By Diane Klepper
(Author's Note: This story is set during the 6th season.)     
Tom Paris slowly came to consciousness. He opened his eyes and felt a pounding in his head. In the darkness, he could dimly make out what seemed to be a bio-bed across the room. Sickbay. He thought. The last thing he remembered was running to the Delta Flyer. B'Elanna and Harry had just boarded the Flyer. He was a few feet from the Flyer's door when suddenly everything went black. I must of lost consciousness and B'Elanna and Harry carried me to the shuttle. He smiled at that last thought. Tom knew he could count of the woman he loved and his best friend to be there for him when he was in trouble. 
Just then the door to the room he was in slid open and he expected to see the Holographic Doctor's face. He expected another lecture on how he should be more careful on landing party missions, but he didn't mind. Tom knew the Doctor only lectured him because he cared, even though he often made glib remarks at Tom's expense. But instead of seeing the Doctor, Tom saw a middle aged woman in a white nurse's uniform.  The woman smiled at him. "Mr. Paris…it's good to see you finally awake."
Tom slowly sat up and said, "Who are you?" He turned his head and realized that he wasn't in Sickbay. "Where am I? Where is Voyager?"
"Voyager?" She walked over to the bed and placed her hands on his chest. "Mr. Paris, I think you better lay down."        
Tom pushed her hands away. "I've got to get back to my ship." He pushed his legs over the side of the bed and stood. All of a sudden he felt very wobbly and Tom had to hang on to the bed for support.         
"Mr. Paris, you shouldn't be up."       
Just then the door opened again and a man wearing a doctor's white coat came into the room. He walked over to the bed and turned to the nurse. "Nurse…what's going on here?"            
"Doctor, Mr. Paris just woke up. He's trying to get out of bed."   
The doctor reached into his lad coat and pulled out a hypo-spray filled with a blue liquid. He walked over to Tom. "Mr. Paris, you need your rest. Let me give you something to help you sleep."         
Tom tried to pull away from the doctor, but the nurse's grip on his right arm was too strong and he said angrily, "Where the hell am I?"     
As he felt the hypo-spray pressed into his neck he heard the doctor say, "Mr. Paris, you're in the infirmary at the Federation Penal Settlement in Auckland, New Zealand." Then he fell into darkness.
Tom awoke to the sound of two voices. He opened his eyes and he saw the same faces he saw before. He closed his eyes and thought, Damn it. This most be some sort of nightmare. I've got to stop eating Neelix's cooking before bedtime. He opened his eyes again convincing himself he would see his quarters aboard Voyager. He opened his eyes and he saw the faces of the doctor and nurse from before. He tried to sit up but he couldn't move. His arms and legs were in restraints. He was shocked to see that he was wearing the gray coveralls from prison. He looked down at his right leg and saw the leg
alarm that constantly monitored his whereabouts. The doctor smiled at him. "I'm sorry about the restraints, Mr. Paris, but we just wanted to make sure you stay in bed. Your body went through a very serious trauma. You have to give yourself time to recover. What was the last thing you remember?"       
"Did you say…I'm in the New Zealand Penal Settlement?"    
"Yes I did."          
Tom angrily thrashed at the restraints. "No…no…I can't be in New Zealand…I left there six years ago."         
The doctor frowned. "Mr. Paris…if you don't calm down I am going to have to sedate you."           
Tom stopped thrashing. "Okay…I am calm now. I got paroled from New Zealand six years ago to be an observer on Voyager. How did I get back to New Zealand? Where's the rest of the Voyager crew? Did they get home, too?"    
"Mr. Paris, you never left New Zealand."      
Panic in his voice Tom said, "No I remember arriving at Deep Space Nine." He gave a slight smile. "I met Harry at Quark's bar there. He was so green then. Quark practically had him buying a whole tray of junk until I stepped in and stopped him"   
The doctor gave him a solemn look. "Tom you never left New Zealand. The night before you was suppose to leave you got into a fight with another inmate. He was a member of the Maquis, he was angry that you were getting out by betraying the Maquis. He knocked you against the wall and you lost consciousness. You received a serious head
trauma. Tom you have been in a coma for the last six years"   
"No…I remember running back to the shuttle. We were on our way back to Voyager. I'm the Chief  Conn  officer on Voyager. After we got lost in the Delta Quadrant, Captain Janeway gave me a second chance."
The Doctor smiled sympathetically. "Tom that never happened. You never went to Voyager. You have been here at the medical section of the Federation Penal colony for the last six years. All those memories were dreams induced by your subconscious while you were in your coma."         
Tom tried to hold back the tears but a few fell down his face. "No, it was real." 
The Doctor smiled. "Son, I know that sometimes dreams seem real but none of it really happened. The subconscious mind wants to protect you from unpleasant memories. Why don't you rest a little bit and we'll talk more later."     
The nurse handed him a hypo-spray and the doctor was about to put it in Tom's neck. "I'm okay. I don't need to be sedated."       
"This shot will make you feel better." Tom felt the spray enter his system and he fell back asleep."          
"Mr. Paris…wake up."        
Tom opened his eyes and he saw the face of the Holographic holodoctor. "Mr.Paris, I'm glad I have found you. We've been scanning the planet for three days."  
A smile appeared on Tom's face. "Doc it that really you?"      
"Of course it's me." Just then the holoimage started to disappear and he shouted, "Mr. Paris, don't give up. We'll get you out of here," and he vanished.   
Tom started thrashing his restraints again and yelled, "Doc…Doc…come back!" 
The door slid open and the Doctor and Nurse ran in. "Mr. Paris…you were dreaming again."          
Angrily Tom shouted, "No it wasn't a dream, Voyager is looking for me."  
The Doctor replied quietly, 'Tom you were dreaming again. Nobody was in this room."            
"I saw Doc."          
The doctor said to the nurse,  "Mr. Paris is very delusional. We better double the dose."            
"No, I'm fine."         
The doctor took the hypo-spray from the nurse. "Tom, you're a very sick young man. Don't worry. We'll make you better."       
Tom shouted, "No!" as the hypo-spray went into his neck and fell back asleep. 
The doctor turned to the nurse. "I want somebody monitoring him at all times. We can't let that happen again."        
"Yes, Doctor."          
Tom Paris woke up and saw that the room he was in was empty. He shook his head to try to clear it. "I have to get out of here," he whispered to himself. He tried to pull at the straps that bound him to the bed but they wouldn't budge. 

All of a sudden the door slid open and the nurse came in carrying a tray of food. She smiled at him. "Good morning, Mr. Paris. I brought you some breakfast. You haven't eaten anything since you woke up from your coma. Oatmeal should be easy going down." 
The nurse put the tray down on the table next to the bed. She then pressed a button on the bio-bed and the bed rose so Tom would be in a sitting position. Tom gestured to the straps. "Do you think you could un-strap my arms so I could eat?"  
"I don't know about that."        
Tom gave her his best smile. "I won't try to run away. I was just disorientated after I woke up." He chuckled, " Imagine me thinking I was a pilot on a starship. I blew that chance a long time ago. I just want to get better and get out of here."   
The nurse smiled at him. "I think I can free your hands while you eat." She unstrapped his arms and put the food on the tray by his bed.    
Tom smiled and said, "Thank you." He picked up the bowl and the spoon and started eating the oatmeal. "This tastes good." All of a sudden the bowl slipped from his hands and fell onto the ground spilling some of the oatmeal onto the floor. "Oh no. I'm so sorry."
The nurse gave a slight frown. "That's okay. Let me get something to wipe that up with."          
The moment the nurse left the room Tom pushed the tray table away and released his legs from the straps. He slid to the side of the bed and slowly got up. He slowly walked to the door and as it slid open he stuck his head out. Nobody was in the white hallway. He started walking down the hallway when the nurse shouted, "He's out of the
room. Get him!"          
All of a sudden the nurse, the doctor and a man dressed like an orderly started chasing him. He ran down the hall but they were gaining on him. All of a sudden he saw two sparkling shapes appear about 15 feet in front of him. One shape turned into a man
wearing a black and red uniform who had a tattoo over his left eye and the other turned into a black man who wore a black and yellow uniform and had pointed ears. The tattooed man  said, "Tom, it's okay.We've come to take you home."   
Tom stared at the men and said. "Chakotay? Tuvok?"    
Chakotay smiled at him. "That's right Tom."      
Just then the orderly grabbed Tom's right arm and said, "Mr. Paris, no one is there. You're imaging this."         

The doctor holding Tom's other arm said, "That's right Tom. This is all a delusion. Nobody is there." With his free hand the doctor took a gun out of his lab coat and started shooting at Chakotay and Tuvok Chakotay and Tuvok jumped behind a wall and started firing back. Tuvok took out the nurse with his phaser and Chakotay knocked the doctor out with his phaser set on stun. The orderly that was holding on to Tom's right arm took out his gun and put it to Tom's head. "One move and he is dead."       
Just then Tom took his left elbow and shoved it into the orderly's stomach. He groaned in pain and let go of Tom's arm. Tom made a fist and punched the orderly in the face. When the orderly staggered a few feet away from Tom, Tuvok shot him with the phaser and the man went down.        
Tom started to stagger but he felt a strong hand on his arm and he turned to see Chakotay holding him up. His last conscious memory was Tuvok saying, "Voyager, three to beam up."           

Tom woke up to see the holographic doctor scanning him with a medical tricorder. The Doctor turned away from Tom and said, "He'll be fine, Captain."  

 Just then Captain Janeway came into view and smiled at him. "Tom, I'm glad we have you back."          
Tom asked puzzled, "Captain, what happened?"     
"You, B'Elanna and Harry were on a planet searching for supplies. The
Mandorians were monitoring you and decided they wanted to capture someone to find out more about Voyager. As soon as we scanned them, I ordered the landing party back to the Delta Flyer. B'Elanna and Harry got back to the Flyer but they stunned you and beamed you to their planet. The Mandorians are very emphatic. They were able to read your mind."           
Tom frowned, "They tried to convince me that I never left Earth…that I was still in New Zealand. I didn't want to believe them."      
The Doctor interrupted, "They shot you up with a lot of drugs to confuse you." 
Janeway added. "Neelix says this race uses past memories to confuse people so they can get whatever information they want out of that person. They wanted information about Voyager, but we knew you would hang on until we rescued you." Janeway smiled at Tom and touched his right shoulder. "Mr. Paris, you had a rough few days. I think I should let you get some rest."         
Janeway left sickbay and Tom was alone with the Doctor. Tom sat up.   
"Doc an I leave now?"        
"No, Mr. Paris. I want to watch you for the next forty-eight hours to see if the medications they gave you have any lasting effects."     
"Oh, Doc…"          
"Mr. Paris, if you don't stop complaining I'm going to strap you down, too. Any questions?"           
Tom lowered his eyes in defeat, "No."      
The Doctor smiled, "Good. Now get some rest. And welcome back to reality."

The End