Summary: Via a temporary wormhole created by Starfleet, Voyager meets up with the U.S.S. Salvation and their crew including a surprise guest—Admiral Owen Paris. This story also offers an explanation as to Tom‘s claustrophobia. Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and its characters. I‘ve only borrowed the characters to satisfy my own creative urges. Archiving is okay, just e-mail me. Please keep disclaimer and my name attached. Please allow the author ‚poetic license.‘ Assumptions: Time line: almost 6 years from entry into the Delta Quad. Tom and B‘Elanna are engaged. Promotions have been handed out—Tom and B‘Elanna are now Full Lieutenants and Harry is now a Lieutenant J.G. The Starfleet msg. received through the Hirogen communication system has been decoded and Voyager is en route to Starfleet‘s temporary wormhole and intends to meet up with a Starfleet vessel on the way. The EMH has been running so long that Tom has to cover Sickbay regularly so the good doctor can regenerate and ‚keep on tickin‘.

This story can be read by itself but will make more sense if And I Love You So, Deception, Rebecca‘s Revenge, and Solutions by the same author are read first and in that order.



Stars streaked by the porthole of his quarters as the elder officer reached into his uniform pocket and withdrew a square object. Just in case, the man thought as he tossed the little device into the air only to catch it again and reexamine his little toy, his controller—an unexpected find from a recent trip to Ferenginar. It was good to be prepared, he mused, and he always made sure he was prepared, he was always in control, and he always came out on top. If his son wouldn‘t listen, he would make him listen, make him do what he needed him to do, like he used to be able to make him do. Yes, this trip would be well worth it.

Chapter 1 - Wedding Plans

"B‘Elanna! Tom! Join us over here!" Harry yelled from across the Mess Hall when he noticed his two friends looking for a place to eat their meal. Tom looked up and acknowledged the invitation and he and B‘Elanna made their way over to Harry and Seven‘s table, each taking a seat opposite one another. "So you and B‘Elanna settled for plikatoka?" asked Harry examining the contents of their trays. "Well it was like this, Harry, we had the choice of plikatoka, plikatoka, or plikatoka, so we made the difficult choice and opted for plikatoka," he replied drily poking disinterestedly at the mound of yellow food on his plate as Seven looked on in confusion. "So what are you and Seven up to today, don‘t you two have the afternoon off?"

"Yeah, I‘ve got the holodeck scheduled for a couple of hours, thought I‘d take Seven skiing in the Alps." "Just make sure you dress warm enough," B‘Elanna warned the former Borg. "Every time Tom gets me to go skiing I freeze!" "But, B‘Elanna, you can‘t tell me you don‘t enjoy the way I warm you up afterwards," teased the pilot as he waggled his fork at her with one hand and reached for his glass of water with the other.

"That‘s true, that is the best part of skiing, warming up when you‘re done," the engineer admitted remembering the last time they went skiiing in Colorado and cuddling up with hot toddies and hot bodies in front of a roaring fire afterwards. The memories resulted in a smile of remembrance on her face and a twinkle in her eyes.

"So how do you warm her up?" asked a naive Seven which caused Tom to choke and sputter as he tried to swallow a mouthful of water and caused B‘Elanna to leave the fireplace behind and return to the present.

"Don‘t worry Seven, I...ah...have a good idea," Harry reassured her with a nervous laugh.

"I hope so, I don‘t want to freeze, I don‘t know what that would do to my nanoprobes," she said seriously. "You won‘t freeze, believe me," Harry replied as a blush crept up from his collar line up his face.

"Purple." said B‘Elanna all of a sudden as she stabbed a bit of plikatoka with her fork.

"I thought it was blue?" Tom questioned as her turned to face his fiance.

"What are you two talking about?" Harry asked with a quizzical look on his face.

"Oh sorry, Harry," Tom said as he turned to his friend. "She‘s been doing this for the last week. We‘ll be in the middle of conversation and then she‘ll blurt out an idea or a smidgen of a thought about the wedding. Actually, at first I was confused as well, but now I‘m starting to catch on," Tom clarified. "Explain," Seven prompted.

"Well, what B‘Elanna said was basically this, she has changed her mind again and has decided to wear blue instead of purple for the wedding," said Tom matter of factly.

"Oh, I see. I think? And what are you wearing?" Harry asked. "At first, I was trying to keep up with whatever color she wanted to wear, but now I‘ve decided to wear the dress uniform, it‘s simpler that way and she likes it, goes with just about anything." Tom explained as he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Besides I have it on good authority she likes men in uniform."

"And in particular one man," Harry added with a grin elbowing the pilot in the ribs. "So I take it that she‘s not going to wear the traditional Klingon red leather?"

"Nope, don‘t forget even though she has given in to some of the Klingon traditions, B‘Elanna is her own woman—she‘ll do things her own way and that‘s fine with me."

"And don‘t you forget, Tom, Seven and I are programming your reception, you‘re going to love it we‘re programming a New England seaside resort, complete with crashing waves and a lighthouse."

"I‘m sure we will. It‘s a wonderful present and one less thing we have to worry about," Tom replied expressing his gratefulness in bestowing a smile at Harry and Seven. "But how was Seven able to help you program something like that, she doesn‘t even remember being on Earth?"

"Well, I had her do all the research, in her spare time she has poured over the ship‘s database and compiled a lot of information. It has even enabled her to learn more about Earth."

"For instance," Seven piped up. "Did you know that couples would park near lighthouse and wait for the light to turn from red to green?"

"Actually, Seven, I did," Tom replied thinking back to his late teenage years.

"Dewdrops," spouted B‘Elanna out of the blue as she again speared another morsel of food which caused the other three at the table to turn their heads in her direction.

"Translation," Tom explained not missing a beat, "it is now Klingon dewdrops she wants to carry down the aisle instead of lilacs."

Harry looked up with surprise at the pilot. "I don‘t believe it."

"Oh it‘s true, she‘ll confirm it herself if she doesn‘t change her mind again," Tom reassured Harry as he poked around his plate.

"No, I believe you, what I don‘t believe that there is any flower called a Klingon dewdrop . . . a Klingon blood drop maybe." "I didn‘t believe it at first either, must have been named by a Klingon that was short a chromosome or two, it‘s the only thing I can figure out."

"So have you decided where you‘re going to hold the ceremony itself?" Harry asked.

"Not yet, that‘s about the only thing we haven‘t talked about. We even have the vows pretty much taken care of, they will be a mixture of Standard sprinkled with a little Klingonese. "Then I take it that B‘Elanna‘s come to a conclusion regarding her last name?" Harry questioned knowing that as of last week they were still arguing about it. B‘Elanna wanted to take Paris as her last name, and Tom tried to convince her half-heartedly that Tom Torres had a nice alliterative ring to it. "Yep, we talked it over and finally determined that it would be confusing for us to both use the same last name, so she has opted to retain Torres, at least while we are still working together. It‘s against Klingon custom, but, like the wedding attire, we tend to write our own rules and she figures that she can take it up with her mother when we return," Tom explained before the intercom beeped.

<<Senior officers to the bridge.

And another meal was interrupted by a summons from the Captain.

Chapter 2 - The Salvation

The Captain was already in her command mode, pacing the bridge her hands on her hips, when the four friends entered the bridge a short while later and assumed their duty stations and she turned to address them. "Thank you for being so prompt. According to Tuvok, he is detecting a disturbance in space between us and our destination, Starfleet‘s wormhole termination point," the Captain explained to her senior staff.

"It‘s becoming stronger Captain, and the resonance wave is changing and becoming more intense," Tuvok announced. "There it is," Tom piped up as he pointed at the view screen. "Magnification factor one hundred and fifty," the Captain ordered. There on the screen, a small space ship could be seen coalescing, much like a Klingon Bird of Prey decloaking. "Captain, I have a message coming in from the ship," Kim notified Janeway.

"Put it through, Harry."

<<U.S.S. Salvation calling U.S.S. Voyager, come in Voyager.

Cheers erupted—contact had finally been made with Starfleet.

Janeway for a moment was too overcome with emotion to respond, but only for a moment before she wiped a sole tear from her eye and regained her command mode. "U.S.S. Voyager to the U.S.S. Salvation, welcome to the Delta Quadrant." "Captain Janeway, I‘m Captain James Colcord, it‘s good to speak to you at last."

"Likewise Captain, there have been times when I never thought I would see another Federation vessel."

"How would you like to see this one up close, perhaps dinner for your senior staff tomorrow night, say 1900 hours, after we have had a chance to unload our cargo bays and distribute messages from home? I even have a surprise for you." "We wouldn‘t miss it," Janeway said with a huge grin on her face, "Janeway out. You heard the Captain, I expect to see all my senior staff in dress uniform assembled in transporter room 2 at 1850 hours tomorrow night." She rose from her seat to retire to her ready room to begin preparations for unloading the cargo tomorrow. Just before she left the bridge she turned around to gaze upon her crew just to see their smiling faces. Harry was glowing, <probably wondering what his letters from home will have to say this time she wondered. Then she noticed that one of members of the senior staff didn‘t seem all that happy. Janeway strode toward the helm and casually placed her hand on the helmsman‘s shoulder. "Mr. Paris when your shift is over, please see me in my ready room."

"Yes, ma‘am."

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"You wanted to see me, Captain?" the tall, handsome, blue-eyed pilot asked as he entered the Captain‘s ready room a few hours later.

"Yes, Tom, have a seat. Can I get you a cup of coffee? Tea?" she asked as she strode over to the replicator. "Nothing for me, I‘m fine, thanks," he replied as he sat down and clasped his hands in front of him.

"Are you?"

"What do you mean, Captain?" he said with a stressed-filled laugh.

"I mean are you fine with this ship finally heading back to the Alpha Quadrant?" she asked point blank. "The truth?"

"The truth, Tom. Talk to me, remember I‘m not only your Captain, but also your friend."

Tom buried his face in his hands, this was one subject even though he trusted the Captain and did think of her as a friend, he preferred only to discuss with B‘Elanna. Janeway sat down at the table directly across from him, a cup of coffee clutched in her hands. "You don‘t want to go back do you Tom?" she asked bluntly.

The pilot brought his hands away from his face and looked into his captain‘s eyes. "No, I don‘t," he said frankly. "I don‘t have anything to go back to there, Captain, everything that matters to me is here."


"Of course B‘Elanna, mostly B‘Elanna, but also it‘s flying Voyager, working with the Doctor, the friends I‘ve made. I have worked hard to change and I have earned respect from most of the crew. Those things all matter to me. What do I have to go back to? The Rehab Colony? My father? Not really much of a choice is it?" he replied dejectedly.

"Tom, you know that I‘ll do everything I can to make sure you don‘t have to go back to Auckland, and maybe you and your father could finally make amends."

"Perhaps, Captain <make amends with Dad, fat chance!, but it‘s not just me that I‘m worried about, it‘s B‘Elanna. She was Maquis, what will they do with her when we get back? I won‘t lose her now, not after all we‘ve been through, I won‘t let anything keep us apart. All we want to do is be together, to have a future together. If we have to stay in the Delta Quadrant to do that, so be it, but B‘Elanna and I would prefer to stay with Starfleet."

"Several Maquis have already voiced similar concerns to me ever since the message was decoded and we found out about Starfleet‘s ability to create temporary wormholes. Trust me, Tom, I‘ll do all I can for you and B‘Elanna and the rest of the Maquis. I still have lots of friends in the Federation that wield a lot of influence. To tell you the truth, what I would like to see happen is after Voyager has had a chance to be refurbished and the crew has had a rest, is to reassemble the crew together again -- the whole crew. As far as I‘m concerned I have the best in Starfleet. In fact, after I meet Captain Colcord, that is going to be one of my first topics of conversation, I‘m hoping to meet with him before the party tomorrow night. And Tom, I won‘t forget anyone, and that‘s a promise." "Thanks Captain, I think I knew that all along, but I guess I needed to hear it from you."

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"Emergency Medical Hologram to Lt. Paris." "Paris here Doc," Tom replied tapping his commbadge as he entered his new cabin across from Sickbay. "Are you ready to shut down for the night?"

"Yes, just wanted to let you know you are now officially ‚on- call‘, now remember . . ."

". . . to trust my instincts, rely on my training, and if all else fails—panic?" Paris finished by rote and added his own little touch to the familiar mantra knowing just how to rile the Doctor. He could just picture him raising his eyebrows and shaking his head. "Yes, I know, you tell me that every night. Don‘t worry, Doc, I‘ll be okay, I‘ll see you in the morning, Paris out."

"Is that you Tom?" B‘Elanna called out from their new bathroom as she stepped out of the bathtub—one of the few bathtubs aboard Voyager. Being Chief Engineer did have its advantages. "Yep, just got through playing pool with Harry," he said as he stripped off his uniform top and threw it in the refresher. "You did let him win this time, didn‘t you?" she asked as she reached for a soft towel and began to dry herself off. "I tried, Bea, I really did," he replied as he shook his head in frustration, "but he‘s got Seven on his mind. I think even Neelix could have beat him tonight."

"Poor guy, he‘s got it bad. I still can‘t get over the look on his face when Seven asked you how you warmed me up," she recalled, the memory of the conversation resulted in a grin on her face.

"I know what you mean, I was a little surprised too," he admitted though his thoughts really weren‘t focused on that particular conversation, instead he was remembering his meeting with Janeway that afternoon. "Ah, Bea, I spoke with the Captain this afternoon about the crew going back to the Alpha Quadrant, specifically about the Maquis, and well, you and me." "So, what did she say?" B‘Elanna asked as she wrapped the towel around her body and hurried out to the main room to hear the news.

Tom related the entire conversation he had with the Captain. "So she said that she‘d try and keep us together and out of prison?" she asked.

Tom walked up to her, encircled her body with his arms and gave her a kiss on her cheek and then her shoulder before he continued. "That‘s what she told me, Bea. I have no reason to doubt her—of course I‘ll feel better after she talks to the Captain of the Salvation."

"Me too," B‘Elanna agreed. "Have you ever heard of this Captain?

What‘s his name? Colcord?"

"Nope, never heard of him, but I‘ve asked around and a couple of lieutenants on the beta shift have and they tell me he‘s a good man and honest—I guess we‘ll find out for ourselves though," he concluded as he steered her towards the bed. "I can‘t wait to see the Salvation‘s prototype engines, I think they called it a repulsion drive it works on the same theory that magnets can propel each other as well as attract. "Enough engineering technobabble, Bea. It‘s bed time." "Is that an order?" she asked as she wrinkled her nose, bared her teeth slightly, and dropped the towel knowing that it was the equivalent of an invitation to an evening of excitement and exhilaration.

"Would you like it to be?" he growled with a gleeful grin as he swooped her up over his shoulder and carried her to the bed and dropped her in the middle of it and immediately joined her—joined her in more ways than one.

After a particularly physical session of making love, the two lovers happily spooned together in bed, bare flesh against bare flesh, ready to finally go to sleep.

"Attic." she blurted out just before she was about to dose off. "Attic?" he murmured not immediately catching on as he was almost asleep himself.

"Yeah, the Attic—Stellar Observation Room 2 -- what do you think about holding the wedding there under the stars? Do you think it would be okay?"

"It‘s more than okay, it‘s perfect, love, just like you." he said as he nuzzled her on the neck and kissed her shoulder. Goodnight Bea, sweet dreams."

Chapter 3 - Questions and Answers

"Captain Colcord, I‘m glad that we have a chance to meet with each other before the dinner tonight," Janeway said as she welcomed the tall, salt-and-peppered haired man into her ready room. "Can I get you some coffee?"

"I‘d like that, thanks," Colcord replied as he took his seat, "and while were alone please call me, Jim." "Likewise, Kathryn please," she offered already warming up to the likeable man as she handed him a cup of replicated coffee. What she wanted to talk about was very important, too important to risk on Neelix‘s pale imitation of her favorite beverage. The Salvation‘s captain took a sip of coffee and placed the cup carefully back on the saucer. "So what is it you want to talk about Kathryn?"

Janeway replicated herself her own cup of coffee and joined Colcord at the table. "You certainly get right to the point, Jim," she remarked.

"I‘ve never been one to beat around the bush." "Me either. Well to be blunt then, several members of the crew have approached me regarding what the status of the former Maquis members will be when we return to the Alpha Quadrant," she said as she sipped at her still too hot coffee. "They need to know what to expect -- I need to know what to expect." He picked up the cup and took another sip before replying. "I figured this meeting would include this subject, Kathryn. In fact, in anticipation, I met with Starfleet and the Federation before we started this mission and we specifically addressed this very subject. Basically, everything and everyone will be forgiven. When you return, the former Maquis will temporarily be housed in a Federation prison . . ."

"But Captain?" Janeway interrupted her temper rising as soon as she heard the word ‚prison.‘

Colcord held up his hand to Janeway in a silent plea for her to let him continue. "It will only be temporary, a couple of days at most. There will then be a trial, only a formality really, to appease some of the members of the Federation. It will culminate with all Maquis receiving a pardon and permission to join Starfleet, if they so desire, at whatever rank they currently possess. Believe me, I argued against the trial, but their hands are tied with everything in such an upheaval back home. I believe you know about the Dominion?"

Janeway nodded remembering the contents of the Starfleet message they had decoded a several weeks ago. "I do and thank you for speaking up for the Maquis, I appreciate it, Jim, but what about Tom Paris, what will happen to him?"

"His situation was a little more difficult to resolve. Even though your EMH during his brief visit to the Alpha Quadrant eloquently informed Starfleet of all of Lt. Paris‘ accomplishments, there were still a few members of the High Command that believe he should serve out the remaining five years of his original sentence. Only through the impassioned plea of your Doctor and support from Admiral Paris and a couple of the Admiral‘s friends were we able to resolve Lt. Paris‘ situation." "I had no idea the Doctor spoke so highly on Tom‘s behalf and I‘m sure the Admiral and his friends helped make a difference," Janeway said.

"I wasn‘t there, but from what I was told there wasn‘t a person in that room that wasn‘t impressed by what your good doctor had to say. I also understand that the Admiral‘s appeal was quite moving."

"I see."

"There‘s more to it that just that, Kathryn," Colcord continued, "Lt. Paris will also have to report to a Federation prison, back to Auckland actually, and he too will have to stand trial before he can be formally released. He will also be afforded the opportunity to remain in Starfleet at his current rank," he explained as he spun the now empty coffee cup in his large hands.

"Well that‘s good news," Janeway said as she breathed a sigh of relief. She‘d have to thank the Doctor at her earliest opportunity. She also thought that maybe the Admiral had finally come to realize what he had lost when he had disowned Tom several years ago, and she was thankful that she could tell the soon-to- be married couple that they had a future to look forward to back home.

"I have just one more question right now, Jim, I would like to keep this ship and this crew together once we return. Do you think that is possible?"

"Well that is one topic that wasn‘t discussed before we left," Colcord told her as he leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers to his chin. "But, I believe there has been a precedence set many years ago. I think the ship‘s name was the U.S.S. Laconia, it had been on a deep space mission for a number of years and when it returned for the scheduled refurbishment and crew re-allotment. The Captain made an impassioned plea to the authorities and was granted permission that if any crewmembers wanted to remain on the Laconia it would be allowed. And of course Captain Kirk was always successful in keeping most of his crew in tact over the years he served. I can‘t guarantee that the same would be allowed in your case, but with the current unrest with the Dominion, it is my opinion that it would be better to retain an experienced captain and crew than to bring a new crew up to speed. If you would like, I would be happy to make some inquiries and speak on your behalf when I return. I know my own share of the top brass, and I could start the ball rolling."

"I would certainly appreciate that, and so would my crew," Janeway replied with a smile. "I will provide you with a formal request to deliver to the appropriate authorities and I‘ll also give you a list of people I know that might be influential."

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Shortly after the meeting with the Salvation‘s Captain that morning, Janeway informed the entire crew of her conversation with Captain Colcord. Most of the crew readily expressed a desire to stay onboard Voyager when it returned to Federation space, though a few mentioned plans of leaving the service, which was to be expected. Janeway also held a separate meeting with the Maquis and one with Tom and B‘Elanna informing them of what to expect upon their return. Though they all agreed that the prospect of going to prison, if only for a short while, was not something they looked forward to, they all concurred that it was a small price to pay for being able to be free, to formally join Starfleet, and to retain their ranks.

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The crew of Voyager worked all afternoon transferring and stowing supplies from the Salvation while the Senior Staff discussed the proper methods of installing the new equipment, equipment that would enable them to transverse the Starfleet wormhole safely. In amongst it all, many messages from family and friends were distributed throughout the ship into eager hands. These messages were read and quickly responded to so that the Salvation could carry the replies back home when they left Voyager in a couple of days.

After working diligently throughout the afternoon stowing supplies and receiving instructions on the proper installation of new equipment, Tom and B‘Elanna prepared to attend the reception onboard the Salvation.

"So do you feel better about what the Captain said this morning Tom?" B‘Elanna asked as she pulled her dress uniform on. "Yes, much better, it sounds like we just have to go along with a little diplomatic song and dance and everything will work out. I still can‘t believe that the Doctor spoke on my behalf and especially that my father pulled some strings for me." "Well apparently both did. I know the Doctor respects you and maybe your father is finally trying to make amends," she offered. "Even though it‘s hard to believe sometimes, I know the Doctor respects me. But Dad? Bea, it‘s never that simple with him. There‘s always some hidden agenda. I‘ve never known him to do something without getting some personal benefit out of it." "He‘s helping his son, Tom, isn‘t that enough?" B‘Elanna asked looking up into his blue eyes.

"It was never enough before, I can‘t believe that it would be enough now."

"All that matters is that he‘s trying to help you, and if he was able to do anything so you don‘t have to finish your prison sentence, then I‘m thankful," she said as she handed him his uniform. "Come on, Tom, get dressed or we‘re going to be late." "Do we have to go, B‘Elanna?" Tom whined as he examined his dress uniform with a pained expression on his face as he took it from her.

"Still waiting for the picnic instead of the formal reception, Helmboy?" B‘Elanna playfully chided him referring to the comments he had made before they had beamed down to Prytolia*** a few months back. "Besides, you know we do, the Captain‘s depending on us, now quit belly-aching and get dressed." "Yes, ma‘am!" he replied with a playful pout.

Chapter 4 - Surprise!?

Tom was pulling at his collar and still grumbling to B‘Elanna about attending the function when the rest of the senior staff arrived on the transporter pad.

"Tom, all set to have an Alpha Quadrant meal?" asked Harry as he entered the transporter room eyes beaming in anticipation. "You bet, haven‘t eaten all day, what do you think they‘ll serve?" Tom replied.

"To be honest, I‘d be happy with a hot dog and potato chips, just as long as it‘s not made out of leola root or seasoned with Talaxian spices."

"You know you‘re right, even that would taste pretty good," said Tom, "though I‘m hoping for a thick juicy steak and a real honest-to-goodness baked potato with all the fixings." "Have either one of you given any thought as to what the ‚surprise‘ could be that Captain Colcord referred to in his initial communique?" B‘Elanna queried interrupting the other two, and was surprised when a female voice answered. "Actually Lieutenant, that‘s all I‘ve been thinking about. I can hardly wait," Janeway responded as she entered the room with Chakotay, "and the sooner we get going the sooner we‘ll find out." The senior staff then assembled on the transporter pads and prepared to beam over to the Salvation. "Energize Mr. Chang," the Captain ordered.

The Voyager group materialized on the Salvation and were escorted to the Captain‘s dining room for a much anticipated leola-free meal—a meal where one didn‘t have to worry about running out of replicator rations.

Captain Colcord greeted each guest and introduced them all to his own senior staff.

"Please everyone take a glass of champagne, you all deserve it, I brought it specifically for the occasion, directly from the Picard vineyards in France," offered the Salvation‘s captain as one of the ship‘s young ensigns brought around a tray laden with fluted glasses full of the exceptional wine and passed them out to all the guests.

Tom and B‘Elanna each took a glass and stood off to the side to

enjoy the moment talking quietly between themselves as Captain

Colcord walked up to the front of the room in order to be noticed

by all in attendance.

"Friends, if I could have your attention," Colcord said as he raised his glass. "I believe a toast would be in order. But I think I‘ll let my ‚surprise‘ have this honor," he said as he brought his glass down again to the astonishment of the confused Voyager guests.

At that moment, the ‚surprise‘ entered the room from behind the guests with a glass of champagne already held in his hand. Tom looked at his Captain as she turned around and saw the look of recognition on her face as she looked at the ‚surprise.‘ He then turned his own head to see for himself, cerulean blue eyes met steely blue eyes. Tom was struck speechless. His breath caught in his throat and it felt as if all the blood drained from his body leaving only a fragile shell. The ‚surprise‘ was none other than his father, Admiral Owen Paris, one person in the Alpha Quadrant that he never cared to see again. <Oh gods, couldn‘t it be anybody but him, he thought.

Colcord raised his own glass again towards the Admiral in recognition. "Everyone, may I present Admiral Owen Paris." Everyone from Voyager took one look at the Admiral and then turned to look at the stunned son who was for a change bereft of words.

"If everyone will please raise you glasses," the Admiral spoke as her rose his own glass above his head, "to Captain Janeway and her valiant crew, may you arrive home save and sound. He took a sip from the glass and everyone else followed his example—everyone but Tom who was still in shock. B‘Elanna noticed the stricken look on Tom‘s face and his lack of response. In concern, she took the full glass of champagne from him fearing that he would drop it and placed it on a nearby table next to her own. "Tom are you alright? she asked as she reached out to touch his arm and was surprised to feel his arm tremble beneath her fingers, but she was met with silence, he didn‘t even seem to be aware of her presence. She continued to speak to him softly murmuring words of support until he regained his composure.

After the toast, the Admiral wove his way through the guests and eventually made his way over to his son. His son‘s initial reaction was everything he could have hoped for—complete and utter shock—it was always good to catch people off guard they were more vulnerable that way, he thought. The elder Paris extended his hand for a hand shake with his son but it wasn‘t reciprocated. "Thomas, it has been a long time—too long, it‘s good to see you again son!" he said as he returned his empty hand to his side.

"Father," Tom replied simply without emotion not daring to say anything else.

"Please forgive me Tom, but I was hoping that this would be a good surprise."

"It‘s a surprise alright—‚good‘ well that‘s another thing, I‘ll have to think about it," Tom replied through clenched teeth. It was all he could do not to bolt out of the room at that moment, but out of respect for his Captain he tried to remain calm not wanting to create a scene at such an important event. The Admiral placed his hand on Tom‘s shoulder in what was suppose to look like a warm gesture to all who witnessed it, though when the older man‘s hand made contact he could feel the muscles in his son‘s shoulder tense. "I was hoping this would be a good surprise, but apparently I was wrong, Thomas. Do you think that maybe tomorrow after all this commotion is over that we could talk, I‘d like to resolve a couple of things?" Tom thought for a minute, his initial reaction was to refuse to meet with him but after what Janeway had told him about his father speaking up for him with Starfleet and knowing that the Salvation would be returning day after tomorrow, taking the Admiral with them, he relented. "Sure father, tomorrow, after my bridge shift, say 1800 hours?" That should give him thirty minutes or so until he had to relieve the Doctor which would provide him with an excuse to curtail the dreaded meeting, he thought.

"I‘ll be there, son. Now if you‘ll excuse me, I should make my rounds of the room."

Tom nodded not daring to speak. What was he going to say to his father tomorrow he wondered? Thank him for his assistance in obtaining leniency from the Federation, or finally tell him what he thought of him, how he resented how his father had treated him in the past? For that matter, he pondered, what was it his father wanted to say to him?

Chapter 5 - Memories

The transporter beam had barely finished depositing Tom and B‘Elanna back on Voyager when Tom began heading for the door, seemingly oblivious of his fianc‚.

"Tom, where are you going?" she asked with concern. Tom turned around and brought his hands up in a gesture that said ‚stay away.‘ "Please Bea, let me have some time alone, then we can talk. I promise, please?"

B‘Elanna even though she was worried for her mate relented. "Okay, but if you need me I‘ll be in my quarters. If I don‘t hear from you though I‘ll come looking for you. Remember, Tom, I love you."

"I‘ll never forget that, never," he promised and he turned and left her.

Over an hour had passed, during that time B‘Elanna had lost count how many times she had paced back and forth in frustration, patience had never been her strong suit but at least this time she wasn‘t throwing things, though she was sorely tempted. Finally not being able to wait any longer, she queried the computer as to Tom‘s location. And ten minutes later, as anxious she was to find out what Tom was doing, she stood in front of Holodeck 1 hesitating to enter—fearing what she would find.

She was surprised that she didn‘t have to utilize her engineering overrides to enter the program as he had programmed the holodeck to allow her access. She was also surprised at what she found when the door slid open.

The discordant sounds of metal on metal crashing together greeted her ears as she entered. A part of a bicycle and a hammer flew over Tom‘s Camaro and found their mark on the far wall. Not long after, the rest of the bicycle and a tire iron also found their targets. In amongst the crashing of these items against the walls of the holodeck, she could hear her mate venting his anger and frustration. It was apparently decided to act like a Klingon tonight.

"Damn you Dad, why did you have to come here, why?! Couldn‘t you just leave me alone you bastard, even in the Delta Quadrant!" The tirade was punctuated with Tom throwing a crow bar through the rear window of his beloved Camaro and then kicking over the tool box spilling the contents all over the garage floor. B‘Elanna took a couple of steps toward Tom but had to duck at the last minute to avoid contact with a thrown socket wrench. Tom‘s eyes widened when he saw that he had almost hit her with the wrench, even though with the holodeck safeties on she wouldn‘t have been injured. Overcome by spent emotion, he collapsed to his knees on the once tidy garage floor and buried his face in his hands, his strength finally depleted and his anger momentarily defused.

B‘Elanna went over to him, knelt down, and pulled him into the sanctuary of her arms. "Tom, are you okay? Do you feel better now? Are you ready to talk about it?"

"Yes, no, I don‘t know!" he said in frustration as he drew his hands away from his tear-streaked face. "Damn it Bea, why did he come, I wasn‘t ready for him. Why is he here?" "Maybe, he‘s changed, maybe he loves you?" she offered. "After all he spoke to the Federation and Starfleet on your behalf." "I wish I could believe that, that I could believe that he did that for me because he loves me, but I don‘t think he‘ll ever change. He is so wrapped up in himself, I don‘t think he could ever love someone enough to do something for them without it serving him as well. He just uses people when it serves his purpose, then forgets about them. Just like he used my mother." "What do you mean?"

"She was a beautiful woman, Bea. She looked good on his arm when he attended Starfleet functions—she was noticed and in turn he was noticed. I‘ve always wondered if he ever truly loved her, or just loved the way she looked.

"But they were married, Tom, he must have loved her?"

"I was his son, and he damn well never loved me." "He must have loved you some, in his own way. He did speak up for you," B‘Elanna countered as she tried to comfort him. "His own way? Do you want me to tell you about my father‘s ‚own way‘?" he asked as his voice grew louder as his rage started to build again.

She didn‘t know what to say, she wanted to know but was afraid of what he would tell her, but she knew that the information would provide an invaluable insight into the man she loved. "Yes, Tom, tell me. Tell me about your father."

"Well you know what I told you about my mother, how she died?****" he asked. "Well after she died, it was just him, me, and the servants. Occasionally, he would be off on a mission and we wouldn‘t see him for a while, but it was never long enough. Invariably, he would come storming into the house, hell bent for leather, and the house would be in an upheaval until the blessed time came for him to leave again. He would yell at the servants and me all the time. Why they stayed I could never understand. He must have paid them well."

"Maybe they stayed for you?" she offered. He thought about what she said for a little while and slightly nodded his head. "Maybe," he relented. "Maybe, but he treated them poorly and they tried so hard to please him, but it was never good enough."

<Why did it sound like he was talking more about himself then the family‘s servants? she mused. "And how did you two get along?" she prompted, dreading his response.

"When he wasn‘t yelling, not too badly, especially when he thought I might be useful to him or to his career. He would bring me to parties when I was young so he could show off my piloting skills in order to impress an Admiral or someone. By showing me off, they would remember his name, even though he might only be remembered as ‚the captain with the pilot prodigy for a son,‘ but it was sometimes enough for my father to get noticed, enough to get what he wanted, an advancement, a future invitation to an important function, his foot in another useful door," he explained his eyes focused on memories of years before and thousands of light years away.

"I‘m sorry, Tom, I had no idea."

"You know, Bea, if that was all, I could have lived with it. But even though I was good enough to go with him to those infernal show-off parties, I wasn‘t good enough at anything else. I‘d get a ‚A-‚ instead of an ‚A+‘ in school or not do as well in sports as he thought I should and I‘d be paying for it the next day."

"What do you mean?"

Tom took a deep breath and looked down at the floor before he could continue. He was surprised he had already told her so much, he hadn‘t planned to, and now he was tying to come up with words that would avoid too much graphic detail. "Let‘s just say, Bea, that the dermal-regenerator we had at home got used very frequently, or sometimes, sometimes. . . oh hell, this is hard, I‘ve never told anyone about this."

"I‘m here Tom, you can tell me, you can tell me anything, I‘ll still love you, believe that."

He tightened his arms around her for emotional support and continued. "I do believe you, Bea. If I don‘t believe in anything else, I‘ll always believe in you and our love." "So tell me, I‘m not going anywhere. I‘m here with you now and always."

Tom nodded and took a deep cleansing breath before proceeding. "Some . . . sometimes, if I had been really bad, he would lock me in the toolshed out back." he said and he guardedly looked up at her trying to judge her reaction but all he saw was her loving support so he continued. "One time I had gone out playing with my friends and we were having such a good time that I was late for dinner—an important dinner with a couple of Admirals and an Ambassador. After they left that evening, he yelled at me and hit me and ultimately locked me in the toolshed. He then left me there until the next morning."

B‘Elanna could hardly believe what Tom was telling her, but by the haunted, far-away look in his eyes she could tell that he was remembering it like it was yesterday.

"Bea, I was so scared, I was such a coward. Not of the dark you know, but of being confined. I wanted out so bad, but I wasn‘t strong enough to get out, no matter how hard I tried I couldn‘t get out. I remember sitting in the shed, hungry, cold, and so all alone," he told her as a couple of tears coursed their way down his already wet cheek.

"I‘m so sorry Tom, but you‘re not alone now. I guess what Harry said after we passed through the Mutara nebula wasn‘t too far from the truth," she said as she placed her hand on his cheek and attempted to brush away the wetness with her thumb. "Don‘t be, sorry" he said as he pulled her into his arms and she blessed him with a comforting hug and kiss. <Gods, how did I ever survive before without her arms to hold me, her hands and mouth to touch me? he thought. He look a another deep breath held it and exhaled slowly before continuing "But, Bea, then after I went to the Academy I found out things that it didn‘t have to be like it was, and that made it even worse."

"What do you mean?"

"Let‘s see," he recalled, "it was my second year at the Academy. I took an elective called the ‚History of Starfleet and Its Officers,‘ figured it would be an easy subject having so many Admirals and top brass in the family," he explained. "Well, I was doing research, actually on my father and one of his friends, when I found out that Dad had been held captive about a year before my mother‘s death. Looking back and talking to some of the older servants and his friends, I found out that his change in behavior seemed to stem from this experience. I could only conclude that something had happened to him during his imprisonment. This in turn prompted me to probe further and I discovered that that type of ordeal can indeed cause a person to react the way the Admiral did at home. You see, at work he had position and undeniable authority over his subordinates, but at home we were merely his family and family doesn‘t always do what you want or expect—they aren‘t so easy to control." "So he tried to over-assert his authority at home," B‘Elanna concluded to which Tom nodded in agreement. "Yea, he had to be in control, I suppose to make up for the time he was held captive when he wasn‘t," he explained before continuing. "When I found all this out, I went to him and asked him to get some help, but he wouldn‘t listen to me. Told me that I was overstepping my bounds, that he could take care of himself. He said that if anyone needed psychiatric help it was me not him."

"But, wasn‘t he examined when he was released from captivity?"

B‘Elanna questioned.

"Yes, but even Starfleet doctors aren‘t foolproof, they missed something."

"And you, your mother, and the servants paid for it," she concluded, adding silently to herself <most of all you, my love. Tom could only nod in reply and pull her body against his in search of the solace that only she could provide.

Chapter 6 - Fathers and Sons

"Diane, your contractions are about three minutes apart now, it shouldn‘t be much longer," Tom said trying to comfort the young ensign while Richard, the fretful future father, hovered near her bedside. "Would you like some more ice chips?" Diane York responded with a nod of her head and he went back into the Doctor‘s office to replicate some for her. Over two hours ago, Tom had been waiting in his quarters for his father to show up at the intended time, only to receive word that he had been delayed, but the message didn‘t say how long the postponement would be. So on schedule at 1900 hours, Tom relieved the Doctor and at 1917 Ensign Diane York and her husband Richard anxiously entered Sickbay, and now at 2012 he was in the middle of coping with his first real live birth—a rapidly progressing real live birth.

The baby couldn‘t have picked a worse time to be born as his backup, Sue Wildman, was in her own quarters tending to a sick daughter, leaving him on his own. Having made arrangements to transfer Diane over to the Salvation, should complications arise so their EMH could attend to her, Tom prepared to handle the situation on his own. He was going through the birthing procedure in his mind when the door to the Doctor‘s office slid open.

"Thomas, what are you doing in Sickbay, hurt yourself again?" asked the Admiral as he entered the office. "A little late aren‘t you, Admiral. I‘m a little busy right now and I don‘t have time for a visit from you," he replied coldly. <Maybe tomorrow. Maybe never Tom thought. "You don‘t appear all that busy," Owen Paris observed seeing Tom reach for a glass of ice chips from the replicator. "What are you doing?"

"Actually, I‘m about ready to assist Ensign York with the birth of her first child. So unless you‘re prepared to help, I would suggest you leave," the son explained as he strode past his father towards the door deliberately ignoring the older man. "You‘re going to deliver a baby?" the Admiral asked incredulously. "Since when do you deliver babies?" Tom turned around abruptly and addressed his father. "Since I‘ve been taken some advanced medical courses to help out our EMH that‘s when, father. Now I don‘t have time to answer all your questions, if you want to help, you can go to the cabin across the hall and ask Lt. Torres to come over and assist me <forgive me Bea, but I have to get him out of here, at least for a little while, so I can prep Diane."

"Since when do you think you can issue orders to me!" his father said indignantly placing his hands on his hips in a defiant gesture.

"You do have another option, Admiral, you can stay and help—but you never even came into the delivery room when Mom had me, so why would you want to be here now?" <There take that Dad, how did that feel? Felt pretty good on this end!


"Come in," a nightgown-clad B‘Elanna Torres responded to the buzzer and was shocked by who she saw when the door slid open and embarrassed. Shocked because the person was Tom‘s father and embarrassed because she was dressed ready for bed—to top it all off, she was also in what was now Tom‘s quarters, soon to be their quarters. "Admiral, what can I do for you?" she asked politely trying to retain her dignity. "My son says that he needs your help in Sickbay, some woman is giving birth," the Admiral said distractedly as walked into the cabin trying to avoid the direct gaze of the half-dressed, half- Klingon. Looking around he noticed a holo-picture of this woman and his son on the side table, and upon further investigation noticed that the room appeared to contain a mixture of masculine and feminine items.