Title: Fades Yet Endures
Author: RoseKira@aol.com
Series: VOY Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: ST: VOY and all related characters owned by Paramount Studios. No copyright infringement intended.
Archive: Yes
Summary: Tom's story.


Today, I sat my last counseling session with Troi. My choice. Her fault. 

Nice woman, just too nice and nosy. She pries, her duty, but I'm not so
Starfleet even now that I'm willing to accept it blindly. I'm not so Starfleet that I appreciate the intrusion. Janeway suggested that she talk to me, just like she suggested Chakotay see the counselor about Seven. Ironic. If only she knew.

Troi did. I have no idea what Chakotay told her, but when I sat down this morning she asked me if I loved my husband. If my husband loved me. If I wondered.

Of course I do, daily. Tom is my best friend, almost, and the man I look up to most in the world, almost.


I don't doubt that Tom Paris cares for me, we have Miral as a connection. I've never doubted that he'd lay down his life to spare mine, and I hope he knows I'd do the same. Is that love? The kind of love that led us to a crazy Delta Quad elopement, to create Miral? Or has it changed , already, into that 'married' love you hear so awfully much about? I'm young. I'd hoped to hold off on the old shoe
business. No hope of that, and along came Seven.

I watched them. Oh, not that I saw anything worth repeating... I probably wanted to, just to validate my own insecurities. It was Earth, Marseilles, some nine months after Voyager's return. This, again, didn't strike me oddly at first. Seven has never been known for the minor nuances of human interaction...frequent contact for one. We knew she was alive, and well, and that was her idea of suitable touch. She gave no warning with her letters or conversations, no reason to assume she would ever bother the trip back to see us in person. Seven was a free bird, and thoroughly immersed in it.

Chakotay told more, in his longer letters and conversations and the few visits he made to Earth. I can still remember him, the crinkles in his tanned skin, the wan bemusement of his  smile. He mentioned her harrowing silences, the nights she would stand out on their porch from dusk to dawn, unmoving. Sleep? Why, no, she didn't want any part of it. Regeneration was fine. But he hated it...hated the whirring machine and the emptiness in her gaze as she stood within it, hated the way it was out of place in his archaeological wilderness. More than that, he said, he hated the fear...the fear that someday it would all break down and they'd have no way of help, and he'd be left holding her dead in his arms. He said he thought she was dying in his world, a little piece at a time, and that he wanted her out of it. For both of them.

I got her the Academy offer. To tell you the truth, I thought she'd leap at it...a good offer, rank of Lieutenant Commander, she could have control of any science department she desired, and probably most
engineering sections as well. 

She came to Tom. I've always seen the bond, of course, he was the only one of us that cared enough to approach her at first, take her hand...the Borg one...in friendship. Even the captain had her reasons for doting on Seven, and they usually weren't maternal or platonic. She had her ways of business, and Seven was a piece of that business to be skillfully tweaked to maximum efficiency. Thank Kahless Seven never figured it out, she probably would've assimilated us all.

After she left that day, without so much as a by your leave and only a present left on the stoop for Miral, Tom seemed different. More edgy. He began doubting himself again, the choices. Return to Starfleet? He
became convinced that it wasn't such a good idea. Unfortunately, neither of us was prime work material for anywhere else, or on a civilian scale, so he stuck with it. I mentioned inviting Janeway and Chakotay over for dinner sometime. A sort of mentor-mentoree pair thing. He exploded, demanded to know 'Why the hell can't you leave Seven alone for one god-damned minute?'. Afterward, there was
chill. I'd be a fool to pretend his accusation wasn't validated. We all tried to get the command duo on track as a romantic duo.
Unfortunately, Seven lay solidly in the way and I suppose we often found it hard to care. Tom did despite her distance and her lack of bonding and her coldness. He cared, too much, and I eventually got sick of it, and angry, and stopped giving a damn.

Does that make me sound heartless?

Well, I felt it. To put forth an old Klingon metaphor, my heart felt like
peppered gagh. Burning, raw, and eaten alive. Somewhere along the line, what Seven felt for Tom and not Chakotay, and what I didn't feel for Tom anymore but had always felt for Chakotay collided in a frenzy of confusion and heartache and general frustration. 

Tom and I began to argue. Hardly the knock down drag out fights I recall from my parents and he's hinted at from his own, we both learned very well from our childhoods. Miral, if anything, will see only the most dignified of disagreement from her parents. But it got harder to hide the potent frustration and anger and annoyances, we both have short fuses. As she got older, began to understand the
silences and separate beds better, we made a habit of not staying together. He worked nights. I worked days. He took Miral off for
Christmas. I took her for the Klingon days. We did everything a normal family does, in the most carefully divided of ways. Once and awhile, we actually managed a family dinner. No gagh thrown in. 

Problem is, we eventually got to a point where we never got together. Notes on the foyer table, ships passing in the night, or morning, that sort of thing. That does a great deal to prevent arguing, but not a
whole hell of a lot for preventing loneliness. I know he had his holoprograms, probably didn't consider them sentient, despite the lessons we all should have learned from the Doctor. Miral spent so much time with them on their days together I'm still surprised she halted herself from calling them 'Mama' instead of 'Daddy's friends'. It amused me, in a dark, perverse little way. It seemed that Tom would never learn how to live among the real folk. 

He spent time with his holocreations. I spent time with Chakotay. Would I ever wave him before Tom's eyes? Let Miral believe he was intended to replace her father in any way? No, of course not. He isn't a
replacement. I don't love him. I care for him, yes, and the intimate 
encounters are good, but not nearly as frequent as Seven would probably give credence to. Oh, I know she spoke to Tom. He came home early that night, woke me up, and we sat down to discuss it. He didn't deny the holograms. I didn't deny the Indian. I wouldn't say that we reached a revelation of love and peace and faithfulness.
We just figured it was time to put our toils towards more solid ground.

Seven went back to Chakotay and hasn't bothered either of us again. She seems to be providing distraction enough, though, that Chakotay doesn't seek out my company for quite the same reasons anymore. Friends? Yes, maybe not to the same degree as before, there's always a thin line of discomfort whenever he, Tom, and I come together anywhere. Chakotay probably doesn't notice it, he's very good at having his fun and moving along to the next amusement, Janeway being the possible exception, though I think they've grown pretty far apart these days. He certainly isn't about to drop Seven for her.
Always the thin line of discomfort.

I used to try and place myself in my parents shoes, try to understand just how it was they could have so much and destroy it so wantonly. I think, as Tom says, it isn't so much the destruction that amazes...we all destroy...but the fact that they were never able to put it back together. They didn't try, and I confess that sometimes looking over a cafe table at the man I still find it hard to call 'Daddy', I'm at a loss to
understand it. Miral is my life, and Tom's, and I think she's reason enough for us to put the past away and give things another go. I wasn't given the same consideration, and I don't know if I can ever forget that. Maybe it led me this far into chaos in the first place. I don't know.

But Tom and I have tried, and we are succeeding in putting this marriage back together, Chakotay and Seven of Nine be damned. We have our own bonds to reknit.


Authors Note: I'm not really sure about this one, but I'm posting it. It 
seems rather helter-skelter. Oh, well.

The End