Title: With a Sigh of Relief
With a Sigh of Relief
by Isabelle S.Synbou@hotmail.com
With a sigh of relief, Tom Paris spotted a small alcove in the high cliffs, following the seashore. Just a few more meters, he encouraged himself. He shifted the weight in his arms in a more balanced position before passing by several slippery rocks. Once in the tiny cave, he got some protection from the raging wind that was coming from the sea. He carefully eyed the ground, then settled his unconscious companion on the pebbly beach.
"There you go, Captain," he told her, hoping that she could hear him somehow. His heart sank into his stomach, as he realized how pale she was.
What had started to be a peaceful away mission, in order to find some needed food supplies, had turned out to be a nightmare for Paris and Janeway, less than an hour ago. With little warning, their party had been attacked by some wild animals the size of black bears, separating the both of them from the rest of the away team. They had been assaulted before being forced down a cliff.
Paris considered himself lucky for staying conscious despite his pain. Only adrenaline had kept him going as he had gathered what was left of his bag, had picked Janeway up in his arms, and started walking away, grateful to be left alone by the beasts. He had stopped after awhile to try to contact another member of the away team and the shuttle‘s computer, but without success. The very same atmospheric disturbances that had forced them to go down with a shuttle in the first place, were probably interfering with communications. He was refusing to believe that his comm badge was broken. Janeway had lost hers.
He looked at the sea again and didn‘t like what he saw. It had taken on dark silver colour, matching the one of the alien sky. It was getting colder and darker, on top of which the tide was rising. He sighed heavily. Not only would they have to deal with their injuries, they would have to do with the cold, the coming water, and even worst, maybe, the night.
In his shattered bag, Paris found his medkit, a tricorder, and a phaser. At least, he had the basics covered, he mused. He put the bag under Janeway‘s head, then took of his jacket and covered her with it. With the phaser, he heated a few rocks around them and put the fire into a small pack of dead wood. He finally picked up the tricorder and passed it over Janeway. She had a mild concussion, a severe animal bite on her thigh from which she was losing a lot of blood, a broken arm, two broken ribs, and quite a lot of bruises and scratches. Well, he could heal the concussion, treat the bite and the blood lost, set her arm straight, and give her some antibiotics to prevent infection from setting in. So, without wasting anytime, he put his medical training to good use.
As Paris worked, he focused on his breathing in order to remain calm, but, his chest was so heavy. He had to make sure that Janeway lived through this. He had to make it all right whatever it took. He owed this woman everything. She had given him a second chance at life, his freedom, her trust and friendship. Without her, there wouldn‘t be any ship to fly. No B‘Elanna. And no B‘Elanna meant no love. Janeway had been his inspiration from the beginning of this voyage. He would follow her to certain death anytime if it was necessary. He knew that if he had to choose among any other, he would choose her. He also knew that B‘Elanna would understand. She loved him. He loved her even more.
She had heard something. It had woken her. A voice. Yes, it had been a voice that she knew. Slowly, Janeway opened her eyes to the surrounding darkness. Her head was hurting. Come to think of it, her entre body was sore. She could hear beating waves and a raging wind not too far away. It was cold and humid. She was lying on the pebbly ground, facing a wall of rocks, her back against . . . against a body. A cold shiver ran through her.
"Tuvok to Lieutenant Paris," she heard, just as she had before.
Tuvok‘s voice had woke her up.
Janeway‘s hand searched for her comm badge and found it missing. That‘s when she realised that a jacket was covering her arms and shoulders. She looked for where the sound of Tuvok‘s voice had come from and hit a comm badge.
"Janeway, here," she finally answered.
"Captain. It is good to hear your voice," Tuvok responded. "Are you and Lieutenant Paris all right? I assume you are together."
"Tom?" she called.
She forced herself to turn around and cried out as pain burst through her rib cage.
"Captain?" Tuvok said concerned.
It took a few seconds before the pain that was clouding her mind start to dissipate.
"Standby," she breathed. She got closer to Paris and gently shook him. "Tom, can you hear me, it‘s Janeway."
He was awfully cold at her touch and his lack of response scared her. She frantically search for a pulse. She didn‘t find one right away, but it was there—a very faint, steady one. Water splashed in her face and she saw the waves crashing in on Paris‘s back. In fact, part of his body was soaked. He had put himself between the tide and herself.
"Tuvok, we require immediate medical attention!" she called.
"We are having some difficulties locking on your signal. Ensign Kim is currently working on the problems. It seems the rock formation surrounding you is interfering with transport."
"Tuvok, we can‘t move. Tom is unconscious."
"We‘ll just have to go to them," Harry Kim concluded. "We can beam a few meters away from them."
"Hold on, Captain. We‘re on our way," Tuvok informed her.
"Acknowledged," she replied. Her hand moved down to Paris‘ chest. She felt its slow movements. "Help is coming, Tom," she whispered to him. She barely had the time to turn around and find a medkit, a tricorder, and phaser between the cold wall of rock and herself when the usual bright, blue lights of the transporters caught her eye. She saw Tuvok, Kim, and Wildman materialize outside the alcove, their feet in the water.
Without wasting anytime, the three officers came toward them. Wildman took out her tricorder and scanned the Lieutenant. The two women exchanged a grim look. When it was agreed that the young man could be moved without inflecting further injuries upon him, Tuvok and Kim took a hold of his limp body. Wildman, on her part, gave some support to their Captain. The five of them left the protective alcove, letting it be flooded by the sea.
Kim helped Tuvok gently settle Paris on one of the cots at the back of the shuttle, then stood back as Samantha Wildman came closer, tricorder in hand. Too nervous to stand still, Harry busied himself at finding Tom‘s duffel bag. They would need to change his wet clothes for some dry ones. Neelix covered Tom with a blanket, while Wildman was scanning his motionless body. Nobody dared to break the uneasy silence that had installed itself in the small craft until Samantha looked up to them.
"How is he, Sam?" asked the Captain, sitting on the cot, on the other side.
"I put him on respiratory support. His body temperature is 33.4 degrees Celsius. He‘s in hypovolemic shock, he has a minor animal bite on his shoulder, a bruised kidney, and some scratches and bruises," she answered grimly.
"Hypovolemic shock?" Janeway echoed. "He lost that much blood from the bite wound?"
"I don‘t think so," the other woman replied. "Do you still have Tom‘s tricorder?"
Catching up with the Ensign, Janeway handed over the tricorder she had found beside her in the alcove.
"The results of the scans he took of you are still in memory. He healed your concussion, your broken arm, and a nasty bite on your thigh from which you were bleeding heavily," she informed Janeway. She gave her a sad smile. "He gave you some of his blood. That explain his blood lost. That‘s the only thing there‘s about him in there."
Once again, the away team felt an uneasy silence. Kim could have sworn he saw his Captain‘s face becoming a shade paler. He looked away just to end up looking at Paris. His own blood ran cold at the sight of his best friend‘s own pallidness. His skin colour was an unhealthy blue grey and his lips were more of a purple.
"What can we do? Can we give him some of our blood?" he asked.
"Tom is O RH negative," Samantha told them looking from Janeway to Kim.
They stayed silent has they drew their own conclusions. A silence that worried Neelix.
"What does the O thing mean?" he asked.
"Tom has a rare blood type," the Captain answered him. "It allows him to give blood to any other human, but he can only receive his own."
"He is a universal donor," Kim added, his words talking an all new meaning for them all. "If any of us aren‘t compatible with him, what we can do?"
"First, we need to get him out of those wet clothes and make him warm. Raising his glucose should help. We should keep an eye for risk of infection and pneumonia." Samantha let out a breath, before adding. "And hope that he makes it until the next atmospheric window."
"When does the next window open?" inquired Janeway.
"In five hours, 35 minutes," Tuvok answered.
"A very long five and a half hours," remarked Neelix demoralized.
"He will make it," Janeway told them with absolute conviction— the kind of conviction that always inspired her crew.
Janeway woke up to see Ensign Wildman still at Paris‘s bedside. She was holding a wet cloth on Tom‘s forehead. The moment Janeway stirred, the younger woman turned toward her and greeted her with a soft smile.
"How is he," she whispered.
"Hanging in there," Samantha replied. "His body temperature rose to the point that he is running a fever now. He has pneumonia. I‘m concerned by his weak pulse and low blood pressure. There doesn‘t seem to be any infection from the bite or the scratches, that‘s good. I still have him on a wide-spectrum antibiotic cocktail. How are you feeling, Captain?"
"Much better, Thank you," she answered with a nod. "Where are the others?"
"Not too far. I sent Harry to get more fresh water."
How long has it been?"
"A little more than three hours, two more to go."
It took them a few minutes to realize who had spoken. The voice had been harsh, just above a whisper. Janeway looked up and met Paris unfocused, feverish blue eyes. She exchanged a smile with Wildman.
"Tom, how are you feeling," Samantha whispered back.
"Not too good, Sam. The Captain? " His eyes search for her face for a moment. He was genuinely confused. "She‘s okay?"
"I‘m fine," she answered covering the distance between them. She knelt beside Wildman, and took Tom‘s clammy, cold left hand—a sign of a bad blood circulation in his body. Trying to communicate as much reassurance to the young man as she could, she went on. "You took good care of me back in that alcove. Are you in any pain?"
"It hurts to breathe," he responded after awhile.
"You have pneumonia. I put you on respiratory support. Try to breathe normally," Samantha told him.
"Where‘s the Doctor?"
"We‘re still on the planet, Tom. The atmospheric window will open in two hours," Sam explained calmly. "Until then, you have to keep your strength. Try to go back to sleep. We‘ll be right here if you need us."
He smiled to Wildman. Then, his blue eyes rested on Janeway, who gave his hand a gentle squeeze, before they closed again.
They all allowed themselves a sigh of relief once the convulsions stopped. Wildman dipped her cloth in the cold fresh water, then put it back on Paris‘s forehead. She bit her lower lip in dismay and sadness. Despite their best efforts, they were losing him. His body temperature has risen to 42 degrees Celsius, and her limited medical supplies couldn‘t protect him from seizures anymore.
"He won‘t survive another one," she said, her voice cracked looking at the other members of the away team who had gathered around to help. "His heart is too weak."
Kim put a hand on her shoulder, and they silently agreed that he would take over for a while.
"There is less then one hour left before the opening of the window.
There‘s got to be something we can do," voiced Janeway.
"If Tom dies," attempted Neelix. "Maybe the Doctor and Seven can bring him back to life, like they did me."
"That‘s not a chance I want to take," Janeway replied granting him a sad smile.
"No way. You hear me, Tom? No way, we‘re bringing your dead body back to B‘Elanna, even if the Doctor and Seven can revive you. You‘re just going to have to hold on. I know you can do it."
It was Wildman‘s turn to put a hand on his shoulder in support.
"Still, we have to find something that would lower his fever. The wet cloth isn‘t enough anymore," she said.
Her words reminded Kim to dip, the now warm cloth, in the cold water. His gaze dropped to his hand.
"What if we were to lay Tom in the river itself?" he suggested. "The cold water would affect his entire body."
"It‘s a good idea, Harry," Janeway agreed, "and, at this point, I‘m ready to try anything."
A few minutes later, Tuvok materialized with Paris about 80 meters away from the shuttle. The rest of the away team were waiting for them. They agreed on a spot near the bank, where they could lay Tom on a smooth rock covered by cold water.
With satisfaction, they saw his body temperature stabilize, and slowly drop. A half an hour later, his fever was at 39.7 degrees Celsius. They beamed back to the shuttle, where Tuvok and Janeway had already started the pre-launch sequence. They only hoped that he would survive the trip back through the unstable atmosphere.
The doors slid open in front of her and Captain Janeway walked into Sickbay. She was not at all surprised to find B‘Elanna Torres by Paris‘ bedside. The young woman was talking to him in a low voice, her fingers playing through his short blond hair. She looked up to Janeway and nodded.
"Captain," she greeted.
Janeway answered her with a warm smile that widened when Tom turned his head in her direction.
"Tom, it‘s good to see you‘re awake," she told him. He was still pale, and looked tired—but, he was definitely better. His blue eyes were clearer. "How are you?"
"Better," he replied. His voice reflected what she had seen in his face. "But, the rematch of racquetball B‘Elanna owes me will have to wait." As he mentioned Torres‘ name, he turned to face her.
Janeway chose that moment to give a quick look at his vital signs, showing on the panel above his head. What she saw concerned her. His pulse and blood pressure was still low. He had a mild fever and was suffering from anemia.
"And, how are you?" he asked facing her again. "You had me scared for a while."
"I‘m much better, thanks to you," she answered putting her hand on his shoulder. She had to smile in dismay, as he looked away. His expression was a mix of embarrassment and modesty.
*Oh Tom, how can you give so much and expect so little from such important things as saving a life?* "You take care of yourself now. We want you up and about in a few days."
On that, Janeway left the two lieutenants for the Doctor‘s office.
"Doctor, how is Tom doing?"
"Mr. Paris is recovering quite well from his latest brush with death. He is responding to treatment. He‘s on antibiotics in order to treat his pneumonia and mineral supplements to restore is iron level. My major concern is low blood pressure. But, with good doctoring, I expect him to be fit for duty in four or five days."
"Thank you, Doctor. Please keep me informed," she said once she felt reassured. Then, Janeway left Sickbay with a sigh of relief.
Thanks for reading this small piece. Feedback is always appreciated.
Isabelle S. Synbou@hotmail.com