Below are the four stories I entered in the ‘Guess the Pairings Competition 2013’ on VAMB.
The idea was to write short ficlets without using names and for the readers to guess which characters and/or pairings were in each story. You’ll find that some are more obvious than others.
Thank you to EwigeStudentin for running the comp. It was loads of fun.
Test your knowledge and see how you fare. The answers are at the bottom of the page.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
A Rare Vintage PG13
The view from the balcony is glorious – so peaceful and soul restoring. The sky is cobalt blue and she can see clear across the valley, over the low rolling hills covered in olive groves, the measured rows of distant vineyards and lonely stands of Cyprus pines. The air carries with it the scent of freshly mown hay and lavender. A gentle breeze ruffles the gauzy curtains behind their table and lifts her hair away from her collar to whisper a cooling breath across the nape of her neck.
This is just what she needed and in a silent toast to these rare but blissful moments of peace, she lifts her glass of Brunello di Montalcino to her lips.
She inhales deeply, sips and sighs. Like rich, red ambrosia, it slides across her tongue and she closes her eyes as the flavours dance along her taste buds. She savours the earthiness of the oak, the slightly spicy edge of tannins and hint of deep fruity sweetness from the treasured Sangiovese grapes. It tastes of life and freedom – freedom from responsibility, worry and guilt. She sighs quietly once more as she places her glass on the table.
Her companion is studying the wine, holding it up against the light, swirling it in the glass and inhaling the aromas before he takes a delicate sip. A raised eyebrow of disconcertedness is his only reaction and she smiles as he quickly covers his mistake. Placing his glass on the table, he gives her a reserved nod of approval.
“I’m pleased you like it.” She takes a heartier sip this time but the sigh of contentment still follows. “I have been saving this for a day like today.”
“I am honoured but I was not aware that we would be indulging in a bottle of authentic wine.”
“It is one of the few bottles I have left. Synthehol just wouldn’t do this setting or the near disasters of the last few weeks’ justice. It had to be real.”
“It is certainly robust.”
She nods and huffs a small laugh. “True. It’s characteristic of many of the wines of this region – but I know you’re used to something a little lighter.”
“And less alcoholic.” His eyebrow climbs a little higher and as she chuckles quietly at his response. His combadge chirps and he is called away. He offers his apologies as he takes his leave.
She gives him a resigned shrug. “The story of our lives.”
Her shoulders sag as she watches him depart.
Reconciled to spending this time alone, she sits back and gazes out across the hills and valleys, her mind wandering to all the wishes and hopes that are, for the moment, out of her grasp.
The sound of familiar footsteps breaks through her reverie and her mental voice gives a wry ‘ah ha’. Someone must have been listening to her inner meanderings to have orchestrated the timely delivery of one of those hopes.
“Good evening and welcome.” With a sweep of her hand, she indicates that he join her and she can’t help smiling at his obvious delight.
“Good evening. I hope I’m not intruding but I have it on good authority that there is a sophisticated and delectable red awaiting me in the holodeck. And I was ‘compelled’ to partake.” His eyes hold hers.
Her eyebrows rise in surprise; the double entendre is not lost on her and she flashes her new companion a knowing smile.
“Well, let’s see if it lives up to the hype.”
His eyes follow her every move as she pours him a glass of wine and his gaze remains riveted to her face as he sips. He nods slowly, a smile spreading across his features, as he gives his verdict, “Rich, complex but accessible with a hint of sweetness balanced by a depth of flavour and elegance that finishes with a warm lingering smoothness. A gutsy but supple vintage that will only improve with age.”
She matches his smile and the heat radiating in his eyes. “I’m glad you approve.” She sips from her glass and nods towards the bottle. “More?”
But instead of lifting the bottle, she leans across the table and kisses him.
A moment later, she sits back, lifts her glass and sips again, watching as he licks his lips and then smiles. “A perfect vintage.”
“One to savour?”
The breeze rustles the gauzy curtains and, as they look out across the valley, their hands reach for one another’s and they smile.
She’d just left the Holodeck after an hour of wandering around an ancient Vulcan temple and helping him to ‘tweak’ some of the programme files. The pink, furry hats with sparkly ribbons that they designed for the acolytes were much better than the boring ones they’d originally been wearing, and using Tom’s ‘rock and roll’ music was much more fun than the droning sounds of the elders. By the time they finished their improvements, it would be a great programme to share with the others.
She clutched the cherished item to her chest; holding it tightly with both hands. She couldn’t bear the thought of either dropping or damaging it. It was her only possession, the only thing in the universe that was entirely hers. And it was a gift, the only one she could ever remember receiving. It had been his but he’d given it to her – just like that. She’d said that it was pretty, and he’d said that his friend didn’t need it anymore and would she like to have it.
His generosity and kindness made her feel like she belonged, that she was really a part of this new collective.
She made it safely to the Cargo Bay and placed it carefully on her designated shelf next to the PADD that held information about a home and family that she didn’t remember and the few items of clothing that the Doctor had replicated for her. She would treasure this rare gift – even though it had once belonged to a person whom she’d never met. This person had been his close friend; someone whose absence made him sad and knowing that made the gift all the more precious.
One day when she didn’t feel so shy, she’d ask him about his friend. But for now, she’d simply try to imagine her and wonder if she, too, had pretty hair.
“You’re an idiot!”
“I’m not. Have you seen them together!? He’s a goner, I tell you. Completely smitten.”
“Bullshit. I think I know who’s smitten.”
“Oh no, not me. She’s something else, that’s for sure – all that spit and polish with an edge. But I’ve got my heart set on one of the Delaney twins – the cheeky one.”
“Well, you’d better be quick, I heard that Kim’s got his eye on one of them as well, and they’re all ‘Fleeters. They’ll stick to their own.”
“Maybe, but I have a feeling my twin is bold and adventurous. We’re going to be out here a long time, so I’ll just slowly worm my way into her heart.”
“And into her…”
“Hey, that’s the love of my life you’re talking about, pal.”
“Er, yeah. Good luck with that. But I still think you’re an idiot. She’s not his type – doesn’t he prefer blondes?”
“Obviously not this time, and I think it’s serious.”
“You’ve known him longer than any of us so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt but I’m going to have to see it for myself.”
“Watch away. You spend enough time on the Bridge; just keep your eye on them.”
“I’m not convinced but I don’t have time to argue. Tuvok has the new security conscripts doing drills in our off duty hours and I’m due on Holodeck 2 in five minutes. How’s engineering? It must be a dream with Torres in charge.”
“You’re kidding me, right? You remember what she was like on the Val Jean. Well, she’s two hundred times worse here. She’s got a lot of responsibility resting on her shoulders.”
“Well, good for her – just behave. See you later.”
“Meet you in Holodeck 1 after shift. Apparently, Paris has created a new holoprogram that has everyone talking. He’s good for something, at least.”
“What’s the program?”
“Some sort of French bar and it has pool tables. It’ll give me an opportunity to impress Megan… or is it Jenny?”
“I’d get that straightened out if I were you. – before you finish up with the wrong twin.”
“Smartass. See you later.”
“Can I get you another cup of coffee?”
“No, thanks; I’m almost done.” He looked up. “There’s no need to stay.”
The small man shrugged his shoulders as he rested the carafe on the table. “I’m just tidying up – I’ll be leaving soon. Have you managed to write it all down?”
“The memories are already starting to fade, so before long it will be meaningless.”
“Love is never meaningless – however brief or fleeting the memory.”
The man seated placed his pen on the table by the piece of paper. “I’d like to believe that, but right now, it doesn’t seem worth the trouble. And I’ve hurt people, which just makes it worse.”
Taking his time to formulate an answer, the small man glanced out the viewport at the unfamiliar stars. “But your heart knows what’s true and, although the new and unfamiliar can be exciting and intense, deep down the heart knows what it needs. Whether by an alien weapon, or time and realisation, it finds its way home. The insubstantial fades and the significant prevails – it’s simply the way of things. All I can say is listen to your heart.”
The seated man pondered the wise words for a moment, the pen and paper lying idle and forgotten beside him. “I hope you’re right.” He turned to the viewport to watch the stars.
The small man shrugged again. “Time will tell.” Picking up the carafe, he headed back to the kitchen.
He tidied the counter, readied the few things he needed for breakfast and without another word, moved towards the exit.
The doors hissed open as he approached and someone entered.
She smiled. “Good evening. How is he?”
He looked back over his shoulder. “He’s sad, which is understandable.”
Her response was measured. “I see. It is always difficult to lose someone you love.”
“It never gets easy.”
She patted his shoulder. “No truer words… Thank you for keeping an eye on him. I’ll see you in the morning.” She nodded towards the lone man sitting by the viewport. “I’ll just say a quick good night.”
“He’ll be pleased to see you.”
The Mess hall doors slid shut and they were alone.
She watched him for a few moments, trying to gauge his demeanour and if he was ready to speak to her. She felt guilty for putting him in the situation that had led to this sad conclusion.
Although she knew that by tomorrow they wouldn’t remember, in the here and now, it had thrown their small world into chaos. Her heart ached for him and for herself. She’d lost him for a short time and even though she would never divulge the extent of her pain, the betrayal hurt.
She headed towards him. She smiled as he turned towards her and he gave a small one in return.
“How are you feeling?”
He shrugged. “So-so. You?”
“A bit strange – the specifics are becoming hazy already.”
She watched as he pushed the paper and pen further to the side and folded his hands in front of him on the table. “I thought I could hold onto them but the memories are fading.”
“The hurt will go with them.”
He simply nodded. “That’s gone already. But it got me wondering if she did something else to me. If they could manipulate our memory engrams so specifically, perhaps they could make you feel things that you wouldn’t otherwise feel. She had an agenda and I think that I was a means to that end.”
His interpretation of events gave her hope.
“We can look into it tomorrow – if we remember.”
“Perhaps it’s better to forget.”
“I won’t be sorry if you do.”
“Do you really need to ask?”
He smiled. “No, not really.”
Heartened, she made a move to stand. “I think it’s time to call it a day.”
He nodded. “I think you’re right.” He gathered up his pen and paper and together they made their way to the exit. He barely hesitated before he turned and dumped the entire lot into the recycler.
She raised her brow in question and he just shrugged. “Forgettable.”
She nodded before slipping her arm through his and they exited the dimly lit Mess hall into the light of the corridor.
Any luck guessing the characters?
Answers are below.
A Rare Vintage – Janeway/Tuvok, Janeway/Chakotay.
Precious – Harry Kim, Mezoti and it was Lyndsay Ballard’s hair brush for extra brownie points.
Speculation – Ayala and Kurt Bendara talking about Janeway and Chakotay
Reminiscent – Chakotay, Neelix, Janeway and gold stars for those who guessed that Kellin was the name of the ‘forgettable’ woman.