Endless IIB: Hitting Home
by Judy firstname.lastname@example.org and Etal
Day 39, Hour 1425, Alpha Quadrant
"Lieutenant Kim, Admiral Maquentine won't meet with you. I've been asked to relay an order from Admiral Paris that you are to report to his office immediately."
Harry had been expecting this to happen at some point; he'd just hoped that he could get in one more meeting before they caught up with him. If just one person heard him...how could he not try?
As he walked down the hall, Harry was surprised to find that he wasn't nervous. In fact, he was kind of sauntering as if he had all the time in the world. Wouldn't it be ironic if this was the result of the meds they forced on him?
Harry was smiling to himself when he entered the admiral's outer office. Two other officers in the waiting area looked like they were going to have a stroke, but the thought of meeting with Admiral Paris didn't intimidate Harry today. He sat casually, not caring that others were staring at him.
The admiral opened his door and walked directly over to Harry, ignoring everyone else in his outer office. Harry was aware enough to stand up and stop humming, but he didn't bother to salute. Paris looked him over for a second, expecting some kind of reaction, but saw nothing. Finally, he turned his back to Harry and simply said, "Follow me."
Harry obediently followed and waited for the admiral to sit behind the desk. Paris looked at the PADD on his desk as he motioned to the chair in front of the desk. "Sit down."
The admiral scanned the PADD, waiting for the usual sounds and gestures of discomfort that most people experienced. Everyone else got nervous in his presence, worrying about what he was reading. Why wasn't it working this time? What was wrong with Kim? He'd used the same tactic at home, and he remembered the first time it didn't work on Tom. If Kim's behavior meant he was starting down the same road as his son, then it could only end in disaster. Something had to be done about Lt. Harry Kim. Now.
The admiral decided to change strategies and put the PADD away. Leaning forward, he tried his most paternal voice. "Harry, how many people do you think have contacted me about you since the ceremony?"
"Twenty-three, sir. Seven admirals, eight commanders, five captains, two attaches to the President, and one ambassador."
Paris didn't know Kim had intruded on so many officers; only four admirals had complained to him directly. Either the others were running their comments through the chain of command, or they decided not to contact him at all. And if the other officers were avoiding him or cutting him out of the loop, what could that mean? Did they see him as weakened? Owen Paris made a mental note to be more stern than usual in the next couple of days. He'd show them all that he was still up to the job ahead of him.
Turning his attention outward again, the admiral stuck out his hand and Harry handed him the PADD with the officers listed on it. Perusing the list, Paris commented, "There are more than 23 names here. Are these additional staff you plan to contact?"
"Yes, sir. I have three more meetings scheduled today," he answered decisively.
"Why are you contacting these officers? What are you trying to do?"
"Permission to speak candidly, sir?"
"I'm doing your job," Harry stated simply.
How disturbed was this kid? Did he think he was an admiral? Paris ordered curtly, "Explain."
Matter of factly, Kim answered, "It's your job to find Voyager. You said you'd lead the search and keep the ships looking. Then you stopped. I don't know if you got busy or bored, but you stopped. The search has to go on and if you can't do it, then I'll do it."
Paris just stared, so Harry continued, "I don't mean I'm going to take a ship and do it myself. It's too big a job, I need help. I thought once the ceremony was over that the other officers would take a few days to resupply their ships, make repairs, or transfer crews before they headed out to open space. So I had a window of opportunity to talk to them before they left. Give them maps, trajectories, a copy of the Flyer's logs.
"I know I'm only a lieutenant," Harry rushed on, "but if I could get them to listen, then maybe someone of a higher rank could lead the search. I had to get them interested, help them get started. I'm doing your job."
The admiral's gaze turned flinty and his cheeks flushed. "Kim, I want you to remember this. Tom was my son long before he was your friend. His mother and I want to find him and bring him home very bit as much as you do. This isn't just about you."
When Paris looked directly at Harry it was as if the young man didn't notice. After a moment, Paris put forward his most military demeanor and hoped that would have an impact. "Lieutenant, you will not speak to any other officers. Your meetings and privileges are canceled. You are banned from Starfleet Academy and Command grounds until I tell you otherwise. You are to follow the orders that I give you without question or hesitation. Do you understand?"
To Paris' relief, there seemed to be a little recognition as Harry answered, "Yes, sir."
"Very good, Lieutenant Kim. Go to my outer office and sit down. I will soon send someone with my next order."
With the admiral's narrowed eyes never leaving Harry's face, the lieutenant stood up, saluted the admiral, and walked steadily out of the room. The admiral signaled to his assistant in the outer office to surreptitiously keep an eye on the young man. Then Paris watched Quaice move from his chair in the shadows of the corner to the one that Harry had occupied just a moment ago.
Day 39, Hour 1440, Alpha Quadrant
Quaice thought Paris looked drained from his encounter with Kim. He suspected that the admiral was personally invested in what happened to this officer.
"He walked right past you and he didn't even see you, did he?" Paris asked.
"No sir, I don't think he did."
"Is Kim insane, or psychotic, or whatever the latest term is?"
"I know his behavior looks disturbing, sir, but I don't think it's psychosis. He doesn't appear delusional, just obsessed. He doesn't have the option of self-destructive heroics, so this has become his preferred strategy." Quaice explained.
"Are you saying that it would be better if he was being self-destructive? Isn't this bad enough?" the admiral challenged.
Evan Quaice reminded himself that Paris had a short fuse for analytical language and that he was probably treading on dangerous ground when he talked about heroics. Choosing his words carefully, Quaice continued, "The process often works like this. If, for example, a captain sent some crewmembers out on a dangerous mission and they were injured or killed, then the captain would have the option to take risks, possibly life-threatening risks, to save these crewmembers. And if they can't be saved, then this danger somehow compensates for the deaths."
"It gives the losses meaning. They did everything they could to save them," Paris added.
"Exactly," Dr. Quaice replied, relieved that the admiral understood. "Kim feels the same sense of responsibility. He thinks that even though he was an ensign on Voyager, he persuaded the senior officers to his point of view, so Harry bears the weight for what happened. Since you have taken charge of the situation and restricted his movements, Harry knows he can't go back with a ship and risk his life for his colleagues."
A little defensively, Paris asked, "So are you saying I should give him more freedom? Let him lead a search himself? I don't think he's in any condition to do that."
"No, sir. Of course you did the right thing. For Kim, since sacrificing his life is not an option, he's putting the thing he values most, after his family, at risk. He's jeopardizing his career," Quaice explained.
"His career is the sacrifice for his mistakes," the admiral replied, trying to follow the counselor's argument.
"Yes," Evan continued, "So the search becomes his obsession, and his career becomes both the tool to feed the obsession and the sacrificial lamb, as it were. Harry has genuine optimism that some officer would continue the search, but he knows he wouldn't be a participant, so his sacrifice is incomplete. Therefore, on some level he also knew that you'd hear about his efforts to reverse your decision to end the search."
Paris began to object, but the counselor quickly added in a conciliatory tone, "I am certainly not questioning the wisdom of that decision. I'm simply explaining what I think is Kim's view of the situation." Continuing on his original thought, Quaice added, "I suspect that he thought you'd reduce him in rank back to ensign or even crewman, but he'd still have access to Starfleet resources if or when a search resumed."
"So why didn't Kim react when I told him that he was banned from the grounds and communication with officers?"
"Because as Harry sits in that other room, he's probably begun to consider ways to get around the order."
This was worse than Paris thought. Maybe reducing Kaczinski's security detail had been a mistake. "And what about Torres? Why isn't she doing the same thing?"
"I don't know," the counselor answered honestly. "As I mentioned before, it's possible that she'll have her own problems when she no longer feels responsible for Harry. It's also possible that she feels less guilt for Voyager's status. Or it's possible that she anticipates being sent to a rehabilitation facility for her activities with the Maquis years ago, which lets her make a similar sacrifice."
"So is she in better or worse shape than Kim?"
"Both," he answered. The admiral furrowed his brow, so Evan quickly explained. "In a way, B'Elanna Torres is more passive because she's in a deeper state of denial. This denial is helping her function through events like the ceremony, but it is also slowing her recovery process. This leaves her in worse shape than Harry."
Continuing, Quaice said, "On the other hand, Harry is in less denial and now making inappropriate choices, which leaves him further along in the recovery process, but, at least temporarily, in a more destructive state. In this way, then, Harry is in worse shape. The bottom line is that they face equally challenging, but qualitatively different issues."
Evan could see that the admiral was trying to make sense of all this information. He leaned back in the chair and sat quietly, not wanting to make things more complicated by repeating or expanding his analysis. He was surprised to see Owen Paris let his guard down by leaning forward on his desk and burying his head in hands, sighing.
Owen could feel an intense headache bursting over his left eye. He knew that some would say he gave himself a headache because he hated psychobabble, but he wasn't impressed by that insight. All that he could think about was how badly he'd estimated this situation.
He had thought there might be problems with Torres, but not Kim. Kim was Starfleet, Kim had two stable parents and an extended family. During that reunion with his parents the first night, Harry found joy in that moment, he knew it, he saw it. Kim cracked once, but he had wanted Earth so badly, why wasn't it enough now? Realizing that Quaice was waiting for something from him, Paris gathered his wits and tried to ignore the pain.
"Doctor," Admiral Paris began, "I'm a brave man and an excellent leader. I have abilities that make me perfectly suited for the uniform I wear. But I prefer to look at the world in simple ways. I don't entirely get what you think is happening with them."
Quaice sensed this was a hard self-disclosure for the admiral, so he held his tongue and simply nodded to acknowledge that he was listening.
Paris went ahead. "All I know is that self-destruction on their parts, or whatever you want to call it, is not an option. So far, there are two survivors from Voyager; I won't lose either one of them to mental instability. I told you a week ago that you were being given an opportunity to show me the value of your work. This opportunity is now going to be greatly extended."
Picking up a PADD from his desk, Paris said, "I'm writing orders to change the domain of your work. All your other cases will be transferred to your colleagues. Until further notice, the only patients you have are Kim, Torres and their families. You are to be available to them 24/7. If you need special facilities or consultants, let me know and I will get them. "
Not sure that he was entirely comfortable with this turn of events, Quaice decided his best choice was to accept these conditions for now. "I understand, Admiral. For the sake of minimizing instability for other personnel, I'll need a week to work with the clients who will transition to other therapists. But there is no reason that I can't begin dedicating my time to Harry and B'Elanna today."
Feeling stronger for taking charge of the situation again, Owen Paris sensed the headache fading slightly. Turning away from Quaice, he simply ordered, "Very good. You can start by removing Kim from my outer office. Take him to your office, the infirmary, his home, or any place you see fit. I just don't want to see him sitting there when I step out of this room."
Day 39, Hour 1917, Alpha Quadrant
"This is excellent tea. Where do you find such fresh mint?" Evan Quaice asked.
Myeong-Jai Kim smiled shyly at the compliment. "I grow the mint myself. I keep a little garden. Nothing special, just a few flowers, some fruits and vegetables, and a little row of herbs. I find there's nothing like the flavor of home grown ingredients."
John affectionately squeezed his wife's hand and smiled. Looking at Myeong, but speaking to Quaice, he said "She's being too modest. I don't know how she does it. I can't grow a weed, but Myeong has a green thumb like I've never seen before. It's a wonderful garden. You should see it."
"Yes, I'd like that very much," Evan replied sincerely.
They all drank their tea, enjoying a rare peaceful moment for the three of them. Myeong habitually looked at the dining room ceiling, resisting the temptation every few minutes to go upstairs and check on Harry. When Quaice had brought him home earlier, she worried that something worse than usual had happened today. She thought Harry had had a good week, being so busy, meeting with officers. She and her husband weren't Starfleet like so many other families, so she and John didn't know if there was anything wrong with Harry's conversations with the admirals and captains. Because she sensed now that there might be, she must remember to ask Grace to explain it to her.
And Myeong didn't know yet why Quaice was here. She and John sensed that he wanted to stay at their home for awhile, maybe observe them or absorb the atmosphere of Harry's home life. Harry didn't seem to mind the counselor's presence and being curious themselves, they had invited him to dinner. Demonstrating good manners, Evan had accepted. Surprisingly, all of them, including Harry had a pleasant, casual conversation. When Harry suddenly announced that he was tired and walked up to his room, John followed to make sure he was all right, but came down a few minutes later, simply stating that Harry was already asleep. Myeong watched Quaice, and the doctor seemed undisturbed by Harry's abrupt exhaustion.
And so here they were, drinking tea, wondering what would happen next. Surprising herself with the abruptness of her question, Myeong asked, "Doctor Quaice, can you help our son?"
The counselor looked at John and Myeong-Jai and saw the strain they were under. It had been obvious to him when he entered this house that Harry had two parents with a lot of resources. They were both kind, sensitive, supportive. Most people might have dismissed them as mild-mannered, but he sensed the fierce strength that helped them endure all that had happened to their family so far. He trusted that they were strong enough to hear the truth.
"I don't know," he answered to them both, "but I would like to try. I can tell that Harry has a lot of good qualities, but he's gone through an extraordinary event and just wasn't prepared for it. I think that with some help, he can recover from this trauma. I think you all can."
Guiltily, John offered, "Maybe it was us. You see we were a little bit older when Harry came into our lives and he was our only son. We were careful not to spoil him, but maybe we were too protective. If he'd faced more challenges or disappointments in childhood, then maybe Harry would have been better prepared for what happened."
Myeong squeezed her husband's hand and smiled comfortingly at him. Quaice could see this was a guilt and doubt they had carried for a long time. "Mr. Kim...."
"John," the father offered.
Evan accepted the gesture of informality, "John, I honestly don't see Harry as someone who's been spoiled or too sheltered. It's obvious that you gave him a good foundation, and that has probably helped him survive in both the Delta Quadrant and here. Frankly, I've seen a lot of people who've had challenging or disturbing lives, and it doesn't always make them stronger."
"Then why isn't he doing better now?" John asked.
"Because even the strongest among us can be overwhelmed by the loss and possible death of 150 friends," Evan stated simply.
John and Myeong-Jai hadn't thought of it in those words before, but the simple truth of this statement struck them deeply. Sensing their understanding, Quaice continued, "In light of that fact, it is surprising that Harry and B'Elanna are doing as well as they are. Both of them will learn to live beyond this experience, but it won't be easy for them, or for you, during the next few months."
Trying to absorb all of this, Myeong-Jai asked, "How can we help?"
Quaice knew when he first arrived that one of Harry's parents would get to this question. It had taken him the last few hours to generate a plan, but something instinctively told him this was the way to go.
Speaking carefully, Quaice said, "I think that for Harry, what he needs right now is to get away from this area. I'm sure it's been comforting for him to see your house, the garden, all the familiar things again. But it also creates three problems for him: it's a reminder of his grandmother's recent death; it provides too much easy access to Starfleet Command; and if he goes out, there's someone in a uniform on almost every corner, so it remains a constant reminder of his second problem. I think he needs some time in a new location, something that gets him far away from Starfleet and family losses for awhile."
"Can't we go with him?" John asked, obviously distressed by the idea of another separation from his son.
"I'm sorry I wasn't clear, John," Evan quickly replied. "Both of you are obviously a source of strength for Harry. You anchor him to reality, and frankly, you are the reason he wanted so much to come back to the Alpha Quadrant."
They both smiled, but also felt a little sadness for the events that seemed to have come about because of Harry's desire to be home. The counselor continued, "My recommendation is that the three of you stay together. I'm sure we can work with your employers for a leave of absence, and arrangements will be made to provide whatever you might need."
Evan was pleased with the relief he saw on their faces, but could still sense some reservations, which he took as a good sign. These were obviously caring parents who weren't going to jump into changes for Harry until all their concerns were addressed. Knowing they had more questions, he nodded encouragement for them to go ahead and express their thoughts.
Myeong made fresh tea as she asked, "What sort of place do you have in mind? Is it a hospital or a rehabilitation facility?"
"No, I don't want to do that if we can avoid it. My sense is that Harry would see that as a sign that he had failed in some way, that it was a setback. If that's true, then I expect he'd just shut down, and shut other people out." Wondering if they knew what he knew, Evan risked adding, "Like he did during the ceremony last week."
Recognition showed on both their faces; so they had all seen it. Evan was intrigued that the mother was surprised by John's reaction, as if she thought the father hadn't known. He wondered how much they'd been trying to protect each other as well as their son.
It was strange, but somewhat comforting, to John and Myeong-Jai that someone else knew their son so well. Maybe they could trust this man. "We should focus on finding someplace that Harry would like?" John asked.
"Yes, I'd like to start there. Think of the kinds of places that you enjoyed in years past; for example, are you beach people, or do you like the mountains? Starfleet owns many residences that are quite homey; they are used for visiting dignitaries or high ranking officers' leisure, but I've been assured that we would have access to whatever is required. The key is to find a place that Harry can just relax, really relax for awhile. Wherever you stay, I'll be coming regularly to help Harry get past the struggles he's dealing with now."
Sensing their grasp of the situation, he offered, "Think this through and let me know your top two or three choices. But please do this quickly; I don't want to worry you, but this is one of those 'the sooner, the better' situations."
"Yes, of course," they both agreed. John asked, "Should we try to find a place that can accommodate Miral and B'Elanna, too?"
Evan liked these people very much. The deep concern for their own son hadn't distracted them from compassion for their friends. Not sure how they'd respond, he obliquely replied, "No, not at this point. I'll be having a separate discussion with the Torres family about their needs. Without violating confidentiality, I can simply tell you that it is possible that Harry and B'Elanna might need different things, which could mean spending less time together for a while."
He saw the somewhat uncomfortable look that he expected, but John and Myeong apparently trusted him enough not to challenge his judgment at this point. They all felt the weight of this decision and Evan had the good grace to leave now so that they could discuss things privately. "I'll take a raincheck on the garden tour, if you don't mind," he said as he headed towards the door.
"Of course, doctor," Myeong replied.
"Evan," he reminded her. "I suspect we'll be spending a lot time together, so it might be easier if we all worked on a first name basis."
"Thank you, Evan."
After the counselor left, and John started washing the dishes, Myeong-Jai quietly crept upstairs. She entered Harry's room and sat gently on his bed. His eyes opened for a second, and he smiled. How small, how fragile he seemed to her at this moment. Sensing the warmth of her touch, Harry's body relaxed as she began softly stroking his hair.
End part 5