Summary: Ricky writes of the time Tom Paris spent with her in Marseilles
Rated PG -13 (Adult themes)
Warning: If you don't believe the Tom Paris of Non Sequitur ever existed you probably won't like this story. Set before Tom is sent to prison.
"Torn" by Anne Preven, Scott Cutler and Phil Thornalley c.1997 BMG Music Publishing. Recorded by Natalie Imbruglia
Paramount owns Voyager, Tom and Ricky – even Sandrines’. I’m just borrowing them. ************
My name is Ricky. I lived in Marseilles, France. This is the story of the man who broke my heart.
I thought I saw a man brought to life
He was warm
He came around like he was dignified
He showed me what it was to cry
I often went to Sandrine’s bar after work. It was in the notorious Panier district. Sure, it was old-fashioned – a sample of what the best of France used to be. It was comfortable, though. People knew each other. Asked only the right number of questions. Let you know they cared, but didn’t pry.
Today there was a new face. He’d wandered in and sat at the bar. Told of how he’d been pickpocketed by one of the actors down near the Old Port. Sandrine was all over him like a mother hen. It was easy to see why.
If I’d called the stranger handsome you might think he was just good-looking. He wasn’t. He was tall and lean. Brown-blonde hair styled perfectly with strands trying to break away in rebellion. An easy manner – a smile that was pure sunshine in that dark bar. Sandrine’s flirting encouraged that smile.
The hustler asked to play pool. They made a small wager. The hustler asked him his name – it was Tom. Tom Paris. An American, like myself.
Tom wasn’t great at pool. Oh – he was okay for an amateur, he showed a natural flair that wasn’t backed up by the skill of the hustler. He lost the bet and wouldn’t be drawn into another one. Instead he stood back and watched. Just watched.
I have known many men in my life. I know that I am attractive. Men and I enjoy the game of flirtation – the chase. I was a pretty girl who grew up to be a desirable woman. I learnt early on that there were few men that it was worth seeing the chase through to the conclusion with. They would forgive my attractiveness, but never my intelligence. So I learnt to listen. Listen out for those occasional, wonderful men that could see past appearances and enjoy what they saw.
I listened to Tom’s easy banter with the others around the pool table. Discovered he was a Starfleet Cadet based in Marseilles – out to see this world before he left for many others. It matched his appearance – even while relaxing he unconsciously adapted a military stance when he was answering questions.
He watched the hustler beat opponent after opponent with a fierce concentration. He hid the focus of his attention behind a steady stream of banter and repartee. The women gravitated to him like moths to a bright flame. Eventually he reluctantly left saying something about curfew.
I next saw him at Sandrines’ one early afternoon. Work had finished early and I was not looking forward to my empty apartment. Sandrine was not there – she had left the bar under her nephew’s watchful eye. Tom and I were pretty much the sole occupants.
He was already at the pool table. Only a few days had passed yet to say that he had improved his game would not convey his achievement. Shots he had tried for and missed during that game with the Hustler were sunk with deceptive ease. Those he miscued he practised over and over again.
I was so busy watching his hands in fascination that I hadn’t noticed his attention turn to me. He was looking straight at me and smiling that amazing smile.
"So do you come from around here?"
Okay – so his opening line was older than the city we were in. The thing that saved it from being trite was the force of interest he put behind his words.
"My father was born here, but I grew up in the States. I live here now, though."
"I noticed you the other evening" He had? Amongst all those bimbos surrounding him? "I’m new here – I don’t know many people. Do you think you could show me around?"
I have to admit, I was again dazzled by that smile. I’ve said it before; I’ve known many men. But Tom Paris’ smile could have made Artic ice melt. I stood and walked across to the pool table. I extended my hand to shake his.
"Ricky Henry" I kept my voice low.
He held my hand, turned it over and nearly brushed a kiss across the knuckles.
"Tom. Tom Paris."
I returned his smile with one of my own dazzlers. He wasn’t the only one in the room that could flirt.
‘So, Mr Paris, would you settle for a semi-native guide?"
"If that guide was you, Ms Henry."
We left Sandrine’s and began to explore Marseilles together. There are many places that one does not go when one lives in a city. They are taken for granted. Showing Tom around made me appreciate my father’s home town all the more.
We ate fish stew and drank wine. We explored the Panier where the Mafia had self-destructed all those centuries ago. We climbed the steps of the restored six hundred-year-old Notre Dame de la Garde, enjoying the view of Marseilles and beyond.
Towards the end of the day we found ourselves back at the Old Port where a market sprawled across the ancient streets. Tom spotted a gypsy who offered an insight into the future. I was never comfortable around Psychics but I went along with the game.
My "future" was strange – I wasn’t sure what she meant by "Watch that you do not idealise those around you to make reality sit better." Idealism wasn’t a way of life I often dabbled in.
Tom’s was even stranger "When it looks as if you are forever lost, you will find yourself."
Tom laughed at this "I’m too good a pilot to lose my way for long."
We paid the woman and kept moving – Tom had spotted some Baseball cards that he wanted. I didn’t give her words another thought.
Tom’s time in France soon began to fly by. We explored further and further afield, growing closer all the time. We became lovers. He told me he loved me and to this day, I believe he believed it. I certainly loved him. Somehow the knowledge that our time together was so limited added an edge to our conversations, made our lovemaking seem more special. We would lie together and paint word-pictures of our dreams – him the hotshot pilot and me the successful writer. I didn’t want it to end.
Part of me wanted to believe we could have a future together. But we were both realists. Tom knew that I wasn’t going to leave my work for him to live in San Francisco. I’d left that rat race already. I also knew Tom had to return to his home. Neither of us was foolish enough to believe we had a permanent future together.
So in the end he left. I have to admit I cried, realism and all. So did he. If someone had told me that one day I’d be crying over the fact a Starfleet Cadet had left me behind I’d have laughed in their faces. But it wasn’t the Cadet that interested me. It was Tom.
By now I knew about his family. Knew why his posture was always so formal. Where his "officer and a gentleman" demeanour came from. I thought I’d never see my Tom again.
I was wrong.
Over the years Tom often visited Marseilles and stayed with me. He played pool in Sandrine’s. We visited the Frioul Islands. We bought fish at the quai des Belges fish market. We made love when the mood took us, and it took us often. Then he would be gone.
Sometimes, after one of these visits I would fantasise about life with Tom if he ever came to stay permanently. What it would be like to wake up in those strong arms every day. It was a warm and loving vision. Then reality would step in – telling me to keep on living – it would never happen.
Our affair continued over the years. Of course we both had other loves, other lovers. We both knew that we loved each other but that we had different destinies to fulfil. Still it was to each other that we turned year in, year out. It was comfortable. It was passionate. It was good.
Well you couldn’t be that man I adored
You don’t seem to know, don’t seem to care
What your heart is for
But I don’t know him anymore
Even before I found Tom sitting on my doorstep I knew about the accident.
Accident. It’s such a strange word that covers circumstances from the inane to the devastating. If you spill your wine on your shirt it can be classed as an accident. But accidents also kill people.
I knew that Tom had been involved in an accident during a mission on a world called Caldik Prime. I knew people had died (I had been so relieved to find out that Tom was okay). What I didn’t know was why Tom was sitting on my doorstep now.
As soon as he saw me he leapt up and kissed me like a starving man, holding on to me as if his life depended on it. I opened the door and we fell inside – his passionate assault continuing on the carpet of the hallway.
Previously when we’d made love – even when we were carried away, desperate to be together – it had not been like this. Not once did Tom smile. Not once did he look me in the eye. He seemed intent on holding me, joining with me.
But not being with me.
My Tom wasn’t there
There’s nothing where he used to lie
My conversation has run dry
That’s what’s going on
Eventually Tom was spent. Don’t get me wrong. It was great sex. He hadn’t done a thing against my will. Somehow, though – it just wasn’t right.
After some time, as I lay there holding him, Tom began to cry. We had often cried tears of joy after a more passionate encounter – but this was different. Not joy. Not tears of mere sadness. Tom was crying the tears of one who had lost everything. There was nothing to be said. I just held him.
It was a long time before his sobs subsided. I was crying too, caught up in the waves of pain that the man I loved was suffering. He began to speak of the accident. His panicked lies. How he’d been thrown out of first Starfleet and then his father’s house in quick succession.
He looked so lost, like he had nowhere to go. And it was true. His life had been his Family, Starfleet and flying. Now they were all gone.
How do you comfort someone who has lost everything they held dear? Maybe there was someone out there that could do a better job than I. But I tried. I tried to stop and love him – but eventually my life had to go on. I couldn’t stay by his side constantly. I had to lead my life, too.
Tom began to go to Sandrine’s each day and to a flight sim once a week. At first I was glad – to have him surrounded by friends would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? Show him that that people still cared?
Then the drinking in earnest began. One night he came home in the wee hours, too drunk to stand. He collapsed on the couch and vomited all over me. I stripped off both his and my clothes and washed him. Then I washed myself. Then I cried. I knew I was losing him. How did this happen to us? How could I stay with him?
I’m all out of faith
This is how I feel
I’m cold and I am shamed
Lying naked on the floor
Illusion never changed
Into something real
Wide awake and
I can see the perfect sky is Torn
You’re a little late
I’m already torn.
The Tom I loved slipped further away. As we’d fallen in love I had seen him occasionally laugh off a painful memory, hide a bitter emotion with a smile. Now that occasional mask was becoming a full strength shield.
When he first arrived at my door and had opened up I hoped against hope that possibly this would be a new beginning for us. No more separations. Living together like in my dream. Now he was shutting me out far more effectively than if he’d been half a world away again. We lived in the same house, shared the same bed – but our warmth was gone.
He still seemed to need me, though. Occasionally glimpses of my Tom would filter through the shields – he would make dinner for me, even if he didn’t stay to eat it. Buy me flowers and then leave them on my side of the bed. It was obvious that he didn’t want to hear that I loved him. He kept on pushing my words away. Said I obviously hadn’t considered all the ramifications from becoming involved with him. At times he was downright obnoxious. It was as though he were trying to be as unlovable as possible.
So I guess the fortune teller’s right
I should have seen just what was there
Not some holy light
But you crawled beneath my veins
And now I don’t care
I had no luck
I don’t miss it all that much
There’s just so many things
That I can search
Eventually I lost the battle to save my Tom. The drinking had him thrown out of Sandrine’s on a regular basis. That was when he wasn’t thrown out for causing fights over the pool table. He usually won some poor sucker’s money, but when he lost and couldn’t pay up he was beaten black and blue. My Tom at least never stole money from me, my heart, yes, money , no. Eventually he went to those faceless beings known as loan sharks to help his habit.
Tom’s self esteem hit rock bottom. He didn’t even hire the flight simulator any more. He moped. He yelled in frustration. He disintegrated in front of my eyes.
I could feel myself falling apart right along side him.
One weekend he vanished. I looked in all his haunts – asked his friends. No-one knew where he was.
And I was relieved.
How could I be relieved? I felt so guilty that it wasn’t fair. But I’d tried so hard. I’d done my best. Loved him as much as I could.
The reality was that the man I fell in love with barely existed any more.
I cleaned the apartment. Washed out all of his smelly clothes and packed them in a corner. Aired the curtains, the rugs, and the linen. Eventually the stench of decay that had begun to permeate every aspect of my life began to fade.
I went to work on Monday a new woman.
I came home to a new Tom.
He looked better. He was leaving. He couldn’t stay. Some of the debts he’d accumulated needed to be paid. He was off – there was a special cargo that he’d been hired to lift.
He looked so happy at the thought of flying again.
We made love again that night. It was friend comforting friend, saying goodbye in a way our words never could. Our words had been so empty lately.
I still loved him. But he needed more than I could give, I needed more than he could give.
The next morning I woke up alone. I cried.
There’s nothing where he used to lie
My inspiration has run dry
That’s what’s going on
I’m all out of faith
This is how I feel
Bound and broken on the floor
You’re a little late
I’m already torn
Eighteen months later I heard that he was lost along with all hands on a Starship out in Deep Space. I remembered the words of that fortune teller and wondered if he really had found himself, at last. .
Liked it? Hated it? Really wish you could hear the song?
Email me: AnthSullivan@bigpond.com