselves busy at least."
"I'm not following you."
"They've been playing a game, something they call 'bingo'." She grinned at his puzzled expression.
"All based around the habits and behaviour of the senior staff."
"How exactly did you find out about this?"
"I'm the captain", she said simply.
"You're not going to tell me, are you?" he accused.
"No. But I will tell you what's on the bingo cards." Her smiled broadened. "And then..." she continued.
Kathryn's eyes twinkled with mischief. "I'm going to come up with a plan to throw a spanner into the works."
please continue to the conclusion