AUTHOR‘S NOTE: My personal experiences with coma always led me to wonder: where does the soul go when the brain can‘t function anymore? Well, I was to young to remember anything, so I‘m left with my sole imagination...
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and Voyager‘s crew belongs to Paramount. However, all unrelated characters and places, meaning the residents of Port-Ayalexis, belongs to US. So here‘s a another take at what could be Tom Paris‘ secret life. Faith Has Led Him Through It. is the 5/5 of the In The Dark Saga. This is P/T story, Rated PG..
Big thanks to Sarah McClaclan who inspired me for the new title.
Synopsis: Tom finally wakes up, but what does he remember? Will he be able to answer everyone‘s questions?
In The Dark: Faith Has Led Him Through It
By Synbou Synbou@hotmail.com
Tom‘s vitals had crashed.
B‘Elanna felt the world collapsed around her as everyone‘s fear struck without any warning. On their end, the conditions of the Captain and Chakotay were alarming, but at least not life threatening... yet.
The young woman clenched her teeth as Harry tightened his hold one her shoulders. They were standing a few feet away from the main biobed, out of the doctor‘s way, as the physician was desperately trying to get Tom‘s heart beating again.
"Come on Tom, stay with us," Harry pleaded.
B‘Elanna looked up at her lover‘s best friend. His features were tight, his eyes were flooded with unshed tears. The ones she had managed to hold inside started to tumble down her cheeks as well. She knew he was feeling as helpless as she did—the same damn feeling of helplessness that had haunted her all week. She felt her anger building up inside. She wanted to scream her pain, her frustrations, and her fear. Unable to stand it anymore, she quickly turned on her heels only to meet Harry‘s dark eyes once more. In that instant, all of those emotions vanished, leaving her with an even more dreadful sense of lost. She let Harry take her in his embrace and buried her face in his shoulder.
It can‘t end like his! her mind screamed. *You told me, you
didn‘t want to die like this.*
She didn‘t look back while the Doctor administered a cardio electric shock to Tom‘s dying body again, once... twice... her own heart missing a beat each time.
B‘Elanna did not pay any attention to all of the activity around her. Her mind wandered off. She remembered Tom‘s blue eyes, the many inflections of his smile, his strength, the gentleness of his touch, and the passion in his kisses.
"We have something," Wildman informed the Doctor, trying to keep her voice calm and professional.
"10 ccs of Tricordezeine," the EMH ordered.
It took some time for her to realize that Harry was talking to her softly.
"B‘Elanna,... B‘Elanna, we have him back," he was saying.
"We do?" she asked afraid to turn around, as if the very action would make the news unreal.
Finally, she looked up into her friend‘s dark eyes. Tears had streaked his cheeks. He nodded and gave her a sad smile.
B‘Elanna faced towards her lover. The Doctor and Wildman were giving her hopeful looks. Yes, Tom was alive, she could see his chest slowly moving.
But for how long? she could not help but wonder.
Everyone stepped away, leaving her alone with him. She sat down on the chair beside his bed and cried for a while. This was awfully hard emotionally for all of them, especially her.
Go with them, M‘Love, she told him.
His heart was breaking. How could he ever do that? How could he leave her? He loved her so much. She had been his life line more than once.
And then, she was gone.
He was the one who was suppose to go, not her.
Everything started to fade away in the growing light of the breaking new day, except for the pain. The intense pain that was burning inside. The only thing he could do at that point was rely on Kathryn and Chakotay‘s strength, love, and support. But, even they had to leave him, promising that they would be waiting for him at home, on Voyager.
Being alone with Mr. Blue was somewhat comforting. The purring of the big Himalayan cat as soft on his aching soul, as reassuring as the peacefulness of the shining Winter Garden could be. He knew he had to leave too. He had made a promise to Loreena. But, making his way back was so difficult, near impossible. It felt so far away...
It was like he was under water. It wasn‘t that he couldn‘t breath, but a pressure was holding him back. He had to push against it to get to the surface. Many times he thought of giving up, to stay at the bottom forever. It had been nice there. However, a will even stronger than his, disguised as a woman‘s voice, had caught him in its spell, just like a sailor would have been entranced by a mermaid.
He remembered Loreena‘s voice. How much it had charmed him, seduced, and comforted him. Despite himself, her voice was getting farther away now. It was more of a memory fading away as another voice was taking over, sounding closer and clearer.
"We almost lost you... again." She took a deep breath, swallowing a hiccup.
"Tom keep fighting, I know you can. You have to come back to us."
So much sorrow, he realized. "The Captain and Chakotay, are awake now. They told The Doctor and myself everything.... Losing Loreena like that most have been so difficult for you. And leaving your children behind for a second time... I know it must be painful and that you might not want to come back to us." She paused for a second, breathing deeply. "But Tom, you have too. There‘s always a chance for you to see them again. At least, that‘s what you keep telling me. For them, for yourself, and for us, you have to open those beautiful blue eyes of yours I miss so baldly. We need you too much. I love you and I can‘t live without you." She looked around, then screamed: "You can‘t die! You hear me, Tom?!"
That he heard. loud and clear. Wasn‘t he awake?
He surely felt alive. He was aware of the air filling his lungs. It‘s coolness on his shivering skin. The numbness of his body was almost painful. Despite his will, he could not move a inch, not even open his eyes. Oh, how much he wanted to reach her, to touch her, and to say something that would chase all of that sadness out of her voice.
"It‘s been so difficult for the Captain and Chakotay to tell us what happened to you," she started again. "I have never seen them so sad before. I never seen them cry. Well, maybe Chakotay once or twice, but never like this..."
He could remember Kathryn and Chakotay crying, too. His friends had shared his grief at leaving his little girls behind, and... Losing his wife. They had been there, and yet they hadn‘t really been there. His memories were no longer making sense and the confusion he felt was overwhelming. He listen harder to her voice. She had been so comforting.
"When they woke up, we told them that your heart had stopped for a few minutes," she was relating. "Chakotay, thinks that it probably coincided with when you got shot. The Captain started to cry at that point and so did Chakotay. He opened his arms and she let herself be held by him." She paused. "I‘m glad they are supporting each other like this. I think that little trip into your world brought them closer."
She let out a harsh breath. She got up and walked around, clearly frustrated.
"I wish you could hold me too," she cracked.
"I wish I could... "
The words had melted in his mouth like in a dream. He wasn‘t even sure he had said them. The voice had barely sounded like his.
The silence that followed worried him even more.
"I wish I could..." a low and ruff voice had replied.
The four words had the same effect as a tone of bricks on B‘Elanna. She stopped dead in her tracks. She had heard Tom‘s voice. It had been a shadow of his usual timber, but it definitely was the one of her mate.
She turned toward him, and got closer to his bed. His eyes were still closed, but she could see that he had stirred. Carefully, she sat beside him on the bed, took one his limp hands in hers and put her left one on his forehead, stroking gently.
"Tom," she called. "Tom, it‘s me, B‘Elanna. Can you talk to me again?. I know, it‘s hard, but keep trying. Try to squeeze my hand."
Tears of joy raced down her face, tears as she was rewarded by a slight pressure on her right hand. She looked backward.
"Doctor!" she hollered.
"What‘s wrong?" the EMH asked immediately running out of his office.
"Tom is waking up," she cracked.
There it was again. His voice. It filled her heart with so much happiness and relief, it was indescribable.
"Yes Tom, I‘m here," she assured him. "Everything is going to be all right. I promise."
It had been three days since Tom Paris had woken up from his coma. He had slept most of the time. He was tired, his condition had affected his heart and left him a lot thinner, but he felt much better. The pallor of his skin and the dark circles under his small blue eyes were also shadows of the last week.
Still, the Doctor conceded and allowed him to return to his quarters, making him promise to avoided any strenuous activities and to call him at any sign of discomfort. With his holo-emitter, the EMH had pointed out that he would be able to answer house calls if needed.
So, in Captain Janeway‘s company, Tom left sickbay for his quarters, a deck below. They walk slowly, making sure not to tire him. It gave them the time to talk to each other, which they had not really had the chance to do, yet.
Chakotay had gave Tom a short summery of the events they had witnessed, the day after he woke up. He had made sure not to overwhelm him, saying that they would have plenty of time to talk.
Tom had been too confused and tired to argue about anything. But, he had to admit that this situation had disturbed him greatly, and he had passed most his waking moments musing about the issue.
"Kathryn, this is so confusing," he sighed. Then, he bit his lower lip. "Sorry, Captain. See what I mean?"
"Kathryn is just fine," she told him with a smile.
"I have a hard time keeping the all stuff in my head straight."
She grinned at his choice of words.
"You‘ll have to give yourself some time, Tom." She searched for his gaze. "And, let us help you if we can."
He smiled at her for respond.
"We understand, that we may have seen things of a sensitive nature. You know that everything we learned will be kept confidential? Even top secret if you feel it is necessary."
"Nothing was top secret, just not common knowledge."
She smiled a little in understanding.
Finally, they arrived at his quarters. B‘Elanna and Chakotay were waiting for them, along with a multitude of 20th Century balloons and greeting cards from every department.
Tom smiled as he looked around. These four walls had never felt more like home than at that very moment. For a fleeting second, he wished that his children could be here too.
He pulled away from Janeway and walked over to the couch on his own, where B‘Elanna was waiting for him. He sat down beside her and placed his arms around her. She smiled at him, giving him a little signal that it was okay with her for him to tell his story.
"You must all be wondering about my life with Loreena and the children?"
"Tom, you don‘t have to talk about this right away," B‘Elanna told him softly. "You can wait until you‘re feeling stronger."
"No... no, I want to do this, today," he replied nervously. "I need to clear the air so to speak."
His friends simply nodded in understanding.
"Oh hell, where do I start?" he sighed burring his face in his hands. "So many things I want to tell you. You‘re my friends. I trust you. You deserve to know."
He eyed them thoughtfully. This was going to be hard. Needing some space, he got up and went to the window. He could tell by the speed of stars passing by that the ship was traveling at warp six. It distracted his thoughts for a spilt second from all the images that was haunting his mind once again.
"Loreena, she... died... a few weeks before I entered the Maquis."
He could feel their gazes falling on him and refused to meet them. He was about to open old wounds that were not only his own, but B‘Elanna and Chakotay‘s too.
"Actually, it all started after Caldik Prime, which put a radical end to my Starfleet career. Loreena was already working for the Silver-Seas Foundation and I later joined the Missing Person Department. With Aunt Audrey as head of department and Starfleet‘s attache, it hadn‘t been hard to arrange."
Loreena was my salvation. I don‘t know what I did to deserve her. She stood by me, gave me her support, and loved me, even in the worst moments. She helped me so much in accepting my mistakes and facing the demons, doing what my family could barely consider.
With Loreena‘s daughter, Sayana, we settled in Port-Ayalexis despite the constant conflicts between Kimirian and the Irsians. Loreena being from Kimira, it allowed her to stay near her family. We had rented an apartment in the city, near the university. I don‘t know how I managed everything, but at one point, I was studying criminology with Dr. Henley, teaching astrophysics with Professor Semak, doing my job at the Foundation along with Aunt Audrey, and planning a family with Loreena all at the same time. We had already became Gael‘s foster parents.
So, with a new baby on the way, we eventually moved to Seal Cove. We had found an old house that had survive the war. With the help of some friends, we rebuilt it. That had been great, but that year turned out to be pretty awful.
"Not feeling well, aren‘t you", Loreena told me as I walked in the kitchen one morning.
It had took all my willpower to drag myself out of bed, clean up and change before finally meeting my wife down stair for the morning meal.
"I feel like I haven‘t slept for weeks."
"You do look tired and pale, even a bit feverish," Loreena observed. "You have too many things going on right now. You have to slow down, Tom. If you don‘t, your body will force you to take a break."
"Well, one thing is certain, Gael will have to find another partner for mountain climbing for a while anyway," I said sitting down at the kitchen table. "It‘s been almost a week since our last trip and I‘m still aching in every joint."
"What worries me are those bruises all over your body," she admitted. "You should go see a doctor."
She put two mugs of fresh brewed coffee on the table. Then, she gently touch my forehead. My skin was warm and a little clammy.
"Tom, you really should go see a doctor," she insisted after a minute.
I frowned and was about to protest when my eyes met her worried gaze. She had that puppy face of hers that could bring me to my knees in a heartbeat. I had to concede. I made an appointment with Doctor Burges for the beginning of the afternoon, then went to work.
You know what it is like when everything seems to go the wrong way. I arrived at work that morning, late obviously. Audrey and Paul Wagner, the department‘s counselor, were waiting for me in the Admiral‘s office.
"Sorry, I‘m late," I apologized taking a sit beside Wagner.
"It‘s been one of those morning..."
"You‘re okay?" asked Audrey concerned.
"Sure, just tired," I replied. My glare flew from Paul to Audrey. They had unusual solemn expressions. "What‘s wrong?"
Audrey took a deep breath, then her lips tighten before answering:
"We found Klory Mel‘s dead body early this morning in the Catacombs."
"Same place?" I asked.
Audrey just nodded as I heard Paul deep sigh of dismay.
"Hell" I breathed. "It‘s the third child this month. Do her parents know?"
Klory Mel was a six-year-old Kimirian girl who had disappeared four days earlier. A little girl not much older than Sayana. Paul and I had led the search team, one taking over when the other‘s shift was over. We had become close with the Mels, like it was often the case with next of kin and friends of missing people. We shared their fears, grieve, and, helplessness, but also their joy and relief on many occasions.
But this time, it was far from being a happy ending. Both Paul and myself had the painful duty of informing the parents that their child was dead. That she had been murdered and that her body had been found in the Catacombs beneath the city.
I never go use to that.
The meeting with the Mels was heartbreaking. I had to fight with myself to prevent my body from shaking from the sadness and anger we were all feeling. It became so overwhelming at one point that it was physically painful. I had to leave the room.
Once in the hallway, I started shaking. I remember walking a few feet, but my knees gave out and I dropped to the floor. I was in so much pain. Every inch of my body was hurting. I had to remember to force air into my lungs. That‘s how Audrey found me. I woke up in the hospital a few hours later.
So, my cancer was back and Loreena was more than five months pregnant. It became very clear that I would probably never see my daughter. Well, thank God for probabilities and this amazing luck I have for beating the odds.
Doctors Webber and Burges came to Loreena and I one day with one last option, a dreadful weapon, in the battle against my leukemia.
Decytologenesis: a reconstruction of the cellular DNA.
Hell, it sounded like suicide. But, I was dying anyway, wasn‘t I? The doctors were giving me maybe a week left. If Solenn hadn‘t been born a few days before, I doubt I would have agreed to undergo the procedure.
They put me in a tube—they call it a chamber, I call it a coffin—in which I was strapped and deprived of any chemical pain killer. This thing lasted five days.
It was so bad.
I was losing my mind. I remembered a time when I was five years old and that I had locked myself in a closet for a full half hour while playing hide and seek. I thought I would die in that tube. I wished I would die in there. The only thing that kept me going was the though of one day being with my little Soleil, my Sunshine. Loreena had actually brought Solenn to me before I left for the Decytologenesis chamber.
Obviously, by pure luck or maybe faith, I don‘t know what to believe anymore, I made it. With Loreena and the girls‘ love and the constant support of my sisters and friends, life came back to normal.
"Normal?" Paul had shrugged the night of my ‚welcome home party‘. "Sorry pal, but I don‘t think you ever had a normal life."
Sandrine who had made the trip from Earth for the occasion, added with a smiled: "I always thought that Tom‘s definition of normal would be ‚etre mal dans les normes‘, normal..."
"Being uneasy or even bad in the norms...?" I asked incredulously.
"I think that what Sandrine means is that you don‘t fit in the norms," Loreena clarified. She laughed. "It suits you fine."
The only dark spot on the picture that really mattered to me was the rocky relationship I was having with my father. Damn the man could be stubborn! He would never past the fact that I had lied about the accident.
Another thing I never been able to talk to him about, not even to Mother, was the fact that I had almost died of cancer. Doing so would have had brought up my first leukemia. The one that I had suffered while I was at the Academy. For good reasons, so I believed, we hadn‘t mentioned it to my parents. My father was still recovering from his torture from the Cardassians. I didn‘t think he needed another source of stress, especially knowing that I would be cured in less then three weeks.
"Thomas," my older sister Victoria argued. "What if... what if you don‘t make it this time. We‘ll have to tell them."
"I know, Vicky," I agreed. "But, you don‘t have to tell them that I had it before. It probably doesn‘t make much sense." I sighed. "I wish they could be here. I wish I didn‘t feel like I had to keep all this hidden from them. I know they love me. I love them too, but I don‘t have the strength to meet with them, right now. Not under these terms."
Well, the terms went from bad to worse, with my father anyway. My sisters argued that they deserved to know that they had a grandchild. So, we relented. I had planned to meet with Mom and Dad alone first, then to introduce them to Solenn. They had met Loreena, but they didn‘t know that we were married. The meeting didn‘t go well to say the least. For my father, I was a big deception. I was a disgrace to the Paris family. I was a liar and already a traitor in his mind. I didn‘t deserved to have the Paris name. So I left without ever mentioning Solenn and with the strong conviction that she would never use the Paris‘ name herself. Not unless my father and I ever made amends, which would be close to a miracle.
"Both your parents still don‘t know that you have a daughter?"
Janeway asked surprised.
Tom gave her half a smile. Putting away his half-eaten bole of pasta, he replied: "They know, now. They learned about it recently." Tom stopped and took a deep breath, wondering for a few seconds, if he should go on. "In Dad‘s letter, the one I officially never received, Dad told me of how he met the girls. The Doctor had already told me, since it happened when the word got out that Voyager‘s EMH was back from Delta Quadrant and that I was still alive."
"That you were still alive..." Janeway echoed. "Did somethin happen to the girls?"
"They‘re fine and they‘re safe," Tom assured all them.
"But what did really happened to Loreena?" Chakotay asked.
"What happened to Loreena," Tom repeated. He sighed heavily. "What happened to Loreena really changed my life."
I had gotten a call from Gael‘s teacher that my angel had skipped classes again that day. He had started to return to his old habits a few weeks before. I assumed that he was with his friends roaming around the underground city on some treasure hunt. So before I left the Foundation, I contacted Loreena to let her know that I would stop by the Catacombs on my way home. I couldn‘t just leave him there knowing that a child killer was still on the loose.
I was going down a dark and humid tunnel that I knew would lead me to the old community hall when I started to hear voices. I was glad I had found Gael so quickly since it was getting late. In my head I could already picture the confrontation we were going to have again. However, Gael and his friends weren‘t the ones I found.
As I was getting nearer, I could tell the voices were the ones of older men. Some had Kimirian accents, others didn‘t. I slowed down my pace and listened. I felt adrenalin rushed through me as I could make out pieces of the conversation.
"The Morning Mist is one of the most effective biological weapons the Irsian developed during the Irsian/Kimirian War," a Kimirian was saying. " It would be highly effective on Cardassians."
The Morning Mist had been dropped on Kimira a little more than four years earlier, killing thousands of people and bringing the population on its knees, almost forcing the government to surrender the war.
I entered the community hall quietly and hid behind some rocks. From where I was, I had a fairly good view of the exchange between two local smugglers, two humans that seemed awfully familiar and a Bajorian. I brought out my video phone from my jacket and started filming the scene as if it was any other of my regular crime scenes.
"Those weapons sound very interesting, Make your price."
Peter? Peter Elliot...?
Hell, I knew that man. I had actually gone to the Academy with him. The other, I suddenly recognized from a list of ex-Starfleet officers turned Maquis I had seen a few days earlier. Peter had made it to the rank of lieutenant and his friend had been nothing less than a captain.
I couldn‘t believe it. There I was in the Catacombs, kneeling in the dirt behind some rocks, witnessing an old friend buying biological weapons for the Maquis. I really had to curse my luck. I kept on recording until I heard familiar voices and laughter coming from the tunnel behind me. Oh God! Gael and his friends were coming down this way. I had to stop them before they [reached] the hall. Quickly and carefully, I stepped back into the tunnel and ran toward the kids.
‚Tom..." Gael began surprised to see me there and visibly embarrassed by the fact that he had been caught were he wasn‘t suppose to be.
I automatically brought a finger to my lips asking the silence from the four of tem.
"We‘re getting out of here, NOW," I whispered while urging them toward the surface. "Try to be as quiet as possible."
"What‘s going on?" one of them asked.
"Move," I simply ordered.
So, in silence we started to make our way up. I was closing the line we had formed along the wall. I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I couldn‘t tell if the Maquis had heard the kids coming as I had. My adrenalin was running high. I was so tense that I could feel cramps in my stomach. I had to bring these kids to safety and give the still recording tape to the proper authorities. Hell, the Cardassians might not have been my favorite people in this universe, but I had seen what the Morning Mist had done to the Kimirian. No one deserved that.
I don‘t know what I saw first, his phaser or his eyes. For one brief moment, Peter and I made eye contact. He knew who I was as much as I knew who he was.
When he saw the video phone that I was holding in his direction, he fired the first shot which hit the wall. The kids started screaming. I told them to run faster and stay close to the wall. The Maquis were getting closer.
Pain streaked like lightning through my back. I fell hard on the ground. My already short breath completely left me. My eyes started watering as I was desperately fighting to stay conscious. The tunnel turned even darker as total blackness threatened me. The fear of the Catacombs becoming my grave ran through my mind. I felt strong arms picking me up and forcing me to my feet. Air painfully filled my lungs the moment they got cooperative again.
"Stay awake, Tom," I heard Gael plead. "Come on. We‘re almost there."
"Out. We split up when we get out!" I harshly ordered.
Finally we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We ended up in the east side of the park. The cold wind of the late fall was raging making everything crack and fly in its wake. Feeling steadier on my legs, I told the kids to stay in pairs and run in different directions while I was heading toward the Foundation.
I had just reached the frozen pound when I saw Loreena in the other side.
My heart skipped a beat.
"Tom! Tom, are you all right?" she called out to me over the wind.
"Loreena! Take cover!."
I started making my way on the icy surface. I could tell the Maquis were still behind me. I was almost on the other side when I lost my footing and fell on the ice. Before I knew, Loreena was by my side.
"Oh my God, Tom you‘re hurt," she said taking a hold of me.
"People are chasing me..." I said.
"Chief Ryan!" I heard her call the security officer. "We need help, here!" helping me to get on my feet, she explained. "When neither you or Gael were coming home, the Chief and I decided to go looking for you."
"I wish you hadn‘t," I cracked.
Hell, I wish she hadn‘t...
A beam of light shined through the darkness. I heard Loreena cry out as it hit her.
I don‘t remember being shot again, before we both fell through the ice.
From the window were he stood, Tom took a deep breath and wiped the tears that had tumbled out of his eyes. In silence, his friends just did the same. Lips tightly shut, knots in their throats, sniffing and sobbing, no one could trust himself or herself enough to speak. A heavy silence filled the room as everyone took in all of what Tom had shared with them. For Tom, Kathryn and Chakotay, the memory of a similar night after an evening at the theater flashed back through their mind. Now they knew what had been real, and what had been the fiction.
"Why?" Tom finally cracked. "Why did she died and not me? I... I was shot twice and she was in better health than I was. I don‘t understand."
"My people calls it Fate‘," Chakotay offered knowing that it was hardly a consolation. "Life had other plans for you. Plans that would lead you to the Delta Quadrant."
"Were you able to give the video phone to the authorities?"
"Apparently, I had dropped it the first time I fell on the ice. It slide a few meters away from me which saved it from ending at the bottom of the pound. The smugglers got caught, but the Maquis had probably already left Kimira by the time the recording was viewed."
"Did you joined the Maquis to find the men who had killed Loreena?" B‘Elanna asked.
"Eventually," Tom answered. He paused, licking his sudden dry lips." After Loreena‘s funeral in Seal Cove... I embarked on a ship for Earth with the girls where Adrian and Claire were waiting for them. Gael asked to stay in Port-Ayalexis. He was sixteen years old and the city was his home. Despite my reservations, I accepted. So he went and stayed with my sister-in-law, Gwanna. I knew that she would be able to look after Gael and give him the support he needed probably better that I ever could under the circumstances."
"From what Chakotay and I saw, I thought that Adrian and Claire were living on Kimira," Janeway said.
"They did for a few years. But, by that time, they had moved to Earth where they received interesting offers from a new independent news broadcasting company."
Tom sighed heavily and bit his lower lip repeatedly while trying to keep his emotions in check.
"Adrian, Claire, Loreena and I had agreed that whatever happened to us, that we would never separate the girls. And after what had happened, keeping the girls with me would only have put them in danger, so Sayana and Solenn went to live with Adrian and Claire."
The fear of never seeing them again caught up with him once more.
His voice cracked. He was unable to withhold his tears any longer.
"This wasn‘t planned to be permanent and I stayed in contact with them and Gael until... the Delta Quadrant." He paused again in order to gather his thoughts. "After I left the kids, there wasn‘t that many places I could go. I ended up at Sandrine‘s where I met with a certain Maquis captain who was looking for a good pilot and had heard that he could find one there."
Tom had to crack a smile when he saw Chakotay‘s expression.
"So your saying, that you infiltrated my crew too but as a Foundation agent?" the Commander asked in disbelief.
"Well, yes and no. I wasn‘t there to expose you or bring you down. The only thing I cared about was to find Elliot and the canisters of Morning Mist, if possible. But, I was asked to map out the Badlands for when Voyager would be commissioned."
"You knew I was coming to get you in New Zealand, didn‘t you?"
Janeway asked more as a statement.
Tom smiled a little.
"Yes, Captain. I was expecting you before you even got your orders."
"Que vas-tu faire, maintenant?" Sandrine asked.
What was I going to do now? I had a fairly good idea.
I had passed a little more than three weeks with the kids at Adrian and Claire‘s. They needed me as much as I needed them. It allowed me to see that they settled well and give me time to recover a little from my own wounds, both physical and psychological. I mean, what do you do once the heart of you universe is taken away from you?
Meanwhile, friends who were in the DMZ started looking around for Elliot and those canisters of Morning Mist that had been in the Catacombs. When one of our operatives disappeared, it was my cue to regain a more active role in all of this mess knowing that it would be the only way for me to bring a sense of closure. In addition, Audrey, always looking at the big picture, had kindly asked me to map out what I could of the Badlands, while I was on my personal mission.
A few hours later, I was sitting alone at a table, a bottle of whiskey in front me. I saw him enter, out of the corner of my eye. His gaze flew around the room and he came straight in my direction once he had spotted me. Sandrine winked at me.
His name was Chakotay and he confirmed everything that I had been told. And that‘s how I got onto a Maquis ship en route for the DMZ. Once there, I started looking around and asking questions, trying not to rise too much suspicions. I wasn‘t there to make friends and I acted accordingly. I had built this fence between Chakotay and myself so he would only ask me to do what I was paid for, nothing more, nothing less, giving me leisure time to go on my personal mission.
I had took a habit of hanging around low-life bars, no one ever paid attention to anyone in one of those and people tended to talk. Recalling the reputation I had gained after Caldik Prime, it helped me to the extent that playing drunk and wallowing in self-pity had never been too difficult to fake. On top of which, I had actually gotten drunk and wallowed in self-pity a few times.
One night I found Him.
Elliot had just walked in the bar of my choosing that night. Oh! and what a bar this was, if could call it that. The lighting was at the minimum and dimmed even more by the thick smoke. The place carried the smell of at least a hundred beings, none of which who had recently been washed. And when it came to the liquor, well it was watered down, but it was the cheapest around -- which made the joint the most popular in the sector.
In my fake drunken haze, I observed Elliot discreetly taking to some people all evening. Once he left, I started fallowing him through the dark narrow street of the outpost. I gotta to tell you that a million things were going through my mind as I was doing so. I had been searching for that killer for weeks now, and I had imagine lots and lots of nasty ways to torture him so he could suffer as much as he had made my family suffered. But in truth, I didn‘t have a clue of what I would do once I actually had him.
I followed Elliot to the spaceport where he entered into a large warehouse. The building had no windows making it difficult for me to know what to expect inside. So, I took out my tricorder. The scans indicated that there were two individuals at the far end of the building. I could easily enter and hide behind variou things without being noticed. Once I had made sure that I wouldn‘t trigger any security alarms, I entered the building. The place was illuminated by a few big lamps coming from the ceiling. There [were] two small spacecraft park along one side of the wall. On the other, containers and pieces of equipment were piled up o the roof. I made my way toward the far end of the building holding on tightly to my tricorder with my left hand and my phaser in the right one.
The stuff those people had gathered in there was amazing. There were medical supplies, food, clothing, survival gear, spare parts for various equipment and crafts, tricorders,, site-to site transporters, weapons of all sizes, and... and the canisters of Morning Mist. Oh, hell, it couldn‘t get any better than that. Still, I stood there a few moments like an idiot wondering what I was going to do, go after my prey or get the Morning Mist and get out of there?
Well the first phaser shot pretty much settled my priorities straight.
I took cover in the shadow of a shelf piled high with an eclectic mixture of stuff. It did the job of protecting [me on ]one side while I protected my other side with my phaser.
Acrid smoke rose and stung my nostrils, as phaser fire hit and disintegrated a number of stuff. It was a very good thing the the canisters of Morning Mist were out of the line of fire. If only one of them got hit, everyone with in ten kilometers of the warehouse would be dead in a matter of seconds. And it was not something I wanted to ever see again. And then again, I wouldn‘t live long enough to see it.
I didn‘t notice that the guys had split up and that one of them had made his way behind me until a phaser blast singed the edge of my right ear. I spined towards it, putting my back flat against the shelf. I didn‘t have time to ask myself what I was going to do next when I heard a fourth phaser burst. The guy on my right crumbled. Well, at least that side was safe, or was it? I had no idea of the identity of my savior until the smoke cleared enough so I could see his pointed ears.
"Nice shooting, Tuvok," I commented.
What was Chakotay‘s tactical officer doing there? Well, if we could get out this place alive, I figured that I could ask questions later.
I gave a small smile of appreciation to the Vulcan before reaching the canisters of MorningMist. Without saying anything, I presented two of the four canisters to Tuvok and took the other two. We carefully started to make our way out of the warehouse. Tuvok was a few feet ahead when I suddenly heard a noise behind me. I half turned on my heels to see Elliot coming into the alley searching for us phaser in hand. In a split second, he and I eyed each other. I saw his gaze falling on the canisters. Hell, where was my phaser when I need it? Elliot just shrugged at me, and slowly began to make his way backward. The guy wasn‘t stupid. It wasn‘t in his best interest to shot at someone who was holding two canisters of a biological weapon.
When I turned back toward the exit, I met up with Tuvok who was programming coordinates into a site-to-site transporter. I smiled as I saw the familiar blue sparkles take us to another place.
"When Audrey found out where I was and what I had, she promptly arranged to have me returned to Federation space."
"So that‘s how you got arrested so quickly," Chakotay said.
"I always wondered about that."
"Well, getting caught wasn‘t my idea. I wasn‘t considering my business with Elliot to be over yet. But, they never ask my opinion on the subject. Meanwhile Elliot and a few others were arrested as well. When some their buddies tried to have their way with me on my way home, Audrey asked me to sit back and go along. They needed me to testify at Elliot‘s trial, so they couldn‘t afford to loose me. And, I couldn‘t afford to put the children and the rest of the family in danger. So, I ended up in New Zealand. To quote Audrey: ‚Auckland was good a safe house as any‘."
"And me taking you out of prison for a special mission, was Admiral Larsen‘s way of getting you back in into the mainstream without raising any suspicion?" Janeway offered.
"Pretty much sums it up," admitted Tom.
"If Elliot and his buddies are in jail," B‘Elanna began. "Where does that leave you?".
"Elliot wasn‘t the leader of the Maquis cell who bought the Morning Mist. As far as I know, they are still out there. The only proof I had against them was the recording I took in the Catacombs. I guess they don‘t know that."
"Did they tried to kill you in New Zealand?" Chakotay asked.
"They did and they recently try to get to the girls," Tom confirmed.
"You must be so worried," Janeway said sympathetically.
"I‘m trying not to think too much about it," Tom replied with a sad smile. "I know that they are surrounded by people who love them, that can support them and care for them." He took a deep breath. Throat tight and trying to keep his tears at bay, he went on: "One day... I can only hope that one day, we will be together again and that you‘ll have the chance to meet Sayana, Solenn, and Gael."
"I know that I‘ll be looking forward to that," Janeway stated.
"Thank you for sharing all of this with us," Chakotay told him solemnly.
"I only wish I had known back then, maybe I could have help."
"Well, you are all helping now, " he assured them. "And like you said, Chakotay: life had other plans for me... Fate and maybe a little bit faith have led me through it."
The doors of the turbolift opened and Lieutenant Tom Paris and Commander Chakotay stepped on the deck leading to the Mess Hall. Tom sniffed the air and frowned.
"Why is it that after all this time, I still worry about what Nelix is going to serve us for lunch?" he asked.
"May be we should put you in the kitchen," he suggested. "As I recalled, you‘re quite good."
"Thanks, but no thanks," Tom replied. "The galley is a little too far from the helm."
"Which reminds me, you never really told me what brought you to study criminology? Isn‘t that little far from the helm of a starship, too?"
"In order to use it later," Tom simply answered.
"Oh, I‘m sure you were the perfect criminal," Chakotay said. "Seriously, Tom, what motivated you to do a dissertation on the profiles of kidnapers?"
The doors of the Mess Hall opened in front of them which gave Tom the time to collect his thoughts.
Naomi was the first in the mess hall to spot him. She got up from the table where her mother and her were eating and ran in his direction.
"Uncle Tom!" she called from across the room, before coming running toward him.
"Hi there my Little Star!" Tom greeted her happily, scooping the child in his harms.
"Mommy said you were sick," Naomi said sadly.
"Well, I‘m all better," he assured her.
Then Tom looked up but not directly at Chakotay and told him: "Being the victim pushed me to study criminology."
"You mean, you were kidnaped? When?"
"I was just a little older than Naomi," he said. "But that, commander, is an other story."
Well, this is it for In The Dark, but probably not for this universe. Thanks for staying with us until the end. Big thanks to Amanda B. and PJ in NH for their support and proofing the stories.
Synbou is always interested in feedback, so don‘t hesitate to let us know what you think of the story. Isabelle S. and Louise B. (A.K.A. Synbou) Synbou@hotmail.com
copyrights @ September 1998