(Authorís note: This story takes place sometime before the episode "Pathfinder." The Voyager crew belongs to Paramount. I just borrowed them for a field trip.)
Visitor From Home
Tom Paris jerked up from his nightmare. His cabin was dark and he slowly dragged his feet to the edge of the bed. The dream that was still fresh in his mind. He could still hear the voice of his father saying, "Tom, Iím so disappointed in you." He could still see the look of unconditional love in his motherís eyes.
He lowered his face into his hands and said, "Computer, what time is it?"
The female voice of the computer replied, "It is now O430."
Tom tried in vain to shake the images from his mind. In two in a half hours, he had to report for duty. He considered calling BíElanna; or maybe Harry. But he didnít feel like talking. He just wanted to be alone.
Neelix entered the galley and said, "Computer, lights on." He saw Tom sitting alone at a table just staring at a mug of coffee. Neelix smiled, " Hi , Tom....I came in to start breakfast. I didnít expect to find anyone here."
Tom was startled, but looked up and said, "Hi, Neelix...I just came in for a cup of coffee."
Neelix went behind the counter, took out a big bowl and started throwing in some herbs and vegetables. "I donít mind. I like having some company this early...Is there anything I can get you?"
Paris slowly picked up his mug and took a sip and frowned. "Real coffee would be nice."
Neelix gave a little frown. "Sorry...thatís the best I can do without real coffee beans."
Paris gave a little smirk and said, "I remember at the Academy I practically lived off this stuff. Charlie and I would take turns running to the store for more coffee when we did all night study sessions."
Neelix gave a perplexed look and said, "Whoís Charlie...I never heard you talk about him before?"
A look of pain entered Tomís eyes. He saw Neelix stare at him. He quickly got up and turned away. "He was someone I knew a long time ago....I got to get going."
Neelix gave a worried look and said, "Let me fix you something to eat."
"No, thanks...Iím not hungry." And he quickly left the galley.
Harry Kim came out of the turbolift and was surprised to see Tom Paris already at the helm controls. Harry usually came to the bridge fifteen minutes before he duty shift started, but Tom Paris was famous for coming on time barely. Harry smirked at that. He still remembered the day he came aboard Voyager and a number of the veteran officers told him to stay way from Tom Paris. Tom even told him to stay away from him because he was trouble. But on that day Harry Kim told Tom he picked his own friends, and he was glad he picked Tom as one of his.
After Harry relieved the officer who was at his station, he realized him and Tom were alone on the bridge. He walked over to Tom and smiled. "Iím not used to seeing you on the bridge this early....Did BíElanna threw you out of her quarters again?"
Tom smirked back, "Very funny. B"Elanna was working late. I didnít see her last night....I bet Tuvok that I could beat you to the bridge ... I did. He owes me two hours on the holodeck."
Harry smiled. "Captain, Proton." Tom smiled. "You bet. It looks like you didnít get much sleep last night."
Tom Paris just frowned. "Itís nothing."
Harry gave a serious look and said, "Are you sure"
"No....I just had a bout of insomnia....Iím fine."
Harry gave Tom a disbelieving look and said, "Okay."
Tom gave a weak smile. "Yeah...thanks."
The turbolift opened and Captain Kathryn Janeway entered the bridge. Harry quickly went back to his post. Janeway smiled at her crew. "Good morning Tom, Harry. Mr. Paris...what is our present speed and location."
"We are going warp eight through the Melbalina star system."
Janeway then turned to Kim and said, "Mr. Kim....anything to report."
Janeway smiled, "Just to be on the safe side lets speed things up a little. Warp 9 Mr. Paris."
Just then the turbolift opened and Chakotay came out. He had a serious look on his face and walked up to Janeway. "Sorry Iím late Captain. I was with Seven in the Astrophysics lab....She seems to have found a buoy and we think it may be from Starfleet Command."
Janeway said in a matter of fact voice. "When will you know for sure?"
"In another six hours the buoy will be close enough for the short- range scanners."
The shipís galley was crowded. BíElanna Torres carried her tray over to where Tom and Harry were sitting and put her tray on the table and sat down in the empty seat next to Tom. Harry was shoveling another fork of food to his mouth while Tom just sat there moving his food around the plate with his fork.
Torres said, ĎTom ....Harry...howís the food."
Harry smiled. "Surprising good....IĎm afraid to ask Neelix what it is...If I knew what it was I probably would not want to eat it."
Torres took her fork and scooped up some of the food and put it in her mouth. She smiled. "It is good...what do you think Tom?"
Tom gave a blank stare and said. "What?"
Torres frowned. "What do you think of the food."
Harry looked at Tomís plate and said. "You barely touched anything."
Tom pushed his plate to the center of the table. "Iím not hungry."
Torres said, "Tom you should eat something...do you feel okay?"
Tom tried to give a half smile. "BíElanna, Iím fine. Your starting to sound like my mother."
Torres smiled. "I bet you wonít do with your mother what we did in my quarters last week."
Harry smiled. "This conversation is starting to get interesting."
"Just drop it Harry."
Harry lowered his voice so the people at the other tables wouldnít hear what he was saying. "So you think the buoy is really a message from Starfleet Command?"
Torres quietly answered by saying. "We will not know for sure until we take the buoy in and study it....but all transmissions we received so far seem to include Starfleet codes." She turned to Tom and said, "What do you think Tom?"
"I think we are doing fine without any help from Starfleet." He quickly stood up. "Iíll see you guys later." He quickly took his tray and poured the contents into a recycling bin, then left his tray on a nearby table and quickly walked away.
Harry watched Tom leave and turned to Torres. "Is it me....or is Tom acting really weird today."
Torres frowned a little. "Not just today. He has been having these nightmares lately....he will not admit it...he tells me that he just having trouble sleeping."
Harry nodded. "He hates to admit when something is bothering him."
Just then, Janewayís voice came over the loud speaker. "All senior staff report to the bridge."
BíElanna and Harry quickly got up and headed for the door.
The bridge of the Voyager was crowded. When Tom entered he quickly relieved the ensign at the helm and sat down. Janeway was sitting in her chair. Chakotay walked over to her and they were quietly discussing something.
Seven of Nine was working out some numbers on the computer and then turned to Janeway. "Captain, the buoy is ready to be beamed aboard."
"Tuvok, erect a level eight forcefield around cargo bay 5. Harry transport the buoy to cargo bay 5."
Janeway, Tom Paris, Chakotay, BíElanna Torres, Seven of Nine and the Doctor entered the cargo bay. The object had the insignia of Starfleet Command on it.
Janeway locked at the doctor who was standing closest to the object. "Doctor."
The holographic doctor took his medical tricorder and scanned the object. A bemused look appeared on his face. "That is strange."
Janeway said, "What is strange?"
"I am reading a holographic image stored in the memory matrix."
Tom gave a little smirk. "Maybe Starfleet is replacing you Doc?"
Ignoring Tomís comment the doctor continued, "The probe is not radioactive or dangerous in any way...There is a automated message set to start 45 seconds after it is scanned."
A holographic projection was transmitted. It wasnít very clear. Janeway turned to Seven. "Seven...can you make the message clearer."
Seven walked up to the buoy and started pushing some buttons on the device. An image of a man with gray hair appeared wearing an admiralís uniform.
Tom Paris stared at the image and stated, "Thatís Admiral Burton."
To verify Tomís statement the figure said in a clear voice, "Iím Admiral Burton from Starfleet Command. This message is for the U.S.S Voyager." He paused as if trying to decide what to say and then blurted out. "To Captain Janeway and all her crew...we are sorry Starfleet hasnít been much help in getting you home....We do however, think that we have found a way to help you get home faster."
Janeway turned away from the image and looked around at her crew. She saw looks of skepticism in the faces of her command staff. Janeway wasnít surprised at her crewís reaction. After being so far from home for the last five years, many doubted that they would ever see Earth again. They had too many disappointments in the last few years to think there was a quick way to return home. Tom in particular, had a far away look about him. She wondered if he was remembering another encounter he had with Admiral Burton.
After a few seconds, the image of Admiral Hayes started to speak again. "Starfleet engineers have found a way to redesign the matter injection system. This new design will increase your warp engine speed by 17.9% and it should reduce your trip home by five years. In this buoy is a holographic image of a member of Starfleet Command...He is the person who helped with the redesign. He will help you with the modifications....I must warn you that the holographic image will only be able to last about 18 hours. After that time the worm- hole will de-stablize and we will lose contact with you. At that time the holoimage will disinegrate. Voyager....I and everyone at Starfleet Command wish we could do more to help you get home faster. We will not rest until we get you home safely. Burton out."
Janeway watched as the image vanished. She turned to her first officer. "Chakotay...what do you think."
"I donít know Captain...weíve been down this road too many times before....we donít know if this is a real message....or if it some kind of alien trap....I would like to know how Starfleet got that buoy to us."
Tuvok looked at the buoy and stated, "Captain....the sensors detected an unstable wormhole 10 light years from here. The hole is too small for a ship, but it may be possible that a probe could make it through."
Janeway said, "Tuvok....keep your eye on that wormhole...find out if their is a way to enlarge it enough to get Voyager through."
Torres turned to Janeway. "The material used in this buoy is the exact type of materials used to build buoys by Starfleet....the odds of an alien race having the exact same metals is astronomical. I remember working with this type of material when I was in the Academy." She turned to Tom. "Tom, how do you know Burton?"
"He was the Admiral presiding at my trial when I was kicked out of Starfleet...He is one of the faces I will never forget."
Torres waved her tricorder over the buoy. "Captain....the holographic image in the buoy is starting to deteriorate....If we donít take it out now....we may lose it."
"Harry beam the buoy to the holodeck...Seven, BíElanna, Chakotay, Doctor, letís go down to the holodeck one....Tom, you have the bridge."
On holodeck one, Torres and Seven were doing some last minute calculations on the holographic image. Janeway and Chakotay were standing next to them watching. The doctor walked over to Janeway. "Captain I will lend my mobile emitter to our visitor. This hologram will be able to walk throughout the ship without any problem."
"Thank you doctor. I know you hate it when you stuck in sickbay, but it will only be for eighteen hours." Janeway then turned to Seven of Nine. "Seven activate the hologram."
An image of a man in a Starfleet uniform with admiral pips appeared in front of them. The man had gray hair and blue-gray eyes and a look of determination on his face.
Janeway gasped. "Admiral Paris...."
The holographic image walked to her."Kathryn...its so good to see you again." He gave her a warm smile. "We werenít sure the buoy with my image would get through the worm hole."
Janeway smiled back. It was so good to see Admiral Owen Paris again even though technically it was just his holographic image.
The holographic image said, " Captain Janeway I want you and your crew to know that I am the latest construct in holographic design. I have all the memories of Admiral Owen Paris and I have been told by more than one person that I also have the Admiralís stubborn streak and the desire to get what he wants."
Kathryn Janeway smiled at that last remark and said, "I see you also speak you mind like the real Admiral Paris. Admiral Paris...Iíd like to introduce you to some of my crew ." She gestured to Chakotay. "This is my first officer Commander Chakotay."
Admiral Paris looked him over and said, "Chakotay...you were the captain of the Maquis ship?"
Chakotay look Admiral Paris in the eye. "Admiral, I joined the Maquis to help my people....right now I feel like the Voyager crew are my people. When my crew and the Voyager crew joined together, I promised Captain Janeway my loyalty. I have not gone back on my promise."
Admiral Paris shook Chakotayís hand. "Iím glad to hear that."
Janeway smiled at that and then turned to Torres. "This is Lieutenant BíElanna Torres, our chief engineer....you will be working with her on the modifications."
Admiral Paris said, "Lieutenant....good to meet you." He then turned to Janeway and said in a quiet voice, "Kathryn....whereís Tom?"
Janeway smiled. "Heís on the bridge....would you like to go up and see him."
Paris gave a quizzical look. "I thought holographic beings had to stay on the holodeck."
Janeway smiled. "Not anymore." She turned to the holographic doctor and said, "Doctor....if you please."
The doctor walked up to the Admiral and put the mobile emitter around his right arm. "This device gives you the ability to leave the holodeck."
Admiral Paris touched the device. "Thank you Doctor....Doctor..." His hand passed through the doctor.
The doctor said, "Iím still working on that."
Admiral Paris gave a puzzled look and Janeway smiled and pointed the Admiral to the turbolift. They entered the lift and the door closed. As the turbolift went up, Admiral Paris said in a sad voice, "Kathryn, when I heard that you picked up Tom from New Zealand, and then your ship disappeared....I thought Tom was somehow responsible."
Janeway frowned. "Admiral Paris, I know Tom has made some mistakes in the past....but he really has changed...I donít think we would have made it this far without him."
Admiral Paris looked Janeway in the eye and said, "Kathryn...I know my boy...all his life he had an impish grin and a rebellious streak....he had every opportunity I could give him...and he just destroyed his life....but when I thought he died aboard Voyager, something in me died too."
Janeway looked in awe at her mentor. Even though her scientific mind kept thinking of him as a hologram, emotionally she felt that she was talking with the real Admiral Paris. She smiled at that thought. After dealing with the holographic doctor for five years could she ever think of a hologram the same way again?
The worry and anxiousness in Admiral Paris was very noticable. To her Admiral Paris, always seemed like such a strong man. To see how Tomís disappearance affected him made her wonder what her mother and sister were going through. The opening of the turbolift broke her from her thoughts. Tom Paris had his back to the turbolift door. The swish of the turbolift door made Tom stand up. He saw Janeway enter the bridge followed by a gray haired man in a Starfleet uniform. In his mind Tom shouted, No, No. It canít be him.
Before Tom knew it, his father had him in a bear hug. Tom just stood there in shock. When his father let go, Tom just stood there with a dazed look on his face, his throat felt so dry he couldnít say anything.
Admiral Paris stared at his son. A smile was on his face. Tom tried to remember the last time his father smiled at him, but he couldnít. Every time his fatherís face appeared to him in his dreams, Admiral Paris always had a look of disgust or anger on it. After a couple of seconds of silence he said, "Well Tom....donít you have anything to say?"
Tom coughed and after a few seconds. "Dad...." Just then comprehension set in. "Your the hologram Starfleet sent."
Admiral Paris smiled. "Yes."
"Your not an engineer...why did Starfleet send you.?"
Admiral Paris said in a more stern manner. "I was in charge of the project to modify the engines...I also memorized all the information while it was being programmed so we wouldnít have to waste time programming an hologram."
Tom replied coldly. "Yeah Dad....you never forget anything."
Hearing the scorn in Tomís voice Janeway said angrily. "Ensign Paris, when you speak to a superior officer on this ship you show him respect."
Tom stood up straight and replied politely, "Yes, Maíam."
Janeway turned to Harry. "Mr. Kim, I want you to show Admiral Paris to engineering....you and BíElanna help Admiral Paris with the modifications on the Delta Flyer....I want to test the engine modifications on the flyer first."
As Harry lead the Admiral off the bridge, Janeway turned to Tom Paris. "Mr. Paris...in my ready room now."
Janeway walked to her ready room followed by Tom. Janeway walked to her desk and sat down. Tom stood at attention by Janewayís desk.
"Tom....I know you were surprised by the appearance of your father."
"Shocked is more like it."
Janeway smiled. "I was quite surprised myself....I know you and your father
have had some problems."
In a scornful voice Tom said. "Captain...my father only has one problem....me..."
"Tom....Iíve known your father for a long time...I know he is a tough taskmaster..."
Paris gave a forced laugh. "Tough taskmaster....my father lives and breathes Starfleet...anything that is not connected to Starfleet
he feels is a waste of time. " Tom was quiet for a few moments. "Itís kind of funny....when I was a kid I wanted to be just like him. I decided to join Starfleet to be just like him. Maybe that was the problem...we were both too much alike. We both wanted our way all the time."
Janeway gave a reassuring smile. "I do see the trend....But I remember a certain young helmsman telling me that his father will know about his rehabilitation when we go back home."
Tom replied softly, " Maybe I was a lot braver 70, 000 light years away from him. Besides Captain....thatís not really my father...itís just a hologram."
Janeway frowned at Tomís comment and said, "After working as the doctorís assistant for the last couple of years do you really think that."
Tom somberly replied. "No, Maíam."
Janeway looked at Tom and saw something different about him. He wasnít the cocky self assured pilot she came to know and respect over the last five years. He was more like a scared child. When she was at the Academy, she heard all the stories about Admiral Paris. He was known as a tough commanding officer who demanded the best out of his crew. Was he the same way at home.
Janeway mind returned to the present. "Tom, your father is only going to be on board a short time....why donít you go to the hangar and help with the modifications."
Tom looked up at her. "Captain....I canít. Iím due for my sickbay shift in about ten minutes."
"Iím sure the doctor would understand if you want to spend some time with your father."
Tom replied, "Oh no...my father always says you have to put duty first...Iím sure he understand. May I go now?"
Janeway watched as Ensign Paris left her ready room. A minute later her bell rang. "Come in."
Tuvok entered. "The modifications on the Delta Flyer is presiding on schedule....It should be ready to test in about 10 hours."
Janeway stood up from her desk. "That gives us less than 8 hours in which to test the modifications. After that, we lose contact with Admiral Paris...." Janeway paused for a moment. "Tuvok, has Tom ever talked to you about his father."
"I believe Mr. Paris goes out of his way to avoid that subject."
Janeway smiled at Tuvokís frankness. "I guess their estrangement seems strange to you when you are so far away from your children."
"Not at all captain...even on Vulcan sometimes parents and children have trouble communicating...Maybe they just need some time to go over their differences."
"Thatís the problem...they donít have the time....I wanted Tom to test pilot the flyer....but right now I donít just donít know if he can put his differences with his father away long enough to do it."
BíElanna Torres scanned the delta flyers engine with her tricorder and then turned to face Admiral Paris who watching carefully. "Admiral Paris....I donít think this engine configuration is stable enough to last all the way home."
Admiral Paris gave her a stern look. "All the simulations we conducted at Starfleet were successful....but we wonít know for sure until we take it out for a real flight."
"I agree". BíElanna smiled at Admiral Paris. "You know Admiral....you are nothing like I expected."
Admiral Paris smiled back. "What did you expect?...A monster with fangs."
Torres laughed. "Well, when I was at Starfleet Academy there were many stories about you."
Paris frowned. "Those stories at the Academy are designed to bring fear to the cadets... What does Tom say about me?"
"Tom doesnít really like to talk about the past."
"Lieutenant Torres....are you and my son close?"
Torres at first hesitated, then she replied. "I consider Tom to be one of my closet friends."
Angrily Torres replied. "What are you implying Admiral....? BíElanna took a deep breathe and tried to calm down and said in a more controlled voice. "My relationship with Mr. Paris is mine and his business."
The holographic figure of Admiral Paris said, "Iím sorry Lieutenant Torres....Iím sorry if I upset you. Itís just that I have so little time on Voyager and I want to get to know Tom again...Captain Janeway told me he changed and I want to believe that, but...."
Torres gave a slight smile. "I know...when I first met Tom...I thought he was an arrogant jerk."
" Now I know he is an arrogant jerk,...but Iíve come to accept it."
Admiral Paris smiled. "He was always like that....even as a little boy.
He always wanted his way...he had this stupid fantasy about studying the sea...I had to straighten him out."
Torres frowned. "Admiral...I think we better get back to the modifications."
Admiral Paris nodded in agreement.
Tom was recalabrating a medical tricorder in sickbay when the doctor walked in. "Mr. Paris Iím surprised to see you here.?"
"Hi Doc....Iím just doing my duty shift."
"I thought you would be spending some time with your father.í
Tom frowned. "I have to recalabrate the medical tricorders...remember, you asked me to do it."
"I asked you three weeks ago. Why the sudden need to do it now?"
Just then the sickbay door opened and Harry came in holding his right hand with his left. The doctor walked over to him. "What happened to your hand Mr. Kim?"
Harry glanced at Tom with some confusion on his face and then turned to the doctor. "I burned my hand on a powet conduit."
The doctor waved his medical tricorder over Kimís hand. "You just have a second degree burn." He took a hypospray from a nearby table and used it on Harryís hand. "You will be fine Mr. Kim...It will be a few days before you can play the clarinet again."
"Thanks doctor." The doctor walked to the other side of sickbay and entered something into a computer workstation. Harry turned to Tom. "Tom, Iím surprised to see you here....I thought you be in engineering with your father."
Tom looked away. "Iím doing my duty shift....why is everyone giving me the third degree?"
Harry replied angrily. "I donít believe you...Everyone on this ship has family and friends they wish they could see and your father is right here and you wonít even talk to him."
Tom turned away from Harry and said coldly, "I had nothing to do with my father when I was on Earth... and I donít see why just because his holo image appears on Voyager I have to see him now."
"Your right Tom....are you still the same guy runs away when things get a little tough?"
"You told me yourself that after you the told the truth about the accident you ran away...you got as far away as you could from everyone who loved you...your parents....your sisters....Your still running."
Tom turned away. He could not look Harry in the eye and he quietly said, "I remember when I was a kid, I use to visit my Dad at Starfleet Command...In his office he has photographs of all the great Parises that were in Starfleet....He used to tell me stories about all their accomplishments...they all seemed so brave and perfect. My Dad always smiled when he talked about them. He was so proud of them....I wanted him to be proud of me like that."
Harry put his hand on Tomís shoulder and smiled. "Iím sure your Dad will be very proud of your accomplishments over the last five years."
Tom gave a short chuckle. "Yeah Harry...I could tell him I got sentenced to the brig and was demoted to Ensign for insubordination....Iím sure that will make him proud."
"Tom...everyone aboard Voyager knows that we would not have made it this far without your flying skills...when we lost Voyager to the Kazon and got stranded on Hannon Four, it was you who got away and got help...we would still be stuck on the planet if it wasnít for you."
Tom just shook his head. "Harry...I canít face him."
Harry took his arm off Tomís shoulder and then said quietly, "Then maybe you havenít changed as much as you claimed to."
Harry walked out of sickbay. Tom just stood there staring at his friend. The doctor walked up to him. "Mr. Kim is right."
Tom turned to the doctor. "What...your were eavesdropping?"
"Not at all....I just have excellent hearing...Someone once told me that when you have a family you have to deal with the bad and the good."
For a moment Tom looked confused, then he understood. "You mean your holographic family?"
The Doctor looked thoughtful. "I did not want to face my daughter Belleís death....you were the who convinced me I should...I helped me to understand the crew better....I now know how it feels to miss someone."
Captain Kathryn Janeway entered the shuttle deck followed by Chakotay and Tuvok. Admiral Paris was standing next to the flyer discussing something with BíElanna Torres and Harry Kim. Janeway smiled. It was nice seeing her crew work so well with her mentor. Admiral Paris walked up to her. "Kathryn all the modifications are finished...I would like to be on the flyer when it is being tested before I have to...."
Janeway nodded. They only had about four hours before Admiral Paris would leave and she wanted him to know if the test was successful. She turned to BíElanna and said, "BíElanna would you like to pilot the flyer?"
Just then a familiar voice said, "Captain....if it okay with you I would like to fly the Delta Flyer." Janeway turned and looked at Tom Paris.
Janeway glanced at Admiral Paris and then turned to face his son. "Ensign Paris...are sure youíre up for this flight?"
"Yes, Captain...I really want to do this."
Janeway turned to Admiral Paris. "Is it okay with you, Admiral?"
Admiral Paris just nodded. Janeway gave a small smile. "Gentlemen....be ready to take off in 15 minutes."
Tom Paris sat in the Delta Flyer pilot seat and took a deep breath. He stared at his hands and saw they were trembling slightly.
BíElanna came in through the hatch. "Tom take it easy on the controls...the modifications might make the ship more sensitive."
Torres walked up to where Tom was sitting and took his right hand into her and squeezed it. "You okay."
"Is there a back door out of here?"
BíElanna laughed, gave his hand another squeeze and kissed him on the lips. "Iíll see you later." She let go of his hand and walked out of the hatch, passing by Admiral Paris. BíElanna smiled. "Good luck, Admiral."
He smiled back and said, "Thank you, Lieutenant."
Admiral Paris walked into the Delta Flyer and took the seat near to Tom. "Is everything ready Ensign?"
Tom looked up from the controls and turned to his father. "Yes , sir." Tom pressed the comm. "Flyer to Voyager....Iím starting the launch sequence."
Janewayís voice came over the comm, "Tom....Admiral, good luck. We will monitor you from the bridge. Janeway out."
Tom fingers flew across the Delta Flyerís control board. Admiral Paris watched him intently as the Flyer lifted in the air. "It will take about 45 minutes to reach the plasma field Admiral."
"Yes we have to test the flyer in the plasma field to make sure the modifications would hold under those conditions."
Admiral Paris stared at his son somberly. "Tom....we really havenít had a chance to talk."
"Iíve been busy, sir."
Admiral Paris angrily said, "Too busy to ask about your mother.... and your sisters."
"How is Mom?"
"She misses you....so do Kathleen and Moira." He stopped for a minute. "It was really hard on them when the Voyager was presumed lost."
"I miss them too."
Angrily Paris said, "You could of shown your mother more concern....I canít count the number of times she cried herself to sleep."
Tom Paris stared at his father. "Itís hard to stay in contact when you are sent 70,000 light years from home."
"Iím not talking about that....I mean after you left Starfleet you barely stayed in contact with her."
"You mean after I got kicked out." He turned his attention back to the controls. "What did you want me to do? Stay in San Francisco?....I couldnít do that. It is a Starfleet town...I saw the way my former colleagues looked at me."
"But why join the Marquis?"
"Because they let me fly again." He was quiet for a few seconds and then said, "Besides Dad....why do you care?....You werenít even at my trial...Mom was there but you werenít." Tom was silent for a minute and then he said angrily, "Dad....why are you really here?"
Admiral Paris calmly replied. "I told you...Iím here to help with the modifications."
Tom gave a small laugh. "Come on Dad....we both know that Starfleet could of sent an hologram of anyone. You probably called in every favor owed to you so Starfleet would pick you for this mission...Why did you really come....to make sure I couldnít disgrace the Paris name any further."
Admiral Paris turned away. "Tom...I."
Tom looked surprised. "This is a first....Iíve never seen you at a loss for words..."
Admiral Paris frowned. "Tom...you had so much promise...you were just a natural when it came to flying....why did you lie?"
"Why did I lie?í Tom chuckled. "I lied because I didnít want to be an embarrassment to you like I have been my entire life."
"I never called you an embarrassment."
"Flying was the one thing I did well. I think I liked it so much because that was the only time I was just me. I was Tom Paris....not Tom Paris , the admiralís son...I think part of me did not want to admit the accident was my fault...I didnít want you to know that I messed up at the only thing I was good at... Three people died because of me....Three of the best friends I ever had....Charlie Day and I practically grew up together...Bruno taught me so much about skiing, and Odile....I think she was my first true love."
Admiral Paris said sadly. "Tom, you could have come to me."
Tom laughed. "Come to you? How could I come to you? Every time I discovered a new interest, you treated it like a passing fancy. When I told you I wanted to study the ocean, you sent me to my room and told me to study for the academy."
"I thought you wanted to go to the academy?"
"I did...but you made me eat, sleep and dream about it...I remember whenever I brought home a grade that wasnít an "A" you always lectured my about how I had to work harder to get into Starfleet Academy..."
"I was just trying to give you focus...I didnít want you to waste your potential....Kathleen and Moira they always did great in school and obeyed the rules...you were always the reckless one....breaking the rules...when you first flew a shuttle, you flew too fast.... and almost crashed...I was afraid if I didnít rein you in, you would have killed yourself doing some crazy stunt...I wasnít strict with you because you embarrassed me...I was strict with you because I wanted you to make something out of your life."
Before Tom could respond he was distracted by a signal from the comm. The female voice of the computer said, "You are now at the proper coordinates." Not knowing what to say Tom quietly pressed a few buttons and said, "We better do the test now."
Admiral Paris said in a clipped voice, "Yes we should."
Tom looked at his father for a second. He then turned on the comm. "Delta Flyer to Voyager. Weíre at the test site."
Janewayís voice came over the comm." Take it slow Tom."
"Yes, maíam....were going in."
On the bridge of Voyager, Janeway sat in her chair and watched as the main viewscreen showed the Delta Flyer picking up speed. Chakotay was sitting next to her. He looked at the screen. "Captain....are you sure it was wise to let Tom fly that ship."
"Tom is our best pilot....I donít think he will let his problems with his father affect this mission."
Chakotay somberly said, "My father did not approve of me joining Starfleet...we were never able to resolve our differences....I hope Tom has better luck with his father."
On the Delta Flyer, Tom Paris pressed the controls and dived into the plasma storm. The ship started shaking uncontrollably. Admiral Paris watched his son closely. He saw a new maturity in his son he never saw before. He then turned to the control panel. "Tom the engines are heating up."
The computer voice stated, "Warp failure in 4.53 minutes."
"Damn it," Tom said.
"Lower your speed by 5 percent. Iíll check the dampening fields."
Admiral Paris checked the panels. "The storm knocked the matter injection out of alignment. Keep the ship steady...I will fix it."
Admiral Paris pulled the cover off the control panel and started rewiring the system. The computer voice stated, "Warp failure in 2 minutes."
At the helm Tom struggled to keep the ship steady. Sweat was pouring down his face. "Hurry...I canít keep the ship steady for long." Just then a spark went through the body of Admiral Owen Paris. Tom shouted, "No....Dad."
The image of Admiral Paris stood up. He looked shaky but he said calmly, "It takes more than a spark to kill me. The rewiring is done. Tom letís go for it."
Tom smiled. "Yes sir."
The computer voice stated, "The engine is now working at peak efficiency."
Tom smiled at his father and opened the comm. "Paris to Voyager."
Janewayís voice said, " Tom...Admiral Paris how did the test go."
Tom smiled at his Dad and said, "It was a little rocky at first...put the engine modifications work."
"Great news, Tom...Are you heading back for Voyager."
"Captain....if itís okay with you...I want to give the Admiral a little tour of the Delta Quadrant."
Janewayís voice said, "Yes...Tom....see you soon."
When the Delta Flyer landed the only person in the shuttle bay was Captain Janeway. Admiral Paris got out of the Flyer followed by his son. Janeway smiled at them. "Gentlemen...I see you had a nice flight."
Tom smiled at her. "Yes, Captain...we both got a lot of things off our chests."
Admiral Paris smiled back at them. "I think my mission was successful in more ways then one." Just then he started fading.
"Dad," Tom said panickedly.
"We knew this would happen." He turned to Janeway and said, "Kathryn....could we say good- bye alone."
Janeway smiled and shook Admiral Parisís hand. "Iíll see you back at the Alpha Quadrant."
"I have not doubt about that. Your have a good crew."
Janeway left the shuttlebay and Tom watched as his fatherís image started to fade. He could see the shuttlebay wall through his fatherís image and he started to feel empty inside. For the first time in his life, he felt confident enough to look his father in the eye. Instead of seeing the disgusted look he always felt, there was something else in Owen Parisís blue-gray eyes. He saw warmth, and compassion, and for the first time in his life, he saw love. His father smiled at him. "Tom....Iím glad we had this time together."
"Iím glad too...."
Owen Paris started to fade some more. "Tom, donít let BíElanna go. She is a good woman....She reminds me of your mother."
With a puzzled look on his face Tom said, "Mom?"
Admiral Paris smiled. "Your Mom had a wild side when she was young." Admiral Paris smiled and then completely disappeared.
Tom watched the empty space where his father was a minute ago. Dad, he thought, We will get home....I have to get to know my father again.
Tom entered the bridge from the turbolift. He saw Janeway sitting in the Captainís chair. Sitting next to her was Chakotay. Tuvok and Harry where at their stations. BíElanna and Seven was by an engineering console having another of their heated arguments. The Doctor and Neelix were standing off to the side. Tom smiled. The Voyager crew was his family, but for the first time in a long time he realized he had another family on Earth. He was now more determined then ever to get home to see his other family. To see his Mother, his sisters and his father.
Tuvok said to Janeway, "Captain the worm hole just closed completely."
Janeway frowned a little. "We just learned how to save five years off our trip....Iím sure we will find some other short cuts along the way.
Tom walked to the helm and replaced Ensign Williams. He sat down and then he noticed everybody was staring at him. Just then Seven of Nine walked over to him. She handed him something wrapped in silver paper. She said. "Mr. Paris....I found this in the buoy. Your name was on it."
Tom took the object and said. "Thanks Seven." He unwrapped the object and unveiled a toy sailboat. "Oh my God....I donít believe it...." He saw his crewmates giving him puzzling looks and he added, "When I was eight years old I was suppose to be studying for a Astro-Physics test. My Dad caught me playing with this sailboat....he took it away...he said heíd give it back to me when I proved I earned it...I canít believe he kept it all these years."
Janeway smiled at him. "Mr. Paris...I think your father is telling you something."
"Yes...he told me I still have a reason to go back home."
Janeway said, "Would you please set course for home."
Tom Paris smiled back at her. He
placed his boat on top of his console and said, "Yes maíam....Earth
here we come."