Southern Fried Paris

By Seema

Author's note: A response to monkee's challenge to use the words mama, trucks, trains, prisons, getting drunk and cold rain, with bonus points for a hound dog in a fic.

Author note #2: Rocky made me do it. Her fault.


Tom Paris entered the holodeck and stopped short. Harry had told him that something was up with the program, but this... this was completely unexpected.

The air was heavy with grease and given the dark interior of the bar, he could barely make out the pool tables in the corners.

"You just gonna stand there all day?"

Paris whirled around to face one of the largest men he had ever seen.

"I'm Bubba Dwayne Montgomery. I own this here place," the man said. "I don't run no stopping place for vagrants. This here is a fine establishment, the finest in Old Dime Box. Only place inna the town worthy of the name Old Dime Box. So if you just got yerself out of prison, you best better get a move on, because there is no place for you here."

Paris blinked. "Old Dime Box? Prison?"

Bubba Dwayne Montgomery stared. "You drunk, boy? I ain't got no time for drunks here."

Paris shook his head. He wasn't drunk, hadn't been for years, and had no intention of getting drunk.

"I actually thought I was in... Fairhaven," Tom said cautiously. He took a step forward, carefully evaluating the interior of the bar. The rundown condition of the place was in direct contrast to the quaintness of the Fairhaven pubs.

"Don't know 'bout no Fairhaven," Bubba said. He scowled. "You gonna stay or not? I ain't got no room for yer kind."

Tom glanced around. With the exception of three men clustered around the pool table, there was no one else in the place. In the corner, he noticed a hound dog sulking, its long face resting on the dirty wood floor.

"If you ain't jist come from prison, you musta come from somewhere. Didya come in on the train?" Bubba asked. He squinted and his lips parted slightly to reveal a gap between his front two teeth. "Or maybe you hitchhiked a ride on that there truck? You ain't from these parts, that's for sure. Who taught you to dress anyway, your mama?"

Tom looked down at his outfit. He had dressed in traditional turn of the century Irish garb, intending to spend the day in Fairhaven, but apparently, not. The glitch was obviously more serious than Harry had suggested.

"No, I didn't come from the prison and I didn't come in on the train," Tom said firmly. Now, as he strained to listen, he could hear the rattle of train wheels in the distance.

"So you came in on the truck. You a trucker?" Bubba Dwayne seemed satisfied. "Then why didnya jist say so?"

"Sorry," Tom said. Already he was thinking about how to fix the program. He imagined that somehow, a small program had managed to loop itself into Fairhaven's parameters, overwriting the primary execution file. Tom wondered who on the crew would want to recreate a dingy bar in a southern town. He shook his head. Maybe he didn't want to know. At any rate, he knew he had to replace the bad functions; there would be a mutiny on Voyager if the Fairhaven program did not come back online in a few hours.

"Do you mind if I take a look around your fine establishment?" Tom asked. He smiled his most charming smile, hoping to soften the owner's scowl. "I've got some friends coming and if it is all right, I thought I'd wait out the weather here. You wouldn't want to send a man out into that cold rain now, would you?"

Bubba Dwayne considered the statement and then nodded. "You're right. My mama would say it just wouldn't be hospitable to send a man out there. Times like this, that rain could damn well chill ya right to the bone."

"Thanks," Tom said. He sauntered over to the wall opposite of the pool table. The control panel was hidden behind the dartboard. He estimated that it would only take a few minutes to restore the program's original settings back to the Fairhaven program, using an earlier backup of the program to overwrite the malicious code.

He noted that Bubba Dwayne had gone to join the pool players, so Tom removed the dartboard quickly and snapped open the panel. His fingers played across the console quickly, the computer occasionally beeping at him. Tom glanced over his shoulder quickly and noticed that Bubba was looking in his direction. Tom closed up the panel and replaced the dartboard. "Sorry about the noise. My, um, watch went off unexpectedly."

Bubba's eyes narrowed as he approached Tom. "Yer... watch?"

Tom glanced at his wrist. Damn. No watch. "I dropped it... you said that this is the finest restaurant in Old Dime Box?" Tom laid stress on the word "the," hoping Bubba would get a sense that he was impressed with this establishment.

Bubba's expression did not change. Tom took a step backward. If the bartender had been a woman, say one named Betty Jane Lou, he would have tried smiling again, but it appeared that Bubba was not inclined to succumb to flattery. Not for the first time, Tom wished B'Elanna would accompany him to some of these holodeck simulations. Never underestimate the charm of a beautiful woman, Tom thought, but of course B'Elanna did not care for these kinds of programs and in fact, their last fight had been about Fairhaven and how much time he spent frequenting the pubs and flirting with the Irish lasses.

Tom's eyes widened.

"Oh damn," he said. "This is her fault... she did this."

Now Bubba looked startled. "Who done what? You make no sense. Are you a Yankee?"

"No, no," Tom sighed. Without thinking, he plopped himself into a chair. "My girlfriend. She... she doesn't like how much time I spend in... places like this. I bet she did this to get back at me for missing our last date because I was tied up... here. And now-" Tom's voice drifted off in realization - "I'm missing another date!"

At that moment, the door to the bar swung open and B'Elanna Torres walked in purposefully. She was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt, in direct contrast to Tom's brown pants, vest and white linen shirt. Fine leather boots completed the outfit, and by the slight sway of her hips, Tom knew she was very comfortable in the outfit. Almost too comfortable, he thought with a shiver and the realization that yes, he was going to die shortly.

"That's her," Tom said.

Bubba let out a low whistle. "Now she's a nice deep drink of water. Ya don't see that kind in these here parts."

"You watch it," Tom said. "She can be..." His voice trailed off as B'Elanna spotted him and made a beeline towards him.

"Is this seat taken?" B'Elanna asked coyly. She pulled out the chair directly in front of Tom and sat down, an insolent grin crossing her face. Tom raised an eyebrow. "So, are you boys talking about me?"

"Um..." Tom said. He didn't know quite what to say. He expected B'Elanna to be angry with him, but in fact, she seemed to be enjoying herself. And if he wasn't mistaken, she was actually mimicking a drawl. He grinned. He was saved. "You know a beautiful woman always merits attention."

"Now that's what I like to hear," B'Elanna said. She leaned forward, parting her lips ever so slightly. "You look like my type."

Tom grinned. "Glad to hear it." He turned his attention back to Bubba. "Um, some privacy?"

Bubba Dwayne crossed his arms against his chest. "No drink, no sit."

Tom exchanged a look with B'Elanna. She looked perfectly comfortable and he knew that expression on her face: she wasn't going anywhere.

"All right," Tom said. "I'll have a beer then. B'Elanna?"

B'Elanna cocked her head to the side, that unusually coy smile curling up her lips.

"You know, I usually prefer a gin and tonic," she said. She flashed a smile at Tom, her fingers reaching out to stroke the top of his hand lightly. Tom felt the faintest of stirrings within, the type of reaction only B'Elanna could elicit from him. "But I'm still in the mood to shake things up. I'll have a martini."

~ the end ~

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