The Decision
By Diane Klepper 

(Authorí Note: This story is set during the seventh season. All the characters belong to Paramount. I am just borrowing them.
 

BíElanna Torres sat on the couch reading a padd. Her hand unconsciously rubbed her growing belly and she smiled knowing that in a few months she would have her daughter to hold. BEílanna turned to her husband who was sitting next to her. He was watching cartoons on the television she had built for him. BíElanna grabbed the remote control that Tom was holding and shut off the set.

Tom turned to his wife. "What was that for?"

BíElanna smiled. "We watch television practically every night. Once the baby is here we will have less time for each other. I thought we could do something different tonight."

Tom smiled, "I can think of something else Iíd like to do right now. " He started nibbling her ear.

BíElanna pushed him away and said, "Not tonight flyboyÖI want to talk."

"About what?"

"You."

"Me?"

BEílanna frowned worriedly. "Yes you hardly ever talk about your past?"

Tom frowned. "I told you about Caldik Prime and my time in New Zealand."

"I guess if you wonít tell my I can always talk to the Doctor. Whenever I do his weekly diagnostic he tells me you prattle on about something unimportant during your duty shifts in sickbay. Last week he told me you ruined one of his experiments while prattling on about someone named Suzie Crabtree."

"It was an accident." Tom saw BíElanna smiling. "Okay you win. What do you want to know about?"

"Tell me about your time at the Academy."

"Did I ever tell you about how I almost quit in my first semester?"

"No. What happened?"

Thomas Eugene Paris entered his dorm room with his hands full off padds. He put the padds on his desk next to his terminal and then collapsed onto his bed. It was only nine-thirty at night but Tom was tired. He only had two hours of sleep the night before because he was up late studying for his stellar cartography test and he knew he wouldnít get much sleep tonight because he had to work on his paper for Professor Barnesís History of the Federation class.

The door to his quarters opened and his roommate and best friend since childhood, Charlie Day came in. "Hey TomÖwhere have you been. I waited for you in the mess hall for the last forty-five minutes."

Tom slowly sat up and rubbed his tired eyes. "Iím sorry Charlie. I got stuck at the library. Barnes assigned a paper due next week."

"Tommy your going to run yourself ragged. Were first semester cadets, nobody expects us to get straight Aís this semester."

Tom frowned. "My father doesÖProfessor Barnes does. The first day of class he said, ĎCadet ParisÖoh your Owenís boy. Your father was one of my best students. Iím sure your going to do just as well in my class."

"Come on Tom nobody takes Barnes seriously anymore. Heís been at the academy almost as long as Boothby."

Tom angrily said, "Charlie you donít understand. My Dad knows all my professors personally. Iím sure their all giving him weekly reports on my progress. I should never of entered the Academy."

Charlie sat down next to Tom and placed his right hand on his shoulder. "Come on Tom your just feeling the pressure of your first semester. I think you just need some time away to clear your head. We have a three- day weekend coming up and Bobby Jameson has the use of his parentís mountain cabin this weekend. Heís invited us and a whole bunch of other people up this weekend. I told him to count us in."

"Charlie I canít go. I have too much work to do."

Charlie smiled. "Suzie Crabtree will be there."

"Suzie?"

"Come on Tommy I see the way you look at her. This will be a great weekend to get to know her. Her roommate Judy told me she just broke up with her boyfriend.

Tom smiled. "I guess I could work on my report when we get back."

Charlie patted Tom on the back. "Weíll have fun this weekend." Charlie headed for the bathroom and passing Tomís desk he glanced at the computer screen. "Hey Tom you have a message." And walked into the bathroom.

Tom walked over to his desk and turned on the screen. A written message was on the screen. Tom read:

Tom: Come to my office before class tomorrow. Dad

Tom just stared at the screen. "Damn it."

Charlie walked out of the bathroom. "Hey TomÖwhose the message from?"

"Itís from my Dad. I have to see him before class tomorrow."

"What does he want?"

"I donít knowÖbut if I know my father it is probably bad news for me."

Tom Paris walked into his Admiralís Parisís office at 0745 hours. Tom knew his fatherís secretary Nicole came into work every morning at 0800 hours. If he was lucky his Dad wouldnít be there yet and he could leave a message on a padd saying he showed up for the meeting but nobody was there. He smiled when he saw the outer officer empty and his fatherís door closed. He took an empty pad from a draw and he started writing a message when he saw his fatherís office door opened and he heard his father voice. "So Frank Iíll see you tomorrow tonight."

Professor Barnes came out of the office smiling. "Of course OwenÖI never miss an opportunity to see your lovely wife."

"Maggie will be happy to see you. She is always saying the house has been too quiet since Tom moved into the dorm." Owen then noticed Tom standing there. "FrankÖyou know my son Tom?"

Barnes smiled. "Yes. Young Mr. Paris is in my introductory course in Federation History. I hope you have started your report for my class."

Tom stood at attention. "Yes, sir."

Owen smiled at his son. "Iím sure Tom will hand in an excellent report. He has always had a fascination with history."

Barnes smiled. "Iím sure he will. Iíll be looking forward to reading you report cadet." Barnes looked at his chronometer. "I have to get going. My class starts in 10 minutes. Iíll see you tomorrow night Owen."

Owen and Tom Paris watched Frank Banes exit the office. Owen then turned to his son. "Tom, your mother and I are throwing a little dinner party tomorrow night. There will be a lot of important people there I want you to meet."

Tom looked surprised. "Dad Iíve already made some plans for the weekend."

"What kind of plans?"

Tom took a deep breath and then blurted out. "Charlie and I and a group of others were going down to Bobby Jamesonís parents cabin to study for the weekend."

Owen Paris said angrily. "Thomas donít you lie to me. I know how the students here use every long weekend as an excuse to have a wild party."

"DadÖ."

"No Thomas you listen to me. There will be a lot of important people at the house tomorrow night. Youíre a cadet now. Itís time to think of your future. You can make a lot of important connections that will help you in the future. I will not have any son of mine waste his time at a wild party."

Tom defeatedly said, "Yes, sir."

Owen smiled knowing that he had his often rebellious son under control again. "Oh by the way your Mother wants you to spend the weekend."

"DadÖI canít. I have to work on Professor Barnes paper this weekend. I still have a lot of research to do."

"Thomas you can use my study to do your research. Your mother will be expected you tomorrow afternoon at 0200 hours to help her prepare. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir."

Charlie Day finished packing his duffle bag when the door opened to reveal his roommate. "Tommy what kept you. We have to meet Bobby and the guys downstairs in ten minutes."

"I canít go."

"What?"

"I have to go home this weekend. My parents are having a dinner party with some big shot Starfleet people and I have to be there?"

Charlie frowned. "Didnít you tell your Dad you had other plans?"

"I did. He didnít care. ÖDamn it Charlie I thought once I left home I would have more freedom. He still controls my life. What the hell was I thinking going into Starfleet." He angrily started pacing around the room. " My sisters had the right idea. Kathleen and Moira told my Dad that they werenít interested in going into Starfleet and they are both living there own lives.". He walked over to his desk and took out a padd. "From now on Iím going to start living my own live. Iím going to send my application to the Naval Patrol."

"Tom are you crazy? Your father will never approve."

"Iím almost eighteen. Once Starfleet Academy accepts my resignation there is nothing my father can do about it."

Charlie looked at his friend like he was crazy. "And how are you going to keep your father from finding out?"

"At the end of the semester he is going to a three week conference on Vulcan. Iíll resign after he leaves and by the time he gets back hopefully Iíll be in the Naval Patrol .By then it will be too late for him to get me reinstated at the Academy."

"Tom you are not thinking straight. Youíve worked too damn hard to get into the Academy to just throw it all away because you are mad at you Dad. You have a history of doing stupid things when you are angry at your Dad?"

"No I donít."

Charlie just smiled. "Come on Tommy its me. I was the one who talked you out of running away when you were fourteen after your father grounded you for two months after you got a D on a Molecular Biology test."

"That was differentÖ "

"How about last year when you took you Dadís shuttle for a joy ride after he told you that you couldnít spend the summer with me and my parents at our beach house because he enrolled you in a Starfleet Prep survival course. That crazy stunt almost got you killed."

"Hey how was I to know the instrument panel would fry?"

"That the problem with you TommyÖa lot of times you just donít think. Tom just promise me one thing?"

"Whatís that?"

"That you will really think it through before you resign from the Academy."

Tom looked at his best friend since childhood and smiled. "OkayÖ Charlie, Iíll think about it. But Iím bringing the Naval Patrol application with me, because if anything convinces me to leave Starfleet it would be spending the weekend with me father."

Tom Paris stood in front of the door to his parentís home and slowly pressed the code to open the door. The door opened into a spotless hallway and living- room. The Admiral insisted on the house always looking clean because you never knew when a Starfleet or Federation dignitary would just drop in for a chat with the Admiral. Tom and his sisters learned from an early age to always put their toys away and to leave their rooms clean.

Tom put his duffle bag down by the door and smelled something delicious in the kitchen. He walked in to see Mrs. Thompson putting something in the oven. Tomís mother used the replicator for most meals but whenever they had company she insisted on freshly made foods. Mrs. Thompson smiled when she saw Tom.

"Tommy you look so handsome in your uniform." Tom smiled at her. Mrs. Thompson, who was a gray haired woman in her late sixties has been working for the Paris family since Tom was two years old. She was a housekeeper and cook but she often watched Tom and his sisters when they were little. Even though Mrs. Thompson was semi retired she often came to help Tomís mom when she was entertaining.

"Thank you, maíam." Tom smelled something familiar in the kitchen. "Do I smellÖ"

Mrs. Thompson smiled. "Yes I made peanut butter cookies but your mother is waiting for you upstairsÖ.but donít worry Iíll save for you for later."

Tom smiled at Mrs. Thompson and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks Mrs. Thompson."

Tom walked back to the door and grabbed his duffel bag. He walked upstairs and left his duffel bag on his bed and then walked to his parentís bedroom. Tom saw that the doorway was partially open. He saw his mother, Margaret Anne Paris in front of the mirror putting on her makeup. Tom remembered when he was little he use to sit on his parentís bed watching Maggie Paris getting ready for some sort of Starfleet function. To him she was always the most beautiful woman in the world. Even though the years had added wrinkles to her face and gray to her shoulder length blonde hair to Tom she was still the most beautiful woman in the world.

Maggie smiled at her son. "Hi, honey."

Tom walked over to his mother and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Hi, Mom."

Maggie straightened out Tomís dress shirt. "Tom you look so handsome in you dress uniform. You must be driving all the female cadets wild."

"MomÖ"

"I know. Iím embarrassing you again but in high school you had a very active social life."

"Mom Iím so busy with studying and writing papers I barely have anytime to sleep let alone date anyone."

Maggie smiled. "Tommy the first semester at the Academy is always the hardest. Once you get use to the routine you will be fine."

"I guess your right."

"Tom your father said you didnít really want to come to the party because you had other plans."

"Charlie and I were suppose to go away for the weekend with a few friends."

"Who was the lucky girl?"

"Mom.."

Maggieís blue eyes twinkled and say gave a winning smile so similar to Tomís. "You wouldnít be so upset if a girl wasnít involved?"

"Okay there is this girl a like named Suzie but Iím sure someone else will make their move this weekend. Mom why wonít Dad let me live my own life?"

"Tom your father means well. He only wants the best for you?"

"Then why is he consistently interfering in my life. Did you know he ordered me to go to this party? "

"Tom your father is only trying to help your career be introducing you to the right people. I know you father can be overbearing and intimidating at times but he loves you."

"Then why doesnít he ever tell me he loves me."

Maggie smiled affectionately at her son. "Honey you have to understand your father was raised to believe it was unmanly to show emotions but believe me he does love youÖHe loves you with all his heart and when he acts overbearing its just his way of showing you how much he cares."

Tom whispered softly. "Iíd wish he find another way to show me he cares."

Maggie smiled. "Me tooÖ.Honey why donít you go to the shuttleport and take out the extra chairs for tonight. I think you father invited every Captain and Admiral who were in San Francisco to this party."

"Sure, mom."

Tom opened the shuttleport door and walked into the port. The port was as clean as the house with every box labeled. He saw a couple of boxes in the back labeled with his sistersí name and then he found a box labeled "Thomas." He opened the box and smiled. His mother had lovingly backed away so of his much treasured childhood things like his teddy bear, a couple of hollow programs which included the Flotter stories and a number of flying programs, some hardbound books and a model of a sailing ship. Tom slowly picked up the ship and smiled. He remembered the day his father caught him playing with the model instead of studying. His father took away the ship and told the eight year old Tom that he would get the ship back when he thought he deserved it. Tom always thought his Dad threw out the ship but he should of figured that his Mom would save it for him. Tom lovingly touched the sails when he heard a shuttle land be the shuttleport. He quickly put the ship back in the box and closed it up. He turned to see his father approach him followed by a balding man dressed in a Captainís uniform.

His father turned to his companion. "Jean Luc Picard I would like you to meet my son Thomas. Thomas just started at the Academy this semester."

Picard shook Tomís hand and smiled. "Good to meet you Thomas."

Tom smiled at the older man. "Itís a pleasure to meet you sir. I have been reading about some of your missions on the Stargazer. Iím sorry to hear that it was destroyed."

Picard smiled. "It was a special little ship. I still miss her."

Owen Paris smiled at his sonís stellar behavior. He had taught Tom the right way to behave in front of Starfleet officers since he was a small child and he was happy to realize that some of his lessons sunk in. "Captain Picard has just been named the Captain of the Enterprise D. Jean Luc did I tell you that Thomas wrote a paper on Jonathan Archerís Enterprise for his senior thesis in high school."

Picard smiled. "I have always found early space travel to be very intriguing. Donít you agree Thomas?"

"Yes, sir."

Owen Paris turned to his son. "Thomas ÖJean Luc is going to give some lectures at the Academy this semester. He will be staying with us for the weekend while they are fixing up his quarters. Why donít you take his bag into Kathleenís room. "

"Yes, sir." As Tom headed for his fatherís shuttle he saw Owen and Captain Picard walk into the house. Great, Tom thought, Itís not bad enough I have to spend the weekend with my father. Now Iím stuck with another Starfleet Captain.

Tom took the duffel bag out of the shuttle and walked into the house. Captain Picard was shaking Maggie Parisís hand. "Mrs. Paris I hope Iím not being an inconvenience being a last minute house guest."

Maggie smiled. "Call me Maggie please. And your not an inconvenience. I love having the house full. With the girls being away and Tom living at the Academy dorm I find the house to be too quiet. Jean Luc do you have any children?"

Picard frowned. "No I donít. I guess I have never found the right woman like Owen has."

Maggie smiled. "Jean Luc you are a charmer arenít you."

Owen Paris saw Tom enter the house. "Thomas show Captain Picard to his room so he can freshen up before the party and then come down to help your Mother."

"Yes, sir." Tom turned to Picard. "This way sir."

Picard followed Tom upstairs. Tom opened the door to Kathleenís room and walked in. The room looked exactly the same way it did before Kathleen went off to college. She was currently practicing law in Los Angeles but she often came home to visit. He missed both his sisters a lot. Whenever his father punished him for behavior unbecoming to a future Starfleet officer he often ran to one of his sistersí room. It often made him feel better just talking to them. They both knew how much pressure Owen Paris put on his only son not only to succeed but to become the next great Paris in Starfleet. They even told Owen that he treated Tom more like a Starfleet cadet instead of a son but their father would only laugh at them and then tell them that he was only thinking about Tomís future and that he knew what he was doing.

Tom put the duffel bag on the bed. "Sir, the bathroom is next door. Is their anything else you need?"

Picard smiled at the young man. "NoÖIím fine."

Tom left the room and Jean Luc looked at the closed door. Jean Luc Picard wondered about the young man who just left. For a young man who seemed to have such a promising future in front of him he sure seemed very unhappy.

Tom snuck out the living-room holding a beer bottle in his right hand. In the last forty-five minutes he talked to two dozen Admirals and Captains. He wished that he could just go up to his room and forget about his fatherís stupid party but Tom knew that if he was out of sight for more than ten minutes the Admiral would probably send Starfleet security after him. He opened his beer that he snuck out of the kitchen when his mother and Mrs. Thompson werenít looking and took a long swig of his beer. He was interrupted when he heard someone clear there throat and he turned to see Captain Picard standing there. "Captain Picard.", Tom said nervously, "I didnít see you there."

Picard smiled at the young man. "I just needed to get a little bit of fresh air."

Tom looked at the beer bottle in his hand. "Sir...you wonít tell me father you saw me drinking will you?"

"Mr. Paris I grew up on a winery. My brother and I were always allowed a few sips of wine during special occasions from the time we were twelve."

Tom laughed. "The last time my father caught me drinking at one of his parties I was grounded for two months." Just then they heard a voice say "ThomasÖwhere are you?" Instantly recognizing his fatherís voice Tom fumbled to where to put his beer as the Admiral came into view followed by a young brown haired woman about Tomís age.

Picard grabbed the beer from Tomís hand. "Thank you for the beer Mr. Paris."

Confused Tom said, "Your welcome , sir." Admiral Paris smiled at Jean Luc Picard. "Jean LucÖare you enjoying the party?"

Picard smiled back. "Yes Owen. I am having quite an interesting time here."

Admiral turned to his son, "Tom are you behaving yourself?"

"Yes sir."

Owen turned to the young woman next to him. "Tom you remember Tracey, Admiral Youngís daughter."

Tom gave a little smirk. "YesÖ.hello Tracey."

Tracey smiled back. "Hi Tommy. I havenít seen you since your graduation party from the high school."

Owen turned to Jean Luc. "Jean Luc I have some people who Iíd like you to meet." Owen turned to his son. "Thomas Iím sure you and Tracey have a lot to catch up on."

Tom watched is father and Captain Picard walk away and turned to Tracey and smiled. "Itís looks like they still trying to fix us up."

Tracey smiled back. "I came home for the weekend and my father told me that Admiral Paris was having one of his infamous parties that I couldnít miss it."

"Tracey... I like you as a friend butÖ"

Tracey smiled at him. "I feel the same way. We practically grew up together. You are like a brother to me."

Tom smirked. "Great just what I need another sister."

Tracey hit him playfully on the arm. "Tommy ParisÖsometimes you are so aggravatingÖ.Besides I never got romantically involved with you because throughout high school you had a certain reputation."

"Reputation?"

"Come on I saw how all those high school girls use to chase you around. And I heard that you never played too hard to get."

Tom frowned. "They never wanted me. They just wanted an Admiralís son."

Tracey smiled at him. "I liked you even though you knocked me in that mud - pile and ruined my new dress."

Tom frowned. "I was six and I had to spend my entire Christmas vacation in my room for punishment."

Tracey smiled at him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Why donít you get me a fruit punch and tell me about that girl you like Öwhatís here name Suzie something."

Tom looked shocked. "How do you know about her?"

Tracey smiled. "I have a lot of friends at the Academy."

Tom sat in his fatherís study reading a padd. It was very late but Tom knew he had to get some work in before he got some sleep. The party was a complete success which made his parents very happy. His only question was why did Captain Picard cover for him? Throughout Tomís life he had met many Admiralís, Captainís and Commanders but they all seemed to be as strict and stern as his father. He glanced back at the padd he was reading and then he shut if off and turned on a padd that read "Application to the Naval Patrol Academy." Tom started filling it out when he heard footsteps and looked up and saw Captain Picard standing there still wearing his dress uniform. Tom stood up. "Captain PicardÖcan I help you with something?"

Picard smiled. "I am sorry to disturb you but your father said I could borrow one of his books. I always like to read before I go to bed."
 
 

Tom smiled politely at Picard. "Your not disturbing me. I was just finishing up something. My father has a huge selection of books. Iím sure you will find something you like."

Picard walked over to a huge self full of both pads and hard cover books. I see your father as a nice selection of old fashioned novels."

Tom frowned at Picard. ĎMost of the hard cover books belong to my mother. My father prefers to read from a padd. He says it is more efficient."

Picard smiled at the young man as he browsed through the book selection. "I always preferred reading from an actual book." Picard smiled. "The actual words on paper always makes my feel closer to the author."

Tom stood up and started picking up his padds. "I better get to bed. I want to get to the Academy library early tomorrow. I have a lot of research to do."

Picard took a book off the self. "Oh hereís one of my favorite novels. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea." He looked at Tom. "Mr. Paris have you ever read it?"

Tom smiled. "Itís one of my favorite novels. I have always loved the sea."

Picard smiled. "I too have always found the sea intriguing. Every shore leave I have gotten since I was an cadet I have spent near the sea."

Tom nervously picked up his data padds. "I have to get to bed. Iíll see you tomorrow sir." Tom practically ran out of the study not realizing that one of the padds fell to the floor.

Picard saw the fallen data padd and picked it up. The padd was already opened and he saw the title "Application to the Naval Academy.". Picard looked at the door Tom Paris just exited and decided that he would return the padd to its rightful owner in the morning.

Tom walked down the steps and walked into his parentís kitchen. His mother was taking two plates of pancakes out of the replicator and then she walked over to the kitchen table where Jean Luc Picard and Owen Paris were discussing the specs of the new Enterprise. She placed one plate of pancakes by Jean Luc Picard and the other by her husband. She saw Tom and smiled. "Hi honey, what do you want for breakfast?"

Tom smiled and kissed his mother on the cheek. "Iíll just have a cup of coffee."

"Oh no you donítÖ. No son of mine is going to leave this house on an empty stomach. You are too skinny already. I know at school all the cadets get so busy with their school work they donít have time to have balanced meals. You barely have time to replicate a sandwich. Now sit down and Iíll bring you some pancakes and I expect you to eat every bite."

Tom sat down in defeat knowing he would never win this argument. "Yes, maíam."

Owen smiled at his wife and then turned to Captain Picard. "See Jean Luc I told you that I may be an Admiral at work but at home Maggie is the one that runs this household."

Maggie kissed her husband on the cheek. "Jean Luc donít pay any attention to him." She walked over to the replicator and came back with a stack of pancakes for Tom and herself.

Tom started eating his pancakes when he heard his mother say. "So Jean Luc what our your plans for today?"

Jean Luc smiled at Maggie Paris. "I was planning on going to the Academy today to look around and check the lecture hall for my lectures next week."

Owen frowned. "I would love to show you around Jean Luc but I have meetings all day." Just then Owen turned to his son. "Tom why donít you take my shuttle and show Captain Picard around the Academy today."

Tom dropped his fork. "Dad I have a lot of research to do at the library."

Owen frowned at his son. "Thomas I keep telling you that you have to learn how to budget you time better. You are a cadet now. A lot is expected of you. I should of never let you room with that Day boy."

"DadÖ"

Maggie interrupted. "Come on OwenÖ. Tom and Charlie practically grew up together. We have know the Day family for years."

Owen grumbled, "The Dayís let Charlie run wild. He was always more interested in sports and girls then his schoolwork. He will never go that far in Starfleet." Owen looked at his wife. "Thomas has the potential to go far in Starfleet and I refuse to let him waste his talents be hanging out with the wrong crowd."

Tom who was staring at his barely touched pancakes stood up. "May I be excused?"

Maggie Paris looked at her son. "Tom are you okay? You barely touched your breakfast."

Tom gave his Mother a weak smile. "Iím fine Mom. I just have to get some padds together. Captain Picard Iíll meet you outside by the shuttle."

Owen said, "Thomas you may be excused but I expect to the see the rough draft of your paper tomorrow night before you head back to school."

Tom stood up and quietly said, "Yes, sir." And left the table and walked towards the staircase.

Maggie looked at her husband "Owen I think you are being too strict with Tom. Heíll be eighteen in a couple of weeks you have to let him live his own life."

"Maggie you know I just want the best for Tom."

Maggie smiled at her husband. "I know that OwenÖbut maybe you should tell Tom that."

Owen smiled at his wife and then looked at the clock on the wall. "I have a conference call in twenty minutes. I have to get to the office. Jean Luc Iíll see you for dinner. "

Maggie walked Owen to the door and he kissed her on the cheek before he went out the door. Maggie walked back to the table and gave a small smile. "Jean LucÖIím sorry you had to hear that. Owen and Tomís relationship has been strained the last couple of years,"

"Maggie donít worry about it. It is very common for fatherís and sonís not to see eye to eye." He gave Maggie a small smile. "When I was Tomís age my father and I had more one then one heated argument about my career choice.."

Tom sat in the pilot seat of his fatherís shuttle going through his pile of padds. "Damn itÖ.where is it?"

"Are you looking for this?"

Tom looked up and saw Captain Picard standing next to the shuttle holding a padd out to him. "CaptainÖ"

Picard handed him the padd. "You left it in your fatherís study last night. I assume your father doesnít know about you applying for the Naval Academy."

"No sirÖ.I was planning on telling him after I joined."

Picard looked at the young man and frowned. "And what about Starfleet?"

"Captain Picard with all due respect me joining Starfleet was my fatherís dream not mine. Do you know he never even asked me if I wanted to join Starfleet. It was always assumed to I would follow in his footsteps. I remember when I was about fiveÖmy sisters Kathleen and Moira told my Dad that they had no intention of going into Starfleet. The next day my Dad took me to the Academy with him and put me in a flight simulator. I remember when I was really little I use to watch him fly the shuttle. I guess I must of picked up a few things because flying the simulator felt so natural and it was so much fun." Tom smiled at the memory. "To me it was just a game. I must of flew really well that day because the next day my father invited some friends to watch me fly."

"Your father told me you are a very good pilot. He told me you flight instructor told him that you are one of the best pilots he had seen in the last twenty five years of teaching at the Academy."

Tom looked away from Picard unable to look the older man in the eye. "I love flying. Itís the only time I feel like I am really in control of my life. But I can still fly in the Naval Patrol. They have air patrols too. Captain Picard I would appreciate if you didnít tell my father about my plans."

Picard said sternly. "Mr. Paris I do not interfere with other peopleís life. But I do suggest you think a little more about your final decision. A posting at Starfleet academy is a great honor. It is not something that should be taken lightly."

"I know that sir. Are you ready to go?"

Picard nodded and walked into the shuttle and sat down in the co-pilots seat. As the shuttle took off Picard was impressed about how smoothly Tom flew the shuttle. Owen Paris was right about one thing. His son was born to fly. The rest of the flight both Tom and Picard were silent.

Tom landed the shuttle and Picard got out. He turned to the young man. "Mr. Paris I have a box of possessions stored in a locker in the faculty storage area. Do you think you could help me take it to my office?"

Knowing from growing up in Starfleet when a request was an order Tom stood up straight. "Yes, sir."

Picard led Tom to the faculty. Inside they stepped into a room and Picard worked up to a computer terminal. "Picard, Jean Luc." Then a box transported onto a transporter on the floor. Jean Luc picked up the box and put it on an empty table. He pressed his personal code and the box opened. Picard took out a bound book and turned to face Tom. "I also have a fondness for old books. Have you ever read Shakespeare Mr. Paris?"

"I read a couple of his plays in a literature class in high school."

Picard smiled, "I keep telling the Academy board that they should teach more literature courses. I understand the cadets need the science, engineering, and cultural classes but I think young people can learn a lot from reading the classics."

"My father says that the literature classes they already teach are a waste of time .He believes that the more technical courses are more useful to future Starfleet officers."

"I disagree. Mr. Paris what do you think?"

"Iíve always liked to read a good book. My father is always lecturing me to get me head out of Jules Verne and to spend my time studying the science."

Picard turned back to the box and put the book back inside. He then took out a framed picture of an older bald man wearing dirty old clothes and holding a bottle of wine. He showed the photograph to Tom. "This is me father Maurice. He was a very strong willed man."

Tom looked at the photograph. "He must have been very proud of you."

Picard put the photograph back in the box and stood up straight pulling his uniform top down. "My father didnít approve of me going into Starfleet. He wanted me to stay in France and help my brother Robert run the family winery."

Tom looked Picard in the eye and said nervously. "SirÖif you donít mind me askingÖwhat happened when you told your father about your career choice." Picard frowned. "At first he wasnít happy about itÖ but over time he accepted it."

Tom looked at the older man and then looked down at the floor unable to look Picard in the eye. "So youíre telling me that I should just tell my father that I want to join the Naval Patrol."

Picard smiled. "You know just because you love the sea...it doesnít mean you canít stay in Starfleet. I have also always had a great affection for the sea. In fact during a number of shore-leaves I have a sailed on some beautiful seas on many different planets. I have a feeling that your love of the sea is not the only reason you want to leave Starfleet?"

Tom looked at Picard and frowned. "I knew the Academy was hard, but I didnít think my father would be looking over my shoulder at everything I did. Itís funny when I was a kid and my father was away on a mission I missed him a lot but I was also kind of happy too because I had more freedom when he was away. My Mom made sure I did my homework and my chores but she never examined everything I did as closely as my Father."

Picard smiled at the younger man. "I have known your father for over twenty years. He has always had a reputation for being very demanding."

"I remember when I was fourteen I did a paper on Captain Kirk for my history class. I showed the paper to my Dad and he told me that the paper wasnít bad but he knew I could do better so he deleted it off the padd and told me to rewrite it. It was Sunday afternoon and the paper was due Monday. I was up all night rewriting it."

"What grade did you get on that paper?"

"I got an A - on the paper and my father told me that if I only buckled down a little more I would of gotten an A on the paper. He then gave me a lecture on how I had to work harder if I wanted to be accepted into the Academy."

"Mr. Paris I canít tell you if you should leave the Academy or not. But from what I have already seen of your piloting skills you have a fine future ahead of you if you decide to stay in Starfleet."

Tom smiled at Picard. "Thank you sir. Iíll take your box to your office for you. No matter what I decide I still have a paper due."

Tom picked up the box and followed Picard out of the building. They walked in silence for a few minutes until they heard a voice shout. "Get off my roses."

Both Tom and Picard turned to see a white haired man wearing overalls running towards them. The man looked at Tom. "Mr. Paris I see your still trampling over my flower beds. I thought you would of outgrown that by now. "

Picard smiled at the man. "Boothby."

Boothby look at Picard. "Jean Luc Picard I see you havenít learned either not to trample my roses either. I heard you will be the new Captain of the next Enterprise. Congratulations Captain Picard."

Picard smiled at the older man. "I wouldnít be where I am today without you Boothby."

Tom with a confused look on his face asked, "Captain what did Boothby do for you?"

Picard gave a slight smile. "Lets just say that Boothby helped me with an important decision many years ago."

"Jean Luc you would of made the right decision anyway. I just pointed you in the right directionÖjust like I did with Owen Paris all those years ago."

Tom looked at Boothby in shock. "How did you help my Father?"

Boothby grimaced, "Every generation itís the same thing. Every Paris who enters the Academy feels that they canít please their parents no matter what they do. When you father went here your Grandmother was the Commandant of the Academy. He told me that whatever he did he could never live up the expectations of the family. But I knew he would. He had Starfleet in his blood just like you."

Tom looked at Boothby and then at Picard. "But what if Iím not good enough?"

Picard smiled at the young man. "You will never know unless you try Mr. Paris."

Boothby smiled. "By the way they have an Starfleet campus in Marselle, France. If you really want to get away from your Father you could transfer there for a semester. They have an excellent physical training program."

Tom looked at Boothby and then at Picard. For the first time since he entered the Academy he felt a little more confident. Maybe a semester away from his father was all he really needed. Tom smiled, "Maybe Iíll look into going to transferring to the Marselle campus for next semester. I always wanted to spend some time in France."

Picard smiled at him. "Letís get my stuff to my office. I think you have some research to due in the library."

Tom smiled at him. "Aye , sir."

BíElanna smiled at her husband after he finished his story. She softly squeezed his right hand. "When we get back I think Iím going have to find Captain Picard and Boothby and thank them. If they didnít convince you to stay in Starfleet I might of never met you?"

Tom learned towards BEíLanna and gave her a soft kiss on the lips and then he touched her stomach. "If it wasnít for them we wouldnít have our little girl to look forward to." Tom kissed his wife again.

BíElanna pushed him away gently. "Come on flyboy, itís getting late. You have to get plenty of rest. Once our baby is here your doing the overnight feedings."

Tom smiled at his wife. "You know Doc told me that when a mother feeds her baby she bonds with her. "I would not want to stop that bonding."

BíElanna smiled at Tom. "Nice try Tom. The Doctor told about the bonding. Iíll bond with her during the day and you can bond with her at night Now come on lets go to bed."

Tom smirked at her. "Yes, Maíam."
 
 

The End