Child’s play P5

Having Tom move in me was surprisingly enlightening.  

I think it put me in touch with my inner child, or something like that. If you want the full description of what changed in me contact my Spirit guide. Except I don’t think she’s stopped laughing since the fairyland holodeck incident, so you may have to calm her first. 

Whatever it was, it was great. I learnt so much more about Tom Paris in the first few days living with him than I have in years of working alongside his older alter ego. 

I know that he likes to curl up on the sofa and watch cartoons for as long as he possibly can.

I know that his favorite breakfast is peanut butter and jelly on toast, which, by the way, is actually quite tasty.

I know that he has now fallen out with those two fairy things because they decided that him laughing in the presence of the King of fairyland was inappropriate. However, Tom is redeeming himself by going on a quest to rescue the Princess from the fire-breathing dragon. But Tom doesn’t want to kill it, and he doesn’t like girls, so he is planning on befriending it and showing everyone back home that he has the skills to tame a dragon. And he will also dutifully inform the King that his daughter has turned into a witch and is now causing chaos over in the south, which is apparently almost true because she looks like a witch anyway. Sounds too much like hard work to me.

I also know that Tom lives off support.

He loves to be encouraged and praised in everything he does. It must be the Starfleet influence because he’s terrified of making a mistake.

He also needs physical support. I’m not talking anything drastic. Just a hug sometimes when he’s had a bad dream, or feels intimidated by something. He likes to curl up in my lap while he’s watching cartoons or we’re star gazing. Or he’ll suddenly feel threatened by something new, grab my hand and cling on for dear life.

The physical support side of Tom was hard to analyze at first. I just put it down to Tom being affectionate, or missing his real family. But I never imagined what he would reveal to be the real thing bothering him.

Tom curled up in my lap, took my hand and began to play with it gently.

It had been a long day for him: watched by the Doctor, then playing in the holodeck with Harry, then I picked him up and we went to Sandrine’s for a while and then we came here to the observation lounge. 

It was Friday, and Tom was due to regain his memories tonight. We had about ten minutes to go and Tom was staring sleepily out of the window. 

I watched the chronometer slowly tick off the last few minutes. Midnight came and went. Tom was five years old and still silent. I began to get slightly worried about him, so I squeezed him tighter to me and rubbed his back soothingly.

Tom turned and looked up at me, “Kotay? Is mom ever coming home?”

Uh-oh. “Why don’t you explain that to me honey?” I said softly.

“Dad and mom had a fight, and she went away. I-I don’t get it. Where is she Kotay? Why am I here? Why did Dad yell at her so bad? Why couldn’t they argue quiet, like usual? I don’t understand Kotay. Why’s everything different?” 

I held Tom even tighter and hushed him gently. Now I understood why he needed this support.

His parents had obviously been fighting, and he’d been feeling insecure about it like most kids did who were stuck in the middle of these things. I didn’t know the details of what happened and I didn’t need to. No child deserved to grow up without his mother, and Tom was obviously suffering for the lack of his. Though I hated to admit it, Admiral Paris had never looked like the hugging, supportive kind of father. 

I decided there and then that I was not going to be a substitute parent to Tom.

I didn’t want him to expect me to up and leave him like his mother. 

I didn’t want to leave him in the dark to suffer alone like his father.

I was going to be something more than either of them.

I was going to be his bestest friend.

“Tom honey, I don’t know what’s happened between your parents. They’re going through a rough patch, but they both love you more than anything baby, okay?”

“Then why aren’t I with them?”

So this was how it punished him. Making a five-year-old wonder why they were on a strange starship instead of with their family where they ought to be. This WAS a cruel punishment, and I began to wish we’d just thrown him in the brig and got the hell out of that system instead of complying with their culture. 

“This will be hard for you to understand now, but you will eventually and things will keep coming back to you in bursts. I’ll explain it to you properly when you get older, but I’m afraid you might not be seeing your parents again for a while.”

Tom looked down sadly and I felt him tighten his grip on me, “But you’ll be here, right?” he whispered softly, “YOU’LL stay with me, Kotay?”

“I’ll always be here for you buddy.” 

I rocked Tom gently in my arms and felt him relax, his grip around me loosened and I nudged him so he was almost lying down in my embrace. He opened his blue eyes and looked into mine, “I don’t mind not being with mom and dad. Mom was nice, but she doesn’t play with me as much. And dad’s always away on missions or something. I like being with you the best.”

That was sweet, but I wasn’t game for playing him off against his parents. So, instead I just said, “I like being with you too, Tom.” 

He smiled and settled down, snuggling into my embrace. I guess turning five had tired him out, or maybe it was riding an emotional roller coaster overload in a few seconds. I noticed Tom had dropped off, stood up and carried him back towards my- sorry OUR- quarters. 

Tom curled up under his cover and closed his eyes tightly, trying to shake off the headache. It wasn’t working particularly well. He sighed and dragged himself out of bed, stopping a second to let the dizziness pass. Then he walked unsteadily into the lounge and pulled himself onto the couch next to Chakotay. Tom shook Chakotay’s arm gently to wake him up. 

“What?” Chakotay opened his eyes, squinting against his semi-illuminated living area, “Tom? What are you doing?” Chakotay queried sleepily

“I don’t feel so good Kotay. I’ve got a real bad headache and I feel hot and dizzy.”

“Oh honey.” Chakotay gathered the five-year-old up in his arms “Is it really that bad?”

Tom nodded and snuggled into Chakotay, “Is there anything you can do?”

“You wanna go see the Doc?” Chakotay smiled at Tom’s shaking head, “I’ll go get you some pain killers then okay?”

Tom nodded and Chakotay got up, making sure Tom was still tucked up warmly. He went and ordered a hypo from the replicator and brought it back to the couch. Sitting next to Tom, he stroked his forehead, “Tom you’re burning up, are you sure you don’t want to go to sickbay?”

“No. I jus’ wanna sleep.” 

Chakotay injected the painkiller into Tom’s neck and lay back down, hugging Tom to his chest. He stroked Tom’s back gently until he fell asleep.

Later, Chakotay woke up to Tom tossing and turning in his lose embrace. He looked down to Tom and noticed that he was sweating, his face was bright red and he was shaking uncontrollably. Chakotay’s eyes widened and he grabbed for his Comm badge. “Chakotay to sickbay; emergency transport. Two people from my Comm badge.”

They materialized in sickbay and Chakotay put Tom down on a biobed, the Doctor bustling over, “What are his symptoms?”

“He said he had a headache earlier on tonight, and I woke up just now with him shaking and he’s got a really high fever. Doc, what’s wrong with him?”

The Doctor scanned Tom, “I’m… not sure.”

“You’re NOT SURE!?” 

“I’ll have to run more tests. I’ve contacted the Captain.”

“Why’ve you done…”

“Because she’s asked to be involved in matters of Tom’s health and I think you’re a going to get little stressed.”

“I’m not…”

“Commander I have never seen you bite your nails.” 

Chakotay jerked his hand out of his mouth and walked over to Tom, but was ushered away by the Doctor. He used the transporter to get himself a sweater and pulled it over his T-shirt. Then, unsure of what to do, he just stood and stared at the Doctor busying around Tom who had stopped shaking. 

Kathryn walked in to see the Doctor working on the youngest member of the crew, and her first officer fretting in the corner. She walked over to Chakotay, “How is he?”

Chakotay shrugged, “I don’t know. I just woke up, and he had a fever and, oh Gods he’d better be okay.”

Kathryn smiled a little, “You do remember that you’re talking about Tom Paris, right?”

“Yeah, but he’s different now. He’s just a kid.” Chakotay found himself consciously resisting chewing his nails. Where had that come from?

“Chakotay, calm down. He’ll be okay you know. He’s a tough kid.”

The Doctor turned around, “He’s just got what I believe is known as a ‘twenty four hour bug’. He should have a fever for the next few hours, then he’ll just have flu symptoms for a while.” 

Chakotay let out the breath he’d been holding in for a while, “Thank Gods.”

“Kotay?” came a small voice from the bed.

“He’s awake?” Chakotay asked no one in particular, making his way over to the bed and taking Tom’s hand, “Hey. How are you feeling?” he said softly. 

“Hot and dizzy still. But I feel better than before. I’m sleepy too Kotay.” Tom said, his eyes drifting closed.  

Chakotay brushed back Tom’s hair, “Then go to sleep honey.”

Tom’s eyes suddenly snapped open, “You’re not gonna leave me here are you? I’ve been good Kotay, I want to stay with you…”

“Shush honey.” Chakotay put a finger to Tom’s lips, “You’re sick. That’s the only reason you’re here. You can come home as soon as you’re well enough. Try to get some sleep.”

Tom caught a glimpse of someone else behind Chakotay, “Kathy! Hi.” He croaked.

She smiled and walked over, “How are you feeling Tom?”

Tom frowned, hadn’t someone just asked him that? He couldn’t remember who, he was too sleepy. “I’m tired.”

Chakotay laughed, “Then go. to. sleep.” 

“’Kay. Will you still be here when I wake up?” Tom asked hopefully.


Tom smiled, satisfied. He rolled onto his side and drifted off to sleep.