DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and the rest of Voyager‘s crew are Paramount‘s, but the story, the Amnesty, and unrelated characters are Synbou‘s. This is a P/T story rated PG-13. Set after 30 Days.
AUTHOR‘S NOTE: Remember in the first season when Harry met Tom in the other time-line? Tom told him that friends like his, you never knew when they would come handy. It got us interested. Just how handy Tommy‘s friends could be? After writing Neoplasm and In The Dark, this idea became even more appealing.
WARNING: Synbou is not known for happy stories. So, expect again lots of anguish in this one. We want to reassure you that Synbou is a very happy collective! Although, Isabelle wrote part of this story after a week long painful migraine....
SYNOPSIS: After serving his 30 days sentence in the brig, Tom finds out that Voyager has been contacted by some friends back in the Alpha Quadrant. Now, he must deal with the consequences of his incarceration and new found responsibilities.
Prior stories in this universe:
2) In The Dark
Corridor: The Secret Pain
By Synbou- firstname.lastname@example.org
Ensign Tom Paris called for illumination the moment that he entered into his quarters. It had been a very long month since he had been there. A very long month passed in the brig as a result of a series of actions he had made for what he still sincerely believed were justified, but which had not been without consequences. Well, Tom mused, if he had not learned to live with the consequences of his actions by now, he probably had learned nothing.
"You have mail," the automated female computer voice announced.
It stopped him dead in his tract. Had he heard correctly? Sure, he had programmed the computer to tell him that he had received mail on voice recognition, but he had never thought it would happen anytime soon. He carelessly dropped the padd, holding his letter to his father, on the nearest coffee table, and went to his closet. From the bottom shelf, he retrieved a small box and came back to the living area. The box had been awaiting for him in his quarters, even before he had put foot on Voyager more than five years ago. It had been a gift from people he loved deeply and missed terribly. It was now holding his most precious possessions.
Tom disengaged the security lock, then opened the box. Inside, he found a small portable computer the size of a real hard cover book stored in a wine leather cover. Putting the cover aside, he opened the computer which loaded rapidly. An envelop appeared on the screen, an old symbol indicating that he did in fact have mail. He entered his password and the message revealed itself to him. Tom unconsciously brought a hand to his mouth has he read it. It was simple: a set of coordinates, a stardate, the name of a ship, and it was signed.
Tom wrote a short reply and finally breathed deeply before pressing the SEND button. He allowed himself a smiled of relief. Things were about to change. Again. His father might not only live to read his letter, but also have a chance to respond to it. Tom caught himself feeling hopeful, not only for that, but for many other things. It surprised him how good it felt and decided to hold on to it. He carefully put back the box in the closet before hitting the shower.
Captain Janeway stepped off the turbolift and almost collided with Seven of Nine. Despite, the emotionless attitude the former Borg was fond of portraying, Janeway clearly sensed some irritation in her demeanor.
"Something wrong, Seven?" she asked.
"Mr. Paris ordered me out of the Astrometric Lab," the young woman replied dryly.
"He did? I‘m sure that he had his reasons," she answered wondering herself what those reasons could be. She had been more than intrigued by Tom‘s request that she meet with him in the lab first thing in the morning. Even more, when he had specified hat he had good news for her. His message and tone of voice had been professional. One would never have known that he had just been released from the brig.
Just like B‘Elanna, Harry, and all f Tom‘s friend on this ship, she had missed him terribly. Sentencing Tom to a month of solitary confinement and demoting him to ensign had been one of the most difficult duties she ever had to do. It had been a very long month for her as well. A month during which she had to cope with the pain of being betrayed by someone she trusted implicitly. A month during which she had to live with the consequences of her decisions. What had been worst? Facing B‘Elanna‘s resentment? Hearing Ayala‘s report that Tom had nightmares? Sharing Neelix‘s concerns about Tom‘s lost of appetite? Seeing Harry looking so pitiful? It sadden her so much at one point that she allowed Harry to see his best friend for a few minutes.
The worst had been the guilt. The guilt at knowing that Tom was suffering from his solitary confinement. Yet, she had not been able to take back her decision. To do so would have been a sign of weakness. If she had not treated this matter so harshly, she feared she would have lost control of her crew. To get them home, that was not an option. She had to be strong, for them, she had to set examples. Her actions had to dissuade others from taking matters into their own hands. Above all, she could not have favorites.
However, all the arguments spent, Tom was still Tom, a good friend. He was a man who had confided a lot in her, and that she knew was very fragile inside. Chakotay had commented on the fact that her close friendship with Tom, ‘her first personal reclamation project on this ship‘, as he kept saying, had probably led her to be a bit too harsh toward him. Once her anger had subsided, she had been forced to agree. But, she still felt that she could not disregarded Tom‘s actions. She knew Tom understood her position as she understood his. It hurt nevertheless, making her dread this first encounter with him after a long and difficult month.
She repeated to herself, that she could not have favorites and would have done the same to any other person in a similar situation. Hadn‘t she done the same to Seven?
The doors of the Lab slid open and she found Tom working at a console. He turned to face her as he realized her presence. The silver necklace that he was wearing immediately caught her attention, that and the facts that he had lost weight and that he looked tired.
"Captain, it‘s good to see you," he greeted with a welcoming nod.
"It‘s good to see you too, Tom," she replied with a smile of her own. She walked up to him. He simply smiled as her fingers reached for the symbol of the Silver-Seas Foundation. Her previous concerns were momentarily abated at the sight of the medallion.
"I thought, it was about time that I start wearing it again," he confessed. "Especially considering what‘s coming, or should I say WHO‘s."
She looked up to him in mute surprised.
"Soon, we won‘t be alone anymore," he explained.
Later that evening.
Tom had joined B‘Elanna as she had requested. She had saved up all of her rations during the month so that they could eat tomato soup and pizza just like Tom liked them.
"That was good," said Tom as he sat back against the back of the chair. "With a month of Neelix‘s cooking, I had forgot what real food tasted like."
B‘Elanna looked at the pizza that was sitting between them. There was a little more than half left. She had eaten more than him.
"You sure you don‘t want another slice?" she asked. "You haven‘t eaten all that much."
"I‘m saving some for breakfast," said Tom mischievously. "You haven‘t tasted pizza until you had it cold for breakfast."
"If you say so," answered B‘Elanna shaking her head. "Do you want desert? It‘s cherry pie."
"Not right now, Bee, may be a little later."
This was not right, Tom had never turned down cherry pie.
"Are you sure you are okay? Maybe the Doc should have a look at you."
"I‘m fine. I guest that I got use to not eating much while in the brig. Neelix‘s food isn‘t the mot appetizing."
B‘Elanna had to agree with him on that point. She would have cut back herself if she had been on a strict Neelix diet for a month.
Her thoughts were completely shifted when Tom came around the table and tackled her. In seconds they were both on the carpet of the living room. He covered her mouth with his and kissed her deeply. After long moment he came up for air and whispered into her ear.
"I missed you so much."
They kissed and let their hands rediscover each other. Their clothes were discarded and their bodies reacquainted themselves. It was glorious for both of them. Pent-up sexual energy gave new heights to their love making.
They finished on the couch, both naked. B‘Elanna was sitting on one of the sides. Tom was laying across the sofa with his head on her lap. Both of their bodies glistened with the aftermath of their activities.
B‘Elanna bent down and kissed him on the forehead. With her hand she traced his face. She had missed him so much. And until an hour before she had not realized how much her body had craved for Tom‘s touch.
"How about some of that pie now?" B‘Elanna asked. The exercise had made her hungry.
"Okay," answered Tom.
B‘Elanna moved forward a bit as Tom was sitting up. He stopped abruptly placing his hands on both sides of his head and laying back. As a sharp breath escaped him. Tears assembled at the corner of his eyes.
"What is it?" B‘Elanna asked concerned, uncertain of where to put her hands.
"Headache," was his flat answer.
"Aren‘t one suppose to get those before having sex?" The comment was ill chosen and had left her lips before she had realized what she had said. She was worried. "I‘m calling the Doc," she told Tom.
"No, don‘t bother him, it‘s gone now," he said sitting up. The pain had indeed reduced to a dull roar. "I‘ll be fine. Just got to get use to your drive again."
B‘Elanna stared at him for a long moment until Tom looked away towards the table they had vacated earlier.
"Did you just say something about pie?" He wasn‘t hungry but he needed to distract B‘Elanna.
It was just a bad headache, it would be gone in the morning. Tom and B‘Elanna were now lazily lying on the coach, legs and arms entangled, enjoying each other closeness. They had fell silent a few moments ago as everything seemed to have been said, or almost. For the time being, it was enough for B‘Elanna. The rest could wait. She could voice her concerns about his well-being in the morning, when she knew, Tom would be more receptive.
Tom woke up with a start. Images of a fading nightmare still clouding his mind. This was stupid, he thought. He considered for a moment trying to go back to sleep, but he knew the attempt would be futile. He would get even more uncomfortable than at that moment. His eyes rested on B‘Elanna a few seconds. She was so beautiful laying there sound asleep. How lucky she was, he envied. He bent toward her and gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead. Quietly, he got to his feet and went to the bathroom.
"Gee, Tommy. You look terrible," he told himself. He was pale and his eyes were a watery blue. He looked away and stepped into the shower. At least the headache was gone. Well, the pain was gone, but it was bruised.
He stood under the hot stream of water allowing for each muscle to untangle. Part of the previous evening was a blur, but he did remember B‘Elanna and him. The month in the brig had gotten him out of shape for her kind of foreplay.
The computer told him that his hot water ration was about to run out, so Tom turned off the water and stepped out. He dried himself with a towel. While doing so, he noticed that several spots on his body were more sensitive than others. Once dry, Tom walked into the sleeping quarters. He opened the closet and retrieved his robe. There he got a good look at himself in the full length mirror on the door. Several dark bruises were coloring his back, arms, and legs.
B‘Elanna, Love, I think you were a little rough last night, he thought to himself.
Tom went to the small kitchen and opened the refrigeration unit where the pizza had been placed the night before. He looked at it. Took a slice and told himself that he had lived of this stuff at the Academy. He loved pizza. He took a bite. Chewed twice and forced himself to swallow. His stomach churned. He firmly told it to behave and decided to get away from the offending food.
He needed air.
Quickly he changed into the clothes he had worn the night before and left for the holodeck. However, before leaving he left a rose on his pillow beside B‘Elanna.
B‘Elanna rolled in her sleep, unconsciously looking for Tom‘s warm body. The coldness of the sheets woke her up. She sighed as she immediately realized that Tom was no longer in bed with her. His absence hurt her more than she was willing to admit. In dismay, she brought the red rose that had been left beside her to her nose. The sweet scent kept her rising anger at bay, while a single tear slid down her cheek. She quickly tossed it away before getting up.
She made her way to the living area. There, on the coffee table, was the vase in which she had put the five previous roses that Tom had left for her to find in the morning. Carefully, she added the sixth. She sighed again. Half a dozen roses to accompanied six lonely mornings.... Not a single day, since Tom had been released from the brig almost a week ago, had they woken up together. Her fine fingers gently caressed the smooth flower as another tear rolled down her cheek.
"Tom, why wont you stay with me? What am I doing wrong?" she whispered in the empty room.
1 week later. At the end of Beta Shift, Commander Chakotay made his way to the Mess Hall hoping to find something warm and soothing to drink before turning in. Although it was passed 0100, he was not surprised to find a few crew members still gathered around and chatting softly. However, Tom Paris was sitting all alone in a corner, reading something. A bowl of what looked like tomato soup sitting before him.
Chakotay had grown increasingly concerned about the pilot over the last weeks. Since the accident that had put Tom in a week long coma seven months earlier, and allowed him and Kathryn to have a glimpse at the younger man‘s past, Chakotay had gotten better at reading Tom‘s behavior. He could clearly see that, even two weeks later, Tom was still suffering from his incarceration.
Tom had boarded Voyager five years ago with an unique ability to protect himself from others by distancing himself from them. His walls had finally started to crumble one after the other, leaving him vulnerable and exposed. This compelled his friends to come forward to give him support and even grow protective of him.
Harry Kim had been the first one to see the real person. Kathryn had also realized soon enough that there was more to Thomas Eugene Paris that met the eye. Something that Chakotay had only recently fully recognized. Kes too, with all of her abilities and humanity, had also seen right through Tom‘s walls. Eventually, Neelix had came around and put aside his jealousy and resentment for the pilot.
As time passed, the rest of the crew had slowly began to trust him. Naomi‘s birth had led Tom to confide in Samantha Wildman the fact that he had children. The relapse of his cancer had brought him to do the same with B‘Elanna. Janeway and Chakotay finding out about it too seemed to completely change Tom‘s attitude about the subject. Through it all, Tom and B‘Elanna‘s love had blossomed.
However, since Tom‘s incarceration , some things had changed.
Chakotay couldn‘t really point out when Tom‘s moods had started to darken. It had seemed that Tom had fully acknowledged the consequences of his actions which had led him to pass 30 days in the brig. Although, he had not regained the weight he had lost, he was still too pale, and looked tired. After the accident with the spacial anomaly, Tom had been so happy, almost relieved. He even seemed more settled. These days, if one knew him well enough, one could see that the pilot was worried about something, and that some unknown pressure appeared to lay heavily on his shoulders. He had grown more quiet and subdued. Chakotay feared that depression was looming over the younger man.
His cup of tea in hand, he made his way toward his friend‘s table.
"May I join you?"
"Commander," Tom greeted. "Sure, have a seat. I just finished beta shift?"
Chakotay nodded as he brought the warm cup of tea to his lips.
"Gee, I haven‘t realized it was so late already," Tom admitted.
"Looks like what you‘re reading is quite good."
"Not really," Tom replied tossing the padd aside. "The Doc insists that I brush up on my medical training."
"He needs you as his assistant," Chakotay justified.
"Yeah, right," was Tom‘s sarcastic respond. "Like he needed me a month ago."
He could have, Chakotay thought. Instead, he said out loud: "We missed you, Tom. Both personally and professionally."
"Thanks Chakotay," his companion replied visibly uncomfortable.
Tom took a spoon full of his soup then looked out the view-port. Chakotay thought he saw the young man hide a sour face as if the food was bad, but he did not say anything. Silence fell between the two men. Chakotay just sat back in his chair, his own gaze reaching for the infinite field of stars on the other side of the window as well.
"I don‘t know what to believe anymore," Tom finally confessed just above a whisper. "It seems that I have lost my way. I tried so hard to hide the past, I forgot who I am."
"Now, the past has caught up with you and you can‘t hide or ignore it anymore."
Tom sighed heavily.
"More than you could ever know." He sighed again. "I‘m just so tired... I better go to bed, then. I‘ve never been good at this self-analysis stuff anyway. I‘ll leave that to you. Good night, Chakotay."
"Oh, thanks. Good night, Tom," Chakotay replied as the younger man rose to his feet and left.
Chakotay caught himself staring at the bowl of soup Tom had left behind. He remarked to himself that it was not in Tom‘s habit to leaving his favorite dish half-eaten behind.
"Damn you, Paris," he murmured. "I‘m not going to lose another night of sleep musing about you."
Despite himself, his wolf and her new big Himalayan cat companion visited him again in his dreams. The wolf was edgy. The cat was in bad shape, his pelt was dull and he looked very thin under his matted coat. Even his eyes were more grey than blue. The wolf was concerned. However, they both insisted that soon they would undertake a new path. A path full of challenges and dangers.
The following day, Captain Janeway called for a meeting of the senior staff in the Astrometric Lab.
"Captain, what is this about?" Chakotay asked once everyone was assemble in the room.
"I‘ll let Tom do the explaining, Commander," she answered.
"Last night, Chakotay made a comment about my past catching up with me, well let me tell you that it‘s catching up real fast. You all know by now of my involvement with the Silver Seas Foundation."
Everyone nodded, but stayed silent.
"About a month ago, I started receiving messages from my former colleges through the receiver of this portable computer," Tom continued, showing the item. "The messages are specifically coded to be received by my computer and send through subspace. There‘s about four-month delay between the dates the messages were sent, and when I received them. In those messages, I‘ve been granted the right to tell you what I‘m about to say."
Tom took a deep breath while he collected his thoughts.
"Now, I won‘t give you a class in astrophysics, suffice to say that we know that many kinds of subspace dimensions exist, the Borg transwarp conduits are one. During the Irsian/Kimirian War, Kimirians researchers found a way to obtain access to a subspace dimension they refer to as Eltsha: the Corridor."
Tom pressed a few commands and the specifics of the Corridor appeared on the huge screen before them.
"The Borg is aware of the Corridor," Seven put in. "However, the transwarp conduits have proven to be more efficient."
"Probably because the Borg soon realized that their Cubes would get crushed if they were to overlap in two Inter-layers, of different over-rails ."
"I‘m not following you anymore," Harry said. "What are the over-rails and the inter-layers?
Tom walked closer to the display and used it as he explained.
"See, the Corridor is like a river. From one bank to the other there are dimensional shifts: the inter-lares. All inter-lares have their own current which has its own speed and direction: the over-rails. Usually, closer to the center is the inter-lares, faster is the current. The Kimirians came up with a ship design that allow them to travel in the Corridor. They are small ships, highly maneuverable. Obviously, most Federation starships can‘t travel in the Corridor, but we believe Voyager could." Tom smiled. "In about six months from now, we should be able to meet with Amnesty: the Foundation‘s flagship."
"The Foundation is taking us home, not Starfleet?" asked Harry sounding a little disappointed.
"Actually Harry, it a joint mission with Starfleet. And, they‘ll try," Tom answered. "Hell, I hate to say this. Don‘t get your hopes up too high. Traveling in the Corridor is not a picnic. It won‘t be for the crew‘s health and won‘t be for Voyager. Even with extended shielding, Voyager will not be able to remain in it for very long. The best we can hope for is to shave a few years off our trip. How long wold it take to get to the Alpha Quadrant? I don‘t know. I‘ll depends on the conditions will encounter once were in it."
"You said that it wouldn‘t be a picnic for the crew‘s health," began the Commander. "What did you meant?"
"Well, nothing deadly, but I‘ll let the Doc explain," Tom answered.
The Doctor stood up and took ‚front stage‘, obviously very proud to do so. He cleared his voice and waited just a second too long before starting.
"Mr. Paris approached me a few days ago to tell me about the impacts this Corridor has on people. It is actually quite fascinating...."
"Doctor," Janeway said rising her hand, putting an end to the hologram‘s presentation, which she knew, if kept unchecked, would go on and on. "I‘m sure this is very fascinating," she went one. "But, I want to know what we will experience when we enter the Corridor."
Tom decided to jump back in and get right to the point. "Motion sickness".
"Simply put, that is about accurate," the Doctor confirmed. "The motion of this ship in the corridor will be sensed by the brain but not the senses, therefore confusing it."
"So we will be sick to our stomachs the whole time," Chakotay said.
"Not everyone, Commander," Tom corrected. "About 60% of the crew should experience motion sickness symptoms, 20 % of which will be disabled by them."
"A few weeks before entering the Corridor, I propose that all of the crew be tested for motion sickness. Those that are afflicted by the condition will receive proper medication to suppress the symptoms." The Doctor was obviously very happy to have been able to deliver that part of his speech.
You‘re going to have way too much fun, Doc. But wait until you meet Dr. Margo, Tom thought to himself looking at the doctor with an evil smile.
"Some discomfort never scared this crew," Janeway said with assurance. "But, even if the people of the Foundation can‘t take us all the way home, saving some time of our trip will be more than welcome."
"Yes, it would be," Chakotay agreed. "Now, where does it leaves us?"
"Tom and I have already started working on a plan to do the necessary modifications Voyager will need to enter in the Corridor," Janeway explained. "While we continue to do that, Voyager will go on with her mission."
"Mr. Paris, may I ask," Tuvok began. "What took you so long to inform us that the Amnesty was on her way?"
"On both sides, we had to make sure that it could be done. If something happen to Voyager, the Amnesty won‘t be able to accommodate our crew. You also have to keep in mind that the Amnesty as a crew compliment of about 50 who all volunteered for this mission. They are putting their lives at great risk."
"Then, we shall take every possible precaution to ensure the success of this mission," the Vulcan declared.
Tom Paris turned off the screen on the wall before sitting back with the navigational crew around the conference table. In view of the upcoming rendezvous with the Amnesty, he was meeting with every department in order to clarify the situation and explain what was expected of the crew.
"The interface between Voyager and the Amnesty‘s navigational systems will allow us to fly the both ships as a single one. That will facilitate our entry into the Corridor, our exit, and the possible changes of inter-lares once we are in. Beside those crucial moments, both ships will be independent from each other. So, yes Pablo, you‘ll be able to pilot freely in the Corridor."
The four other pilots, Commander Chakotay among them, started laughing.
"Well, that‘s reassuring," grinned Pablo Baythart.
"You‘ll see flying into the Corridor is nothing like flying in Normal Space," Tom said enthusiastically. "It‘s challenging. It gives you this incredible rush. It‘s fun! Well... until you get sick to your stomach due to motion sickness and that your only current thought becomes focusing on not throwing on the bridge..."
"Ow, we don‘t want that," said Irene Hamilton disgusted.
"It can happened to anyone," Tom pointed out. "But don‘t worry too much about it. The doctor will do a test or two to see how affected you‘ll all be. And we have treatments against it. I‘ll also show you some relaxation and concentration technics that can help."
He made eye contact with all of them to appease any doubts.
"I will be distributing every bit of literature I have about the Corridor and how to fly into it. I‘ve also already set up a program in the holodeck in order for all of us to start getting some training. I never took a ship as big as Voyager into the Corridor. I can‘t tell for sure how‘s she is going to react. So, it is important for all of us to run as many simulations as possible. Try to anticipate potential problems and solutions. Don‘t stick only to what information I will be giving you because it might not be applicable for our situation. Okay?"
Everybody nodded in agreement.
"Good." With a grin, he added. "I‘ll try to stay out of he brig so that I can be available at any time for you. Any questions?"
"You think we will be able to put our hands on the helm of the Amnesty?" asked Baythart.
"That is something you‘re going have to work out with Amber. She is the Chief Pilot."
"Amber isn‘t she your Klingon friend?" Chakotay inquired.
"Yeah! She‘s from the Klingon community of Port-Ayalexis. She has the temper of a full Klingon with the finesse and elegance of a Kimirian woman She is quite a character."
"I can imagine," conceded Chakotay.
"Well," concluded Tom. "If that‘s all. You‘re dismissed."
Once the pilots were gone, Tom leaned back in his chair and sighed deeply. He closed his eyes and rested his back against the chair.
He jumped at the sound of the unexpected voice. "Captain," he breathed. "You scared the hell out of me!"
"I"m sorry, Tom. I didn‘t mean to startled you," she apologized as she came closer. One of his hands was resting on his mid-section, while he was bringing one to his forehead. "Are you all right?"
"Sure. I just still have Neelixá‘ás latest creation on the stomach."
"That and a headache," she added with a sympathetic smile. She sat in the chair next to him. "How are things going?"
"Okay, I guess," he replied with a shrugged. "Nothing has really started yet. People are getting excited."
"I know I am," she confessed.
"That‘s good," he said as he tiredly stood up.
"Tom, take the rest of the afternoon off," she told him. "You look like you need it. You‘re doing a great job on this, but you need some time to relax, too."
"I‘ve been relaxing an entire month. Now, it kinda feels good to finally do something," he said without meeting her gaze. He gathered his data padds in silence and quietly left the room.
Janeway sat back in her chair. She was hurting. Her professional relationship with Tom was suffering. Their friendship was in an even worse condition. He had to regain her trust as much as she had to regain his. In a way, she was glad that this situation was forcing them to work together. It was giving them the opportunity to deal with this difficult process. She had to admit however that her expectations were high. She was not ready to let them down. Although, Tom was still her friend, he was a friend that she knew was under a lot of stress and who was not coping well . She would have to lower the pressure somehow. She certainly did not want him get sick over this.
"You‘re up late again."
"Keeping tabs on me, Commander?" Tom asked not bothering to look at him. He remained motionless, his eyes lost in the vast star field on the other side of the window. It had became a habit the last few weeks. Tom was coming to the mess hall for a late dinner, some times alone, some times with B‘Elanna, to leave in the wee hours of the morning.
Chakotay sat down at the table without invitation. He took a few padds that was spread on it: ship specs, shields configurations, navigational maneuvers, a family pictures of Tom, Loreena, and their two girls ....
"I‘m concerned about you, Tom," Chakotay admitted after awhile. "I have been for quite some time, now. You need to take better care of yourself. I know you‘re worried about your friends and all of us, but getting sick over this won‘t help."
"What do you want me to tell you, Chakotay?" Tom asked. "I have a bad feeling. I‘m just so damn afraid that something will go wrong...."
"What kind of feeling?"
"I don‘t know, Chakotay. A bad one," Tom replied clearly annoyed.
"Well, try to explain it to me. You started," Chakotay encouraged.
For the first time that night, Tom looked directly at the Commander and held his gaze.
"The last time I flew a Starfleet ship into the Corridor was at Caldik Prime. Now, do you understand why can‘t sleep at night?"
Tom‘s cold revelation was unexpected. Chakotay tried very hard to control his reaction and not let his shock show too much. The last thing he wanted was to spook the pilot and prompt him to leave.
"Can I ask what happen?" the older man said carefully.
Tom sighed heavily.
"We were testing three new Starfleet small shuttles. I was piloting my usual ship, The Mist. I miscalculated our entry point." He said the last sentence not really believing what he was saying. "Their shields were not strong enough to endure the currents. It forced us out of the Corridor and I saw the three shuttles explode... My friends got killed."
"I just can‘t imagine how hard that must have been for you," Chakotay said sympathetically.
"Not something you would have said five years ago," Tom stated flatly, with a hint of bitterness.
Oh Spirits, the truth of that comment hurt. Chakotay was reminded, once more, of how a bad judge of character he could be at times.
"Which is something I really regret, now," he confessed sincerely.
Tom simply smiled back at him. This would not get in the way of their friendship. Yes, they could consider themselves more than co-workers now. They could call themselves friends. Sadly, however, Tom was right, it was not something he would have admitted five years ago.
B‘Elanna sat on the edge of Tom‘s couch where he was sleeping. He looked so tired. She was hating the very idea of waking him up, but duty was calling. She gently brushed his forehead as she called out his name. His skin was warm and a bit clammy at her touch, which concerned her.
"Tom... Tom, it‘s time to wake up," she repeated.
He moaned in his sleep as he slowly made it toward awareness. After a few moments, his red-rim blue eyes finally opened. It took again a few seconds before they focused on her.
"B‘Elanna..." he croaked as he slowly recognized her.
"Tom, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I am," he dismissed. "Just having a headache."
"Again?!" she asked, unable to hide her surprise. She pulled him into a sitting position. "Have you seen the Doctor about those, yet? You promised me you would if it kept coming back."
"I will, B‘Elanna. I will," he assured her. "I came back to my quarters late last night and fell asleep on the couch, which is not that comfortable... If the headache doesn‘t go away, I will go see the Doc. I promise."
"That‘s what you said the last time, Mister," she pointed out.
"You‘re going to see the Doctor about those headaches, TODAY." "B‘Elanna, I‘m fine, really." He sighed. "Do we have to have an argument this early in the morning?"
B‘Elanna breathed deeply. She should know better by now, she told herself. Arguing with Tom Paris, at any time, had never proven to give the best results in the past. So, she decided to adopt a different tactic. She reached with her hand the side of his face that she caressed gently.
She genuinely smiled as he responded to her touch.
"Tom," she began quietly. "I‘m concern about you. You don‘t look well. You‘ve been working really hard the last few weeks and been under a lot of stress. It shows that you‘re tired. Your skin is also pale and a bit clammy. I‘m worried that you might have a fever." She paused to let him register her concerns. "Please, promise me that you will go see the Doctor today. It can‘t hurt you, and it will make me feel better."
"I don‘t know about the ‚can‘t hurt you‘ part," he said somewhat teasingly. "All right, B‘Elanna. I will go see the Doc today."
"Good," she said and breath a sigh of relief. She came closer and kissed him tenderly on the lips. "Thanks."
Tom walked into Sickbay. His headache was increasing with each step, making him queasy in the process. He wished he could just curl up in a cool quiet dark place and sleep it off. However, down deep he knew that it would not help. It was just getting worse from day to day.
"Ah, if it‘s not our good Ensign Paris," came the Doctor‘s greeting in one f his most annoying tones of voice. "We don‘t see you around here very often these days. What can I do for you?"
God the guy could get on his nerves some times. Tom brought a hand to his forehead hoping that the applied pressure would subdue the increasing pain. He breathed deeply in order to keep his calm and not lash out at the EMH. He did not need that right now.
"Do you have a boo-boo?" The doctor asked as if he was addressing a two-year-old.
"I got a very bad headache that just won‘t got away," he answered.
"Hit your head again, Ensign?"
"No," replied Tom, doing his best to keep his calm.
"Well than, why don‘t you sit on the biobed and I‘ll take a look at that boo-boo of yours as soon as I‘m done with this cell culture," the Doctor concluded arrogantly while he turned back to his tests.
Tom sighed in frustration. Hell, he definitely did not need that right now. He could deal with the pain. It was just stress. He could replicate a pain killer in his quarters before going to the Astrometric Lab. May as well put his sickbay training to good use.
"You know what? Forget it. I‘ll manage," he told the Doctor.
"Mr. Paris?" the Doctor asked obviously confused. That was not the kind of come back he was use to receiving from his assistant. He had push the joke too far and it had hurt his friend. "Tom, please don‘t leave. I apologize."
The apology however came too late. Tom was already half way out of the door when he quickly looked at the Doctor and waved his new found concern away.
The Doctor stood there stunned. If it‘s really bad, he will come back, thought the Doctor as he turned back to his work.
The doors of sickbay closed behind the pilot leaving him completely consternated by the stupidity of the whole situation. His head was still pounding, the pain as bad as ever. He might as well go back in there. If not for him, to honor his promise to B‘Elanna. But he just kept on walking towards his quarters. Going back to the Astrometric Lab would take his mind ff of it.
His elbows on the consol, Tom rested his head into his hands. He sighed in dismay, they were no longer cool enough to provide any kind of comfort. The pain killer that he had administrated to himself a few hours ago had only subdued his headache and brought some relief to aching joints. Feeling too hot, he had took off his jacket and lower the temperature of the Astrometric Lab. Now, his pain was back with a vengeance.
Debating on whether or not to go back to sickbay, Tom left the Lab for his quarters. He felt that lying down would help. He could go see the Doctor once a little bit rested, he reasoned.
He did not called for illumination as he entered his quarters. The darkness of the room was more than welcome. He ordered another pain killer and a glass of water from the replicator before going to his bedroom. He put the empty hypospray and glass on the bedside table and lied down. He breathed deeply as relief overcame him. Slowly he felt himself doze off..
Sharp cramps in his stomach woke him up. Lying down did not seem like a good idea anymore. He had to get to the bathroom. He barely made it there in time before throwing up the little he had manage to ingest so far. Weakly, he cleaned himself up and rinsed his month.
He caught his reflection in the mirror. He was looking as bad as he was feeling. As much as he hated the idea, he finally resigned himself to go see the Doctor.
He brought a hand to his mid-section as pain kicked in once more. He felt the urge to throw up again. He began to panic at the taste of blood in his month, which started to fall freely in the toilet and on the floor. His legs gave out from under his convulsing body and he sank to the floor. His hand move to his chest. Tom realized with despair that his comm badge was still on his jacket back in the Astrometric Lab. His remaining strength ran out.
Captain Janeway walked out of her ready room. She surveyed the room with a quick look. Chakotay and Tuvok were discussing over the security sation. Harry Kim was manning the Ops as usual. Seven was working at the engineering consol. Baythart, for his part, was sitting at the helm. Janeway joined Chakotay and Tuvok.
"I thought Mr. Paris had the afternoon shift at the helm." Chakotay simply nodded as both their gaze flew on Baythart. "Shouldn‘t he be here already?"
For all response the Commander reached for his comm badge.
"Chakotay to Paris," he called.
They exchanged worried look as they received no answer.
"Didn‘t B‘Elanna say that she had finally convinced Tom to go see the Doctor today?" Harry put in.
"Indeed she had," Tuvok confirmed. "Although, it does not explain why Mr. Paris is not answering our hails."
Chakotay tapped his conn badge once more. "Computer, locate Ensign Paris."
"Ensign Paris is in the Astrometric Lab." the computer informed them.
As Chakotay immediately made his way toward the turbolift, Janeway assigned the Bridge to Tuvok then followed her second officer.
"Tom clearly hasn‘t been well in the last few days. I hope it‘s nothing serious," Chakotay voiced his concerned.
"I haven‘t heard anything from the Doctor," Janeway offered. "As the saying goes: no news is good news."
"That‘s assuming that he went to see the Doctor," Chakotay pointed out.
Janeway nodded. She knew as well as Chakotay that Tom and the Doctor were barely getting along at times. They also knew that Tom just could not stand the EMH when he was not feeling well.
They walked into the Lab. The room was colder than usual and the lighting was dimmed. Janeway reached the consol where a black and red jacket was lying. Its size only confirmed what she already knew: it was Tom‘s. His comm badge was still attached to it, which explained them being there.
"He must not be far," Chakotay said. "His computer is still here."
"He never leaves without it," Janeway remarked. "Tom! Tom, where are you?!"
Again they received no answer and they both grew more worried. As Janeway took stroll around the room, Chakotay went to check the nearest washroom.
"He is definitely not here," Chakotay concluded.
Janeway went to a consol and accessed the internal communication.
On a wide band, she called: "Janeway to Paris, Tom please respond."Again, nothing. If Tom was all right, he would have heard the hail wherever is was on the ship.
"He could be anywhere," Chakotay pointed out.
She looked around in frustration. Tom was in some kind of danger, she could feel it in the pit of her stomach. Her hand reached for her comm badge as an idea come to her mind . "Janeway to bridge."
"Tuvok here, Captain."
"Tuvok, we can‘t locate Tom. We need one of B‘Elanna‘s skeleton scans to find him."
It took a few seconds before they heard Harry‘s voice over the link.
"Captain, Tom is in his quarters."
"Acknowledged, Mr. Kim," she replied as she and Chakotay left the Lab.
The two senior officers raced trough Voyager‘s hallways as their feeling of urgency grew by the second. They had a short distance to cover, and yet they could not get there fast enough.
Once in front of Tom‘s door, Janeway rang the chime. She was hoping that Tom was asleep and that he just had not heard their calls. However, her sixth sense was telling her otherwise. When Tom did not answer in the following five seconds, she overrode his code.
Followed by Chakotay they entered the dark quarters and called for illumination.
"Tom!" she called as she walked toward his bedroom.
"Oh Spirits...," she heard Chakotay‘s voice.
"In the bathroom, Kathryn."
She gasped at the sight of Tom lying on the bathroom‘s floor in a pool of blood. She quickly joined Chakotay who was already kneeling by Tom‘s side. His face was sickly grey. Blood was running down his month and nose. "Janeway to sickbay," she called. "Medical emergency! Three to transport immediately to sickbay."
Sickbay was quiet. .Finally everybody was gone. Harry had taken a very distraught B‘Elanna to her quarters. Janeway and Chakotay had left together, supporting each other. Even the Doctor had deactivated himself.
Samantha Wildman put away the remaining medical instruments in their proper places before bringing a stool beside the main biobed. She sat, then forced herself to relax with even and steady breaths. Tom was lying peaceful. He was still unconscious and unaware of the frenzy that had prompted and followed his collapse. She gently reach for his hand. She massaged it in order to stimulate the blood flow into his cold fingers.
It was just a few hours ago that she had been summoned by the EMH. She had barely walked in sickbay that she had joined he Captain and the Doctor to stabilize Tom‘s vitals. They had already healed his bleeding ulcer, from which he had lost a lot of blood, but he was still seriously dehydrated and anemic.
"Mrs. Wildman, initiate a level 3 cellular scan," the Doctor had ordered her.
"A level 3?" She wondered.
"Doctor, what‘s wrong?" the captain asked.
"I‘m detecting some abnormal cells in Mr. Paris‘ blood," he explained.
"What kind of cells?"
It took a few seconds to Doctor to finish his scan and then look up at Janeway. "Leukemic cells."
"Oh, Spirits!" Commander Chakotay‘s words still echoed in the now quiet room.
Samantha put Tom‘s now warm hand under the blanket and took the other. Her only comfort was that she was not going to be the one to give the news to Tom. The Doctor had told her that it would be his duty to do so. ŒSamantha looked towards the CMO‘s office and started to wonder just how hard the Doctor had taken the news himself. She got the distinct feeling that he was feeling guilty about something. When everything returned to normal, she would have to confront him.
However, at that moment in time, she focused all of her energy on her sick friend and prayed to all the forces that held the universe together to keep watch over him.
"Computer, ‚Wildman music selection three‘, low", she told the computer when the silence grew too much for her.
End of part 1.
Don‘t worry it‘s not over yet. Look out for the second part: Corridor: "The Secret Past".
BIG THANKS to Amanda B. for the research she did on cancer for us and to PJ in NH for Beta reading this story.
We need feed back at Synbou@hotmail.com.
Don‘t be shy.
Isabelle S. and Louise B. (A.k.A Synbou)
Copyrights @ January 1999