by Kat Hughes
Summary: Set during Season 5’s "Night." Was Tom really as clueless in "Extreme Risk" as he made out? Well, I don’t think so…
Tom ran his hands carefully over the instrument.
"Mr Paris, dermal regenerator?"
Time was a funny thing. If he had known, he would have paid more attention in those field medic courses.
He turned the small tool over.
"Mr Paris, can you please pass me the regenerator?"
He’d never thought about it before. It was a very simple thing. Basic stuff. But the dermal regenerator saved peoples’ lives each and every day. It was a great little box of tricks; fixing cuts and scrapes, burns, bruises.
"I do not believe he has heard you Doctor, it would be advisable to call again."
So simple in its design, a real medical marvel.
He weighed it in both hands. Concentration focused.
"Mr Paris! Stop daydreaming and give me the dermal regenerator!"
But if it was such a good thing…why did he hate it so much?
He locked eyes with the Doctor.
He held out an open palm, the regenerator sat neatly upon it.
The holographic physician cast him a look of healthy suspicion and grabbed the medical instrument.
"Thank you, Mr Paris." He said with his usual acerbic tone.
Tom nodded and watched the box go about its magic.
Seven of Nine sat perfectly still on a biobed. First degree burns on her face and neck.
"Seven," the Doctor said with an air of desperation.
He put his hand under her chin and tilted her face up. With the other he flicked on the tool and began to run the blue light over the light burn on her cheek. In a matter of seconds the burn was healed and returned from a sore red to Seven’s usual pale complexion. He’d never really watched it do that before.
"Lieutenant Torres and I were running through hypothesis on how to increase maximum warp to speed our time in the void. We altered a few ratios in the deflector array when Lieutenant Torres noted an irregularity. There had been a cascade failure. When I proceeded to fix the difficulty there was a minor power surge resulting in a small fire. That was the cause of my injury."
"Mm," the doctor nodded. He had moved to her neck.
Tom watched in awe.
Something occurred to him. He tried not to let his disgust show.
It had some kind of sickening logic though. Also showing him for the coward he always knew he was.
It’d be a start.
The slight hum of the regenerator stopped but it continued to ring in his ears, following his idea as he considered the implications. Making it harder to see this objectively. But then objectivity was hard when you were so close.
Not close enough.
It’d be easily completed. He’d grab it on his way out and alter the supplies record from his quarters. He could execute it perfectly; he had the experience.
"Seven. You’re free to go back on duty but no strenuous neck movements until the regenerated skin has had time to settle."
Seven nodded and slipped off the bed. "Good day Doctor." She turned to Tom, "Lieutenant."
The hologram smiled at her, Tom returned the nod and she strode out of Sickbay, the doors opening swiftly and then closing behind her.
"Mr Paris," the doctor began, "is there something wrong?"
"I’m fine Doc," he slapped the man on the back warmly and held up the immaculate Paris grin for inspection.
The Doctor groaned a little; fooled by the impersonation.
"Very well," he said sighing, "I’ve got to go and check up on Ensign Harper." He walked away from Tom and picked up his holo-emitter, placing it quickly on his arm. Reaching a stand he picked up three loaded hypo-sprays. "Sickbay is yours Mr Paris."
Tom was alone.
Too much thinking is bad for you.
"What’s that?" He gripped her arm in one hand and pointed to the bruise that was darkening her shoulder. He said it playfully, a smile on his lips. Too intoxicated by the smell of her, the feel of her to really understand.
"Nothing." The smile wasn’t returned. She stood and reached for the vest top that lay on the floor. She slipped it on easily and looked about her, pinpointing the location of her other clothes.
"Hey…" he said. It was unusual for her to just stop like this, and if he was honest, very difficult for him. He reached out a hand at her bare thigh as she passed the bed.
She ignored him.
"Don’t tell me that it’s my fault?" He said, turning on his back and staring up at the ceiling.
He could hear a sharp intake of breath. She hadn’t liked that.
She exhaled slowly. "No Paris, it wasn’t you," she sighed.
"Well, Torres," he emphasised. "What is it then?"
He rolled over on the bed, watching her as she pulled on her uniform jacket, ran a hand through her hair. She stopped to look at him.
He noted the lack of anger, or amusement.
She just seemed to stare at him. Rich brown eyes flatly scanning his face, nothing there. "I said it’s nothing." It was weakly felt.
She moved over to where her boots lay, they’d been kicked off.
"B’Elanna," he said deeply, trying to hold her gaze.
"Leave me alone," she growled.
"But…" he protested.
"I don’t want to talk about it. Okay?" Some kind of emotion was leaking through onto her voice; it wasn’t a positive one.
"Okay." From his position lying on the bed he could see the back of her neck, another bruise.
"There’s another bruise, on the back of your neck." He sat up, the words forceful, accusing.
"I know." She sat on the edge of her bed and pulled the boot on angrily.
"You should see the Doc, he can fix that easily."
"I know that too," she said, her back to him.
"Are you going to?"
She span. Her breathing was slow and regulated, her eyes were passive, her mouth held no shape. The look was as blank as he’d ever seen it.
It was a long pause.
She wouldn’t lie to him.
"No," she said decisively.
Subtext was suddenly becoming clearer, new little idiosyncrasies she’d developed began to make a kind of painful sense. He winced at what he’d missed.
She headed out of the bedroom. Didn’t give him a second glance.
He gripped the regenerator tightly.
It had to be done.
Her neck ached. Muscles in her back contracted painfully; there was a dull throb in her left knee. Blood stained her top from an unknown source on her left shoulder.
She stumbled badly into a coffee table.
The room filled with light. A little too bright for weary eyes. "Computer 40% illumination."
The light dulled. She made her way, dragging her left leg slightly, to the bathroom.
With a swift elbow movement she opened a hatch just next to her sonic shower and pulled out her battered regenerator, she’d had it since her Maquis days. The battery cell was going, and it was in need of some major repair, that or its molecules needed recycling.
The bathroom was still dark. She made her way to the sink to fully inspect her injuries. A way that had become familiar, almost safe. Saved thinking too hard about what she’d done to herself. Saved thinking.
Moving the sink out of the wall the light automatically blinked into life and she was drawn to an unfamiliar object on the mirror ledge.
She picked it up. A PADD lay next to it. She turned it on. Instructions for the proper use of a Starfleet issue dermal regenerator, excerpt from Starfleet medical text #0345, understanding and familiarising yourself with commonly used equipment.
The PADD fell through her hands, clattering on the floor. Looking back up she studied her reflection. She hoped on an emotion. None came.
She wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad.
She’d have to be more careful.
With a flick of her wrist the regenerator began to hum. With clinical precision she moved to her shoulder injury.