Title: The Choice
Codes: P, VOY/X:WP
Archive: Got my other stories? Go ahead. Otherwise, ask
Disclaimer: Nothing but the story belongs to me. Star Trek
belongs to Paramount and any characters from Xena: Warrior
Princess belongs to Renaissance Pictures. (Except the gods, they
belong to themselves)
Summary: Do I have to? I'm really bad at this stuff. Hmm. Tom
gets into trouble. Again. Only this time it isn't his fault.
Author's notes: This is something different. This story has been
bouncing around my head for quite a while. I finally gave in and
wrote it down. As always with my stories, this is an AU
Dedicate to my twin who first introduced me to Xena: Warrior
Princess fanfic. This is the story I told you I wasn't going to
"This is the doctor. Please activate your monitor to the
Emergency Medical Holographic channel."
Captain Janeway did as requested, and a moment later, the doctor
appeared on the main view screen on the bridge. "Yes, Doctor?"
"Captain, your presence is required in sickbay immediately," the
"Is there something wrong, Doctor," Janeway asked.
"It's Lieutenant Paris, Captain," the doctor said. He hesitated
briefly before he continued. "I'll explain when you get to
Janeway rose from her chair, saying, "On my way. Janeway out."
As Harry cut the link to sickbay, Janeway turned to Chakotay.
"Commander, you're with me." Then she glanced at Tuvok.
"Tuvok, you have the bridge." With that she moved to the turbo
lift, closely followed by Chakotay.
Once they entered the lift, Janeway called out, "Deck five," then
turned and gave Chakotay a quizzical look, sensing that he had a
Chakotay smiled slightly at his intuitive captain. Then he sighed
and asked, "Why did you bring me with you? The doctor only
asked for *your* presence in sickbay, and it's not like Tom and I
are the best friends in the galaxy."
Janeway flashed Chakotay a quick smile. "I know that." Then
she snorted. "It's hard to miss. The two of you rarely do anything
together unless you're on duty." She held up a hand to forestall
his next comment. "I know. You play the odd game of pool on
the holodeck, but that's about it. Unless there's something you
haven't told me?" She looked at Chakotay with a raised eyebrow.
When he shook his head 'no', she smiled again. "I didn't think
so. But, I asked you to come along, because I have a gut feeling
that you'll be needed."
Before Chakotay could comment, the lift arrived on deck five,
and the door opened. The two of them stepped out of the car and
walked down the hall to sickbay. When they arrived, Janeway
triggered the door and went in, Chakotay on her heels. The two
of them looked around for the doctor. Janeway noticed Tom
lying on one of the biobeds, apparently asleep. She frowned in
concern, then spotted the doctor in his office. With a quick
glance at Chakotay, who'd also seen Tom, the two of them
joined the EMH.
The doctor looked up from his monitor when he heard someone
arrive. Seeing both the captain *and* the first officer, he lifted an
eyebrow, but refrained from commenting. "Captain,
Commander. Thank you for getting here so promptly," he said as
Janeway nodded, then got straight to the point. "Doctor, what's
wrong with Lieutenant Paris?"
The doctor resisted the urge to sigh as, for a split-second he
wondered how to tell her. Then he decided that she would prefer
that he just told her straight out. "I'm afraid that Lieutenant Paris
is dying, Captain."
Janeway heard Chakotay echo her shocked gasp, but didn't turn
to look at him. Instead, she focused her attention solely at the
doctor. "Dying?" she repeated. When the doctor nodded, she
The doctor frowned slightly, his puzzlement clear. "I'm sorry,
Captain. I can't explain it," he said. He raised a hand to halt
whatever Janeway was about to say, then proceeded to tell her
what he knew. "Lieutenant Paris came to see me about two hours
ago with a severe head ache, stomach cramps and nausea. In
addition, he complained about dizziness. Naturally I gave him an
extensive examination," the doctor continued, then hesitated.
"And?" Janeway prompted impatiently.
"Lieutenant Paris' readings are... odd," the doctor said
"Odd?" Chakotay questioned, speaking for the first time since he
and Janeway arrived in sickbay. "Odd, how?"
The doctor frowned again, then explained. "All Mr. Paris'
readings keep jumping all over the place. His blood pressure
skyrockets, then gets dangerously low, only to elevate to equally
dangerous high levels. The same happens with his heartbeat. Not
to mention his body temperature." For the second time in ten
minutes, the doctor almost sighed. "The only thing I'm sure of is
that, if this continues for much longer, Tom Paris will die."
Chakotay and Janeway stood silently while they digested this
information. After a few minutes, Janeway spoke again. "Can't
you cure him?"
The doctor shook his head 'no'. "Not until I figure out what's
When this news seemed to make Janeway speechless, Chakotay
asked, "How's Mr. Paris, now? We saw him sleeping on one of
The doctor turned his attention to the commander. "Lieutenant
Paris isn't sleeping, Commander," he said quietly. "He's
unconscious or comatose. I can't tell which."
Just then, a flash of blue light in the main part of sickbay
interrupted the conversation. The three people in the doctor's
office turned as one and looked through the window. When they
saw a tall dark-haired man standing beside Tom's bed, Janeway
sighed in annoyance, then walked out of the office, followed by
Chakotay and the doctor.
"I'm not in the mood for your games, Q," Janeway said as she
entered sickbay. When the man straightened and turned around,
she saw her mistake. This was obviously not Q. This man was
dark-haired, yes, but he seemed to be taller than Q, and he had
black eyes in a face that seemed... perfect. And yet there was
something in that face that unsettled Janeway, and a quick glance
at Chakotay showed that she wasn't the only one affected.
Janeway turned her head back to look at the stranger. She let her
eyes travel over his body and noticed that he was wearing black
leather, and that his body appeared to be as perfect as his face.
She frowned slightly when she noticed that he was carrying a
sword. Her eyes snapped back to her... guest's face. Her jaw
tightened when she noticed the slight amusement in the dark
The man lifted an eyebrow, but made no comment about
Janeway's inspection of him. "I am not Q," he stated the obvious
Janeway barely refrained from rolling her eyes. "That much is
clear," she replied. "What I want to know is, who are you? And
what are you doing on my ship?"
"I suppose you can say that I'm Tom's... protector." The
hesitation before the last word was almost unnoticeable. "As to
why I'm here," he continued, "I would think that's obvious. Tom
"How did you know that?" Janeway asked, not bothering to
denying the truth.
The visitor smirked, an expression that was shockingly similar to
Tom's trademark smirk. "I know *everything* about Tom
Paris," he replied. "I'm also aware of the fact that the good
doctor," he nodded in the EMH's direction, "can't do anything to
Although they speculated, no one asked the obvious question that
the last remark invited. Instead, Chakotay inquired about
something else that had roused his curiosity. "When you told us
who, or rather what, you are, you hesitated before saying the
word 'protector'," he started. At the visitor's slight nod, he
continued. "Why is that?"
"I was about to say that I'm Tom's guardian angel." The amount
of disgust that the guest managed to get into those two words
impressed even the doctor. "However, since I'm no angel, I
thought 'protector' would be a better word," he finished. He
glanced at Tom, then turned his attention back to Janeway. "Now
Captain, if you don't have any other questions, I'd like to speak
with your pilot."
Before Janeway could answer, the EMH spoke up. "You *do*
realize that Mr. Paris," he didn't notice the visitor's flinch at the
name, but Janeway and Chakotay did and wondered about it. The
doctor continued obliviously, "Is either unconscious or comatose,
and as such can't answer you, don't you?"
Tom's protector turned his eyes to the hologram. "Yes, Doctor.
I'm aware of that," he said, slight annoyance showing on his
face. "Now, if you'll excuse me?" His glance went to Janeway.
When she nodded, he turned and looked at Tom's pale face. He
lifted a hand and stroked the blond hair gently, never taking his
eyes off of Tom's face.
Suddenly the dark gaze intensified and the man straightened
again, frowning in puzzlement. "What is this?" he muttered,
almost to himself.
Chakotay and Janeway who had turned away to give him some
privacy twirled around to look at their guest. "What's wrong?"
Janeway asked anxiously.
Tom's guardian didn't answer, instead his frown deepened in
concentration. A moment later, another flash of light preceded a
new visitor. "You called, Uncle?" the new arrival asked.
"Yes, Ace," the dark-haired man answered. He gestured to Tom.
"Take a look at this."
Ace did as instructed and looked at Tom. After a few moments,
he turned back to his uncle, obviously surprised. "This is
amazing," he stated. At the other man's questioning glance, he
continued. "I have to check a few things, but I think...."
Whatever he thought was left unsaid, but Tom's protector
suddenly seemed hopeful.
Ace turned to look at the EMH. "Doctor, can you tell me what
Tom last ate?" he asked in his mild voice.
"What he ate?" the doctor repeated. "I suppose I could. Why?"
Ace smiled gently. "It's important. If I know what he had
for...?" he trailed off questioningly.
"Breakfast," Janeway supplied helpfully.
The doctor shook his head in disagreement. "Mr. Paris told me
that he hadn't eaten this morning because of the nausea."
"Dinner, then," Ace concluded. When the doctor nodded 'yes',
Ace continued. "If I know what Tom had for dinner, I might be
able to decide what brought this on." He frowned. "This
shouldn't have happened. His disease was supposed to *stay*
"What disease?" Chakotay asked with a slight frown of his own.
Ace glanced at the commander. "My uncle can explain it," he
said, then turned back to the hologram. "Doctor, if we could talk
in your office," he suggested.
The EMH nodded and headed to his office, closely followed by
Janeway looked at Ace's uncle. Seeing that he had returned his
attention to Tom, she was loath to disturb him, but she needed
some answers. She cleared her throat. When that didn't get a
reaction, she went over and hesitantly touched his arm.
This time he turned his head and glanced at her. "Yes?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you," Janeway apologized sincerely. "But I
have a few questions, if you don't mind answering them."
The dark-haired man glanced at Tom once more, before he
turned his attention back to Janeway and nodded his consent.
Then he followed her over to where Chakotay stood. "What do
you want to know?"
"Well, Mr...." Janeway trailed off and looked ruefully at the
visitor. "I'm sorry, but I don't know your name."
Tom's protector smirked, and again the two others were struck
by how similar the expression was to Tom's. "I'm Ares," He said
in a tone of voice that told them that they should know who
However, neither Janeway nor Chakotay had the faintest idea,
although Janeway thought it sounded familiar. She just couldn't
remember where she'd heard the name before. "Ares," she
repeated thoughtfully, trying to think of why she recognized it.
Ares sighed in annoyance. "I'm the God of War," He informed
them. "You might have heard about Me." His voice was ironic.
Janeway's face cleared as she recalled where she'd heard the
name before. "We learned about You in history class in school,"
she said. "We were taught about all the gods in ancient Greece."
Then something occurred to her, and she lifted a quizzical
eyebrow. "The other man, Ace?" She waited for Ares' nod of
confirmation, then continued. "He wouldn't happen to be
Asclepius, the God of Healing, would he?"
Ares smiled. He always knew that Kathryn Janeway was smart.
"Very good. Yes, that is My nephew, Asclepius."
"He said that You can tell us what's wrong with Tom," Janeway
said with a quick glance at her pilot.
Ares sighed. Of course Ace would leave it to *Him* to tell the
two mortals why Tom was dying. Or, as much of the why as He
knew. He still didn't understand the reason for this resurgence of
Tom's illness. He shook off his thoughts and focused on Janeway
and Chakotay. "I'm not a Healer, so I'll explain in simple, non-
"That should make it easier to understand," Janeway said.
Are chuckled quietly. "Hopefully, it will." Then He sighed again
and proceeded to explain. "Tom suffers from a disease called
Ronar Syndrome," He began. At the mortals' quizzical
expressions, He elaborated. "Ronar Syndrome is very rare, so it's
not surprising that you haven't heard of it. In fact," He added as
an afterthought, "I doubt that your doctor has ever heard about it,
it's that rare."
"So, how is it cured?" Chakotay asked.
Ares turned His black eyes to the commander. "It isn't," He told
Janeway inhaled sharply. "What do You mean, it isn't?"
Ares looked at Janeway. "I *mean*," He said, "That there *is*
no cure." He glanced at the two mortals' horrified faces and
wished to Gaia he didn't have to tell them the rest. However,
they had to be told. "That's not all."
Janeway was almost afraid to ask and judging by Chakotay's
silence, he felt the same way. "You mean there's more?"
Ares nodded, indicating that there was. "As you've probably
figured out, Tom's illness is lethal." He waited for their nods of
confirmation, then continued. "It is also very painful. Even the
strongest painkiller won't work for long periods of time." He
hesitated for an instant, then added, "And after a short time, any
and all painkillers will be useless."
Chakotay and Janeway were shocked into silence by the
implications of that statement. If none of the painkillers worked
it would mean that Tom would be in great pain until he died.
Finally Chakotay found his voice again. "How long does he
have?" he asked, hoping for Tom's sake that it wouldn't be long.
"A week or two," Ares replied quietly.
By now, Janeway had managed to shake off the worst of her
shock. "Then we'll make his last time as pleasant as we can," she
said. "And I think, if Asclepius doesn't have any objections, that
we should move Tom back to his quarters if he wakes up. He
doesn't like sickbay," she added.
Ares snorted in amusement. "Or, to be more precise, Tom
*hates* sickbay," He said. "I'll ask Ace if there's any problems
with letting Tom be in his quarters. I don't think there is since
My nephew doesn't need a sickbay, but it never hurts to ask first.
Oh, and Tom *will* wake from his coma," He added regretfully.
Both Janeway and Chakotay were saddened by this news. Then
another thought occurred to Chakotay. "How long has Tom had
Ronar Syndrome?" he asked.
"Since birth," Ares answered. "Ace noticed it when He delivered
Tom." Before either of the mortals could ask, the God of War
explained how Tom had survived all these years and why he was
sick now. "Ace managed to suppress the disease, so it's been
dormant. Tom must have ingested something that activated it."
As Ares finished speaking, Asclepius and Voyager's EMH exited
the latter's office and joined the trio. War looked questioningly at
His nephew. "Well?"
The God of Healing sighed. "It was something he ate," He said,
including the two mortals in His glance. Then He turned His
attention to His uncle. "Can I talk to You in private?" When Ares
nodded, the two of them moved away from the mortals and the
The trio from Voyager watched in silence as the God of War and
the God of Healing spoke in hushed voices. The three of them
wondered what the divine guests discussed so intently, but were
confident that they would be told if they needed to know.
A moment later, Ares turned and went to stand by Tom's biobed
while Asclepius returned to the pilot's two commanding officers
and CMO. He looked at each in turn, then said, "Join Him,"
gesturing to His uncle. "Ares will explain. I have to take care of
something." With that He disappeared in a flash of light, leaving
the mortals and their holographic doctor to obey Him.
Ares looked up when he heard the three others approach. "Let
Me just wake Tom, then I'll explain," He said quietly.
The doctor opened his mouth to say something, but Janeway's
raised hand and slight frown made him close it again without
making a comment. Instead, he turned his attention back to the
God of War, curious as to how the man... *god* was going to
wake someone he'd been told was comatose.
Ares lifted a hand and laid it on Tom's forehead, sending some
of His energy into him before He spoke. "Awaken."
The gentle tone didn't disguise the godly command, and a brief
moment later, Tom's eyes fluttered, then opened. He blinked a
few times and when he could focus, he immediately turned his
head toward the familiar voice that had brought him out of his
When Tom saw the God of War, he managed a slight smile
despite the pain he was in. "I must be bad off if You're here," he
said with a weak attempt at humor.
Ares smiled slightly, not at the poor joke, but at the fact that Tom
made one. It meant that he wasn't in too much pain. "I'm sorry to
wake you," He said. "But I have some news."
"If You woke me up to tell me that the Ronar Syndrome is no
longer dormant..." Tom started with a glare.
War shook His head. "I wouldn't awaken you to tell you
something you already knew." He lifted an eyebrow. "As you
should know," He added.
Tom's glare faded into an apologetic expression. "Yeah, I know.
I'm sorry, but *You* know what I'm like when I've just woken,"
he said. He didn't wait for Ares to reply. "So, tell me the news
that made You get me out of my coma."
"Ace was here a moment ago," Ares began. "He found out that
one of the ingredients in the meal you had last night caused the
resurgence of the Ronar Syndrome."
Tom frowned in puzzlement. "I didn't know that food, or
anything else for that matter, could do that," he said.
"Neither did We," Ares said. "But that's not the only thing Ace
discovered," He informed the pilot. When Tom just gave Him a
questioning look, He elaborated. "He found a cure."
Something in War's voice alerted Tom. "What's the problem?"
Ares sighed. He should have known that Tom would pick up on
His... reservations. If anyone had said He was uncertain, Ares
would personally skin them alive, but He was honest enough to
admit to Himself that He *was* unsure about how Tom would
react when he heard exactly *what* the cure was. "There isn't a
problem as such," He said.
Tom didn't look convinced, but let it go. "Okay. So, tell me
about this cure Ace found, and why He didn't find it before," he
"To answer your last question first, Ace didn't discover the cure
until now because there wasn't one. But, whatever you ate last
night that activated the Ronar Syndrome also did something
else," Ares explained. "It changed it, so now there is a way to
Tom considered that for a moment, decided it was odd and
shrugged his acceptance. "That answers one question. It doesn't
make any sense to me, but it answers it," he said, then narrowed
his eyes at the God of War. "Now, stop stalling and tell me what
the mystery treatment is," he demanded.
Ares hesitated for a moment longer, then revealed exactly how
Tom could be cured of the Ronar Syndrome. "The only way to
get rid of your disease is to change you into a woman," He said.
Tom blinked in surprise and quelled his instinctive reaction,
which was to outright refuse. "What's the catch?" he asked,
knowing that there was one.
Ares looked straight into Tom's eyes and told him, "If you let Us
turn you into a woman, it's permanent. If you're ever changed
back, you will die instantly."
Tom nodded in understanding, having expected something like
that. He sat silently, considering the choice he had to make. Die
of the Ronar Syndrome in a week or two. Or live as a woman. He
ignored the conversation of his four companions as he thought
about whether or not he could accept being a woman for the rest
of his life.
Finally, after an hour of weighing the pros and cons of an
existence as a female versus eternal pace in the Elysian Fields as
a man, Tom reached a decision. He shook off his thoughts and
interrupted the ongoing discussion between the God of War,
Janeway, Chakotay and the doctor by addressing War. "Ares," he
Everyone went silent and turned to Tom. Ares looked into the
pilot's eyes and saw what his choice was. War got a distant
expression on His face as He summoned Asclepius and some of
The others were silent for a moment, Tom knowing what Ares
was doing and the other three wondering what Tom had decided
and how War had known. "What did you choose?" Janeway
finally asked hesitantly.
Tom turned his head and glanced at the CMO and his two
commanding officers before he answered. "I have no desire to
die," he said seriously. "So, I'm going to let the gods change me
into a woman."