Home Trials-Part Six
by Rose Kira

* I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose.-S.I. Hayakawa * Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me...

Tuvok and I once discussed that old adage, Lieutenant. I favored taking it literally, believing very deeply in the amazing and often ignoble ability of the human mind to shut out that which discomforts, but his Vulcan wisdom...or sheer Vulcan arrogance...led him to argue the opposite. Broken bones are a small price to pay, merely physical inconvenience, but words...the right combination of words can crush any soul. Except a Vulcan's, of course.

I'm no Vulcan.

I'll cut to the point, no point in doing otherwise. Was the sex good?

Of course, but thats not what we're getting at. It was a mistake. Trite enough phrase, one I'm sure Tom has used more than once. With B'Elanna, perhaps, or, perhaps she doesn't know of any of them. The little mistakes, you understand. 

It was a rather big mistake. He was truthful, at least, in saying that he wasn't drunk. I must argue about the anger rebuttal, however. Tom was angry, has always been angry...with Janeway, for reasons I'm not altogether certain even he understands. He began the evening fighting Janeway and ended up sleeping with Kathryn. Not exactly in his flight plan, or so he told me. His tones were arrogant as he spoke, those tones you probably remember very well from the early days. Hips cocked, eyes flashing, he faced me, daring dismissal, wanting shame. Shame, at least, was cleansing. I didn't give it to him.

You say that I played the part well, the horrified captain, the heroine in the throes of self-bombardment. I did act, and thank the gods, well, for otherwise you would have seen your infallable commander curled in the corrider like a rag doll. I didn't give him shame, and didn't give you humiliation. 

Torres has no idea, should never have any idea, not necessarily because I fear for my neck, for I do, but because she's easily hurt, emotionally crushed, for all that Klingon in her. She has a child, and a man who loves her more than he loves himself, and a newfound father...lets not spoil one fairy tale, now, Harry. Leave them be. Hurt me if you must, I can withstand.

Tom. It figures that the one topic we find in common has to be the on e neither of us cares to dwell on. Tom Paris is broken. He was broken long before Caldak Prime and New Zealand, has been since. Torres is patching him up slowly, but...Tom is still broken.

I helped break him.

I remember his childhood, vividly, as if he had been my own. There were rough times, but Owen Paris was proud of him, adored him, at least in the early years. It was the later years, the adolescent years, that killed the relationship. The adolescent years and us.

Owen was a lonely drunk. You won't hear that terminology often in this age of synthenol, hypos, and counseling, but there you have it. I won't comment on Mrs. Paris, I really knew very little of the woman, and my memories of her are vague. I could say she was cold, but it could be perception. Perhaps she was an angel and I needed the coldness for excuse. Either way, Owen and she didn't meet standards. Then again, neither did Owen and I. 

Oh, it was never a love relationship, never romantic, never actually sexual. I had my standards, even that young, and they hadn't gone to hell in a handbasket yet. It was platonic, at least on my side, but...Owen was a lonely drunk. We kept late office hours in those days, at Starfleet Command, working alone well into the witching hour. Usually Tom was at home with Mrs. Paris or the help, I rarely saw him around the office. He was rambunctious, Owen was jittery. That night he was there, his mother had left for Risa, no one to watch him. Wide-eyed, he ran circles around the outer offices, exploring. I kept a constant ear out, but I do believe Owen actually managed to completely forget about him. Around the fourth glass of Hr'lah he put away the paperwork and kissed me. I fought...valiantly, yes, Harry, but gently, he was so loaded a single blow was liable to send him sprawling...and true to my luck, we ended up in an undignified heap on the floor, Owen still pawing. Never let Tom tell you his prowess isn't genetic. 

Tom came in, and began screaming. Half-panicking myself, I shoved Owen to the side, in his pitiful sotted heap, and reached for the kid, automatic reassurance protocal kicking in. Tom scratched at my face, my neck, my eyes. I barely restrained him, and only after he had finally collapsed in a heap in my arms, sobbing, did I look over to his father. Owen merely looked away.

I later found out that Mrs. Paris wasn't vacationing, she was separating by cause of adultery, and had left Tom behind. Already stricken half-senseless by solitary life with a man he barely knew and certainly didn't comprehend, Tom began cracking. The marriage eventually came back together, out of business or pleasure, I have no idea, but Tom was never the same. He had no way of understanding what had happened that night-only what he thought he saw-and I suppose I've always been fixated in his mind's eyes as 'the other woman'. Had Owen had his way, I would have been just that, not just the mistaken label.

Tom Paris hated me, still hates me, on levels I know neither of us can hope to fully grasp.

That night was a mistake. It was also his right, his due, his retribution...and I understand. It was mine as well.