This story was written sometime in October 1997, when it was a slow day in my Canadian Studies, and Politics of South East Asia. Both courses were really interesting, but not on that day. It was also written before I heard that they were not writing Roxann‘s pregnancy into the show, and when I first heard about ‚Message in a Bottle.‘ Since the latter has already happened, and the little tyke is not being written in, please consider this to be in an alternate universe. As for Winnie-the-Pooh, I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so I decided to pay homage to that fuzzy little fellow stuffed with fluff. Voyager, her crew, Admiral Paris, Q and everything else that is Trek, belongs to Paramount and Viacom, and has been used without permission (except for Maria who belongs to me). Winnie is owned by the Disney Corp. and has also been used without permission but is acknowledged. What does this mean? It means that even if I was offered $$$, I could not take it (unless Disney and Paramount decided to ‚donate‘ those characters to me. I would have no complaints!). Admiral Paris, after a long hard day, somehow finds himself on Voyager and is able to see her crew, and Q is involved. While on the ship, he learns a little about himself. But what is Q‘s reasoning for this? It‘s not quite from the Admiral‘s POV, but is pretty close. Thanks goes towards Tara and Bella, for beta-reading this for me (Canucks of the world, unite!). Awakenings‚It‘s been a long day,‘ thought Admiral Owen Paris, as he laid down in bed. The Dominion were formidable opponents and they were now joined by the Cardassians. He did not like that combination one bit.
Gods, how he hated the Cardassians! This hatred was increased by the torture he suffered under their hands, and did not like them alone, let alone allied with the Dominion.
‚So tired,‘ he thought, as he seemed to be falling asleep.
"Not so fast now," came a voice from his semi-conscious state. He looked around to see who spoke, but saw no one. Instead, he found himself in full uniform, inside a tavern. He saw a blond with curly hair behind the bar, who seemed to be a bit familiar though. He then remembered that his wife talked with her several times after Voyager disappeared. The blond was at the memorial service too. His wife went there to honour her son‘s memory. He went there to commemorate Janeway. She had been a good and able student. He had often wondered why Tom could not have been more like her. He and his wife had been separated at that point, and they still were at this particular time. He thought of this and wondered when—if ever—they would get back together, as he looked at the scene before him.
He saw people in Starfleet uniforms—the old ones, not the new ones. Some of them had pips on their collars, while others had some kind of pin. Both were mixing together as if all were equal. He looked around some more to get a feel for the place. As he turned his head, he noticed the door open. Coming inside was a blond with shoulder length hair, wearing a blue uniform. She was also holding a small child. The Admiral remembered fondly when Tom was that young; always curious and getting into mischief. Owen looked at the tyke and noticed Ktarian spikes on her forehead. The other person with her was a brunette wearing a gold uniform. The first thing he noticed was her forehead. Klingon ridges—but not as pronounced as most that he had seen. She was probably only half-Klingon. He looked her over and saw a slight swell around her stomach. The two women went to sit down at a nearby table. The blond that was behind the bar, came by with drinks. She gave the child and the Klingon what appeared to be milk, and the other blond a mug of something else. The curly blond then talked to the brunette, bent down and put a hand on the swell.
‚Pregnant,‘ he mused. She then got up and went back to the bar. The door opened again. This time he saw Janeway and a taller man enter. She had her hair cut short, while the man had a tattoo on his forehead. They noticed the two women and moved to join them. Janeway picked up the young girl who then hugged her. The child soon saw the man and reached out to him. Janeway passed the child to him, sat down by the brunette and started talking.
Janeway was lost on Voyager. And yet, here she was, right in front of him. He could see her, but not the reciprocal. But how could this be? He glanced around the room again. The man was bouncing the child on his knee and everyone seated at the table, was in conversation. Meanwhile, others kept entering and exiting the tavern while some played pool.
Pool. Tom played pool. In fact, he loved the game. The Admiral could never get the hand of it, but Tom took to it like a fish in water. His son may have been born a Paris, but he definitely took after his mother‘s side of the family. He walked closer to the table and was able to listen in on the conversation.
"She‘s definitely getting big. I can remember holding her while on that gods-for-saken-planet," the man said.
"Yes, well, she‘s growing like a weed. Soon, she‘ll be my big girl," the blond in blue said, while planting a kiss on top of the child‘s forehead. Owen thought back to when his wife did the same to Tom and the girls. Just then, a thought came to him; he actually missed his son. He did not quite know why; maybe it was due to the separation with his wife, or the fact that his relations with his daughters, had been estranged since Caldik Prime and the sentencing hearing that sent their brother to prison. He did not know.
When he disowned Tom.
That‘s when all hell broke loose in his personal life. But he did have to admit that he did miss his son—a lot (but not in public). Not a day went by that he did not think of Tom. He tried not to think of what his family said. Why?
Basically because deep down, he knew that they were right. He did not treat his son very well. Hell, he treated animals better than his own son! He felt ashamed of himself. He saw what was before him and wondered if Tom would be there. He wanted to see his son, to see if he was all right.
He soon got his wish.
The door of the bar opened again and two people came in. The first, was a young Asian wearing a gold uniform. He saw Janeway and company at the table, and waved. He then grabbed the shoulder of the person who was actually half inside and pulled him in.
It was Tom.
Tom smiled laughingly at the young man, turned to the table and the smile grew larger. Owen had never seen his son smile like that before. The Asian walked quickly and got two chairs. He passed one to Tom, who set it down by the brunette. He bent down and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before seating himself. He then proceeded to put an arm around her shoulders which she leaned into. The blond from the bar brought the four newcomers drinks. She also gave Tom a hug. The Admiral walked closer to listen.
"Well Thomas, you are about to become a father soon," she said.
"Not for another five months, Sandrine," Tom replied.
Sandrine? Oh, that barmaid—no, Bar Owner—whom Tom liked. He had once claimed that she was a good friend, and at the time Owen doubted this. But now, he was beginning to think that maybe she was Tom‘s friend. That was probably why she was at the service. This just pointed out the fact that his wife and daughters were right, that he did not know his son. At all.
"Still, I think that you will be a very good one," she maintained. Tom seemed to be caught a bit off-guard at this statement. Everyone at the table smiled at this, as Sandrine left. Tom shook his head in wonderment.
"So, Tom, is that how the real Sandrine would act?" asked the Klingon.
"Yep. When I program a setting and people, I try to do it right. For Sandrine, what you see, is what you get," Tom answered.
Programmed? ‚She‘s a holo-character?‘ thought the Admiral, as he turned his eyes to follow Sandrine. He could have sworn that she was real.
"Well, real or not, she is right. You will be a good father," Janeway concurred. Tom blushed.
"Yes, Mom," he said.
"No, she is right," the seated blond said. "You have always done a great job with Naomi. I know that you‘re one of her favourite uncles." With this said, the little girl that the tattooed man was holding, then went to Tom. She climbed onto his lap (with some help) and gave him a hug, which Tom returned. Naomi pulls away and looks at her mother who nods.
"Thank-you for Winnie, Uncle Tom," she says. Janeway, the older man, and the Asian look at Tom questioningly. Only the Klingon seems to understand.
"Tom gave her a little gift the other day," she explains.
"Awww," they all chorused.
"Hey, so I‘m a sucker for a pretty face," Tom protested kiddingly. "I was looking after Naomi one afternoon and we had nothing to do, so we watched vids of Winnie-the-Pooh." They all gave him puzzled looks.
The Klingon smiled. "A twentieth-century children‘s character. He‘s based on a series of books," she furthered.
Tom looked to the girl. "Are you ready for tomorrow?" he asked. Naomi nodded.
The blond laughed. "I think that the question ought to be, whether or not the two of you, are ready for her. Are you still sure that you want to have her for the entire day?" she inquired.
"Sam," Tom began, "We said yes. Besides, it‘s only a matter of time before we have to do this with our own child". The Admiral thought about this. Sam, he called the mother. Samantha was most likely her full name.
"And it‘ll probably have B‘Elanna‘s temper," the Asian commented.
"Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry," Tom said, shaking his head. He then stopped and cocked his head with a thoughtful expression appearing on his face. "You know, you‘re probably right." He was promptly given a look by…B‘Elanna (was that her name?). Owen Paris saw everyone laugh at this. Harry was obviously a friend of Thomas‘. Tom it seemed, had some affection for the younger man—best friends most likely. B‘Elanna on the other hand, was evidently his son‘s lover; maybe his wife. For some reason, he hoped that it was the latter (he did not want his grandchild by his only son born out of wedlock).
He went by his son. The Admiral could see the table‘s occupants, but not vice versa. As he stood by his son, he could see that Tom was madly in love with this woman—and the same could be said of her for Tom. He could see it. It was so blatant in their eyes; the love and affection were present. Just then, Naomi yawned. Samantha got up and walked to Tom. He handed the child to her mother.
"Say good-night, Naomi. It‘s time for you to go to bed," Samantha told her daughter.
"Byeee," Naomi yawned, as she waved to the others. They said good-night to the little girl as she left. As they did so, they chuckled a little. It was cute the way Naomi had yawned out her farewell.
After Samantha and Naomi left, the men went to play pool. Tom kept winning, but ‚lost‘ a game to the other two every so often. Also, both seemed to know it, but only smiled with a shake of their heads—as if this was a regular situation. The two remaining women moved to watch the men play, and did so with both interest and amusement.
"Tom, how about you play against the Captain," B‘Elanna suggested mischievously.
Tom smirked. "No thanks. Not without Bertha." ‚Bertha?‘ the Admiral thought curiously. It seemed that he was not the only one.
"Bertha is my lucky cue. My grandpa made her especially for me, for my thirteenth birthday," Tom answered, as he leaned forward for another shot. He then proceeded to sink the ball.
"The day that you became a man?" joked the older male.
"Nope," Tom replied, as he sunk another ball and went around the table to get a better look at his options. He saw something to his liking, leaned back down and made the shot. "That was when I was seventeen." As he realised what he said without thinking, he looked up and saw them looking at him. His father was also interested.
"No, no, no, no, no," Harry said, as he put an arm around Tom‘s shoulders. "Details. Details."
Tom blushed. "Now, Harry, I‘m too much of a gentleman for that."
"Seventeen. Parents were away for the weekend," a voice cropped up. Everyone turned around and saw that a nearly bald man had joined them, wearing a blue uniform. Tom‘s face went beet red.
"Geez, Doc. How did you ever find out about that?" he asked. The man he called ‚Doc‘, looked at him.
"It‘s in your medical files, Lieutenant." Tom looked at him questioningly. "Remember when you ‚died‘ after the Warp 10 experiment? You blurted it out as Kes and I were working on you. It had to do something with your room, I do believe." Everyone looked at Tom as his face became a brighter shade of red then from before, and laughed.
"Okay, onto another topic. Chakotay, what‘s your opinion on that concoction that we had this evening? You know, the stuff Neelix calls food?" Tom inquired, as he sunk the last ball on the table. The older man turned to Janeway.
"What was that…substance anyway?" he asked her.
"I don‘t know. I don‘t even want to know," she answered.
"Well, at least it was dead this time," quipped B‘Elanna.
Neelix? Kes? Warp 10? Chakotay? The Admiral recognised that last name. He was the leader of the Maquis cell that Janeway was after in the badlands. What was he doing wearing a Starfleet uniform? Owen Paris then thought that he must be dreaming. No, he knew that he was dreaming. It was the only possible explanation. Chakotay was wearing a pin like B‘Elanna—not pips. He then looked at Tom. ‚Doc‘ had called him ‚Lieutenant‘, and Tom was wearing the pips of a lieutenant, junior grade. Yes, he was definitely dreaming. He might as well sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Where had that come from? It was something that Tom would have said, not him. He felt more alone at that moment then ever before. Everything that his wife and daughters had ever said, was finally sinking in. And they were right. Despite what he said to them—the fact that while he loved his son, but could not forgive his betrayal—he was wrong. He missed Tom more than ever. He just wanted to go over and give Tom a hug right now. He wanted to say that he was wrong, that he did not mean what he said at Tom‘s sentencing. He wanted to get to know his son—the person who Tom was, not the one *he*--the admiral—wanted to see. It was painful to him now, seeing his son right in front of him. And not do anything. Even if he did, Tom would not be able to see him. Besides, Owen did not think that Tom would exactly welcome him with open arms—not after what he did. This dream was painful and he did not want to endure this torture any longer. He wanted to wake up now.
"Are you sure that you are dreaming?" a voice called out to him. Admiral Paris turned to face a man who wore the rank of a Captain, was tall and had dark hair.
"Who are you?" the Admiral demanded briskly. He was not in a playful mood.
The man rolled his eyes. "Gods, don‘t tell me that Tommy‘s right about you? Kathy has one version of you, while Tommy has another." The man then walked up to the Admiral and appraised him. "But then again, Tommy was right."
"I said, who are you?" Owen reiterated more harshly.
"I have been called many names, but most call me ‚Q‘," the figure said. Owen gruffed. He had heard all about Q and liked none of it.
"Q. What do you want?" he ground out.
"It‘s not what I want. It‘s what you want," Q answered.
"I don‘t follow."
Q put an arm around Owen‘s shoulder. "Come, come now. Be honest with yourself," he chided. "What have you been thinking about at least once a day since Voyager disappeared from the badlands? Your son. How many times have you thought that if Tom was still in the Alpha Quadrant, and in Starfleet—with the war going on—would he be alive? Or dead? How many times have both you and your wife laid awake at night wondering, was your son truly dead? Or was there a good chance that he was still alive?" As Q finished his question, the Admiral did not like it. But it was true. Every single thing, every single question that Q said, he had thought; he had wondered. And for some reason, it annoyed him. It annoyed him that Q knew so much about his thoughts, his questions, his worries. So he remained silent. When Q noticed this and the clenching of Owen‘s fists, he knew that he was right. So he continued.
"Well, as you can see, he‘s right here. He‘s fine. In fact, he‘s actually better than he has been for a long time. I think that being lost in the Delta Quadrant has had something to do with it."
"The Delta Quadrant? How did they get there?" Owen asked.
"A being called the Caretaker, brought Voyager and the Maquis ship there. It‘s really a long story, but—"
Owen cut him off. "Please! I want to know. I have to know," he said hoarsely. Q looked at Tom‘s father and proceeded to tell him everything. Of how some of Voyager‘s original crew died, of how Chakotay sacrificed his own ship to save Voyager, how his crew was beamed to the only Federation Starship in the quadrant, and of how Voyager destroyed the only quick way to get back home to save an another race. Q told Owen that Tom was given the rank lieutenant junior grade, and of some of the accomplishments that he had done. Owen glowed with pride, but did not like the fact that Tom took too many chances with his life—even if it was to save others.
"Is he happy?" he asked Q, somewhat timidly. Q looked at Owen. He saw hesitation, and a need to know. But most of all, loss. Loss, due to the fact that he may never see his son again. Loss, that he never knew his son to begin with. And loss, that he may never get to know Tom. He also felt guilt. Guilt, because in no way, did he know his son. And he had to admit that all those years ago, back in the Alpha Quadrant, he did not want to know Tom. His own son. Owen had wanted Tom to be perfect—needed Tom to be perfect. Something which he, the Admiral, was not. He felt guilt for cutting Tom off from his life, for letting his son think that his father no longer cared for him. His own flesh and blood.
Q saw this and responded to it. "Yes. For the first time in his adult life, he is truly happy. He has friends who like him for who he is and, not what they expect from him. He is in love with someone who loves him back—unconditionally—and they are having a child soon. I‘m not supposed to tell anyone this, but they will be together for the rest of their lives." Owen‘s eyes relaxed at this. Q‘s eyes darkened. Now that he was a father, he had gone back to see why Tom hated his father so much, but at the same time, loved him to the point where it hurt. Needless to say, he did not like what he saw. He vowed to never treat his son as the Admiral did towards Tom. His sympathies were with the latter. "But he has some doubts, some hesitations."
As he spoke this, Tom and B‘Elanna had said their good-byes and left for their quarters. Owen and Q followed them. Owen looked at Q. Concern had filled his eyes since Q last spoke. Owen saw the couple get ready for bed. While B‘Elanna was in the bathroom, Tom set the covers aside and lifted a bear off the pillows. Owen remembered that bear. His wife had given it to Tom. Tom loved that bear when he was younger and brought it everywhere with him. Apparently he still did. He watched as Tom sat down on the bed, clutching the bear in his hands.
B‘Elanna came out of the bathroom and saw the scene before her. She went onto the bed and put her arms around Tom‘s waist from behind. She then put her head on his shoulder. "Penny for your thoughts."
Tom smiled. "I was thinking that our child should have a teddy bear when he decides to be born."
"Well, I think that her father, will be the first to give her one," B‘Elanna commented with a laugh. She stopped and turned Tom to face her. She put her hand on his cheek. Tom turned his head kissed her hand, and placed it into his. "Come on now. I know you. What‘s wrong?"
Tom swung his legs onto the bed and lowered himself onto its flat surface with B‘Elanna in his arms, bringing her down with him. She tucked her head under his. He took a deep breath. "I‘m just wondering if history repeats itself. Wondering if it‘s due to genetics, or with the way that we were raised."
"Would you care to clarify that?"
"I‘m scared," he said quietly.
B‘Elanna moved her head to look at him. "Scared? Tom, you are one of the most bravest people I know! Do you know how many times, that you‘ve almost lost your life to save the ship and its crew?" she asked incredulously.
"Well, actually, I did die once," Tom reminded her.
"Yes," B‘Elanna conceded. "But that was when you went Warp 10 and turned into an alien salamander."
Tom laughed out loud. "Don‘t remind me."
"Then what are you scared of?" Tom gazed at B‘Elanna with both tenderness and fear in his eyes.
"I‘m afraid that I‘ll be like my father." Owen stiffened.
Q saw this, but looked back at the young couple.
"What do you mean?" queried B‘Elanna.
"I don‘t want to screw up our kid like my dad did with me—though I admit I helped out immensely with that. I don‘t want our child to grow up feeling that everything he does is worthless, and not done right. I don‘t want him to feel worthless, pathetic or unloved. I want him to know that whatever—or despite—what he does, I will always love him and be there for him," he explained.
"Like your dad wasn‘t there for you," she finished. Tom nodded.
"I don‘t want him to grow up feeling like I did."
B‘Elanna wrapped an arm across his chest. "Our child won‘t. You, of all people, will make sure of that. You‘ll be so worried about it, that you will be analyzing everything that you do, trying to see if your father is popping out anywhere," she said, trying to put her beloved at ease. "From what you have said, you have nothing to be worried about. You are nothing like him. So don‘t worry." Tom stroked her back, but she could tell that her comment did not do much. "Can I ask you something?" she asked. Tom nodded. "How come you care about everyone and how they feel, except for one person?"
"Who?" asked Tom, not thinking of anyone.
B‘Elanna got up and leaned on an elbow. "You. You‘re willing to risk your life to save another—even if it might mean death for you. You‘re willing to take that risk, no matter who it is. You have a big heart that‘s full of love and compassion. It‘s big enough for everyone—except that you refuse to be in it yourself." She tapped on Tom‘s chest, where his heart was beating. Tom‘s left hand stilled hers.
"I know," he said hoarsely. "But when you grown up… When you think… I guess I still have a lot of unresolved issues left regarding my father."
"I‘d go more along the lines of demons," she corrected. "Your father tried to mold you into someone you did not want to be. Someone you couldn‘t be. We can only be ourselves, and no one else. No matter how much we try not to be."
Tom chuckled. "Yeah, I‘ve definitely learned that."
"As for our kid; between your personality and mine, I have a feeling that she‘ll be pretty vocal about everything. So I repeat, don‘t worry!" B‘Elanna reinterated, as she bent down for a kiss. "You will always be watching for signs of your father, but you won‘t find any."
"Are you sure about that?" Tom asked.
"Absolutely. I have faith in you, and in us. We both had lousy childhood‘s and don‘t want to do the same to our child," she answered, as he laid her head on his chest. Tom ran a hand through her hair and could feel her warmth. He smiled.
"Feeling better?" She could detect his moods as easily as he could for her.
"Yes. Much. Thanks. I guess I needed to hear that from someone. Knowing that you have faith in me and believe in me…makes me feel better," Tom responded. "It‘s just what the doctor ordered."
"Thanks for reminding me. I have to do the Doctor‘s weekly diagnostic tomorrow morning, after my appointment," she announced. Tom made a face, but B‘Elanna knew that it was there and laughed. Tom‘s chuckle turned into a hearty laugh.
Doctor‘s weekly diagnostic? What the hell was going on? Q noticed the Admiral‘s confused state and decided to clarify things.
"I guess, I forgot to mention, that the EMH had been running for roughly five years now." Owen turned his head at Q, then turned back to his son.
"I‘ll be there tomorrow with you for the appointment," Tom said.
"You don‘t have to. I am a big girl you know," B‘Elanna protested.
"Yes, I know. But I refuse to miss anything regarding our son," he reasoned.
"Okay, you can come. I‘m sure that our daughter will appreciate when she‘s older, that her father has always been there for her. Even before she was born," she retorted. Tom moved his head to look at her.
"Maybe we should have the Doc tell us what sex our kid will be. It‘ll cut out all of this arguing, and we can get ready for it properly," he thought out loud.
"What? And miss out on all of this fun? Are you out of your mind?" she asked mockingly.
Tom made a grimace. "Yeah, okay. Throw that in my face, why don‘t you!"
"Well, you are the one who said it—and talked me into it! I agreed, so we are sticking with it. Besides, I find that it‘s fun the way that we make up." As B‘Elanna said this last comment, she moved her head towards Tom‘s and placed a hand on his chest. She also said it with much feeling.
Tom cocked his head to face his companion. "Hmmm. I‘ve got to admit that you are right about that," he replied. Owen smiled at this playful banter. He remembered when he did the same thing with Maria–even though that had been a while ago. It ended when, she so eloquently put it, ‚he let his promotion go to his head‘, and ‚got too big for his britches.‘ He had to admit that she was right about that, though that annoyed him too. He knew that he was not perfect, though he kept trying to achieve that state. The rift between him and his son proved that. He then saw his son kiss his companion with passion.
In between kisses, B‘Elanna murmured, "Hmmm. I‘m also beginning to think, that I also need to reassure you," as she ran her hand down his chest. Tom put both arms around her and brought her even closer, that it seemed they blended in with one another. You could not tell where one began or ended. As Tom started to lower the straps of B‘Elanna‘s nightgown, the Admiral began to look uncomfortable. He wanted to get to know his son better, but not by seeing him interact with someone else in this manner! For once, even Q seemed a bit uneasy. Maybe he was starting to hang around humans too long, but he knew that he and the Admiral should not be here, with such intimacy in the air and between the two on the bed. Q turned to the Admiral.
"Maybe we should get out of here," he suggested.
"ASAP," the Admiral concurred. Q snapped his fingers and Owen found himself in his quarters, sitting on a chair and not lying in bed. He closed his eyes, almost hoping that it was a dream. He opened them. Q was sitting on his desk, looking at him.
"It was not a dream, was it? It was real," he asked half-heartedly. A part of him did want it to be true. He wanted his son to be alive and well. And happy. But another part wanted it to be just that. A dream. He did not like what he had heard. He did not want to think of what he heard Tom say. He knew that his family was right, but he did not want to admit it. He did not want to admit that he was the type of father Tom had described. Tom had described a person who should never have been a father in the first place. A cold unfeeling man. Worthless? Pathetic? Unloved? He swallowed hard. No child should feel like that. His own father did not do that, and would be ashamed of Owen if he ever found out. Owen did not want to think that he did that to Tom. But deep down, he knew and had to admit that he did.
Q looked at Owen and saw that the mask—the same mask that Tom had perfected—was completely down. Q could see a man in pain. He felt some sympathy for the mortal. But then again, it was that said mortal who was responsible for Tom‘s pains and insecurities. "No, it was not a dream. It was real."
Admiral Paris looked at Q with pain and a bit of anger in his eyes, pain drenched on his face. "Why did you show me that last part?" he asked as he closed his eyes.
"You always wondered why your son did not turn out like you. You kept asking yourself, ‚Why did he screw up? What went wrong?‘ Now you know," was the answer.
"I did that," Owen stated. "I‘m responsible. Gods, what kind of monster am I?" He then put his head into his hands. Q once again felt sympathy for Owen Paris. It may have taken a while, but he finally realised what he had done.
"You are not a monster," Q started, as he tried to comfort Owen. "You were just misguided. You wanted what you thought would be best for Tom."
"But what I thought was best for him, was not. At least, not for him. Instead, it only made things worse," Paris ended, as he looked at Q. Q remained silent. Owen took this for agreement. "Why did you do it? Why did you take me to Voyager?"
Q collected his thoughts before answering. "Two reasons," he began, as he got off of the desk and walked towards Owen.
"One is that you were wondering what happened to Voyager, her crew, and most of all, your son. You did not realise
how much you loved him, until he was gone. Well, now you know. Yes, he is alive. Not only that, but he had found friends, respect…"
"Happiness and love," finished Owen. "But what of the other reason?"
"I must admit that the second was a bit selfish. I‘m a father now, and I want to be a good one. I noticed that when it comes to you, Tom—who‘s usually a happy-go-lucky type of guy—tenses up. He does not want to talk about you, and tries to avoid to. It hurts him whenever he does. I wanted to know why," Q explained, as he went back to the desk. He reached for a drawer and opened it. He pulled out a framed picture of a young blond male, who had bluer eyes than anyone had ever seen, and a wide sparkling smile. It was the same photo that Janeway had seen on Owen‘s desk at the Academy, those many years ago, as a cadet. Q handed it to Owen. "You had a feeling that what your family said was true—no matter how much you tried to deny it. No matter how much you wanted too. You were sure that Tom would have told you. He did not. He wanted you to be proud of him. He would have done anything and tried to be someone he could not be. Someone he was not meant to be. That, is why he turned out the way he did. He wanted to please you to the point where it was him, who was hurting. And he suffered for it. A lot."
"And I did not know because I was the cause," Owen stated, as he went to the desk, took the picture and placed it by those of his daughters and their families. He felt so low and so hurt that he had caused so much pain to someone he loved. To that of his son.
"He made mistakes. You were not ready to see beyond them. You needed to see who was right and who was wrong. You or them? Now you know," Q replied, as he leaned on the desk of Admiral Paris who had sat down on the chair on the other side of it. "How do you feel now that you know the truth, Admiral Owen Paris?" he asked before snapping his fingers and disappeared, leaving the Admiral alone to dwell on what he just saw and learned. And how to deal with it.
Author‘s note: For those of you who were wondering about ‚Bertha‘, here is the answer. As we all know, Tom is a twentieth-century history bluff. During World War I, the Germans, had a big gun (some say cannon) that had to be carted around by train, called Bertha who packed a mean punch. Hence the name for Tom‘s lucky cue (I think that it‘s a good name for it, don‘t you?).