Title: Thirty Days and Beyond
Author: Ronda Sexton
Archive: PTF Archive, ASC archive
Disclaimer: Voyager, episodes, and characters are Paramounts, story is mine.
Summary: A look at Tom‘s thirty days in the brig, and the days that followed his release.
Thirty Days and Beyond
The security guard winced as Tom thrashed wildly on his bunk in the throes of yet another nightmare. These horrific episodes had been a nightly occurrence from the very first night he‘d been in the brig. Because of his nightmares, the security staff was being rotated from "guarding" Tom, because it had become too tormenting for them to watch his suffering and not be allowed to offer any words of comfort.
He walked over to the replicator and requested a damp cloth and a glass of cool water, knowing that when Tom finally woke up, he would need both of them. He was glad that tonight he would rotate off of prisoner detail. He couldn‘t take it anymore. He sincerely hoped for Tom‘s sake that the Captain would follow the recommendations of the Doctor, Tuvok, and Chakotay. He was certain that Tom would not make the thirty days without permanent emotional damage.
"No!!!!!!" Tom sat up with a scream. He was shaking and gasping for air. The guard quickly deactivated the forcefield, then entered the tiny cell and handed Tom the damp cloth and water.
"Thanks," croaked Tom hoarsely. He wiped his sweat soaked face off with the damp cloth, then slowly sipped the cool, refreshing water.
Ensign Murphy stood patiently while Tom sipped his water. He honestly wished he could offer more comfort to Tom, but all security personnel assigned to the brig were under strict orders from Captain Janeway not to speak to Tom unless absolutely necessary. She had further stated that Mr. Paris was a grown man, and had no need of comforting due to nightmares.
He, along with the other security officers felt that Janeway had been far too hard on Tom. In fact, it was the consensus of the majority of the crew that the Captain had been much too harsh in her discipline.
Tom handed him the empty glass and the cloth. "Thanks, Ensign Murphy," he whispered wearily. Then he resolutely lay back down hoping the nightmares would not return for the remainder of the night.
In her ready room, the Captain looked up at Tuvok, the Doctor, and Chakotay. They had just observed the entire event on her desktop view screen. Her expression was less than sympathetic.
"Well, gentlemen," she began in a brusque tone. "I see as you have reported to me, that he is having multiple nightmares that are quite severe. However, these nightmares are not physically harmful to him." She looked at them, daring them to challenge her decision to leave him in the brig.
"Captain," began the Doctor. "Though they are not harming him physically, they are affecting his emotional well being. He begged me to take him to sickbay after the attack. He volunteered to be under my observation for a few days. Between the trauma of the nightmares and his claustrophobia, I am most concerned for his mental health. If this punishment is to continue, moving him to his quarters and confining him there would be the best course of action.
Tuvok nodded. "My security officers are being rotated regularly. None of them want this assignment. Tom‘s repeated nightmares are very distressing to them, since they are not allowed to offer him any comfort other than a damp towel and a glass of water. I concur with the Doctor‘s recommendation that if Mr. Paris‘ punishment is to continue, he should be confined to his quarters for the duration of the punishment. Familiar surroundings could quite possibly diminish his nightmares, and since his quarters are larger than the brig, it should also help him cope with his claustrophobic tendencies.
She looked at Chakotay, hoping to at least have his support on this issue. The look in his eyes told her she did not have it.
"They‘re right, Captain," began Chakotay. "With Tom‘s claustrophobia, and the multiple nightmares every night, I concur with them that his mode of punishment should be changed.
She looked at all three of them. She was well aware that very few of the crew agreed with her punishment of Tom. She had expected to at least have their support on this issue. "Gentlemen, your concerns have been noted, however, Ensign Paris‘ discipline will not be altered." Her frosty tone hardened further on the words "Ensign Paris." She stood up. "You may note your concerns and objections in your logs if you wish. Dismissed."
They nodded and walked out of her ready room. She sat back down in her chair. Tom deserved his punishment. She had taken him out of prison. Later, when they became stranded in the Delta Quadrant, she even gave him a second chance. Now, he repaid her generosity and violated her trust by pulling a stunt like this. He would serve his thirty days right where he was. Nightmares and claustrophobia were not reasons for an early reprieve.
Later that day, B‘Elanna came to see the Captain. Harry had gotten to see Tom, and she was hoping she would be able to do likewise. She missed him so badly. The past sixteen days felt like an eternity to her.
"Captain," she began making an effort to keep the intense animosity and bitterness she harbored towards her since she‘d put Tom in the brig out of her voice. "I respectfully request permission to visit Tom."
"Request denied," answered the Captain.
"But Harry got to visit him," protested B‘Elanna, who was now having to struggle to keep her fierce anger in check. Her hands were clenched down at her sides. It took every ounce of willpower not to raise a hand to the Captain.
"That has no bearing on your request. Tom is in the brig to be punished, not to entertain visitors. I chose to allow one person to visit. It was Harry. The issue is closed, and I do not wish to hear anymore on the subject from you Lieutenant. Dismissed," snapped Janeway.
B‘Elanna glared at the Captain with open hostility, then she abruptly turned and stalked out of the ready room. She went to her quarters and changed into her workout clothes. Snatching up her bat‘leth, she stormed to the holodeck and started a Klingon battle program. She wished she could program Janeway into the simulation, but for the next six months, her holoprograms would all still be under close scrutiny to make sure she was no longer harming herself by running programs without the safeties on. Casting Janeway as her opponent would get her in a lot of trouble. She could still imagine that each opponent was the Captain. With a warrior‘s cry of victory, she dispatched each holographic image, imagining all the while that it was the Captain her bat‘leth was dismembering.
Janeway sat in her ready room feeling very much alone. She knew right now that most of her crew was very displeased with her actions in regard to Tom. He committed offenses that justified discipline. However, the most of the crew saw him as a wronged hero. The Maquis who supported him did so because he had fought for a cause he believed in, just as they had done in the DMZ back in the Alpha Quadrant. The Starfleet crew members supporting him did so because they believed his punishment did not fit the crime. She had heard murmurings that others had done similar things without receiving such harsh punishment. Some crew had even gone as far as to imply she was being harder on Paris because he, her "personal reclamation project," embarrassed her. Still others grumbled that she often played fast and loose with the Prime Directive when she saw fit, but because she was Captain, she was immune from any censure. Oh well, thought the Captain. *I am not here to win popularity contests. I am here to run the ship and to get this crew back home to the Alpha Quadrant.* Sighing, she picked up a PADD and began reading a report.
Nightly, the terrors returned to plague his sleep. He spent his days working on the letter to his dad, exercising, or resting on his bunk. Neelix apologetically brought him "basic nutritional requirements" at meal times. Tom winced every time he saw Leola root dishes. He longed for something that tasted better. The Captain would not allow him to have anything special. He picked at his meals on the days he was served Leola Root, which unfortunately was several times a week.
Neelix dreaded going to the brig. It hurt to see Tom, whom he counted as one of his best friends on Voyager in there. Tom‘s face was gray and drawn. The nightmares were taking a toll. For the first time since he‘d met her, Neelix‘s respect for the Captain had been severely diminished. He knew that the Doctor, Tuvok, and Chakotay had gone to the Captain to ask that Tom either be given a reprieve due to his mental condition, or that he be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence confined to his quarters in hopes that familiar surroundings would stop the horrific nightmares and ease his claustrophobia. She rejected their requests, even after seeing Tom suffer through a hellish nightmare on the view screen in her ready room.
Tom had been in the brig for three weeks now. B‘Elanna was very worried about him. She knew from Neelix that Tom was not eating well. Since the Captain was restricting his meals to "basic nutritional requirements," he was not getting foods he really enjoyed. She cringed at the thought that he was getting Leola Root several times a week. She was going to serve him a fantastic meal as soon as he was released. She had been saving replicatior rations for the entire time he was in the brig. In seven more days, when he got out, he would be treated to a delicious repast that she hoped would help make up for thirty days of unappetizing food. She also planned to make up for the time they had not been able to spend together. She knew that if she was feeling frustrated without him, that he probably felt it even more so. She felt her entire body grow warmer as she recalled how his gentle hands felt on her body. One more week, she reminded herself. Then Tom would be out of that miserable brig.
ONE WEEK LATER..............................................
Tom sounded the chime to request entry to B‘Elanna‘s quarters. It was 0700, and he was coming to dinner. He knew she must have something very extraordinary planned, since she was serving him dinner in the morning.
The door slid open, and he saw B‘Elanna in a sexy, sensuous red dress. It clung invitingly to every curve of her beautiful body. He stood there and stared at her for a few seconds. She was breathtakingly beautiful.
"Come in, Tom," she purred in a warm, sultry voice that made his pulse pound.
He had missed her so much. Thirty days without seeing her had been pure hell. Quickly, he crossed the room and took her in his arms.
She melted into his strong embrace, burying her face in his chest, inhaling his scent. It felt so good to be in his strong, loving arms again. She had missed him so much. The Captain‘s refusal to permit her to visit Tom wounded her soul more deeply than anyone could imagine. She lifted her face, her warm lips seeking his. Hungry lips met in a searing kiss. Eager tongues danced about each other, urgently tasting familiar, beloved tastes. By the time she broke the intensely passionate kiss, they were both completely breathless.
She stared up at him, studying him carefully. He seemed so fragile now. He seldom wore his "mask" around her anymore. He was not wearing it now. He was allowing himself to be completely vulnerable before her. She could see that the pain and bewilderment that was still there. Lessened now, because he had finally been released, but still not completely gone.
"Let‘s eat, Tom. I‘ve replicated some of your favorite foods." She led him to the table that was loaded with sumptuous food.
He saw steak dinners for two, with fresh garden salads, fully loaded baked potatoes, and crispy onion rings.
She smiled at him lovingly. "I know you only got *basic nutritional requirements* while you were in the brig. I was really upset with Janeway about that, and about her not letting me visit you, among several other things." B‘Elanna‘s eyes blazed with indignation and outrage. "She wouldn‘t let me come visit you. I asked her why Harry got to visit, and I couldn‘t. She made me so angry."
Tom pulled her into his arms again. "Maybe she thought you‘d end up phasering the security guard and busting me out." His eyes twinkled merrily at her. His response cooled her feelings of outrage and indignation somewhat.
"Or maybe she thought that we wouldn‘t be able to control ourselves," she replied, as she recalled a lecture they both received from the Captain on decorum. "Let‘s eat while this food is still hot. Then, " her eyes took on that hot sultry look again. "I have even more plans to help you celebrate your freedom after we eat." She ran her fingers tantalizingly slow down his chest.
Tom‘s eyes blazed with unfettered passion as he walked to the table with her. Tom pulled a chair out for her. She sat down, and he pushed her in, then took his seat.
"This all looks so delicious, B‘Elanna," Tom said softly. He picked up his silverware and began to eat.
B‘Elanna watched as he slowly ate, savoring each bite. It pleased her to see him enjoy this meal.
"Tom," she began softly. "I want you to know that I‘m very proud of you. You did what was right. Almost everyone, both Starfleet and Maquis alike think the Captain was wrong in what she did to you."
He looked at her with a tender expression. "You being proud of me means a lot to me, B‘Elanna. It means a lot more than that stupid pip she ripped off of my collar." He chuckled. "It seems strange that the majority of crew is supporting me on this issue. What was the Captain‘s reaction to that?"
B‘Elanna was amazed he could even speak of the Captain without anger. "She has ignored the comments that have been running rampant all over the ship." Her face reflected her satisfaction as she continued, "She hasn‘t been the most social person in the past thirty days. A lot of people have been giving her the cold shoulder."
Tom looked troubled. "B‘Elanna, she did what she thought was right. No matter how everyone feels, she is the Captain. I admit, I don‘t feel the same way about her anymore, but I won‘t treat her in an unfriendly fashion." His eyes took on a distant look, as he recalled extremely painful memories. "I‘ve been treated badly because of decisions I made in my past. It hurts."
B‘Elanna reached over and took his hands in hers. "You‘re a better person than most of the people on this ship. I‘m still having trouble forgiving her for what she did to you."
Tom sighed. "I‘ve found that anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness hurt me much more than they hurt the person I direct it towards. My relationship with my father is proof of that. I don‘t know if Harry told you or not, but I started a letter to my dad while I was in the brig. I told him I didn‘t know if I would finish. He challenged me to do it. So I did finish the letter, and I‘ve instructed the computer to transmit it to my father as soon as we‘re in range of earth."
She tightened her grasp on his hands. "Oh, Tom, I‘m glad you finished it." She looked down at their hands, then back up to Tom. "I wish I‘d been able to retrieve your letter from him, Tom. I‘m sure he wanted to make peace with you. I know that the Doctor‘s reports to Starfleet included all the progress you‘ve made."
Tears glittered in her eyes. Tom stood up, came around the table, and took her in his arms. "It‘s all right B‘Elanna. I know you tried."
She buried her face in his chest. His arms were so comforting. She wrapped her arms around him and sighed deeply. They had finished their dinner. Desert would have to come later. She wanted him, and she knew that he wanted her. Spending thirty days apart from one another had been so very hard.
She lifted her face to his. Desire radiated from both their eyes. He bent down and kissed her with a deep soulful hunger. Tongues danced as lips parted, fueling their passions even more.
Tom pulled her closer, relishing the feel of her body against his. It had been so long. After thirty days of no physical contact, it was heavenly to have her back in his arms again. He broke off the kiss, and swept her up in his arms. She snuggled her face against his neck as he carried her into the sleeping area. He set her on her feet and they gently began to disrobe each other.
He wanted to take this slowly and savor every moment of being reunited with B‘Elanna. Every fiber of his being longed to be joined with her.
B‘Elanna caught his mood of slowness, and responded in like kind. Once the disrobing had been completed, he gathered her back into his arms and eased her down on the bed. His lips found hers, and he kissed her tenderly as his warm hands cupped her face. He moved his lips from hers down to her soft neck, where he rained down kiss after kiss, always soft, always gentle. She stroked his back as he continued to kiss her. She felt his erection pressing against her, and shifted her body to press harder against it.
Tom moaned softly and licked a line down to her breast. He gazed at her lovingly, then took the nipple in his mouth. She gasped as he began to suckle her, his warm tongue flickering over the rapidly hardening peak.
One hand fondled her breast that was not receiving the attentions of his mouth, meanwhile his other hand slid down her body to the dark patch of hair between her thighs. He slipped his knee between her legs to part them. Then his hand began to explore the moist depths of her most secret parts.
B‘Elanna arched against him, as passion began to overwhelm her. It had been so long. Her hands moved possessively all over his body, caressing wherever she could reach.
Slowly, he slid his mouth over to her other breast. She growled softly as the hand that his mouth had replaced began stroking up and down the side of her body.
After a long leisurely time spent suckling on her left breast, he began slowly kissing his way down her body to where his fingers were slowly moving in and out of her deep, moist channel. He paused at the thick, lush patch of hair, nuzzling his face there for a few moments. Then he slid his fingers out and began to lick her gently.
By this time, B‘Elanna‘s entire body was shaking. Her soft growls and moans urged him on. As his warm tongue finally made contact with her clitoris, she screamed out his name. Her hips were writhing in delight. He grasped her by the hips to steady her as he continued to probe and explore with his tongue. Just when she thought she would go crazy with desire for him, he moved back up, kissing her heated body all along the way. He arched over her for a few moments, then thrust hard into her warm wetness. She gasped as he continued to thrust harder and harder. She met him thrust for thrust. Finally, they exploded in climax. Tom fell down on her body with a sigh. He eased himself off of her pulling her into a cuddling embrace as he did so.
"I love you so much," he whispered in her ear ever so tenderly.
"I love you, too," she answered, kissing him gently.
They lay there for a while basking in their love. Finally, realizing if they did not start getting ready, that they would be late for their shifts, they reluctantly got up and began to get ready for the day.
At the briefing of the senior staff, B‘Elanna sat on one side of Tom with Harry on the other. They had discussed this while Tom was still in the brig, and had decided it would be a good way to give Tom moral support when he returned to duty.
He was decidedly quiet in the meeting. The others noticed that the lively sparkle that defined his personality was missing. He didn‘t speak during the entire meeting.
Finally, the Captain dismissed the meeting. On the bridge, Tom took his position at the helm. He quickly ran through the routine systems checks and then gave his full attention to piloting the ship.
He could feel the concerned eyes of his friends on him. Touched by their concern, he relaxed and felt a little less like a failure. All through the corridors, he had been greeted warmly by his fellow crew members. He had not lost their respect. In fact, it seemed as if he had gained even more respect. A soft smile formed across his face as he tapped in a minor adjustment. He would survive this. With the loyalty of true friends and B‘Elanna‘s love, he knew he could survive anything.
B‘Elanna gazed over at Tom. She knew his self esteem had been badly damaged by the entire incident. His failure to complete his objective, coupled with his demotion, the time he spent in the brig, and the horrible nightmares he had suffered had done a great deal of damage. She let her gaze wander over to the Captain. She could not believe how forgiving Tom could be. She still had a great deal of unresolved animosity towards the Captain. She hurt the person whom B‘Elanna loved dearly. Whatever the Captain might be thinking as she watched Tom pilot the ship, B‘Elanna couldn‘t tell. The woman wore a mask worthy of a Vulcan. No feelings came through at all.
Captain Janeway surveyed the crew on the bridge. Her gaze finally rested on Tom. During the meeting, he hadn‘t said a word. She felt it best not to say anything about his return to duty. The lack of his usual animated sparkle disturbed her. For the first time, she began to wonder if the nightmares and claustrophobia had caused true emotional damage to the young man. If so, was she to blame for disregarding the suggestions from the Doctor, Tuvok, and Chakotay. It was something she did not want to contemplate. She quickly rose to her feet.
"You have the bridge, Commander. I‘ll be in my ready room." She strode across the deck and entered her ready room without another word.
Chakotay watched her, then turned his attention to the view screen in front of him. Tom‘s piloting was flawless as usual. His demeanor was certainly atypical though. He cast a questioning glance to B‘Elanna, who nodded. He understood what she meant. He also knew she would take good care of Tom.
Finally, it was time for the relief crew to take over so they could go to lunch. Tom quietly briefed the crew man relieving him at the con. Then he joined B‘Elanna at her console with a genuine smile. Together they walked to the turbolift. The Captain left her ready room, and got on the lift with them just before the doors slid shut.
It was a quiet and uncomfortable ride to the next deck. Tom and B‘Elanna waited for the Captain to exit, then they both left the turbolift together.
In the mess hall, Tom was greeted by other crew members as they made their way to the serving line. The Captain, however, had received no such greetings. Tom and B‘Elanna stood quietly in line behind the Captain. Tom observed her closely. It troubled him that no one had offered a greeting to the Captain. He‘d been ignored before, and he knew how much it hurt. She displayed no emotions whatsoever, but Tom knew from his own experience that she was hurting. Feeling a warm hand clasp his, he looked at B‘Elanna with a smile.
"Well, Captain," began Neelix. "Today we have several delicacies for lunch." He lifted lids on the serving dishes, and named each one. When he named the Tomato soup, she looked at Neelix, then stole a quick glance at Tom.
"I think I‘ll have some of the pleka rind casserole," she said in a neutral tone. She took her tray and walked over to her usual table in the mess hall.
Neelix watched her go, then turned his attention to Tom and B‘Elanna. "Tom, I made the Tomato soup exactly to Harry and B‘Elanna‘s specifications. They gave me your mother‘s recipe. You should really enjoy it." Neelix beamed at them. He had wanted to make something very special for Tom, now that he could have more than "basic nutritional requirements." B‘Elanna and Harry had helped him tremendously by getting the recipe for him.
Tom‘s smile lit up the room. "Thanks Neelix, tomato soup is my favorite."
"I‘ll take some too, Neelix," said B‘Elanna, who was overjoyed at the happy smile on Tom‘s face.
"Tom," began Neelix. "I also have something else for you. I recall you referred to peanut butter and jelly as comfort food once before. Here‘s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for you, fresh from the replicator."
Tom took the sandwich, then he grasped Neelix‘s hand warmly. "Thanks, Neelix," he said softly.
Then, he and B‘Elanna took their trays and went over to table by the windows. They sat down and began to eat. During the course of their lunch, other members of the crew drifted over and spoke briefly to Tom and B‘Elanna. They tactfully avoided referring to the incident, choosing to discuss other things.
The Captain observed this interaction as she sat with Chakotay. He noticed her watching them.
"Don‘t worry, Tom will be fine. B‘Elanna will take care of him," he assured her.
She shook her head and took a sip of coffee, as if to tell Chakotay that she was not really concerned about it. Though deep down she was, and was not so sure she was truly hiding her feelings of concern and remorse from Chakotay.
The mess hall doors slid open and the Doctor walked in. He went over to where Tom, B‘Elanna, and Harry were sitting. "Mr. Paris, I need you to come to sickbay this afternoon. I wish to give you a physical."
Tom grimaced. "Sure, Doc," he said reluctantly. I‘ll be there."
Chakotay got up and walked to their table too. "Go ahead and go when you finish lunch, Tom. Your relief can cover the helm until the Doctor is finished with you." His eyes were filled warmth and concern.
"Thanks, Chakotay," said Tom. He picked up the tray that had held his lunch. Leaning close to B‘Elanna, he whispered, "See on the bridge later. I love you." He winked at her and went to put the dishes away. Then he followed the Doctor back to sickbay.
Chakotay returned to the table where he was sitting with the Captain. "Tom will be late getting back to the bridge. The Doctor wants to give him a physical.
She nodded absently. Then she stood up. Excuse me, Chakotay, but I have some work I need to get caught up on.She put her tray away, and then left the mess hall for her ready room.
In her ready room, she stared at the stack of reports she had been trying to read all morning. The report from Tuvok was next. It detailed, as all of the reports from the past thirty days had, the fact that Tom continued to have multiple nightmares. It further stated that Tom was slated to be released today, and that at his request, the Doctor was going to examine Mr. Paris to ensure that he was suffering no physical problems stemming from his confinement.
She certainly couldn‘t fault him for his sense of duty. However, she felt that having the Doctor give Tom a physical was being overly cautious. Tom had looked well to her during the Senior Staff meeting. A little pale perhaps, and some vestiges of emotional duress were evident, but he seemed be physically fit otherwise.
The past thirty days had been hard on her too. Harder than anyone realized. Chakotay had once dubbed Tom her "personal reclamation project." She tried so hard to help Tom change. She had truly believed that he changed. When he refused to obey her, it had been as if he‘d shot her in the heart with a phaser. It had been an incredibly difficult thing for her to deal with. When she‘d given Tom permission to speak freely, and he looked at her with those solemn blue eyes and attempt to explain things to her, she had almost relented, yet she knew she had to do something.
With a sigh, she signed off on Tuvok‘s report and went on to the next report. At this rate she‘d never finish the reports before her shift was over.
In sickbay, the Doctor had concluded his examination of Tom. He shook his head. "You don‘t seem too worse for the wear, Tom. You are underweight, but considering the circumstances, that is not unexpected. Your blood pressure is also a little higher than normal. I expect that it will come down now that you have been released from the brig. I will want to monitor your weight and blood pressure over the next few weeks." He placed a hand on Tom‘s shoulder. "Tom if the nightmares continue, let me know. I‘ll give you a sedative to help you sleep."
"Well, Doc, I think the weight will come back up, now that I don‘t have to try to choke down any more of that foul Leola Root." Tom winced as he recalled how many times he had to eat it while he was in the brig. "As for the nightmares, I can only hope they‘ll go away eventually."
"Very well, Tom. You may report to the bridge. I‘ll send the results to the Captain and Chakotay. Mr. Tuvok requested you be examined, so he will receive a report as well."
Tom looked at the Doctor. "This was requested by Tuvok?"
"Yes," answered the Doctor. "He wanted to make sure your health was not adversely affected from being in the brig under adverse mental and emotional duress for so long.
Tom nodded. "See you tomorrow, Doc. I‘m assigned to you for part of my shift." He turned and walked out of sickbay.
The Doctor walked to his office with a sigh. He regretted now that he had not been kinder to Tom when he came to treat him in the brig. The young man who had just left his sick bay was a very different person than he had been prior to being held under solitary confinement in the brig for thirty days.
Tom walked onto the bridge and hurried to the conn station. He saw B‘Elanna‘s concerned gaze and winked to let her know all was well. He listened carefully as the crew man gave him a status report, then assumed his station. The Captain was not on the bridge, so Tom assumed she was in her ready room. The Doctor‘s report would go to her before the end of the shift. He hoped she would not want to discuss it with him. Though he held no ill will towards her, he was not up to talking to her one on one yet.
The remainder of the shift passed uneventfully. B‘Elanna stopped him as he passed her station. "Eating with me in the mess hall tonight?" she asked. Her eyes danced with promise of an interesting evening.
"I wouldn‘t miss it, B‘Elanna," he answered with a smile. She followed him to the turbolift. Other bridge personnel joined them, however the Captain was still in her ready room.
As the left began to descend to deck two, B‘Elanna looked up at Tom. "I thought we could run the Sandrines program tonight too. I even went through your music data banks and picked out lots of slow, romantic music for dancing." Her eyes burned with the promise of a very passionate evening.
"I think that‘s a wonderful idea. Uniforms or civvies?" His eyes twinkled at her. Slow dancing with B‘Elanna would make for a wonderful evening.
"Definitely civvies, Tom. Wait till you see what I‘m going to wear."
Before Tom could respond, the lift stopped and they got out on deck two. In the mess hall, they quickly ate their meals. They spent the entire meal discussing their plans for the evening. They would each go to their own quarters to change, then Tom would pick her up and they would go to the holodeck. B‘Elanna suggested they run Sandrines as an open program to allow the rest of the crew to enjoy the program as well. After being held in solitary confinement for so long, Tom who was craving companionship, readily agreed.
Captain Janeway walked into the dimly lit bar. Couples were scattered about here and there. Several people were sitting at tables. She looked at the pool table and saw Harry and Chakotay playing pool. Over on the dance floor a few couples were dancing to a slow sexy song. She saw Tom and B‘Elanna among them. Tom would be fine with B‘Elanna looking after him. The Doctor‘s report had troubled her. Tom had lost 15 kilos while in the brig, and his blood pressure had gone up as well. Now that he was out of the brig, she was certain he would show marked improvement.
She got a drink at the bar, then drifted over to the pool table to watch the game in progress. Chakotay was beating Harry very badly. He flashed a grin at her.
"Want to play the winner, Captain?" he asked teasingly.
"Sure, I‘ll beat you too, Chakotay," replied the Captain in an equally teasing voice.
After he sank the eight ball, he racked the balls up for his game with the Captain. He extended the cue he knew to be her favorite. "You break," he said in a challenging voice.
She lined up her opening shot and scattered the balls, however none of them went into a pocket.
"Well, Kathyrn," whispered Chakotay. "Looks as if you‘ve lost your touch." He took his cue and quickly shot in a ball. With a grin, he looked at her and said, "Stripes." Then he lined up the next shot and made it as well.
During that shot, she watched Tom and B‘Elanna as they continued to dance. They were holding each other closely as they swayed to the music. She felt a ripple of loneliness pass through her. She wished she had someone.............
"Kathyrn, it‘s your turn." Chakotay looked at her strangely.
"Oh, sorry, I guess my mind is not on the game." She picked up her cue and once again missed an easy shot. The way the ball landed, it was very easy for Chakotay to clear the table.
His eyes twinkled at her. "Who was going to beat who?"
She laughed and shook her head. "My game was definitely off tonight. I‘ll see you on the bridge tomorrow." She headed toward the door with one last glance at Tom and B‘Elanna and the others who were slow dancing to the wonderfully romantic song that was playing. Loneliness cut into her heart, and she quickly left for her quarters.
In the holodeck, B‘Elanna rested her cheek against Tom‘s chest as they swayed to the music. They held each other as closely as possible. She breathed in deeply, savoring his scent. It was making her blood sing. Soon, they would release their passions once more...............
Much later, B‘Elanna awoke as Tom began muttering in his sleep. She could not make out any words, but from the tone of his voice, she could tell he was having a nightmare. She gently shook him.
"Tom, Tom, wake up," she said softly.
He bolted upright in the bed, his entire body trembling. He saw her, and realized he was in his quarters. He lay back down, and she drew him close to her. "Do you want to talk about it, Tom?" she asked gently.
Tom sighed. "It was another nightmare. I was dreaming about my father, but I kept hearing the Captain‘s voice in the dream too.
"I‘m not surprised at that, Tom. What happened in the dream?
"Most of it is fading, but it was the usual barrage my father submitted me to. I remember bringing home a grade report when I was seven. High A‘s in everything but math. I had an A- in math. The way he raked me over the coals, you would have thought I‘d made an F. Nothing I ever did was good enough. Whenever he caught me playing, he would yell at me to quit playing and study. He made me feel really bad about myself. Nothing I did pleased him. Another time I had four one hundred percents, and two ninety-five percents. You know what he asked me?" Tom paused and looked at B‘Elanna.
The pain in his face broke her heart. She shook her head, sure it had not been pleasant.
"He wanted to know why every grade wasn‘t 100 %. He said that I must be stupid in math and geography, or else I would have made 100% in those areas too.
"Well, Tom, your father was wrong. You ARE NOT stupid. You‘re the smartest, bravest, most honorable man I know." She stroked his cheek gently.
He sighed and pressed his cheek against her hand. "It wasn‘t always bad. I can remember him reading to me when I was little. I loved the old Earth classics. He considered classical literature an important part of my education, so he read to me." A ghost of a smile flitted across his lips. "One of my earliest memories is of sitting on his lap as he read to me."
He had calmed down considerably, and B‘Elanna could tell he was about to doze off. "Let‘s go back to sleep, Tom. You have duty on the bridge and with Doc tomorrow, so you need your rest." They cuddled up in each other‘s arms and fell back to sleep very quickly. Amazingly, no more nightmares disturbed his sleep that night.
The first week of freedom passed very quickly for Tom. Slowly but surely, he had begun to feel better. Today, the Doctor had been quite please with the results of his checkup. Tom‘s blood pressure had returned to normal, and he‘d gained several kilos. When questioned about his nightmares, Tom reported that he had only had five nightmares in the past seven days. Privately, Tom credited B‘Elanna‘s constant presence with him at night in helping drive away the nightmares. However, he did not voice this opinion to the Doctor.
"Well, Tom, you‘ve made excellent progress in your recovery thus far. I still want to monitor you though."
He handed Tom some PADDs. "Here are some assignments for you to study. I‘ll be testing you on them next week."
Tom looked at the PADDs with a troubled expression. The Doctor noticed this.
"Is there a problem, Tom?" asked the Doctor quietly.
"Not really, Doc. Just some bad memories surfacing," answered Tom honestly.
"Tom, I‘m not your father, I am not going to berate you for not scoring perfectly on the material. No one can have perfect scores all the time." The Doctor watched Tom carefully to see if what he was saying was making an impression on him. In a rare bit of open candor, Tom had discussed some of the nightmares with the Doctor. From what Tom had told him, he wasn‘t surprised that Tom had insecurities about being his assistant. He had worked very hard to improve his relationship with Tom after that discussion. Tom needed positive feedback to help improve his self esteem. He was doing all he could to provide him with that positive feedback.
Tom flashed a smile at the Doctor. "I know, Doc, but old habits tend to die hard." He waved the PADDs at the Doctor. "I‘ll go over to my desk and start on these right now." He turned and walked over to his desk and began studying.
With a satisfied feeling, the Doctor went into his office and began the report on Tom‘s health. One copy would go to his medical records, others would go to the Captain, Chakotay, and Tuvok. He felt that barring no unusual incidents, that Tom would be back to normal soon.
Two weeks later, the Doctor filed his final report on Tom‘s health pertaining to the problems that had been brought on by his time spent in the brig under extreme mental and emotional duress. He stated that Tom had regained all the weight he had lost, and his blood pressure had remained normal since his second checkup. He therefore felt comfortable in declaring that Tom had recovered from the ordeal. He wondered what the Captain would think of his use of the word ordeal. She hadn‘t made any comments about the reports he sent her on Tom‘s checkups. Whatever she thought, she was keeping it to herself. He hoped this last report would clarify how difficult of a time Tom had been through during his solitary confinement in the brig.
In her ready room, the Captain read the Doctor‘s final report. Guilt and remorse overwhelmed her each time she read one of his reports on Tom‘s condition. She knew from the reports the Doctor sent her after each physical that Tom had been through pure hell. Each report referred to the traumas he had suffered and updated how he was progressing in each area since his release.
Most of the crew had finally begun to speak to her again. Tom had spoken to her only when it was necessary that first week. It took almost two weeks before he would speak out on the bridge with his usual commentary. Prior to the end of the second week, he had only spoken on the bridge when absolutely necessary. His conversation with her was purely professional at this point. She missed the easy rapport that they had previously shared.
Setting the report down, she walked over to the view port and gazed at the stars and planets streaking past. She felt so isolated and alone. Tuvok and Chakotay were the only two people who easily conversed with her now. She missed the pleasant conversations she had previously shared with members of her senior staff. They were still friendly to her, but now used a more formal attitude that they had not used previously.
In a note, Tom had assured her that he held no ill will towards her. He also had said that he regretted the fact that the rest of the crew had treated her unkindly due to her decisions regarding him. He had told her he still disagreed with the decisions she‘d made, but understood that it was her right as Captain to make decisions as she saw fit. He had further assured her that he would continue to perform his duties, regardless of how he felt about the judgment she had passed on him. He had signed it with his name. She felt he had omitted his rank to make it clear that this was a personal communication rather than an official one.
She closed her eyes against the stinging tears that had threatened to pour out. She had cried when she read Tom‘s note the first time. She wanted so badly to repair their relationship, but was uncertain how to do it. It was clear from the note that Tom, while he disagreed with what she had done, was not holding a grudge. He had not made any references to his sufferings during his thirty days of solitary confinement. His formality in his dealings with her made it hard for her to approach him on a more personal level. She hoped that one day, they could be friends again.
SOME WEEKS LATER
Tom carefully plotted a course to take them to the proper coordinates. They were traveling through Devorian space with what Devorians considered contraband cargo. They had telepaths aboard. If they were caught smuggling telepathic refugees, everyone on Voyager would all be sent to a "relocation center." The Deovorian‘s euphemistic term for the prisons where the telepaths were ultimately put to death for no other reason than the simple fact they possessed telepathic powers.
Tom‘s mind drifted back to the World War II simulation the Hirogen had put them through. The Nazis had put Jews to death because they too were "different." How many times in the course of human history had one race hated another because they were "different?
The Captain had agreed to help the refugees. Voyager had rescued them from a freighter. She had promised them safe passage to a transport that would carry them to a wormhole and freedom from their oppressors. Tom completely supported the Captain‘s decision. He could not imagine how an entire race could justify these atrocities against another race just because they were telepaths. Bigotry, he mused would always be found somewhere.
They had received another transmission that had changed the coordinates to meet the transport ship again. Now they would meet the ship in a Nebula. Tom felt uneasy about this change, but since he had no tangible proof, he did not say anything.
Devorian warships appeared on the sensors. Once again they were given the usual instructions.
"Why do they bother, they know we won‘t resist?" asked Tom.
"Protocol, Mr. Paris," answered the Captain.
He noticed that she never referred to him by his rank any more. It was always Mr. Paris, or Tom. Their relationship was still tenuous at best. They had yet to discuss the judgment she had passed on him. It was a conversation he dreaded. He knew he had disappointed and hurt her very badly.
When the inspection was finally over, they continued on their course. However, some of the telepaths were beginning to suffer cellular degradation from being in transporter suspension for the duration of the inspections. The damage would be cumulative. They could only hope that they would meet the transport ship that would take the telepaths through the wormhole without having another inspection.
Then he came on board alone. The Devorian who had been harassing them with searches had approached them in a scout ship and requested to come aboard and talk to Janeway.
Kashyk had claimed to be defecting and requested asylum on Voyager. Tom was suspicious, but held his counsel. He did not think the Captain would welcome his advice. He did not want to be on the receiving end of a curt dismissal from her.
Kashyk warned them that the nebula was a trap. He said he would help them find the wormhole. It was no use to look for the transport ship, because the Devorians had already seized it, sending everyone on board to a relocation center.
Tom watched as the Captain spent more and more time with Kashyk. He sincerely hoped that she would not get hurt. He just didn‘t trust the man at all. Something about him made his skin crawl. It was as if evil lurked behind his charming attitude he displayed to the Captain. He decided to see what B‘Elanna thought of the situation. They were laying cuddled together in her bed talking.
"B‘Elanna, do you trust Kashyk?" he asked soberly.
She stared at him for a few moments, then shook her head. "No, not really. Do you trust him, Tom?"
"Not at all. I think he‘s using the Captain to get at the telepaths," answered Tom. "I think he‘s looking for the wormhole and using Voyager‘s technology to find it. I should say something to the Captain, but I don‘t think she‘d take my opinion very seriously.
"That‘s true, let‘s just let things go for now. We can both keep an eye on Kashyk. Besides, the Captain can take care of herself." advised B‘Elanna.
"I just don‘t want to see her get hurt. It seems she‘s fallen for Kashyk." Tom furrowed his brow. "Chakotay cares for her, and she ignores him.
"I know," sighed B‘Elanna. "This is hurting him too. She‘s been hurting people a lot lately.
"Well, she can‘t always be friends with everyone. It‘s not easy on her to be responsible for the entire ship. She hasn‘t got the fleet to back her up out here," commented Tom.
B‘Elanna wanted to change the subject. She still had mixed feelings about the Captain. She had ignored her wishes when the Cardassian hologram used his knowledge to save her life, and she had treated Tom very harshly, despite of all he had done for Voyager. Placing her hands on his cheeks, she drew his face to hers for a kiss. They were soon lost to their passions.
Kashyk had left the ship to take charge of the Devorian inspection teams, or so he had said. Rumors were floating about that he had kissed the Captain, and she had taken his face in her hands and kissed him in return before letting him leave.
Soon however, it became apparent that the Captain had her doubts about him as well. She sent the telepaths on to the wormhole in two of Voyager‘s shuttles using the shielding specifications she had gotten from Kashyk. Then Voyager acted as a decoy to allow them to escape to safety.
She seemed pensive to Tom, as if she were afraid her suspicions would turn out to be true.
Soon, as they had all anticipated, Devorian ships intercepted them once more. Tom‘s suspicions had been right all along. Kashyk had been using the Captain to find and destroy the wormhole, as well as capturing the telepaths he knew were hiding in transporter suspension.
However, the Captain‘s deception allowed the telepaths to escape.
Kashyk had been surprised that the Captain had seen through his lies.
Tom knew that they would all be sent to a relocation center. However, he felt that they had done the right thing. It seemed ironic that he would be incarcerated once again for helping someone who had desperately needed help. He did not regret helping save the telepaths. He had, in fact supported Janeway‘s decision to violate the prime directive by disregarding the Devorian law and harboring telepaths. If they ever did make it back to the Alpha Quadrant, he would readily speak in her defense before the board of inquiry.
Luckily, they were not going to be sent to a relocation center after all. Kashyk did not want this "failure" as he called it to appear on his records. So Voyager had been allowed to go its way. Tom had been on the bridge when the Captain talked to Kashyk, been there as Kashyk left, and had watched his Captain sit in stunned silence. He realized she had truly loved Kashyk, and was feeling the same pain of betrayal he had felt when she stripped him of his rank and tossed him in the brig.
Tom acknowledged her order for the course change softly. He knew she was hurting. If only he‘d spoken up sooner, perhaps she would not be hurting now. He felt guilty for not saying something to the Captain. The rest of the shift passed in silence.
Later, as he and B‘Elanna ate a quiet dinner in his quarters, they discussed the incident.
"Well, Tom, you certainly were right about Kashyk," said B‘Elanna. "If I never see another Devorian again, it will be too soon.
Tom nodded. "I know what you mean. I can‘t imagine fearing someone because of they happen to be a telepath. If it hadn‘t been for Tuvok, you and I both might not even be here today.
"I know," answered B‘Elanna softly. Tuvok‘s melds with both of them had cleared them in different incidents on alien worlds.
"I feel bad that I didn‘t speak up now," said Tom regretfully. "If I had, maybe the Captain wouldn‘t have been hurt so badly by Kashyk‘s betrayal.
"You don‘t know that, Tom," said B‘Elanna in a soothing voice. "She may have listened to you, or she may have ignored your opinion.
"Maybe," answered Tom distractedly. He intended to send the Captain a note later. He hoped he could be of some comfort to her in the note.
They spent the rest of their evening enjoying each other‘s company.
Captain Janeway noticed the message light flashing on the console in her quarters. She activated the message. It was from Tom.Captain,
I had my doubts about Kashyk from the very beginning, but did not approach you with them, not knowing if you would welcome my comments. I am sincerely sorry that I did not discuss my concerns with you now. Due to my lack of communication, you were hurt when Kashyk betrayed you. I deeply regret that you were hurt.
She felt tears well up in her eyes. He was regretful that she had been hurt by Kashyk‘s betrayal. Tom was the most forgiving person she had ever met. She had even heard about the letter he had dictated to his father while in the brig.
She was wrong, he had changed a great deal. He was no longer the bitter, self serving young man she‘d met in New Zealand. In fact, she suspected that the attitude hadn‘t really gone that deep. It was his defense against a world he couldn‘t trust. She recalled hearing Tom‘s father berate him once, as she had waited in the reception area to meet with the Admiral. From what she heard, it sounded as if he were being berated for not having all 100%‘s in the grading period. Funny, she had forgotten about that until now.
Tomorrow she would talk to him. She had to let him know that she knew he had indeed changed. His reduction in rank would have to stand. Because he had disobeyed direct orders, used the Delta Flyer without authorization, and very nearly started a conflict with the Moneans. She would however apologize for ignoring the advice of Tuvok, Chakotay, and the Doctor about letting him complete his sentence in his quarters. All the reports came back to her mind very clearly, now tempered by a mindset that was thinking about them without anger.
She was grateful that B‘Elanna had been there for him when he was released. She had heard through rumors that the two had not spent a night apart since his release. She was glad they had each other.
She thought about how it could have been if Kashyk had not been deceiving her. She had wanted to believe him. If he had truly defected, then he would have been here at her side. Instead she was alone. She envied Tom and B‘Elanna‘s happiness. She did not begrudge them their happiness, but wished she too could find happiness in a loving relationship. Sighing, she began to prepare for another lonely night of sleep.
The next morning, as she dismissed the Senior Staff from the meeting she stopped Tom. "Mr. Paris, I would like to speak with you."
He nodded his acknowledgment to her, then glanced at B‘Elanna. She gently squeezed his hand with a reassuring smile. He took courage from her smile, and knew he could now face the conversation he had long dreaded.
The rest of the officers filed out of the room. Tom stood respectfully, waiting to hear what the Captain had to say.
"Sit down, Tom," she said in a kind voice.
He sat down and kept his eyes fixed on her. Whatever she had to say, he was ready to hear. It had been several weeks since he had completed his thirty days. This was the first time that they had been alone together since then.
"Tom, I was very angry when I sentenced you after the Monean incident. I implied you hadn‘t changed. I was wrong to say that because you have changed. I was also wrong to disregard advice from the Doctor, Tuvok, and Chakotay when they recommended that you be allowed to serve the remainder of your sentence confined to your quarters due to the severe nightmares you were experiencing, as well as your claustrophobic tendencies. I want you to know that I am sorry for those things."
Tom stared at the Captain in surprise. Unshed tears were glittering in her eyes.
"I read both of your notes. I want you to realize you can come to me anytime you have a concern. The incident with the Moneans is past history. I started you off on Voyager with a clean slate. As of right now, Tom, the slate is wiped clean again." She glanced down at the table before she continued. "Tom if you wish to file a complaint about my refusal to follow the recommendations of the Doctor, Chakotay, and Tuvok, you may do so, and it will be entered into the ship‘s log to be reviewed by Starfleet when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant. I‘ve already placed myself on report for failing to do so, stating that it caused you to suffer needless emotional and physical problems."
Tom shook his head. "I‘m not going to file a complaint, Captain. If you hadn‘t taken me from the penal colony, I would be dead by now. You said I have changed. It was your mentoring of me that allowed that to happen. I want you to know that disobeying you was one of the hardest things I‘ve ever done."
The Captain wiped her eyes and smiled at Tom. She knew that it would not be long before she could restore his rank. She had in fact been ready to promote him to full Lieutenant status before the Monean incident.
"Mr. Paris, you may report to your station. I‘ll be on the bridge shortly."
He flashed her a bright smile. "Yes, ma‘am," he replied in his old familiar tone. He stood up and sauntered out of the room.
The rift between them had been mended. She would wait here till she felt sure no trace of tears were left on her face, then she would take her place on the bridge with the finest officers she had ever served with.
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