Authors‘ Note: When we heard about the P/T challenge: what would explain Tom‘s claustrophobia, we thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for Louise B. to elaborate on her idea of the decytologenis treatment we talked about in Neoplasm.

So obviously, this story is in the Neoplasm Universe and follows In The Dark story.

Synopsis: Archive Challenge: The time passed in the stasis unit, reminds Tom of the Decytologenesis treatment he underwent in order to cure his leukemia.

Disclaimer: Tom Paris is Paramount‘s, but the rest of the characters are Isabelle S‘. The story is Louise B. however.

By Synbou

B‘Elanna found Tom sitting on the edge of his bed. He was thoughtfully holding the picture of Sayana and Solenn that was usually resting on the bedside table. His finger was gently tracing his younger child‘s face.

"A penny for your thoughts?" she offered.

He looked back at her and returned her smile.

"Just thinking," he replied.

She sat beside him and lean on his shoulder.

"Missing them," she said sympathetically.

"Always." He sighed. "Sometimes more than others."

"Maybe Seven is right," B‘Elanna pointed out. "Maybe you just don‘t like being alone."

He breathed deeply.

"It‘s more than that," Tom told her. "I never liked tight spots. At least not since I have been five years old and accidentally locked himself in a closet while playing hide and seek," he smiled at the memory. "It had taken over half an hour for my sisters to find me. Years passed. I really believed that an iron will on my part, and Starfleet vigorous training had ridden me of my fear of small places. Or that was what I thought until..."

Tom opened his eyes. His lips curled up into a smile when he saw who was holding his hand.

"Loreena," he whispered.

He didn‘t have the energy to do much more. He had to force his brain to work. Answering simple questions like: where am I? Who am I? Were getting harder and harder with every passing day.

"Hello M‘Love. How do you feel today?" she asked softly and lovingly.

"No worse than before," Tom answered.

Something was wrong, he could tell. Tom forced his mind to think. After a minute or two of as much mental effort he could muster; it came to him. Despite the isolation suite, Loreena was wearing, her swollen pregnant belly was gone.

"The baby?" he asked concerned.

He wanted to take his hand out of hers and place it on her belly, but he didn‘t have the strength to do so.

"She is all right. I gave birth to her four days ago. You don‘t remember?" Loreena asked gently.

Tom had asked the same question the day before and the day before that.

"It‘s a little girl," Tom answered back not really sure where he had gotten that piece of information.

"Yes, Solenn"

"Can I see her?"

Loreena took a deep breath, it broke her heart every time she had to tell him: "The doctors don‘t want to have you exposed to anything the baby could have."

"But It‘s just a baby... My baby girl," Tom argued as upset as he could get in his weakened state.

"I know M‘Love, I know," Loreena said soothingly. "Rest now, the doctor will be by later with your latest test results."

Tom closed his eyes and let his body fall asleep. It was all it wanted to do in it‘s diseased condition.

He dreamed of open fields and open sea. Tom was on the beach building a sand castle with a little girl... his little girl.Sun was shining in her auburn curly hair. Her green eyes twinkled with delight. She was spiting image of her mother.

"Tom, honey, the doctors are here."

This simple sentence shattered Tom‘s dream. He opened his eyes and tried to make sense of what was going on.

Where was he? In the hospital.
Who was that person? Doctor Burges.
What was the date? Didn‘t know, didn‘t care.

"Are you in any pain?" asked Doctor Burges as she examined him.

"Don‘t feel much of anything," he replied barely above a whisper.

"We have you on some pretty strong painkillers. If you do start experiencing pain, we‘ll be in trouble."

Tom didn‘t have the strength to respond to that.

"How do things look?" Loreena inquired, eager to know more about her husband‘s condition.

"To tell you the truth," the Burges started slowly. "It‘s not good. The medication is having no effect on the diseased cells. The donated bone marrow has been completely destroyed."

"Do you have a new drug regime to offer us?" asked Loreena.

"Almost everything has been tried," Burges answered, trying to keep the desperation out of her voice.

"So what are our options at this point?" She had refused to give up hope. She had been Tom‘s anchor. She gave him the strength to live, for the children‘s sake and her own.

"Well, there is an new and unorthodox option we haven‘t discussed yet. I asked Doctor Webber here to explain it to you."

It was just then that Tom noticed the other physician. He came forth and shook Loreena‘s hand, then his.

"So what is this new option?" Loreena was eager to know.

"It‘s a delicate procedure called Decytologenesis." The doctor pause for a second, looked at Loreena, then at Tom. He took a deep breath and pressed on. "In the mapping of your genome some defects have been detected. Some of them may be the cause of the leukemia. What we propose to do is to go cell by cell and replace the defective sequences with what we have determined to be normal."

"Sounds like it will take a long time," Loreena observed.

"Our best estimate is about 120 hours," the Webber informed them.

"Is it painful?" Tom asked, worried by the issue.

"The procedure in itself is not."

"But?" Loreena pressed on.

"The procedure is very delicate. Any chemical in Tom‘s system would interfere."

"Go off painkillers?" Tom asked with disbelief.

"Sadly yes."

"And?" Loreena asked, sensing there was more.

"Because of the sensitivity of the procedure, we won‘t be able to restrain you with a force field. You‘ll have to be physically restrained."

"Why restraints?" Loreena demanded.

"The DNA will be taken out and put back into place by minute tele-transportation. If you happen to move as much as a nanometer,
the DNA will be set down in the wrong place, causing a lot of problems"

"What is the prognosis?" Loreena wanted to know.

"1% complete recovery, no relapse. 5% Complete recovery, but with relapse. 5% permanent damage and relapses. Over 89% of mortality during the procedure."

Loreena looked down at Tom. He was following the conversation.

"Kinda low," he whispered to her.

"How long does Tom have now... without that treatment?"

"A week, ten days at the most," Burges said.

"Is there any chance of recovery?" Loreena still held on to her hope.

"None," said Burges slightly shaking her head from side to side. "I won‘t hide it from you Tom, taking you off painkillers won‘t be a picnic. Beside the pain, your body has grown use to having these chemicals in you system."

"I‘m addicted?" he asked.

"Basically, yes. But it‘s the only option I have to offer. We‘ll leave you and Loreena alone to discuss this. If you have any questions, just ask. I‘ll be in my office.

As the doctors left an uneasy silence filled the room.

"It doesn‘t sound good," Loreena told him after a while. "What do you want to do?"

"I want to see my little girl grow up," he said meeting her lovely green eyes.

The next day Tom was taken off all the drugs. Neural inhibitors were placed on his temples to block the pain. He slept through most of it.

Then came the day for the Decytologenesis. The doctors had explained the procedure in details to Tom and Loreena.

Even with all the risk, the discomfort due to the drug withdrawal, and the disease related pain, it seemed a better alternative to dying.

Keeping in mind that Tom had about a ten percent chance of survival, the day of the procedure, Loreena talked the doctors into letting her bring a surprise to him. She entered his room carrying a little bundle wrapped in an environmental suit much like her own.

She gently woke up her husband. When his eyes cleared enough to see her, she held up the little bundle.

"Tom, let me present to you your daughter Solenn. Solenn, this is your Daddy."

The week-old baby opened her eyes as if on cue. They were as blue as he father‘s. A little down of platinum blond hair indicated that she also had inherited his hair, too.

Tom stretched out his fingers towards her. But it only encountered the environmental suit.

"She is more beautiful than in my dreams," he whispered as a tear tumbled down his bony cheek.

Loreena place the baby into her husband‘s arms just for a few minutes before orderlies came and took him to the Decytologenesis chamber.

"I love you both," was the last thing he told them.

In the room of the Decytologenesis chamber, Tom was placed on a biobed.

"How do you feel?" Webber asked him.

"Like I‘m alive but should be dead." It was the first crack at Tom Paris‘s special brand of humor in months.

The doctor smiled a little.

"You know that once this treatment is started there is no way to stop it until the end. No matter what happens." The physician pressed on: "Do you still want to go through with this?"

"Yes," was his weak answer.

So the orderlies proceeded to remove what clothing Tom had on. His thin diseased wasted body was exposed to all to see. It was done respectfully, these people were professionals. However, Tom still felt that he was losing what little dignity he had left. An intravenous was placed in one of his neck arteries. Then he was lifted and placed into the Decytologenesis tank.

Tom couldn‘t help but notice how much it looked like a coffin. If there is a God, Tom though in a moment of total despair.  Please don‘t make this my death bed.

"Last chance to turn back," warned Dr. Webber.

For a second he thought of turning back, avoid all this pain. But, the simple memory of his wife, her daughter Sayana, and their new baby girl, Solenn, was enough to rebuilt his will. His desire to live.

"I‘m seeing this through," he told them determined.

"Tom, I admire your courage. We‘ll do our best at this end," the physician promised.

A plastic-like sheet of material came out of the side of the tank. It covered Tom and molded itself to his every curve. He was unable to move.

He thought he was going to suffocate. Then cool fresh air was blown into his nostrils.

Tom forced himself to relax, even sleep.

Tom dreamed a sweet dream of a little girl with blue eyes and blond hair playing in the sun.

Then abruptly, it turned dark. He was five and stuck in a closet.

Nobody knew where he was. Nobody could hear him cry.

Tom woke abruptly. He couldn‘t move.

Where was he?

Then the pain struck; sharp, in every joint, bone and muscle.

He wanted to scream, but could not move to do so.

It was so dark. He was five again, stuck in a closet.

The he started to realize where he was: the Decytologenesis chamber.

With that realization, he was able to pull out some of his Starfleet training. Forced himself not to panic and to relax.

Then he tried to ignore the pain. Eventually he fell asleep.

For the next three days the little blonde haired girl would come and join him in his dreams. However, those pleasant visits got shorter and shorted.

Then he would be five again, locked in the closet. He spent more and more time there.

Each time, it took longer for Tom to snap out of the panic.

At the end of the fourth day, he didn‘t come out of it at all. His dislike of small places turned into a full blown case of claustrophobia, which led to torpor.

"At the end of the five days," Tom went on "I was taken out of the chamber. I was in a complete state of shock. I was not responding to any stimuli. For the following few days, I was kept heavily sedated, in order for my body to recover. It did, but not my mind. It took a team of psychologist, two telempaths among them, to get me out of my closet.

"Slowly I returned to the good ol‘ Tom Paris the adult. However, even after being certified physically and mentally fit, I never voluntarily got into anything smaller than a shuttlecraft.

"Now I understand why Jeffries Tubes make you sweat so much," B‘Elanna told him teasingly.

He met her smile.

"Especially when you in there with me."


Thanks for reading. If you want to share your thoughts about this story, please feel free. Feedback is always appreciated.
Louise B. and Isabelle S. (A.K.A. Synbou)-
Copyrights July 1998