Origin in Pain
The Next Day
"Captain, is this seat taken?" Polite Paris.
If looks could kill, she'd have been doing a victory dance.
He sat down anyhow. "I think we should try to talk about it."
Brave words. The mess was full, they were elbow to elbow with most of the gossips of the ship, and she looked to be in a mood to kill. Pour your heart out to the one person who obviously doesn't give a damn, Paris, he chided himself bitterly.
Half the mess was already gawking and the other half was listening.
Her smile was distant, grim."I've been able to identify, empathize with you, Tom, because you're on the same hellbound road I am. When I signed away my rights to you and Owen took you home, I hoped that I was providing you with an avenue to escape that road...obviously not. The more I saw of him in the news, the more I saw the change in him-I could only imagine what your home life was like. I didn't want to know. He sent me those damned letters every so often...dozens of them over the course of your youth. I never read any of them. I knew they would show me that he was hurting you, and I wasn't noble enough to face that just yet. He sent holopictures, holovids-I wouldn't watch them. I didn't want to see the baby turn into the toddler, the toddler turn into the boy, the boy into the young man...I didn't want to see the changes, because they meant I was changing too. I could barely tolerate seeing you at the occasional social function. I hate change. I hate missing time, and lack of control...and you were very much a symbol of my lack of control..over my life, my body...for years after you were born I had nightmares about that hideous, fucked up bastard who raped me. It...changed me. Its not your fault, but it still hurts, Tom. Like hell." Slamming the drink down, she left.
The Next Day
"Paris is your son. Who would have ever thought it?" Gently rubbing circles into her shoulders, Chakotay surveyed his tense commanding officer in the muted light of her ready room. She sat up, rubbing her arms distractedly. Stepping back, he sighed. "Kathryn, are you okay?"
That pulled her attention away for a moment. "Of course, Commander. Just thinking."
"Please." A ghost of a wry smile lit her face.
"I heard you two had quite a confrontation in the mess."
"Command concern or friendly worry?"
"A bit of both, actually." He sat.
She nodded. "This won't affect our working relationship, Chakotay. God knows, we've done the old anger and scandel dance before. If nothing else, we have enough dignity to work smoothly together."
"And to live on the same ship together?"
"I told him I would let him off at the next m class planet if he liked." She laughed briefly, sharply, then sobered. "I don't know. I'm not going to try to be his mother. I'm not ready to try. Whether he realizes it or not, Tom Paris doesn't need me in his life anymore than I needed him all those years ago."
"You were the one who got him out of Auckland."
"I was also the one who put him in the brig for thirty days. When I took him out of Auckland I was anticipating a short mission, then he would walk away...no strings attached, emotional or otherwise. Instead I ended up hauling him to the Delta Quadrant with me...and all of our emotional baggage too. I had hoped the truth would stay unknown until we reached home. Until I could walk away again." A bitter laugh, staring down at trembling hands. "Maybe I haven't changed so much after all. Walking away is still the easy thing to do when Tom is concerned. Shutting the issues up in a nice neat box and pretending it never happened. Running scared. I could face down any panel of aliens or Admirals fate throws at me, Chakotay-I could ram a knife through Tom's father...whoever the hell it is without flinching-but when it comes to that damned pilot-" She fingered the coffee cup, face taunt.
"This will stay between myself, you, Tom, and the Doctor-damn his DNA scans-I'm not ready to be a mother, Chakotay. Not to him."
"Kathryn." His voice was quiet, eyes probing, as he paused in the doorway. "Just what do you think you have been to him for the past seven years?"
He was stalking her. Great. Lifting her coffee mug to her lips, Kathryn Janeway stared out the mess observation ports, mind focusing on the man who was sliding into the seat beside her. She considered a few choice comments, erased them, and sat the cup down, sweeping around to face her helmsman. So he had been trailing her throughout the ship for over two hours. So he was supposed to be on duty. She could be civil. "Mister Paris."
"I've always hated that surname, you know." He smiled playfully, eyes grim.
"I'm afraid that I don't do name changes, unless you've decided to reverse tradition and take B'Elanna's."
A short laugh. "You'll never admit it to them, will you? This will always be our dirty little secret. The problem isn't your hesitation at accepting the responsibility of parentage. The problem is that you've already been experimenting on it with the crew of Voyager for seven years... and failed miserably. You don't have it in you to be anything but the captain. You must have dismissed all those non-officer traits along with those nasty rape memories."
She battened down the emotional hatches, swallowing. "You could tell them, Tom. I don't have a muzzle of any sort on you."
"I could tell them. Coming from your lips, it might be pitiable revelation. Coming from mine, it would be cheap retribution. Sorry, Captain. I'm tired of being Tom Paris, but I'm even more sick of
being the bad guy."
Weren't they all. Standing, she glanced down at him briefly. "Next corner I see you around will be the last, Lt. You can walk all the circles you like in the brig. Unfortunately, I won't be there to fill out the scenario."
The bridge was dead quiet. Maybe her mood was wearing off. Shifting in her seat, the captain released a tiny sigh that echoed explosively in the room, causing Kim to flinch and Chakotay to cock a brow. Somewhere in the corner of her eye, she saw Paris' shoulders shift with laughter and focused the death glare on him. Chakotay intercepted, clearing his throat. She shifted again. Paris coughed.
She slammed her padd down. That was it. "Lt. Paris, you will pull up your personal records and leave them for display to general access, then kindly escort yourself to the brig for the remainder of the day."
He stood, straightening. "Hell, captain, I COUGHED."
"Yes, ma'am, mother." He headed of the bridge, glaring. She swallowed, saw that the rest of them, minus Chakotay, had taken the sarcastic address as just that...sarcasm. Damn him.
"Why don't you try to get some rest?" Chakotay suggested, leaning over.
She ignored the politely phrased order, voice just loud enough to reach his ears and no others. "It isn't going to go away, is it?"
"He's tenacious, if nothing else."
"I don't want to hurt him." Her voice was distant, earnest. "He doesn't get it, Chakotay.
Revealing his origins won't help him. This crew doesn't want to know that Tom Paris, royal screw-up, is the son of Kathryn Janeway, royal bitch. Its not just him, either. What about Torres and the baby?
Shouldn't they figure in on the final decision?"
"Should have." He regarded her tolerantly. "Unfortunately, Paris just followed orders and put his entire life's story on ship wide padd broadcast. Get ready for a late baby shower. Try to be nice and send him a piece of cake in the brig."
He hated the brig. He had seen it coming, of course. Janeway...well, she was the type of woman you could only push so far before she shoved you out an airlock or into a dark hole. He wasn't sure which was worse, but at least the brig allowed for breathing. He wasn't sure which was worse, the fact that she had thought he was deliberately pushing the boundaries or the fact that it had been an honest to god cough. Lots of them actually. And he didn't feel so well. trying his com badge, he wheezed again. "Doc? I'm..."
"My, my, you don't look so well." Cocking his head, the Doctor leaned over the biobed. "Mister Paris, either this is the best case of brig skipping I've seen yet or you need your mother."
He would rip the damned holomarix apart...after a nap. Leaning back, Tom grabbed for leverage as the world spun...and when it all finally straightened out he was grasping a four-pipped commander with a death grip. "Oh, boy."
Janeway looked amused, concerned, and annoyed. "I think lying down would be a good idea, Lt."
He agreed, carefully falling backwards. "Whats wrong with me?"
"Stress, a bit of a flu, a lot of stress." The Doctor recited.
"Its her fault." Came the faintly resentful response.
"Why don't we get you back to your quarters before B'Elanna storms sickbay?" Chakotay suggested diplomatically.
He awoke to heaven. Well, as close as one could get on a starship. Slipping out of bed and absently noting that he was in sweats and a tee, tom headed for the outer living area, following the smell of coffee and breakfast. Absolutely great, he would have to be especially nice to...
He considered heading back to bed, b she turned, command red and vlack, brandishing a spatula and waving it over the ministove. "B'Elanna has emergency duty, I suspected that you might
not be up to replication and loneliness."
"The captain making me breakfast." He put light mockery into his tones, falling onto the sofa as a wave of nausea hit. "Is it that bad?"
"You were a baby's breath from a massive stress-induced heart attack. I like to push, Tom, but god damn you, if you ever let me push you that far again..." The thin control in her voice shattered.
He swallowed. Near death was bad enough to deal with, a weeping captain...no, mother, hell, both...was another. Finally, he stood, removing the spatula firm her grasp and enfolding the trembling
hands in his own. "Truce, captain?"
She nodded, lips taunt. "Truce." Then, more quietly. "Chakotay interecepted the broadcasts before anyone read them...I think we need to go slowly with this, Lt. I want to do it the right way, not
the angry way. Can we agree on that?"
He studied her, realized for the first time just how odd it all really was. She had been a kid when he was born, barely a teen, and even now, she was young enough. too young to take responsibility for someone like him as a mother. She shouldn't have to deal with this, yet did. He would have to make it easier. "We can. I should warn you, though, that you nolonger have any excuse not to accept my mother's day cards."
She laughed and smacked him.
He reveled in heaven.