Series:  Voyager
Pairing:  J/P
Parts: 7/7
Rating: G

Previous stories in the *Where They Left Off* series
1) The First Cup of Coffee
2) Broken Nights
3) Scattered Dreams
4) Deprivation
5) His Loss
6) From Bad to Worse

Synopsis: It's time for some soul cleansing.

Irish Rain
by Isabelle

Chakotay gently squeezed Kathryn's hand before she walked into
her bedroom alone.  Tom was asleep in the large bed.  His
position was not natural to him.  He was on his back, not on his
side.  He was laying too straight and too still.  She sat by his
side.  She gently caressed his pale face with her right hand.
His skin was soft.  Tom always looked younger when he slept.  The
fact that he had been shaved added to that effect.  His head
tilted into her hand as he stirred.  The contact felt familiar to
both of them.  It brought tears to her eyes, but she blinked them
away.  She *had* to stay strong.

"Sailor," she said softly.  "It's me.  It's Kathryn."

"Kath?" he asked above a whisper.  There was some anticipation in
his tone.

"Yes.  I'm here."

His eyes slowly focused on her face.  His expression was one of
uncertainty as he stared at her for a few seconds.  She did not
withdraw her hand from his face, hoping that her presence would
be enough to convince him that she was alive.

"You came back," he told her.

"Of course I came back.  I was only on an away mission.  I met
the Etry after the attack.  We made peace," she explained simply.

"Why did you come back?"

"Why?" she echoed confused.  "My place is on this ship and with
you.  love you, Tom.  I will never leave you."

"I know.  But you're not real."  He blinked and tears rolled down
onto her hand. "The real people don't come back.  Please Kathryn,
if you love me, go."

She did not know what he was seeing when he was looking at her,
but *she* could see his distress.  To him, she was some sort of a
ghost, coming back to haunt him.  It was enough to shatter her
fragile self-control.  Her own tears betrayed her.   Tom broke
their contact as he looked away with shame.

"It's all right," she assured him.

"No," he objected.  "I don't want to make you cry any more.  I
don't want to hurt you.  You have to go.  I will only hurt you.
I can't do this."

"Tom, I am *really*  here.  I'm won't hurt you.  You won't hurt
me.  I'm not going to leaving you.  I love you, Sailor.  I'll
always be with you."

"Please stop.  People don't come back.  You're not real.  You're
just like the others."

Kathryn dried her tears with rising anger as she cursed *the
others*.  Those who should have supported Tom and given him a
second chance.  Those who had come into his life, only to turn
their back away and abandoned him.  Those who haunted him, whom
he could not let go.  The others were the source of harrowing
grief and pain, which she was now part of despite herself.

Kathryn wanted to scream her anger, her shame and sorrow as she
felt a wave of self-hatred overwhelming her.  She had vowed to
never harm this man, yet she had hurt him profoundly.  She had
made an example out of him because of their personal
relationship.  She had segregated him for an entire month, just
like his family and friends had rejecting him in the past.  Tom
had forgiven her, just like he had done the others.  He, however,
had never forgiven himself for causing pain to those he loved.

Now the man she loved was dying of a neurological degenerative
disease.  It was slowly cutting his ties with reality.  It was
dragging him in a world of confusion, shame, and depression.  It
had done so for  months.  She had to put a end to the pain.  She
loved Tom.  She could not let him go.  She could not live without
him.  It was not too late to save him and she would fight for

"Tom," she said firmly, forcing him to look at her. "Do you love

For a moment, his blue eyes were clear.  "You know I do, Kath."

"Tom, I hurt you. I am so sorry about that.  But, I am not like
the others.  I *am* here.  I am asking you to give me a second
chance.  I am asking you to trust me."

He looked at her with uncertainty again.  "You gave *me* a second

"Yes, and it's the best thing I ever did, Sailor."

"I always trusted you, Kath," he confessed.  "I still trust you
with my life."

"You won't regret it," she assured him.  She bent down and gently
kissed him on his lips.  "I promise."


The doors slid shut behind Chakotay.  Tom's daily counseling
session with the Commander was done for the day.  He found
himself alone in his quarters, pacing once again.  He had moved
back in his own cabin three days before in hope to find some
peace of mind.  In hope of finding *himself*.

Tom had woken up in Sickbay more than a week earlier.  Kathryn,
the Doc, and Chakotay had been by his side.  Confusion had also
been there to greet him.  Tom had recognized his friends and his
surroundings.  However, he had been unable to recall what had
brought him back under the EMH's tender care.  In fact, Tom was
still incapable of remembering what his life had been for the
last few months.  There were fragments of memory here and there,
but they were not making much sense to him.  The Doctor had
warned him that he would probably never regain all of his
memories. It had been up to Kathryn and his friends to fill in
the blanks.

Kathryn...  Her name echoed in his mind over and over again.

Tom finally sat on the edge of his couch.  He was tired and
dazed.  His love for Kathryn was greater than life itself.  He
felt safe with her.  He was supported and trusted.  He felt
*loved*.  The most important thing of all.  Then, what was he
doing by himself in his old quarters?  The distance he was
putting between Kathryn and himself was heavy on his soul.  It
was breaking her heart.  Yet, Tom did not know what else to do.
Truth be told, he could not live with himself.  All he could see
when he was looking at Kathryn was the pain he was inflicting
her.  He could not stand before her with all his guilt, his
shame, and his fears.

His elbows on his knees, he lowered his head in his hands.  He
wanted to cry, to let go of all his pain and frustrations.  His
tears, like his feelings, however, were locked inside.  No shrink
ever had to tell Tom Paris that he was afraid to face his
emotions. Their intensity had scared him for as long as he could
remember.  Therefore, he knew that he had never learned how to
express them properly.  This *flaw* was about to cost him love of
his life.

*Your barge is adrift, Sailor,* he remembered Kathryn tell him.
They had been alone in the Mess Hall in the middle of the night.
Tom closed his eyes, hoping to hold that flashback in soul just a
little bit longer.  *I love you, Tom.  I don't want to lose you
and I don't like to see you hurting.*

"Kathryn, I don't want to lose you.  I don't like to see you
hurting either," he said in the empty quarters.  Streams of tears
slowly made their way down his cheeks.

"I love you too, Kathryn."

*Then, what are you going to do about it, Paris?*  Chakotay's
voiced challenged him.

Tom got up from the couch with a sudden sense of purpose.  He
went to his bedroom and retrieved a PADD from a drawer.  He
exited his cabin with a smile, leaving his fears behind.


Kathryn Janeway had taken refuge into her ready room at the end
of her shift.  Anything other than going back to her quarters
alone was good.  The place felt too empty now that the man she
loved had moved out.  She could hardly blame him.  Tom was unable
to remember most of their life togther.  He could not even recall
when he had officially moved in with her.  It felt like that
wonderful moment, like many others, had become meaningless.  It
was unfair.  They had worked so hard to move on after the Morean
incident.  An event that Tom remembered all too well.

She took her half empty plate and disposed of it.  She replicated
another cup of coffee and sat back on her couch.  Her gaze flew
over the window as her thoughts went back to her relationship
with Tom.

Kathryn was still feeling chills when she thought of how close
she had come to losing him.  She had believed so strongly that
everything would be all right once Tom was healed, that she had
never imagined they could ever suffer from a set back.  For Tom,
it was like coming out of the bring again.  A lot of time had
passed, however.  He could sense they had worked on their
relationship, but only she was aware of how much progress they
had made.

During that difficult time, she had come to know him well.  She
could tell he was now afraid of her expectations.  He loved her.
It was showing in the way he was looking at her, but he was
holding back.  He was afraid to let her down again and to hurt
her.  If only she could make him understand that she would always
love him for who he was.

"I'm not like the others.  Give me a chance, Sailor," she pleaded
as if he was in the room with her.

She sighed heavily.  She was not going to give up on Tom.  Not
after all they had been through.  Sill, she could not ease the
fear that he might walk away from her.


It was close to 2100 hours.  Tom found Kathryn in her ready room.
It was an old habit of hers to use her work in order to pass the
time.  It was a lousy way to entertain oneself in his opinion.
He could not let that go on much longer, he thought with a smile.
He rang the chime and waited for her to invite him in.

"Tom," she greeted him happily.  "How are you?" she asked as she
came down to him.

"Fine.  Although, I miss you," he replied, pulling her into a
loving embrace.  "Are you busy?"

"Not really," she answered, meeting his gaze.

"Good, because we need to go," he said, leading her out.

"Oh?  Where are we going?" she queried, playing along.

"To Dublin.  To take a walk in the rain."  Her eyes suddenly
clouded.  He knew what she was thinking.  There had been too much
talk about him hearing water dripping already.  This was
different. "You're the Irish expert here, don't you know why?"

She smiled as the realization drew on her.  "To cleanse your
soul.  Isn't that part another one of your song?"

"One that speaks your name, my Love," he told her before starting
singing in the turbolift.

     The gentle mist called Heaven's kiss,
     The tears drop of angels' wings
     And don't you know you cleanse your soul
     With a walk in the Irish rain.

     Oh, Kathryn take my hand,
     I got three ponds of change,
     And I'll sing you songs of love again,
     When I'll be too drunk to sing,
     We'll walk in the Irish rain.
     We'll walk in the Irish rain.

Kathryn laughed, visibly happy.  She pulled him into a kiss.  Tom
knew things were going to be all right.  They would finally be
able to pick up their life together where they had left of.
Wherever that was.



BIG  THANKS to Leone for proofing this text.
*A Walk In the Irish Rain* (Steve Spurgin) Bum Rush Music, from
the Irish Descendants's album *Gypsies and Lovers*, 1994.

Thank you very much for following this series to its end.  Sorry
for all the time it took between its beginning and its end.
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Copyrights @ September 2001