by Riley Mackenzie (email@example.com)
Date: 21 June 2000
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them, I‘m just borrowing them.
Summary: How does the crew of Voyager handle the loss of one of their own?
Archive: Fine with me, just please tell me where.
###"The wormhole is destabilizing."
B‘Elanna frantically worked over her engineering station ignoring Harry‘s forewarning. She wasn‘t going to let this happen.
"I just need thirty seconds. I can boost the power supply. It should stabilize the wormhole enough for him to get out of there."
She shut out all other comments of the bridge crew, she had to concentrate, she had to work faster. Tom‘s life depended on it.
As the console responded to her commands, she began a silent count down. It would work, she just knew it would.
"The perimeter is shrinking."
"Lieutenant, we need that power NOW."
"Just another couple of seconds."
"Sensors are showing the shuttle‘s shields are failing."
"Captain, we are too close. Voyager will be caught in the wake of the collapse. We must move to a safer distance."
"The wormhole is gone."
She was so close.
B‘Elanna couldn‘t raise her head, couldn‘t acknowledge that her efforts had failed.
Shaking her head, Voyager‘s Chief Engineer ignored the concerned voice of her commanding officer.
He couldn‘t be gone.
This couldn‘t be the end of it.
It just couldn‘t be.
There had to be something more they could do.
That she could do.
Her voice faltered as a strong hand settled on her shoulder, one offering comfort and support, one telling her to let go. But she couldn‘t, she just couldn‘t accept it.
Tom wasn‘t gone.
He couldn‘t be.
They had so many things they still had to do.
Again, B‘Elanna shook her head, pushing the hand away. She turned in her chair to address her friend and former Captain.
"Chakotay, please, we have to try something."
She couldn‘t believe it. She, B‘Elanna Torres was begging. But what else could she do? If they were going to mount a rescue, it would have to be a ship wide effort. She couldn‘t do it herself.
"B‘Elanna, he‘s gone."
Chakotay‘s hands descended on her shoulders and she could feel him trying to pull her into his sympathetic embrace. She tried to pull away, use some of that inherited Klingon strength of hers, but she had no fight left in her.
The wormhole was gone.
Tom was gone.
Everything, for her, was gone.###
The garden, more a forest really then a garden, was beautiful, and B‘Elanna felt it calling to her, offering her some peace and solitude. Walking along the stone pathways, her body finally relaxing, she told herself to remember to tell Chakotay thank you for getting her out of her quarters.
She knew that she had him, and everyone else worried, but she was trying her best. Tom‘s disappearance hadn‘t been easy. And the Captain declaring him dead really hadn‘t sat well with her.
Allowing herself a half smile, B‘Elanna remember ripping into the Captain when she had called her into the ready room and told her that they were stopping the rescue attempts, that there was nothing more that they could do. Good thing Chakotay had been in the room, B‘Elanna couldn‘t say for sure that she wouldn‘t have done something other than yelling if he hadn‘t been there.
And even knowing that what the Captain was saying was true, it didn‘t make it any easier when Voyager had warped away, leaving any possibility of recovering Tom behind. A part of her wished that they could have just stayed there indefinitely, waiting for the
wormhole to reopen. But even if it had, all telemetry that they had received prior to the collapse gave less than a five percent change that the shuttle, let alone its occupant, could have survived.
Continuing her trek through the alien garden, B‘Elanna willed her mind to go blank. She didn‘t want to think about anything but the life around her, she wanted to do nothing but forget that the last several weeks had ever happened.
As she walked, B‘Elanna found it ironic that she was attempting to find solace in a place that as a child would have provoked feelings of anger and displeasure. She had an aunt that used to drag her to any and every botanical garden she could find and make B‘Elanna memorize every plant. She had hated that, but now....
"Tom would love this place."
Her footing faltered as the memories crashed down on her yet again. Tom was no longer here. He was gone and they would never have the opportunity to get to know this place or any other, not by himself, not together.
Shaking herself, Voyager‘s Chief Engineer refused to let her emotions take over. Not again. She had to be strong, she had to move on. Tom would have wanted her too, even though it was proving hard to do.
Sighing in frustration, B‘Elanna moved further along the path. She wanted to be alone. For once since his death, she wanted everyone to just leave her alone. Yes, she knew everyone was just concerned about her, but she was really tired of their constant hovering.
"Hey, B‘Elanna, where are you?"
Ignoring her fellow crew mate and friend, B‘Elanna walked on, her legs carrying her deeper into the maze of flowering trees and foliage. She didn‘t want to hurt anyone‘s feelings, but enough was enough. If she was to come to terms with Tom‘s death she needed some space, some solitude to do so. Why couldn‘t they understand that?
Continuing to ignore the searching voice, B‘Elanna turned another corner and hoped that she had traveled far enough under the canopy of limbs and leaves to keep her concealed.
Harry Kim had been Tom‘s best friend, and in fact her friend too, but she was fed up with all the attention focused on her. The only person she wanted to be with she couldn‘t have anymore and the crews continual hovering wasn‘t going to change that.
She had lost many friends and fellow crew mates first while a member of the Maquis and then as a member of Voyager‘s crew. Even still, Tom‘s death had been unexpected and heart breaking. She had realized long before that horrible day that he was the other half of her soul, her lover, her mate. No matter how afraid she was of any type of commitment, she loved him and she knew that he loved her. She had wanted nothing more than to get lost in that love.
Then everything had been ripped away. One minute they were trying to decide what to do for dinner and the next he was gone. She would never again feel his lips on hers, his arms holding her tight, comforting her. Never again hear his laugh, or see his smile. She would never be able to tell him how much he meant to her, how much she loved him. She would never have the chance to tell him goodbye.
Clenching her hands into fists she once again fought the unwanted tears that sprang to her eyes. She couldn‘t let them fall, she had to be strong and for a Klingon being strong meant no crying. And at a time like this, she could easily forgot that she was also half human, that side of her would not help her hold her resolve.
"There you are."
Closing her eyes she quickly pushed down the anger that was rising in her chest, yelling would get her nowhere and she really didn‘t want to hurt Harry, she just wanted him to leave her alone.
Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and asked, "Something I can do for you, Harry?"
Seemingly oblivious to the barely concealed resentment and anger, Voyager‘s Chief Operations Officer stopped in front of his friend and responded, "I just wanted to see if you would like some company?"
Rolling her eyes, B‘Elanna stepped around him and continued down the path. "Actually, Harry, I was hoping to have some time to myself, if that‘s okay with you."
"Oh, well I guess I could leave then."
B‘Elanna noticed that instead of leaving, he quickly caught up with her, walking far enough away to give her some space but at the same time close enough to make sure she knew he was there. After a few minutes of silence, she gave up and stopped.
"Harry, really, I just want to be alone right now. I need some time to think, without everyone watching my every move," seeing the determination in his eyes, she folded her arms and narrowed her own, "I‘m not looking for a place to commit ritual suicide, Harry, I just need some time alone."
Having been figured out, Harry Kim at least had the decency to blush as his dark eyes found something very fascinating to look at on the ground.
"B‘Elanna, we‘re just worried about you, that‘s all," he replied sheepishly, "I‘ve lost one friend, I don‘t want to lose another."
Looking upward at the patches of clear blue sky filtering through the overgrown tree tops, she again fought down her emotions. Voyager was her family and she loved them all dearly, so how could she not give in to the man who was more like her little brother than a fellow colleague.
"Okay, Harry, you can stay," she softly stated. Besides, she doubted that she‘d be able to get rid of him anyway. Turning, she resumed her wandering, "But no talking," she admonished.
Smiling, Harry fell into step beside her, grateful that she hadn‘t let her anger get the better of her. Tom would be proud of her, he thought and then cursed himself, Tom would have been proud of her.
"Captain Janeway, it is a pleasure to see you again."
"A pleasure to see you again as well, Tel-Gal-T," Kathryn Janeway said while returning the man‘s warm smile and shaking his proffered hand, "I would also like to thank you and your people for your hospitality and generosity."
It had been nearly four weeks since the fatal wormhole incident that had claimed the life of one of their crew, one of their family, and nearly two weeks since she signed Tom‘s death certificate and forced the crew to move on. Only problem, it was proving not so easy to do.
"We take great delight in assisting others, Captain, it is our pleasure, our honor and our way."
As the man bowed toward her, Kathryn‘s smile deepened. It wasn‘t everyday they came across such a friendly race, one who willing gave of themselves and their resources to help out a group of strangers. "Still, to just say thank you makes me feel sorely ungracious. You‘ve not only supplied us with needed food and minerals, that will last us for months, but have helped to repair my ship and granted shore leave for my crew."
Tel-Gal-T inclined his head in acknowledgment of her gratitude. Their planet had a seemingly unending abundance of resources, a gift his ancestors maintained was a blessing from a great, malevolent power. And as that was the case, nothing the planet graced them with was theirs to keep, but to share with any and all who passed their way. Voyager had just become the latest beneficiary.
"We Yurrian‘s are here but to serve," the simple man stated as he watched his guest‘s hazel eyes roam the countryside, her gaze intent on the heavens. He noted the sad, maybe even guilty half smile that crept onto her face, one that he had seen many times over the last few days from many of the Voyager‘s crew. "Would you consider it rude of me to ask you a personal question, Captain Janeway?"
"Of course not, Mr. Minister," she stated, thankful for the distraction. The view brought back too many memories of a self-conscious, cocky young pilot, one she knew she had caused the death of. "But I do hold the right to refuse to answer," she stated with a forced laugh.
The Yurrian smiled briefly before continuing, "I noticed that even though you and your crew seem happy for the chance to rest here, there is a deep sadness that permeates you all. I wish to inquire if there was anything we could do to help?"
At his unexpected offer, Kathryn‘s face fell and she quickly looked away, needing something else to look at other than the man‘s overly sympathetic dark eyes. But the view of the lush green countryside and the open blue skies was not what she wanted to look at either. Unwanted, a tear slide down her check.
"I apologize, Minister," she replied, struggling to control her emotions, "A short time ago we lost a member of my crew. A very dear member. It has been difficult for all of us."
"I am sorry for your loss, Captain," he stated, his voice filled with understanding and compassion, "it is never easy to lose someone one is close to."
Kathryn let the silence hang between them. It seemed ironic, when she first met Tom Paris she thought him nothing more than a shallow, good-for-nothing liar and spoiled brat. But after spending so many years together in their unwanted exile in the Delta Quadrant she had discovered the loyal, caring, compassionate man that had been hidden away beneath his protective facade.
And now he was gone, all because she wanted to find a quicker way home, all because she was willing to risk his life for her own selfish desires.
She never saw the Minister leave as she closed her eyes in a futile attempt to stop her tears from falling. Loss was a hard thing to swallow, especially when you were the one that was responsible for it.
"Hey Tabor, anything new?"
Ensign Tabor looked up from his diagnostic, "Nope, everything‘s running smoothly."
"Finally," Ensign Megan Delaney sighed with relief.
"So, where‘s the Chief?" Megan asked as her dark eyes scanned the engine room.
"Shore leave? You‘re kidding?" the young, dark hair woman asked, stunned by the news, "I didn‘t think she‘d ever leave her engines, let alone her quarters again."
"I know. I was surprised when I got the call to cover the shift," Tabor responded while finishing his scans. "But it‘s a good thing. She needs to get out. Get on with her life."
"Easier said than done."
Tabor just nodded his head in agreement, his own thoughts a muddle of not only the loss of Tom Paris, but the numerous family and friends they‘d all lost over the years.
"You know," Megan began, her soft voice breaking the silence that had descended, "I still can‘t believe he‘s gone. I mean, I know he is, but I still expect him to walk into the mess hall or Sandrine‘s or astrometrics, cracking some stupid joke."
"Yeah, he had an ability for being able to tell the worst jokes."
"How about the one about the Bolian and the smelly cheese," Megan asked, missing the distant tone in her friend‘s voice.
Tabor couldn‘t help but smile, "I don‘t think anyone will ever forget that one. It made absolutely no sense and there wasn‘t even a punch line."
"No, but Tom got everyone laughing anyway."
"It‘s just not the same around here," Tabor stated and than snorted and shook his head in disbelief, "I can‘t believe I‘m reminiscing over Tom Paris."
"Why?" Megan questioned, "You can‘t mean you still hated him?"
"No, I didn‘t still hate him, didn‘t even dislike him anymore. I‘m just not sure when that changed," Tabor stated, hoping that Megan understood what he meant, "I mean, we‘ve been friends, I guess you could call us friends, for quite a while now. I just never realized the anger I used to feel toward him wasn‘t there anymore. Weird."
"Funny how things change and you don‘t even think about it," Joe Carey commented as he joined them. "I assume you‘re talking about Paris?"
"Has anyone been able to talk about anything else?"
Joe just shrugged his shoulders. They had already lost so many people, one more shouldn‘t have mattered to them. But it did.
"He‘s going to be missed," Joe stated, adding his own thoughts to the conversation.
Megan and Tabor nodded their agreements.
"Remember when he pulled that prank on Tuvok?" Joe asked.
"Which one?" Ken Dalby questioned, joining the group and remembering several stunts that Tom had pulled on not only Tuvok, but many other crew members.
They continued reminiscing, others joining in as they wandered into engineering, adding their own memories to the various stories that came up. Ironically Tom Paris would never know just how much a part of their lives he had become.
After yet another failed attempt to contact his spirit guide, Commander Chakotay finally threw his hands up in the air and admitted defeat. He had come to his quarters with the intent of meditating, but he still couldn‘t concentrate, his mind still too troubled.
Shaking his head, Chakotay carefully rolled up his medicine bundle and climbed to his feet, silently putting it away. He knew everyone was having a hard time coming to terms with the death of Tom Paris and he had hoped that by meditating over the situation, that he would be able to better help them, especially since he was considered Voyager‘s defacto counselor.
Problem was, he was having too much trouble trying to sort out his own feelings to effectively help anyone else. He found it somewhat unsettling that he would feel so much guilt over one man‘s death, especially Tom Paris‘.
Not that they were enemies, that he held any animosity toward the younger man, well at least not anymore. They had put the past behind them, slowly dealing with what had transpired not only between them but what had happened in their individual pasts. They had made a lot of headway over the past six years.
So what was his problem? He hadn‘t given the order for Tom to take the shuttle into the wormhole, that had been the Captain. A decision he had supported, even though he knew it would be extremely dangerous. But that was part and parcel of being in Starfleet. Tom knew that.
Than again, maybe it was because it had happened so quickly. Not having the chance to say goodbye made it difficult to accept a death. But what more could they have done? They had stayed for more than two weeks hoping for some sign that the wormhole was going to reappear, but it didn‘t. And all indications were that it never would again. It had been an anomaly, something that had never appeared there before and apparently never would again. But that didn‘t matter, Tom Paris was still gone.
Moving toward the replicator in his living area, Chakotay order a glass of water and turned to the view port.
And then there was B‘Elanna.
He had seen the empty, hollow look in her eyes when she had finally accepted that Tom was gone. It was a look he had seen hundreds of times during the war and it was a look that continued to haunt him. For a brief moment he had wished that Tom and she had still been at odds with each other, at least then his death wouldn‘t have hurt so much.
But then, B‘Elanna wasn‘t the only one having a hard time of dealing with Tom‘s death. The Captain had been pretty quiet since that day too.
Tossing his glass back in the replicator, Chakotay decided even though he couldn‘t meditate, hiding in his quarters wasn‘t going to help anyone either. Slipping on his shoes, Voyager‘s first officer headed for the nearest transporter room. Maybe talking to Kathryn would help them both, keeping everything to themselves certainly wasn‘t doing them or anyone else any good.
Walking into his quarters, Harry collapsed on the couch.
It had been good to spend the day with B‘Elanna, even though she hadn‘t wanted him around.
Harry smiled as he made himself comfortable. He had seen the look in her eyes when he‘d stuck around after she‘d dismissed him and knew he was pushing it. But he had to make sure she was okay, that she wasn‘t going to do anything stupid. Tom wouldn‘t have wanted her to end her life just because of him, he would have wanted her to go on living, making the most out of everyday.
Something he himself was trying to do. He had started this journey as a wide-eyed, green-as-they-come, naive young man, someone who probably wouldn‘t have made it this long if not for the friendship of one Tom Paris.
Sighing, Harry thought back on the times Tom and he had shared. The good and not so good. But whatever was happening, Harry knew Tom would always be there for him, whether to share in the laughter or join in with the tears. And Tom never complained, always just patted him on the back and told him that that‘s what friends were for.
Now his friend was gone. Sometimes life really stunk.
Those gathered moved from engineering to various parts of the ship, everyone still talking, still remembering, others continuing to join in.
They continued on into the next day and the next. The words were cathartic, everyone drawing comfort and finding closure.
Finally, they could let him go.
Finally, they could find peace.
Tom Paris was gone, but his memory, his soul lived on, remembered by those who were his friends.
"We are gathered here this day, to pay our last respects to a fellow officer, crew member and friend," saying the words, Kathryn didn‘t try and stop the tears from flowing.
Returning to Voyager two days before, she and Chakotay had joined in the reminiscing and found they could let go of the pain, some of their guilt.
Harry joined in, talking of the man that so enriched his life, a man he considered his brother and always would.
Even B‘Elanna could not stop herself, it was now time to place Tom‘s memory in that sacred place in her heart and go on, just like he would have wanted her to do.
How a man who was once despised and hated could have so touched their lives was a mystery. One none of them were truly concerned about. Tom was special, remembered with love and for the good he‘d done. Each and every member of the crew of Voyager knew their lives were better having met one Thomas Eugene Paris.
And now as they assembled together on the green meadow, high on a mountain side, the crew of Voyager silently, humbly paid respect to their lost comrade. Words were no longer necessary, all that had needed saying had already been said.
Where the openness of the clear blue sky met the vastness of space, final goodbyes were said, the final step was solemnly taken to put Ensign Thomas Eugene Paris to rest.
Note: Text between ‚###‘ represents italicized text.