Disclaimer - Paramount and Viacom own the characters from Voyager, although they didn't often treat them right. The story line belongs to me.
As Harry and B'Elanna walked into the Captain's ready room, they saw Chakotay, Tuvok, Tom, and Seven already seated. Captain Janeway stood at the head of the table looking out of the viewport at the starscape. She turned around slowly to face her senior officers.
"Seven has informed me that there is no further evidence of the Kazon ship or signs of any other ship. All repairs have been made and I feel that our best course would be to resume our heading to the Alpha Quadrant."
"But Captain." Tom replied. "We're not going to try to find the ships?"
"No Tom, I don't want to invite trouble. If they have left the area we are not going to pursue them. Harry and Seven, I want you to scan for any planets with Deuterium or Dilithium. B'Elanna has informed me that we're running low on both and I want to fill our stores before we leave this system."
"Yes, Captain." Harry and Seven answered together. "Should we go to Astrometics now?" Harry questioned.
"No, Mr. Kim. I want you on the bridge as we leave this area. Please scan for any subspace anomalies that could indicate a cloaked ship."
"Yes, Captain. I'll get right on it." Harry stood and headed for the bridge.
"Seven, I want you to start the scans in Astrometrics." The Captain then turned to B'Elanna.
"B'Elanna, I want you to be sure the engines can handle any demands for warp speed that we might have to call for."
"They'll be ready for anything, Captain." B'Elanna gave the Captain a confident look as she turned to leave the ready room. Tom gave her a small smile and looked to the Captain for his orders.
"Tom, set a new course for the Alpha Quadrant and be ready to engage in 20 minutes."
"I'll be ready for your order, Captain." Tom gave her a little grin as he headed for the helm.
"Captain, do you feel that we are out of danger?" Tuvok gave her a puzzled look.
"No, I don't think that we've seen the last of the Kazons but I won't be held prisoner by their actions. We need to resume our course for home. We are running low on energy sources but I don't want to spend too much time securing supplies. Please continue to scan for any signs of trouble, Mr. Tuvok." She smiled tentatively at her security officer.
Tuvok rose and made his way to his station and Chakotay turned in his seat to look at Janeway. "Why leave now, Captain? You were intent on finding the Kazons."
"I know Chakotay, but I have an uneasy feeling about remaining in this area. I want to get supplies and get on our way." She walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Shall we join the crew on the bridge?"
He flashed her one of his grins as he stood up from his seat and they strolled out of the ready room.
Tom sat fidgeting at the helm, checking the course settings. He felt uneasy in this sector of space and was anxious to get underway.
Janeway took her seat and glanced at the bridge crew. They were all at their stations prepared for whatever lay ahead.
"Captain, the course is laid in for the Alpha Quadrant." Tom looked back at Janeway's seat. He could sense her apprehension and gave her a small nod. "Ready when you are."
"OK, Mr. Paris. Engage."
All was quiet on Voyager as they headed for the Alpha Quadrant. On the third day, Harry spotted something on his scanners. "Captain, I believe I've found a planet with a good supply of Deuterium and Dilithium."
"How far is this planet Mr. Kim?" The Captain, looked pleased as Harry read over the scanner results.
"About four light years from here, Captain. It looks like an M class planet with a breathable atmosphere."
"Good job, Harry. Send the coordinates to the helm. Mr. Paris lay in a course for the planet. When we are in range I want an away team to take a shuttle down to the surface."
"Captain, if there is a good supply of minerals, wouldn't it be better to take the Delta Flyer?" Tom asked. "It would hold more cargo and a larger away team."
"You're right, Mr. Paris. Commander assemble an away team with six crewmembers and meet in the shuttle bay in one hour. Mr. Paris, you're to pilot the Delta Flyer."
"Yes, Captain." Tom flashed her a big grin. "We should be in range within twenty minutes."
As they came within range, Tom's back up took over at the helm as he, Chakotay, and Harry left the bridge.
Commander Chakotay assembled the away team in the shuttle bay. Tom Paris would pilot the Delta Flyer with Harry Kim at the ops station. Mike Ayala, Ken Dalby, and Sue Nicoletti would be gathering information on the minerals and mining any they found. Chakotay rounded out the away team and would be in charge of this mission.
After completing the pre flight check, Tom swiftly brought the flyer out of the shuttle bay and down to the planet's surface. The atmosphere was indeed suitable for exploration in regular uniforms.
"Paris, Dalby, and Nicoletti investigate those caves over there." Chakotay gestured down to the left of the flyer. "Readings were high for Dilithium Crystals. "Kim, Ayala, and I will head up to that ridge." he pointed up to the right.
The two teams moved out and found ample supplies of the minerals needed for the engines. After several hours, Chakotay's team returned to the flyer with their stores. There was no sign of the other away team. "Chakotay to Paris. Have you procured the Dilithium Crystals?"
"Yes, Commander, but we're having a bit of a problem here." Paris's voice came through Chakotay's comm badge. Chakotay could here loud voices in the background.
"I'll be right there. Chakotay out." Chakotay turned to the others on his team. "Stow the Deuterium in the cargo bay and join me at the caves." He headed down toward the cave entrances. As he neared the closest cave he heard angry voices.
"I don't care that they let you out of your cage you still aren't fit to order me around." Dalby sneered at Tom and blocked his exit from the cave. Tom tried to push his way past and Dalby suddenly shoved his fist into Tom's midsection. Catching his breath as he doubled over in pain, Tom tried to stand and swung at Dalby's head. He managed to connect just under Dalby's left eye which earned him a punch to his mouth. He tasted blood as he curled his fists and advanced towards Dalby.
"Paris, Dalby! What is the meaning of this?" Chakotay's voice rang out stopping the two officers in mid swing. He grabbed each man by their shirt fronts and shoved them against the side of the cave entrance. "There will be no fighting on this mission, especially among officers." The two glared at each other and at Chakotay. "We'll deal with this later."
Harry and Mike Ayala arrived at the cave and took in the scene before them. Tom and Ken were both bleeding and breathing hard. Chakotay was scowling at the two men. "Get these crystals aboard the flyer and let's get out of here."
The six crew members loaded the Dilithium Crystals into the flyer and Chakotay approached the hatch where Paris and Dalby stood quietly apart from each other. "I should send you both to the brig to cool off." he snarled. He saw Tom's face blanch and his hands tremble with apprehension. "You're both confined to quarters, except for duty shifts and meals, for the next 48 hours, as soon as we return to the ship."
Tom lifted off the planet's surface and headed for Voyager. Sue approached the Commander. "Permission to speak freely, Sir?"
"Of course, Lieutenant. What is it?" Chakotay looked at the young engineer.
"Dalby kept pushing Ensign Paris, Sir. He wouldn't extract the crystals the way Tom told him to and he was covering up more than he found. Tom tried to talk to him but Dalby wouldn't listen. He kept saying he didn't have to listen to a traitor and a murderer."
"Regardless of Dalby's behavior, Ensign Paris is the more experienced officer and should be able to control his temper." 'Paris's temper has gotten him into trouble again.' Chakotay thought as he remembered the brash young pilot back on the Liberty.............
"You son of a bitch! Watch where you're going!" Ken Dalby's voice rang out in the small mess hall on the Maquis ship, Liberty. Tom Paris had stumbled into Dalby's chair and knocked the coffee cup out of his hand.
"If you'd ... move your damn feet .......a person could get past......... you." Tom's words were slurred as he struggled to maintain his balance.
Chakotay heard the exchange as he entered the mess hall. He saw Paris shudder as Dalby shoved his chair back and took a swing at Paris's head. Dalby connected with Tom's jaw with a loud crack and Tom retaliated with a blow to Dalby's right ear. The strong swing caused Tom to lose his balance and he sprawled against the table.
"Enough!" roared Chakotay. He shoved Dalby back into another chair and hauled Tom to his feet. The smell of alcohol was strong on Tom's breath. "Paris, I warned you about drinking. Ayala take Mr. Paris to the brig. He'll be spending the next 24 hours there." The brig on the Liberty was an old supply closet with two bunks installed and barely enough room in front of them to stand. The small doorway contained a force field and the lights outside were dim. There were no lights at all in the cell.
Mike Ayala grabbed Tom by the arm and marched him out of the mess hall. Chakotay turned to Dalby. "You report to your quarters and get cleaned up." Chakotay then returned to the bridge.
Four hours later, Chakotay was hailed by Ayala. "Captain, you'd better get down here. Paris keeps hurling himself at the force field. I've even threatened him with a phaser but he won't stop.
"I'm on my way." Chakotay rose form his seat and headed for the brig. 'I should have known that Paris would be more trouble than he's worth.'
When he got in front of the small cell, that served as the Liberty's brig, Chakotay could hear Paris yelling to be let out. "Deactivate the force field." he instructed Ayala. He stood in front of the small, dim cell. "Paris, you are to remain in that cell for 24 hours and we don't need any dramatics. Now sleep off the drunk." He stepped back to the console. "Reactivate the force field and kill the lights." he told Ayala.
"No......" Tom's anguished voice came through the small opening to the cell.
Chakotay turned to Ayala and dismissed him. "I'll take over now, go get some sleep."
Ayala went down the corridor and Chakotay deactivated the force field, set the lights to full and entered the cell. Tom was sitting on the end of the bottom cot, his knees brought up to his chest with his arms wrapped around them. His face was deadly pale with sweat gleaming on his forehead. His breathing was rapid and shallow and his eyes were squeezed shut. As Chakotay neared the young man he heard him mumbling.
"Too...... close.......too close." Tom's voice barely above a whisper.
"Paris." Chakotay placed a hand on Tom's shoulder. His eyes flew open and he flinched at the touch.
"You're claustrophobic aren't you?" Chakotay asked gently. He'd never seen such a severe reaction.
"Yeah, k...kind of." Tom's quiet voice responded as his breathing slowly returned to normal. He looked up with embarrassment into Chakotay's eyes.
"Then I'll confine you to your quarters. Can you be trusted to go there or do I need to call security?"
"No need to c..call anyone.......I'll go. Th.....thank you, Captain." Tom stood unsteadily and made his way out of the cell.
"Commander, we're in visual range." Tom's voice brought Chakotay back to the present.
"Very well, Paris. Bring us home."
They returned to the shuttle bay and Chakotay assigned crewmembers to unload the minerals and transfer them to engineering. He ordered Paris and Dalby to their quarters and went to report to the Captain.
Chakotay headed into the turbolift. "Deck 9" he ordered the computer. He had met with the Captain, turned in his report, and proposed that he meet with Paris and try to determine what was troubling the pilot.
He stood outside Tom's quarters and activated the comm but there was no answer. "Computer locate Tom Paris."
"Tom Paris is in his quarters." the monotone of the computer replied. Chakotay tried the comm again.
"Come in." Tom's quiet voice answered. Chakotay entered the darkened room and spotted Tom sprawled on his couch.
"Commander, I didn't realize it was you." He stood up at attention unsuccessfully trying to stifle a yawn. "Computer, lights." The room brightened and Chakotay smiled at Tom.
"Sit, please. Tom, we need to talk. Something's been bothering you for several weeks now and this fight with Dalby is just the tip of the problem." Chakotay walked towards the couch.
"Look, Commander, there's nothing going on that I can't handle. I admit I got a little out of control with Dalby but it won't happen again." Tom looked slightly embarrassed but his tone was one of defiance.
"Look, Paris, obviously you can't handle it alone. You've been late for your bridge shifts, drinking too much when you do show up on the Holodeck and uncharacteristically quiet. Even The Captain is concerned with your behavior."
Before Tom can answer, the ship is suddenly rocked with an explosion and the room pitches steeply. Chakotay is thrown off balance and lands on the floor. Tom jumps off the couch and reaches out a hand to help Chakotay to his feet.
"Red Alert! All crew to their stations, senior officers to the bridge. Red Alert!" The Captain's voice comes over the speakers and the two men rush through the doorway and head for the turbolift.