Summary: Tom's life becomes unbearable when he believes that he has been betrayed and his past begins to haunt him.
Set late season five.
Standard Disclaimer: Tom Paris, Voyager and all its crew belong to Paramount/Viacom.
No profit will be made from this story.
Warning: Please take note of the rating. Disturbing in parts. Severe angst.
Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
I enter my quarters, my breath coming out in loud gasps as I turn around and wish to all the gods that were ever created that there was such a thing as an old fashioned door on this stupid, godforsaken bucket of rust.
The resounding slam, and consequential vibration of the walls, would have been very satisfying at the moment. I pick up the cherished statue - once cherished, I amend quickly - of the two lovers entwined in their eternal embrace and hurl it as hard as I can against the wall. It shatters into a million pieces and although the sound relieves some of the tension I am feeling, it's still not enough.
I hurry over to my bureau and rummage through the drawers until I find what I am looking for. Pulling out the old-fashioned pen, I study it closely. The gold-embossed writing on the side makes me snort in derision. TO TOM: THE BEST FRIEND A GUY COULD EVER HAVE. HARRY.
I snap the pen in half. It takes some doing as the pen is sturdy and thick, but I still manage it. I then throw the two halves of the pen to rest with the broken shards of crystal, all over the floor.
Still not satisfied, I march determinedly over to the closet and drag out the navy blue satin nightgown she had left behind the last time she stayed the night. It has tiny bits of lace around the low-cut neckline and I rip the lace as roughly as I can, before rolling the garment into a tight ball and flinging it across the room to lay with the pen and pieces of statue.
My eyes fall on the two glasses still sitting on the coffee table from the previous evening. I'd been too busy worrying about him - HIM - to clean up after his hasty retreat the night before. I grab the glass that had been his, still half full, and throw that at the exact same spot as everything else. The glass breaks and I watch transfixed as the juice, that he had been drinking, runs slowly down the wall.
Turning away, I begin searching my quarters for any other signs of them. I find two data padds of his and one of hers, and cast them away furiously, as well. Going into the bathroom, I find a toothbrush she uses all the time and a sort of comb thing she must have left too.
The toothbrush snaps easily, but I have a bit more trouble with the comb. Damn it! Where's a goddamn phaser when you want one? Of course, if I had a phaser, I'd probably use it on a lot more than the stupid comb.
I finally manage to break some of the teeth out of the comb and then throw everything over with the rest of the mess by the far wall. And that reminds me. The picture on that wall. It was a painting of the sea and sky. The artist had somehow managed to mesh the two together.
HE'D given me that picture. I tear it down and stomp on it, only satisfied when the tinkling of glass tells me that it's smashed.
Breathing heavily, I survey the ruins. Is that all I have to show for over two years with her and almost six with him? I shake my head in dismay. Best friends for almost six years and all that's here is a couple of padds that he'd left behind and a crummy pen and cheap picture.
All right, so the pen wasn't crummy. It had cost Harry a lot of replicator rations - there was proper gold in it - and at the time I'd been touched. My thirtieth birthday and Harry had made a big fuss about it. He'd organized a party and everything.
And the picture wasn't really cheap. The truth was, I loved that picture. It seemed to sum up the way I felt about both the sea and flying. Harry had given it to me three years ago, after Akritiria. His way of apologizing for trying to kill me, he had said seriously. Boy, when the kid went on a guilt trip, he really went on a guilt trip.
That thought brought me up short. He must be on a real trip right now then. Good! He deserved to be. And B'Elanna! Would she be guilty? Probably. A little. She'd be angry though too, and somehow she'd turn this all around to sit squarely on my shoulders.
I'd known something was wrong. Harry had been acting really weird. Avoiding me. And I hadn't seen B'Elanna.
That hadn't worried me at the time. We often went for days without much contact. We had just left the planetary system belonging to the Yarans, with whom we had been able to trade for some much needed supplies in engineering.
B'Elanna had been kept busy with all the new equipment and I'd been secretly glad that I'd had a few days to myself. The away mission hadn't gone particularly well for me - nothing new there - and I'd needed some time to put it behind me.
We'd managed to grab a quick breakfast together two mornings ago. She'd been distracted, but I put that down to problems in engineering. I'd asked her if we'd be able to spend some time together that night, but she'd shaken her head.
"Don't push me, Tom," she'd said, much to my surprise.
"I wasn't aware I was," I'd countered.
She had scowled. "Things are a little crazy at the moment."
"I know that," I'd told her. "But you have to have some time to yourself. I miss you. We haven't seen each other properly for weeks."
"We haven't had sex for weeks, you mean."
I was taken aback. "No, that isn't what I meant." That was true, I swear - although it HAD been a long time.
She'd continued to scowl as she toyed around with the food on her tray. I had cleared my throat, still wondering what was going on. "Are you trying to pick a fight?" I'd asked.
She'd sighed at that and dropped her fork into her tray. "No. I guess I'm just tired. I have a lot to get done today, so by the time I'm finished, I'm going to want an early night."
I'd nodded. "Maybe we can see each other tomorrow night?"
"Sure," she'd answered with a smile. It didn't quite reach her eyes, however. For the rest of the meal she had been fairly quiet. I didn't think much of it. She looked tired and she was kind of testy when she was tired. We were seeing each other the following night, so I hadn't worried. More fool me.
All I could think about was Harry, though. He'd entered the mess hall and seeing us had given a small, nervous wave before going over and sitting with Sue Nicoletti.
"Have you noticed anything strange about Harry?" I'd asked, my eyes fixed firmly on my best friend. It was obvious from Harry's body language that he knew I was staring at him, but he determinedly kept his head tilted the other way.
It took a few seconds before I'd realized that B'Elanna hadn't answered me. I'd turned towards her, but she was busy staring at her tray. "Huh?" she'd said, looking up at me.
"I asked you if you'd noticed Harry acting kinda weird?"
"Harry?" She'd looked at me blankly, almost as if to say, 'Harry who?'
"Doesn't matter," I'd said.
We'd left shortly after that, but I had been determined to get hold of Harry somehow and find out what was going on. He'd avoided me at every turn, until I'd finally cornered him in the turbolift the following afternoon.
He'd refused to tell me anything, however, merely saying I was imagining things. To prove he wasn't avoiding me, he suggested we get together later that evening. I agreed, knowing that B'Elanna wouldn't be ready to see me until much later.
The whole night - last night - had been a total disaster. Harry had been jumpy and ill at ease the whole time. Our conversation was strained and he refused point blank to tell me what was wrong.
"Harry," I'd finally ground out in frustration, slamming my empty glass down on the coffee table. "What the hell is the matter with you?"
"Nothing. Why do you keep asking me that?"
"Because you're acting weird. I've known you for nearly six years now and I know when something's wrong. I know when you're trying to hide something."
Harry had placed his glass carefully down next to mine and then stood up quickly. "What's the time? I'd better go."
"It's still early."
"But you're meeting B'Elanna soon."
"Not for another hour, at least. Why won't you tell me what's going on?"
"It's nothing, Tom. Nothing."
Harry had started to look really agitated, proving to me that he was lying. Lying? Harry? Harry never lied to me. Sometimes he told me to mind my own business or that he couldn't tell me something for whatever reason he had. But he never pretended to me. Something had been very, very wrong. I had begun to get very, very worried.
Harry had headed for my door, but I'd grabbed his arm. "Harry," I'd said softly. "Whatever's wrong, you know you can count on me, don't you?"
To my chagrin, his eyes had filled with tears. "I'm sorry, Tom. So, so sorry." He'd practically ran from my quarters. I'd paced around for a while before deciding to go after him.
The trouble was - he wasn't in his quarters when I got there. His badge was, but there was no sign of Harry. And then B'Elanna had commed me. "I'm sorry, Tom, but I can't get away. Tomorrow night - definitely."
So I had spent the night worrying. It was frustrating not being able to see B'Elanna, but I was sick with worry over Harry. I had to find out what was wrong. He needed help.
How stupid I was. How blind! Why couldn't I see he was guilty? The guilt was eating away at him. It's so obvious now. Why couldn't I see it then?
Because I'm a fool, that's why. Because I never thought for one moment that he could ever do anything to hurt me. Because I trusted him. Because I'm dumb.
So now I stand here, surveying the wreckage I have created. A pain so sharp that I can't breathe for it, is replacing the rage within me. I don't want to feel sorrow or pain. I want to stay angry.
I focus my thoughts on the two of them. Finding them together this morning. Hearing their intimate conversation. The rage boils again.
I had been making my way down the corridor, my thoughts on Harry and finding a way to get him to open up. I'd rounded a corner sharply and practically bumped into two gold clad figures.
"I'm advising you not to say anything." It was Joe Carey and he'd turned around sharply as I came up behind him. "Tom! Where did you come from?" He had looked nervous and glanced quickly over to his companion, Vorik.
Before I could say anything, Vorik had stepped forward. "Ensign Paris, you and I are...friends, are we not?"
"Sure," I had answered, wondering why Joe was frowning.
He had grabbed Vorik's arm and started tugging him away. "Good, that's settled then. We're late. See you, Tom."
Vorik had pulled free and turned back to me. "We have plenty of time, Lieutenant." His voice was calm - placid.
"No we haven't." Joe had sounded mad. "Let's go. That's an order, Ensign."
"Very well," Vorik had answered with a sigh.
I had watched the two of them leave, shaking my head in amusement. Turning around, I had been surprised to see Seven standing in front of me. "Morning, Seven. Where did you pop up from?"
"I was standing a little further up the passageway. I saw and heard everything." She had seemed to put a little emphasis on the word 'heard'.
"Oh? Well, can you tell me what that was all about?"
She had regarded me for a long time. "Do you really wish to know?"
"I wouldn't have asked otherwise." I had been curious by then. I hadn't really cared before, but there was something about the way she had been looking at me that made me need to know more.
"Ensign Vorik believes that as your friend he should tell you something. Lieutenant Carey believes he should mind his own business."
"I see. Do you know what it is that Vorik wants to tell me?"
"Yes, I do."
I had sighed impatiently. "Well? Are you going to tell me?"
"I am still deciding. Weighing the pro's and con's, I believe you call it."
"Weigh them later, but tell me now."
Seven had pursed her lips. "You will be upset. I do not wish to upset you."
"I'm upset now." I had decided right then, that if Seven wouldn't tell me I was going to go down to engineering and beat it out of Vorik. I'd completely forgotten about Harry by this time.
"You are being cuckolded."
"Ensign Vorik believes that Lieutenant Torres is cheating on you."
"What? Why the hell would he think something like that?"
"She lied to you last night. She commed you from engineering and told you she couldn't get away. She was in actual fact leaving as she spoke."
"That doesn't mean she's cheating on me."
"She had a man with her and they were speaking intimately. It is not the first time they have been seen together."
"Harry? He thinks B'Elanna's cheating on me with Harry?"
"He is not the only one. I gather from the way Lieutenant Carey spoke, most of engineering believes it to be true."
"That's horse shit. They're friends. Everyone knows that. Of course they've been seen together. Hell, if they started gossiping about everyone that's friends, there'd be no time to get any work done."
"Ensign Kim frequently visits Lieutenant Torres in engineering and they stand off to one side where no one can hear and are seen to be having rather intense, intimate conversations. Ensign Kim has also been seen leaving her quarters very late at night a number of times this week and she has been seen leaving his also."
"So what? That doesn't mean anything. They've always hung out together. I've been seen leaving Harry's quarters all hours of the morning too. Does that mean that I'm screwing him as well?"
"I am merely repeating what I heard."
"Well, you sounded like you believed it."
"Whether I believe it or not, is not the issue. Do you believe it?"
"No. It's absolute rubbish. They'd never do that. The whole idea is ludicrous. Harry's had a few problems lately. He's obviously gone to B'Elanna to talk about it." I was feeling a little hurt that he'd gone to B'Elanna instead of telling me what was wrong, but I wasn't going to tell Seven that.
Seven had looked doubtful and that had just made me mad. I had pushed past her angrily and made my way to B'Elanna's. Still seething, I had pressed her door chime and waited impatiently for her to answer.
I could hear scrambling from inside before she opened the door. "Tom! What are you doing here?"
I'd frowned at that. She'd looked nervous and she hadn't stepped back to let me in. "I wanted to talk to you."
"Oh! Can it wait until tonight? I'm running late."
"I suppose so," I'd answered, trying to see past her into her quarters.
"Great. I'll comm you when I get off duty."
She'd stepped back and the door had slid shut in my face. I had stood there for a few moments, unbelievingly, before stepping away.
It was then that I did what I heartily wish I hadn't. I could have gone on in my own little make-believe fantasyland that everything was all right. That the two people closest to me in the whole world hadn't betrayed me.
I tell that to myself now, but I know I would have always wondered. Always wanted to know. Always been just a little suspicious.
I had turned to the door controls next to B'Elanna's quarters and then keyed in her code. The door had slid open quietly and I'd stepped inside.
She had been standing in the bathroom doorway with her back to me and obviously hadn't heard me come in.
"Hurry up, Harry. That was too close for comfort. I'm sure he's suspicious."
Harry's voice had been muffled as he answered her. "We should just tell him. Get it out in the open. I can't go on like this much longer. He knows something is going on."
"Of course he does. He can read you like a book. He knows you're avoiding him. It hasn't been easy for me either you know."
"I know. But at least you've had so much work to do that it's been a good excuse. And you're a whole lot better at hiding your feelings than I am."
"It's hard, Harry. Very hard. I found myself trying to start a fight with him yesterday morning at breakfast, just so that he would get mad at me and go away."
"Every time I look at him, I just want to confess everything."
"Don't you think I want to, too? But how will he react if we do? He'll hate us, Harry."
"We betrayed him. He'll never forgive us."
"Exactly. Plus the fact I don't think he'll be able to cope if he finds out. We have to start behaving normally around him again."
"I'm trying to, but I feel so guilty. It's best if I stay away from him, but he won't leave me alone. He knows me too well. I really don't think we can hide this from him."
"Of course we can. There's no reason he should find out, as long as we both keep our heads."
"But what if the Captain says something? Have you seen the way she looks at him these days? He hasn't noticed anything yet, but he will soon."
"She promised, Harry. She gave us her word. She won't say anything."
"But she wants to. I just think it would be better if we told him ourselves."
I'd stood there, listening to the whole sordid conversation, unable to move. Unable to say a word. I'd felt like screaming at them both, but my throat was too dry to make a sound. I would never have believed it. Never!
It was at that moment that Harry had stepped out from the bathroom, B'Elanna turning around to let him pass. They both saw me at the same time. Harry had gasped and B'Elanna had put her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide with horror.
"Tom!" Harry had stepped towards me. "How long? What?"
I would have laughed at Harry's utter terror under any other circumstances.
"I had to know," I had somehow managed to say. "They're talking about you, you know. It will be all over the ship by tonight. I didn't want to believe it. I would never have believed it, if I hadn't just heard you."
Harry and B'Elanna had exchanged glances. "Who's talking about us?" B'Elanna's eyes had looked puzzled.
I had snorted in response. "Your whole crew by the sounds of it. Harry was right you know. You should have told me. If you didn't want to be with me anymore, you should have just said. Finding you together like this hurts so much more."
Harry and B'Elanna had looked at each other in confusion, but I had barely noticed. "I guess I'm more hurt by you Harry, than I am with her. I never dreamt that when you said to me, friends share, that you thought that included my girl as well."
Harry's gasp had been loud and he looked almost as if he was going to have a heart attack. Right at that moment, I wouldn't have given a damn if he had.
"What the hell?" That had been B'Elanna. "Tom! Harry and I aren't having an affair."
Harry had grabbed my arm at this point. "Please believe us, Tom. We would never do that. Never!"
I had shaken my arm free. "It's a little late for denials."
"Tom, Harry is like a brother to me."
"I thought he was to me, too."
"Tom, please! I would never do that to you." Harry was practically begging at this point. "You've got it all wrong. That's not what this is all about."
B'Elanna had stepped in then. "I can understand why you thought that's what's going on, but it isn't. Harry didn't spend the night here. He called in this morning and ..."
"What was he doing in the bathroom?"
"I got upset, Tom. I was...I was crying. And I went in there to wash my face."
"I don't believe you. If it was all so innocent, why did B'Elanna try to hide you were here?"
As B'Elanna had opened her mouth to speak, I'd hurried on. "Just stop with all the lies. I happen to know that you left engineering together last night, after you commed me to say that you couldn't see me because you were held up there. Anyway, I heard you. I heard you plotting. Heard you say that you'd betrayed me and were going to hide it from me."
"I know what you heard, but we didn't sleep together, Tom. There's nothing between us like that."
B'Elanna had sounded close to tears, but I'd heard enough. "I won't stand in your way, you know. And I won't make things difficult for you, either. But you're right. I do hate you." Harry had tried to stop me from leaving, but I'd pushed him away.
"Let him go," I had heard B'Elanna say. "We'll straighten everything out when he's calmed down."
"Shit," Harry had replied. "Shit, shit, shit!"
How the hell I flew the ship during my shift is beyond me. I guess it was just lucky that we were in a fairly boring part of space and I didn't need to concentrate.
I had stormed onto the bridge and stomped down the steps towards the helm when Chakotay had grabbed my arm. "Tom? Is anything wrong?"
He had looked concerned and caring and my fist had itched to punch him right in the nose. I had taken a deep breath to try and control myself. Taking my temper out on the first officer was not a good idea. Besides, he hadn't done anything.
"I'm all right, Commander."
"Well, quite frankly, you don't look it. And why are you so early? Your shift doesn't start for another forty minutes."
"I decided to skip breakfast." Trying to swallow anything would have made me choke.
He'd stared hard at me for a few seconds before letting go of my arm. "Skipping meals is never a good idea."
He'd let me go and take over from Hamilton then, who was more than happy to have an early minute.
I'd heard Harry arrive, late - almost ten full minutes - and was secretly pleased when Chakotay reamed him out about it.
The rest of the shift had been a blur. All I could think about was what I'd heard that morning, and there'd been a vague knot of worry about what I'd missed. I'd felt that something wasn't quite right with the conclusion I'd drawn.
I'd almost jumped out of my seat when a hand came down on my shoulder.
"Tom, sorry to have startled you." The Captain's eyes had been full of concern. "I'd like to speak to you in my ready room, before you go to lunch."
"Yes, Ma'am," I'd answered. Obviously my distraction had been noticed and Chakotay had probably told her about the state I was in when I'd first arrived for duty.
I'd slowly stood up and followed her into her ready room. The thing that had worried me the most was the look of sheer panic on Harry's face.
I really hadn't been able to understand it. I'd remembered then about their mention of the Captain that morning. They'd said that she'd promised not to say anything. So she must have known about their little tryst. What did it matter if she said something now? I already knew, anyway. Harry's panic had made me feel nervous. Something just hadn't felt right.
The interview with the Captain hadn't gone well. She had been in her caring, mothering mode and wanted me to talk to her about any problems I might be having. Since she already knew about Harry and B'Elanna, I'd felt the whole thing was a little pointless. What did she want me to do? Cry on her shoulder? To hell with that.
In the end I'd lost my cool with her patient probing. "Captain, can we speak frankly?"
"Of course, Tom. I'm not your Captain at the moment, I'm your friend."
"Then, begging your pardon, but can we cut the song and dance? You know about my so-called best friend and my so-called girlfriend. You don't have to pretend. I found out this morning, as if you couldn't guess. I'll deal with it and I'll be fine. So, if that's all there is, I'd like to go and get some lunch. I missed breakfast and I'm kinda hungry."
She had looked a little surprised. "Harry and B'Elanna?"
"Yeah, I heard them talking. Harry was worried that you were going to say something to me and felt it better if they told me themselves. At least I saved them the trouble."
"I see. And now you're mad at them. They were afraid you would be."
"Of course I'm mad at them." I'd had a lot of trouble keeping control then. I'd almost added a few choice words to my statement. It had been hard not to and I hadn't been able to understand the Captain's attitude. She looked sad.
"Tom, they did it for you. They care a great deal about you and wanted to help."
"They did it for me? Are you goddamned crazy?" I'd jumped up from the couch in my agitation and that's when it had hit me. The feeling that something wasn't quite right. The disbelief that Harry and B'Elanna were playing around behind my back. Their utter denial of my accusation, even though they knew I'd heard their conversation.
It had all started to make sense then. And with that sudden dawning light had come a sick feeling low in my gut, that had spread quickly through my whole body. I had prayed fervently that my suspicions were wrong.
I'd wanted the truth to be that B'Elanna and Harry had been having an affair behind my back, then. The alternative was unbearable. Unthinkable.
Harry's comment about the Captain looking at me and my noticing it soon, had taken on a whole new meaning. The pity I could see shining clearly in her eyes had taken on a whole new meaning, as well.
She'd been looking at me like that for the past week. Ever since the away mission. Ever since the Yarans. I should have thought more about it at the time. She had been so lenient with me, considering I'd caused a more than embarrassing incident and almost lost our precious trade agreement.
She'd been furious with me at the time, consigning me to my quarters to await punishment while she tried to smooth things over. She'd somehow managed to and I'd been so grateful that she hadn't ripped off my final pip, or thrown me in the brig that I hadn't put two and two together.
She had of course asked me if there was a reason why I'd reacted the way I did. I'd expected that. I'd spun her one of my usual stories and she'd watched me quietly before getting up. "You know where I am if you need to talk," she'd said.
If she was suspicious, I didn't care, just so long as she never knew. Only she did know, I realized, as I stood there in her ready room. Somehow, she had found out. I hadn't known what to do. Where to look.
She'd touched my shoulder gently, but I'd been unable to look at her.
"You know." I'd addressed her shoe.
"Yes. They wanted me to understand."
I'd nodded. I should have guessed. I should have known. I'd felt as if I could never look at her again. "How much do you know?" I'd mumbled.
I'd looked up at that. Nobody knew everything. I'd told Harry a lot and B'Elanna some, and I was sure that the Captain could look some of it up in my files, if you just read between the lines, but she couldn't know everything.
I'd realized then that Harry and B'Elanna must have gotten together and compared notes, fit all the little pieces together. The possibility of that happening had always been there, but they'd promised never to tell anyone - ever - and I'd believed them. I'd trusted them. I trusted them like I'd never trusted anyone in my entire life before.
And they'd told the Captain. I'd gotten into a little trouble and they'd broken their word to me. Who else had they told?
"Tom," the Captain had said softly. "It's all right. No one else knows. And they never will from me."
But how could I trust her? Harry and B'Elanna had promised the exact same thing to me but circumstances had come up and they'd told.
"They shouldn't have told you," I'd managed to mumble.
"They had to Tom. I was ready to bust you down to crewman."
That would have been preferable to her knowing my deepest, darkest secrets. And I knew deep within me that someday, sometime, something else would happen and she would be forced to tell someone else of my shame. Tuvok, maybe. Or more than probably - Chakotay.
As I stood there in her ready room, unable to meet her eyes, I'd tried to imagine what it would be like if Tuvok or worse - much worse - Chakotay ever found out. The thought had sent cold shivers down my spine.
The Captain had said I could have the rest of the day off and as I made my way back to my quarters, the rage within me festered and grew until by the time I had reached them, I was ready to explode.
The damage I'd done in here was nothing compared to what I wanted to do. I slapped my commbadge. "Paris to Kim."
His voice is nervous, edgy. "Kim here. What is it, Tom?"
"When you've finished your duty shift, could you come to my quarters? We need to talk."
He sounds relieved. "Sure, Tom. I'll be there as soon as I can."
I calmly walk over to my wardrobe once more and pick out a cream colored sweater I'd borrowed from Harry only the week before. Stepping over to the mess all over the floor, I bend down and pick up a large shard of glass.
It's sharp and I watch the blood forming on my finger as it builds up and begins to drip down onto the floor. Mopping at my finger with the sweater, it soon stops bleeding and I turn my attention to the garment once more.
Slowly and carefully I use the shard still in my hand to slash across the front of the sweater. It rips from one side to the other. I do it again and again and then again.