Title: A Time To Cry, A Time To Laugh
Author: Ronda Sexton
Series: Voyager—AU
Code: J/P
Sequel To: Betrayal‘s Sting
Rating: PG 13
Summary: A look at how Tom and Kathryn cope after Tom breaks off their relationship due to the events in 30 Days.

A Time To Cry, A Time To Laugh

Tom Paris sat in a quiet corner of Sandrines nursing his drink. Tonight, he had found out how many friends he had. So many people had come to Sandrines tonight to see him, and let him know that he had their support. This helped him a little, but did nothing to fill the empty spot in his heart. The spot that had once been filled with a deep love for Kathryn......Captain Janeway, he mentally corrected himself.

Setting his empty glass on the table, he ordered the computer to shut down the program and left for his quarters. The corridors were empty at this late hour. In a way, that pleased Tom. He had appreciated the outpouring of support that the crew had given him, but now he just wanted to be alone with his thoughts.

He paused a second before entering his access code to gain entry to his quarters. He knew they would be empty. As he walked inside, loneliness flooded his soul. There was no warm greeting, no soft arms embracing him, no velvety lips brushing his. Cold silence welcomed him home. He hurried to the sleeping area, stripping off his uniform as he went. He sat heavily down on the bed, staring morosely at the trail of clothing he‘d left behind him. Deciding he‘d pick all of the discarded clothing in the morning as he usually did.... A surge of fiery anger shot through him as a memory sprang unbidden to his mind. He leaped to his feet and quickly gathered his clothing and stuffed them into the cleaning processor. He sighed and flopped down on the bed once more. Many a time he and Kathyrn had left clothes on the floor in their haste to make love. With a weary sigh he sadly crept under the covers to try to sleep. He could only hope the horrific nightmares had been left behind in the brig.... In another set of quarters, Kathryn Janeway bolted up to a sitting position.

The same nightmare that had plagued on a nightly basis since she had sentenced Tom woke her once more. She was shaking, tears streamed down her cheeks, and her gown was drenched with sweat. Before, on the rare occasion that she had a nightmare, Tom had often been there to comfort her. She stared at the empty space beside her on the bed. Tom would not be there anymore. The words from his message on the PADD rang in her mind with clarity. It is over. I have returned your belongings and taken mine back to my quarters. I could never trust you with my heart again. He had seemed to understand her actions on the day she reduced him in rank and sentenced him to 30 days of solitary confinement. She had been so angry with him for forcing her to do the things she had that day. He had undermined her authority. He had disobeyed her direct orders. She did not have any choice other than to discipline him.

Finally, her trembling stopped. She walked over to the closet and got a fresh gown to replace the sweat soaked one. After quickly changing, she returned to her bed. She turned away from the empty spot beside her and drifted into a troubled sleep.

Tom thrashed wildly on his bed as the horrors of the nightmare played out again. He sat upright with a scream. Gasping for air, he opened his eyes and saw he was safe in his quarters. The nightmares about the torpedo hitting the Delta Flyer had plagued him nightly along with nightmares about his father. Adm. Owen Paris had a near perfect public image, however his image in private life was very different. Tom‘s childhood had been one of repeated verbal and emotional abuse by his father.

Tom willed himself to calm down. In the brig, his screams had so disturbed the guards, that the Doctor was summoned to sedate him. After a time, he begged the sedation be stopped for it prevented him from waking up from his nightmares. When the Doctor approached the Captain about solitary confinement in his quarters instead of the brig, with the theory that familiar surroundings could help lessen Tom‘s nightmares, she had flatly refused the request. At long last, Tom calmed himself enough to sleep once more. The next morning at the briefing, Tom sat as far away from the Captain as possible. He was quiet during the meeting, only speaking when spoken to.

The rest of the Senior Staff felt the palatable tension in the air and were extremely uncomfortable. It was a relief to everyone when the meeting was over.

On the bridge, Tom followed every order without delay. He responded to commands with short, polite acknowledgments. The sparkle had been so prevalent a month ago was gone. Instead a sober demeanor ruled his reactions. Chakotay watched Tom and Kathyrn carefully. They were both suffering. Word had gone around the ship like wildfire that Tom had ended their relationship. He could only hope that they would eventually recover from their sorrows, and return to their usual happy dispositions. Days went by, and Tom and Kathryn remained unhappy. Something would have to be done. He and Tom had come to respect each other, perhaps it would be best to approach Tom. He approached Tom, who was sitting alone in Sandrines. "Mind if I join you, Tom?" asked Chakotay softly.

"Pull up a chair, Chakotay." he answered in a quiet tone. "Tom, we‘ve all been worried about you and the Captain. You‘re both so unhappy. Is there anything I can do to help?" asked Chakotay. Tom shrugged. His blue eyes were dull and listless. "I don‘t know if anything could help Chakotay. The Captain sure forgot her broken heart in a hurry. You saw how she took up with Kashyk. That bastard used her to try to get to the telepaths." Fiery anger flared in Tom‘s eyes. It had been so hard to watch Kathryn with that bastard.

After hearing Tom‘s statement and observing his body language, Chakotay realized he was right. Tom still did love the Captain. His jealousy over Janeway‘s attentions and fling with Kashyk spoke volumes. "Tom," he began cautiously. "My people take vision quests with spirit guides to help us with troublesome events in our lives. I could show you how do take a vision quest."

Tom stared at the Commander, realizing that he was willing to share a deeply personal thing with him. Right now, between the nightmares and his deep sorrow, he was ready to try anything that could possibly help him. "I would like that, Commander. When can we start?" asked Tom, who was feeling somewhat hopeful.

"If you can come to my quarters now, I can help you get started."

Chakotay rose from his chair and Tom did likewise. They make the trip to Chakotay‘s quarters in silence. Once inside, Chakotay took his medicine bundle and indicated Tom should sit across from him on the floor. Tom watched in respectful silence as Chakotay opened the bundle and explained the significance of each item. He continued listening as Chakotay explained to him how to proceed as Chakotay started the ritual for him. Tom found himself in a forest. As he had been instructed by Chakotay, he refrained from speaking aloud as he searched around the forest. Suddenly an he became aware of an eagle perched on a rock in the clearing. The eagle cocked her head and stared at him. He realized this was his spirit guide.

"I have many questions to ask of you," said Tom softly. The eagle cocked her head again. "You may proceed, little one." The eagle answered him.

"What should I do? I am so unhappy. I did what I thought was right, and could have been killed for my efforts."

The eagle ruffled her feathers. "Do you think you are the only one who suffers from this? Come with me and see another whose suffering is far greater than your own. The location changed and he found that they were now in the Captain‘s quarters.

"Are we really here?" he asked quietly.

"These are but shadows of things that are. She is dreaming, let us see her dream."

Tom suddenly found himself observing the Captain‘s dream along with the eagle. He saw her, watching the screen in horror as the Delta Flyer blew up.

Then he saw himself horribly burned and battered, demanding answers from the Captain who was sitting in her quarters now. "Why did you kill me, Kathryn? I thought you loved me." The specter‘s eyes glared at her accusingly. "You killed me!! I was doing what was right, and you killed me."

Kathryn Janeway wept bitterly. She offered no defense. The specter moved closer to her. It‘s arms reaching out to take her. There was anger in its eyes. Kathryn screamed out, "I‘m sorry, Tom. I‘m sorry, I‘m so sorry.

I love you so much. I love you and I miss you terribly." Suddenly, he found himself staring at Chakotay. He started briefly, then asked, "How long was I on the quest?"

"About an hour, Tom," answered Chakotay.

He reached over and grasped Chakotay‘s hand. "Thank you, Chakotay, my spirit guide has shown me many things, and I know what I need to do now." Chakotay nodded, and Tom stood and left the room quickly. Without hesitation, he hurried to Kathryn‘s quarters. He pressed the announcer to request entry. He could hear muffled screams coming from within. Deciding to risk earning the Captain‘s anger, he entered the access code and walked to the sleeping area while she tossed in the throes of a nightmare. He knew what the nightmare was, and hurried to the bed to awaken her from the horrors plaguing her in the dream. Sitting on the bed beside her, he gently shook her. "Wake up, Kathryn, it‘s only a bad dream."

She jerked awake with a start. She jumped when she saw Tom sitting by her on the bed.

"Shhh, it‘s all right."
She stared at him in wordless shock. He was here in her quarters. He pulled her still trembling body into his arms. Tears were stinging his eyes. "I‘m so sorry, Kathryn. I hurt you deeply." They both shuddered with the force of their sobbing. They held each other and cried for a long time.

Finally, Tom cupped her face in his hands. "Can you find it in your heart to forgive me for being such an idiot and breaking up with you?" he whispered softly.

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak without crying again. He drew her lips to his and kissed her. The kiss was tender and comforting at first, but grew stronger and more passionate. "Oh, Tom," she breathed softly. "Make love to me. Please, I need reassurance that this is real and not a dream."

"It‘s real, Kathryn," he assured her as he lowered her down on the bed with a soft laugh. She smiled and laughed along with him just before his lips claimed hers once more. They were together again. They had weathered the worse storm of their relationship. What had begun in tears, ended in love and laughter.