Series: Voyager |
Pairing: P/T, J & C
Prior story in the Among The Bystanders series:
1) Standing Over The Sea
2) Looking Down
3) Searching For What Is Lost
4) Finding Only Pieces.
5) Standing Up For Oneself
6) Knowing The Future
SYNOPSIS: Set after Pathfinder. When Naomi Wildman disappear during a shore-leave, Tom goes to great extremes to find her.
Going To Extremes
by Isabelle S. Synbou@hotmail.com
Tom and B‘Elanna turned around a corner, leading to yet another narrow dark alley. Tom stopped dead in his tracks, sighing in desperation. He could not go on anymore. He was suffocating. The prospect of going further was giving him cold sweets. His legs were barely holding him and felt he was going to pass out any second, now.
"Tom," B‘Elanna said softly, squeezing his clammy hand. "Take a deep breath."
"...Can‘t..." he hissed, as he rested his back against the wall of the tall building. He closed his eyes.
"Yes, you can!" B‘Elanna insisted forcefully. "I know this is very uncomfortable for you, but we‘re almost out of this maze. We just have two more streets to go. You can do it. Take another deep breath and come on."
How could the Galkians walk through those alleys everyday and not go mad? He wondered for the umpteen time. Those streets were so narrow that two people could hardly walk side by side. The walls were so high that daylight could barely reach down to them. It reminded Tom of old European cities back on Earth. There the claustrophobic that he was had learned to stay near the plazas and other open areas. Had it not been for B‘Elanna insisting that he accompany her to a hardware shop, he would have never entered in one of those streets. He should have known better than to fall for one of B‘Elanna‘s sad-puppy looks.
When they had exited the shop, they probably had taken a wrong turn and had gotten lost into the city. Now, his worst fear was about to happen. He was going to suffocate to death in a dark and very narrow alley.
Chakotay strolled through the crowded market, looking with interest at the various shops along the way. The anthropologist, in him, particularly liked those kinds of marketplaces, one could find a little of everything there. It was a one the best places to learn about the ways of the local inhabitants.
"Found anything interesting?" he asked Kathryn Janeway as he caught up with her by a small clothing shop.
"A blouse," she answered with a greeting smile. "Touch this fabric, isn‘t it ever so soft?"
"It must be very comfortable," Chakotay agreed, stroking the material with his fingers."It‘s the kind of thing you want to wear on a cold winter night."
Kathryn faced the merchant again. He graciously handed her a nicely wrapped package. "What did you find?" she asked, referring the box he was holding.
"A local icon," he told her. As they started to make their way back towards the central plaza, he took the object out its box. It was a greenish skinny figurine made in some kind of stone. It was about eight inches tall and quite heavy. The male portrayed had a kind and joyful expression on its face. "This is Rasli. It‘s the Galkian spirit of good fortune," he explained. "I figured we could use all the help with could get on our way home."
"We certainly could, Commander," the Captain agreed cheerfully. "With any luck, it will chase away the curse that Tom so strongly believes we‘ve been plagued with."
"Talking about the wolf," began Chakotay. "Isn‘t that he and B‘Elanna who are coming out of the alley over there?"
"Yes, that‘s them," Kathryn confirmed. She studied them more carefully. "Tom doesn‘t look well. We better make sure they‘re both all right."
They quickly joined the two younger officers. Tom had found a bench to sit on. B‘Elanna was standing in front of him, looking down at her lover with some dismay. Tom‘s face was flushed and his breathing was laboured.
"Tom, B‘Elanna," Kathryn greeted them. "Is something wrong?"
B‘Elanna first nodded her acknowledgment. "Oh, no," she replied.
"Tom just needs a few minutes to catch his breath."
"At this rate, Tom, you‘re going to hyperventilate in no time," Chakotay pointed out.
Kathryn sat beside him. "Chakotay‘s right. Tom, put your head between your knees and take slow steady breaths." Paris did as he was told. After a moment, he sat back straight again. "What happen?" the Captain inquired.
"Not much. Just be wary of B‘Elanna‘s great ideas," Tom warned.
Torres snorted. "You could have told me sooner that those kinds of places were giving you claustrophobic attacks," she defended herself.
"I don‘t get it, Tom," Chakotay said perplexed. "How can you have claustrophobic attacks in some small places and not others?"
"I don‘t know," Tom shrugged. "It‘s an irrational fear. That‘s why it‘s called a phobia."
"Captain! Captain!" came Neelix‘s alarmed voice. "Something terrible has happened..."
Everyone snapped to attention and looked towards where the Talaxian‘s panicked voice was coming from. Neelix was jogging in their direction, Samantha Wildman on his heels.
"Calm down, Mr. Neelix," Janeway said, standing up to face him.
"We lost Naomi..." Neelix breathed.
"She was right beside me and when I turned around she was gone!" Samantha explained, fighting her tears. "We called for her, but there wasn‘t any response. We found her commbadge at the foot of a tree. There was no sign of her. What if something happened? What if someone hurt her...?"
Kathryn took a hold of the concerned and frightened mother‘s shoulders. She met her eye. "Naomi is a very resourceful young girl. I‘m sure she‘s all right. We‘ll find her," the Captain assured Wildman with conviction. "Why don‘t you show us where you found her commbadge? She‘s probably still in the vicinity."
"Captain, I‘ll go to the local authorities," Neelix suggested.
"Maybe they‘ve already found Naomi."
"Very good idea, Mr. Neelix," Janeway told the Talaxian, who immediately left them. As the Starfleet officers followed Wildman towards where the child‘s commbadge had been previously found, Kathryn gave Tom a sideways look. "I don‘t want to hear about any curse," she warned him in a whisper.
Once near the tree, Chakotay took off the tricorder that he had been wearing at this waist and started to scan the area while the others called out Naomi‘s name and asked people if they had seen the little girl.
"There‘s no trace of her," Tom said, clearly concerned. "No one has seen her. We better called for reinforcement," he suggested.
"Tuvok and his security team are already on their way down," Janeway informed him.
"Okay, Tom, think!" he told himself. "If you were a five-year-old kid lost in this crowd in an unfamiliar place, what would you do?" He lowered himself and put a knee on the ground. His gaze flew around the plaza and the adjacent market. "There‘s a lot of tall people and I can‘t see much." Then, something at his right caught his eye. He stood and purposefully walked in that direction. Curious, Kathryn was about to asked him what he was doing when Tuvok and three of his security officers showed up.
"Captain, I gather that you have not found Miss Wildman," the Vulcan stated the obvious.
"I‘m afraid not," Janeway confirmed. "Start scanning the area." She turned her attention back to Paris. He was talking with the owner of a small shop on the other side of the street. Moment later, he reported back to her.
"The merchant remembers Naomi," he said. "She sold her some candies about half an hour ago. Unfortunately, she did not see which way she went."
"I found something!" the Commander told them. He pick up a data padd and a small bag of candies from a flowerbed a few feet away from where they were.
"It‘s Naomi‘s log," Samantha confirmed with a cracked voice. "I asked her to make a report about her experience."
Chakotay opened the file and played the recording:
*Naomi Wildman, Captain‘s assistant, reporting.
*Voyager arrived to the planet Galkie the day before yesterday. Neelix is quite excited to fill up his cupboards. This is my fourth time on a planet. But this time it‘s special. I have been charged with collecting information that the grownups don‘t see. Mommy—I mean Ensign Wildman—said that I have a unique perrr... per-perspective. That‘s the word, perspective.
*I‘m walking through the market with Ensign Wildman and Neelix.
She told me to stay close because there are a lot of people. The
people of this planet are all very tall—taller than Commander
Chakotay and Tom! They look like trees. Well most of them do,
with their brown pants and green jackets.*
"I‘m amazed," Tom said mostly to himself, attracting curious looks from the rest of the away team.
*All the things to sell are placed on high shelves. I can‘t see anything, even if I stand on my toes. Neelix had to put his big boots on to be taller. But, he still has to walk on his toes, too.
*I can hear children, but can‘t see them. There are too many
people to see very far. Even if I look through the peoples‘ legs,
all I see are more legs. I wish Mommy could pick me up and carry
me on her shoulders so I could see. But, I‘m too big for that,
now. But, not tall enough to see!*
"I‘m frustrated," Tom voiced, his tone reflecting the girl‘s own frustration.
Kathryn and Chakotay‘s eyes met with astonishment as they reached the same conclusion.
Tom was empathizing even further with Naomi.
Kathryn came closer to the pilot. His facial expression was totally blank. His gaze was loss somewhere in front him. He seemed as if he was in some kind of trance, as he was carefully listening to Naomi‘s recording.
*We are getting closer to the kids. There they are! There is a shop with low shelves. I can see what is on them! I think it‘s the candy shop that Tom told me about. It‘s covered with pretty colors. There are clear containers with colorful things inside.
Some look like the gum balls Tom gave me on my birthday.*
"I‘m excited!" Tom expressed.
*Neelix gave me some of the local currency this morning, so that I can buy something nice. I‘m going to get some of that candy. They look good. But I won‘t eat any until I get back to Voyager and show them to Neelix or Seven. Neelix made me promise. He told me that sometimes there are things in foods from planets that can make people sick.
*I like the universal translator. With it I can talk to everybody I meet. I ask the adults behind the desk about the candies. She tells me that the purple ones taste like mint and the blue ones are like cinnamon. I have enough currency to buy a small bag of them, one from each jar. I‘d like to taste one now, but I promised Neelix to wait until he can check them.
*I turn to find Mommy, but she is not there. In my investigation
of the candy shop, I forgot to keep an eye on Mommy. And now she
"I did something bad," Tom said on a reprimanding tone. "I‘m scared...." he trailed off.
*There‘s lots of people, but I don‘t see anybody from Voyager. I
know that I‘m suppose to stay where I am, in this situation. But,
I got to find Mommy. She‘ll be scared without me.*
"I‘m scared," Tom repeated.
*I know what I‘m going to do! I‘m going to climb that big tree
over there. That way I‘ll see all the market and Mommy too.*
"I feel better," he breathed as the recording ended
"Oh my God, no..." Samantha pleaded, horror registering on her pale face. "She must have fallen off that tree and killed herself. Where is she?! Where‘s my little girl?!" she cried in panic.
"Samantha," Chakotay told her softly. He took her hands. "No one saw or heard about a child dying here today. She has to be all right. We are going to find her alive and well," he assured her, giving her a hug.
"But, where is she?" Samantha sobbed.
"Where is she, Tom?" Kathryn asked him in a low voice.
Tom‘s gaze first shifted to the right, then he made a full head turn. "You‘ll think I‘m crazy, but..."
"But, you think she went that way," Janeway finished for him.
"If Naomi is in one of those alleys, we won‘t be able to transport her back to the ship," B‘Elanna pointed out. "The buildings are interfering with our sensors. That‘s why I couldn‘t have Tom beamed up earlier."
"Lieutenant, go back to Voyager and see what you can do about that. Inform the Doctor to expect a patient," the Captain ordered Torres. "Take this with you," she added, giving her the package.
B‘Elanna took Chakotay‘s box as well before asking Voyager beamed her aboard.
"Tom," Janeway said, turning her attention back to Paris. "Are you sure you can go back in those alleys?" He could not repress the shiver that went up his spine. He took in a deep breath and nodded to her. "Lead the way, then."
Kathryn had rarely seen him so nervous before. He was obviously distraught by the idea of going back in the narrow streets. She hated asking this of him. However, Naomi‘s life could depend on whatever intuition Tom could have. She knew him well enough to be sure that he would be able to control his fear as long as the child was missing.
They crossed the plaza and entered into a narrow street bordered by houses. Calling out Naomi‘s name, they inspected every corner the child could have taken refuge into. Tom was growing more nervous and uncomfortable. He was taking deep breaths in order to steady himself.
"I‘m scared... and I‘m lost," he almost sobbed.
"Are you in any pain?" Kathryn asked him, wondering if either Tom or Naomi were in discomfort.
"My arm aches. My legs are week... And, it‘s hard to breath. It could just be me overreacting," he added, frustrated. They kept on their way until they reached an intersection. They had choices: They could go forward, turn right or left. Tom looked in all directions, making a full rotation on himself. He lost control of his breathing and started to panic.
"Tom, breathe," Kathryn ordered. "Try to calm down."
"I... don‘t know where to go. I can‘t do this," he mumbled totally distressed.
"We better get him out of here before he gets any worst," Chakotay advised Kathryn worriedly.
Janeway agreed with dismay.
"Come on, Tom. I‘m getting you out of here," the Commander told him in a low voice.
"No!" Paris blurted out. "Tuvok... Tuvok can help me."
"Mr. Paris, I doubt that..."
"I have an idea," Tom interrupted the Vulcan. "Come with me, please."
As Tuvok and Tom returned to the plaza, Janeway called upon everyone‘s attention. "We‘ll spit up into teams, like that we‘ll cover more ground." She put a hand on Samantha‘s shoulder. "We‘ll find Naomi. Try not to worry."
Chakotay and Kathryn started down another streets. Tom was right, their narrowness, darkness, and smells were making them uncomfortable after awhile.
"With all this turning around, I‘m not too sure where we are anymore," Kathryn stated.
"Judging by the sounds, I would say that were coming closer to the plaza," Chakotay told her.
"Indeed, Commander, you are only two streets away," a familiar voice told them.
Kathryn looked up to see her chief of security closing on them.
"Tuvok, you scared the hell out me!"
"My apologies, Captain. I believe that I know where Miss Wildman is located. In fact, she is not far away form here."
"Where‘s Tom?" asked Chakotay.
"He is still in the plaza," Tuvok informed them. "He was too tired to accompany me.""What did you do?" inquired the Captain.
"We mind-melded," the Vulcan stated.
"You WHAT?!" Janeway exclaimed herself. "And you left him alone?"
"Captain, should I remind you that Miss Wildman is waiting?"
Tuvok pointed out so tactfully.
"Kathryn, go with Tuvok. I‘ll go make sure that Tom is doing okay," Chakotay suggested. "How do I get to him?"
"Continue up this street until the intersection and turn right," Tuvok explained. "Mr. Paris will be sitting on a bench to your left."
Chakotay followed Tuvok‘s instructions until he arrived at the busy plaza. The place was crowded with people and Chakotay did not see Tom. He went further left and noticed a group of people gathered in a circle, looking down over something—or someone.
The commander suddenly felt himself tense up. A knot formed in his stomach. He reached the crowd of bystanders in a few long strides. One them gazed down at him from his tall frame with sadness. Chakotay forced his way through them and found Paris laying unconscious on the ground.
"Tom! Tom, can you hear me?" he called, kneeling at the sides of the younger man. He pinched Tom‘s fingers and the inside of his shoulders without getting any reaction. "Chakotay to Voyager, medical emergency, two to transport to sickbay!"
In the instant of a few seconds, they were back onboard Voyager.
"Commander," the EMH acknowledged. "I was expecting Miss Wildman, not Mr. Paris."
"Doctor, I can‘t find a pulse," Chakotay said urgently.
The physician immediately scanned the patient. "Help me get him on the biobed, now!"
"Over this way," Tuvok told Janeway as he confirmed what he already implicitly knew by glancing at his tricorder.
"I see her," Kathryn told the Vulcan as she made her way down three steps that was leading to building entrance. The child was curled into a ball, making herself as little as possible, and hiding in the dark. "Naomi," Kathryn called softly. "Naomi," she repeated putting a hand on the girl‘s shoulder.
Naomi‘s eyes blinked and she looked at Janeway first frighten then with dramatic relief. "Captain!" she cried. "Captain! I knew would you come for me!" she said with absolute sincerity.
"We could never leave without you," Kathryn told her with a warm smile. "Are you all right, Naomi?" she asked concerned.
"My arm hurts. I think it‘s broken. But... but now the Doctor will fix it. Right?"
"He will take good care of you," Kathryn assured the child. She helped her to get on her feet. They walked up the set of stairs where Tuvok took the little girl in his arms. "Your Mommy is not far away," Kathryn went on. "She will be so happy to see you!"
"Captain... I‘m sorry for having made trouble."
"The important thing is that you‘re with us, now," Kathryn stated, stroking Naomi‘s cheek. "Janeway to Voyager."
Chakotay here... ahead, came the Commander‘s scrambled reply.
Kathryn realized that the buildings where interfering with communications as they were with the transporters. She would have to keep her messages short.
"We found Naomi," she told him.
Acknowledge.... all right? he asked.
"Minor injuries," she reported. "Is Tom all right?"
Tom‘s onboard, he replied. He had not answered her question. He probably had not heard it completely. The best thing to do was to get clear of those buildings by returning to the plaza. There they would be able to transport back to the ship.
"We are going back to the plaza," she informed.
We‘ll be standing by.
"Janeway out." As Kathryn closed the link, she found herself perplexed. Chakotay had not answered her question about Tom and it bothered her.
The way back to the plaza was short when one knew the way. They emerged less than five minutes later in the square. As she called for the beam up, Janeway could not help but notice that a small crowd was dissipating. It nagged at her mind as she waited to be taken to her ship.
Chakotay, Neelix and Samantha were there, anxiously awaiting their arrival.
"Naomi!" Samantha cried rushing towards her daughter.
"Mommy!" the child echoed back stretching her good arm towards her mother.
Wildman took her daughter into her arms and gently sat on the floor hugging her little girl, crying of joy.
"Are you mad at me?" Naomi suddenly asked.
"Why?" asked her mother wiping the tears that were tickling her chin.
"I didn‘t follow orders. I‘m sorry," Naomi said in a small voice.
"Oh, no honey. I‘m just so relieved that you are okay." Samantha said, giving her a bear hug.
"Did you find my candies?" the child asked Neelix over her mother‘s shoulder.
"We did and you can have some after the Doctor has a look at you."
The Doctor! That brought back undefined thought that had nagged Janeway. She had been so absorbed by the reunion that she had forgotten about the person that had made it possible.
"I‘m surprised that Tom‘s not here,"
The Commander sighted. "Tom is in sickbay."
She held his gaze urging him go on.
"He had a stroke," Chakotay reported seriously. "The Doctor is still working on him."
"A stroke? What‘s a stroke?" asked Naomi, not understanding what was going on, why everyone had became sober all of a sudden.
"A stroke is when a blood vessel in your brain breaks," her mother explained in simple terms.
Naomi looked at her horrified. "But, he‘s gonna be okay, isn‘t he, Mommy? The Doctor will fix him too, right?"
"I‘m sure the Doctor is doing the best that he can," Samantha tried to comfort her daughter.
The group quietly entered in sickbay, where they found B‘Elanna standing a few feet away from the main surgical bay, her arms tightly wrapped around her thin body. She looked at them and smiled to Naomi, before turning back toward her lover—over whom the Doctor was still working.
Tom was laying on the biobed, beneath the medical arch. He was already wearing the blue surgical gown. His head was turned the other way, so the could not see his face. Still, they could tell that he was unconscious by the stillness of his body.
"Be wary of Tom‘s great ideas," B‘Elanna said, taking back Tom‘s words from earlier that they.
Kathryn walked to her sides. "How is he?" she whispered.
"The Doctor stabilized him. He‘s still attempting to repair the damaged."
Kathryn acknowledged the seriousness of the situation with a nod. In the corner of her eye, she saw Samantha sitting her daughter on a biobed.
"I‘ll give you hand with that broken arm," she told the ensign. As she came closer, she saw little pearls of moisture running down the child‘s face. "Oh Naomi, don‘t cry sweetheart," she told her on a soothing tone. "Tom will be fine in no time, you‘ll see."
"I didn‘t want to hurt Tom," she sobbed.
"You didn‘t hurt Tom, Naomi," her mother assured her. "Tom had an accident."
"I got lost... and Tom got hurt," Naomi tried to explained. "I did not follow orders."
"That‘s because you were scared," Kathryn said. "There were a lot of people and you were all alone and hurt. It‘s normal to be scared times like this. I know I would have been in your place." She brushed the tears away. "The next time that you will go on an away mission, you will know that you have to stay with your Mommy."
"I don‘t want to go on away missions any more," Naomi declared.
"Going on away mission is a duty of the Captain‘s Assistant," Kathryn reminded her. "I‘ll be counting you. Maybe when you feel better, we could talk about this again? Would that be okay?"
Naomi tentatively nodded her agreement.
"Mr. Tuvok," came the Doctor‘s angry voice. "What were you thinking, doing a mind-meld without medical supervision? Haven‘t I pointed out the dangers of such reckless procedures often enough to you?"
"Doctor." Kathryn brought the attention on herself hoping to avoid a futile argument between the Vulcan and the EMH. She might agree with the physician, but now was not the place or the time to debate the issue. "How is Tom doing?"
"Mr. Paris‘s condition is critical, but stable at the moment," the EMH reported. "I repaired the damage done to his frontal cortex. However, he remains in a coma," he allowed himself a holographic sigh. "I can‘t tell you if he will ever wake up or if he will even survive," he finished grimly.
An heavy silence fell in the cold sterile room.
Kathryn‘s gaze flew over Tom‘s peaceful form. He had done it again, put someone‘s life before his own sake. Thanks to Brother Tiul‘s gift, she now knew how strong Tom‘s empathic feelings could be—how they could drive him to the greatest extremes. However, how Tom had managed to use his empathy as he had remained a mystery to which Tuvok was probably the only one to have the answer to. At least, she hoped.
A called over the comm link broke the silence.
Bridge to Captain Janeway, came Harry Kim‘s voice.
Kathryn stood straighter, gathering strength in her captain demeanor. "Go ahead, Ensign."
"We are receiving a transmission," he reported. "It has Pathfinder‘s signature."
Everyone looked at each other totally stupefied.
next part:What Came Between Them
Thanks to Louise B. for helping out with my writers‘ blocks!
Thanks to Pj in NH for helping proofing it.
Isabelle S. email@example.com
Copyrights @ February 2000