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. Severe angst. Disturbing in parts.
Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
I make my way to sickbay, determined to do the right thing. As I enter the room I notice two things at once. B'Elanna is sitting on the biobed with Tom. He's rocking her back and forth and I'm pretty sure she's crying. I should have guessed she was more upset than she let on to me.
The other thing I notice is that the Captain and Chakotay are in the Doctor's office with him. They must have decided to give Tom and B'Elanna some privacy.
I watch my two best friends for a moment. Neither of them has heard me come in. I frown as I watch them. Tom is soothing B'Elanna, promising her that everything's going to be all right now.
I hope he's right, but I have a feeling it's not going to be that simple. I don't know what I expected when I came to see him, but I hadn't expected to see him comforting B'Elanna. I hadn't expected to see him looking so normal.
Before my thoughts can go any deeper I realize that the Captain is gesturing for me to join them. I hurry into the office, my insides churning. I can't tell Chakotay. What if I'm wrong?
I promised Tom. I gave him my solemn word that I would never tell anybody about James Manning. But I've already broken that promise. I've already told them things that I had promised not to.
How much more can I tell them? Things that I've only guessed? Things that I'm not really sure of myself?
"You should be resting," the Captain scolds.
"I just wanted to see if he was all right."
"Well, as you can see, he's fine."
"No thanks to Lieutenant Torres," the Doc says with a sniff.
I look at him in surprise, but the Captain gives him a warning look. "Thank you, Doctor, I think we're all aware of your feelings on the subject by now."
Doc sniffs once more and then mumbles something about the brig. I wonder what I missed.
"Harry, the good news is that Tom has agreed to let us help him," the Captain tells me.
I smile with relief. Maybe I won't have to betray Tom any further. "He certainly looks a lot better than he did in the transporter room," I say carefully.
Chakotay frowns at my words. "Actually, I'm a little worried about him."
"You are?" I say, dread rising within me.
The Captain's frown matches his. "I don't understand, Chakotay. Tom has agreed to talk to you, let you help him."
"I know, but I've been thinking. Don't you think he's given in a little too easily?"
"Not really. I think B'Elanna's the one who changed his mind. He says he loves her. He wants to get help for her sake."
Chakotay shakes his head. "I don't think so. I think he's doing it to comfort her. Just like he's comforting her now. Just like he comforted Harry last night in the transporter room."
Everyone's looking at me now and I can feel myself turning a little red. I had wanted Tom to promise me he would get help. But he hadn't. He had told me everything would be okay. But he hadn't said he would get help. He hadn't promised me anything.
"What are you saying?" the Captain asks. "You don't think that Tom intends to cooperate?"
"I'm not sure. I think he'll cooperate up to a certain point. Enough so we'll all feel like he's receiving help, anyway."
"He's agreeing because he knows that's what we want to hear," I find myself saying. Damn you, Tom! You're still doing it. You're still trying to manipulate us. You're still trying to control what happens.
That's what had disturbed me when I entered sickbay. I had expected to see Tom looking depressed and upset. Maybe even guilty. I had expected someone to be comforting him, not the other way around. After all, he'd just tried to kill himself.
Instead, there he was comforting B'Elanna, telling her basically the same things he had told me the night before. Everything was going to be all right. He was sorry he'd hurt us.
He was telling us whatever he had to, to make us feel better. But this wasn't about us. It was about him.
Chakotay nods. "I don't see much difference between now, and before with you, Captain. He told you he'd work with me, he told you everything you wanted to hear. He then realized he couldn't do it and became so desperate that he thought the only way out was to end his life. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that anybody that desperate would have such a complete turn around in such a short amount of time."
"The Commander is right, Captain," the Doc chimes in. "Mr. Paris's state of mind is still very volatile."
"He's lying to us?" she asks Chakotay.
"He's a master at manipulation, so, yes, I would say so. He wants us to think that he's willing to get help and everything's going to be all right now."
"Considering the fact that you know what he's up to, you'll be able to help him anyway, won't you?" the Captain asks.
Chakotay sighs. "I wish I knew. I'm used to dealing with people who actually come to me for help. Sometimes I help them get in touch with their animal guide and sometimes I'm just somebody who is truly willing to listen to them. Often, that's all they need. I don't know if I have enough experience to help Tom."
"But you've counseled victims of rape before."
"I've spoken to them, listened to them. In the Maquis we didn't have the luxury of counselors. We pitched in where we could. Whether I helped those people or not is another matter."
"Unfortunately, we're in the same position here, Commander."
"I know, Captain."
"I trust you to do your best."
"I just hope it's enough. If these problems stem from Tom's kidnapping, he's managed to keep it all buried for twenty-five years. There will be no quick solution."
I open my mouth to speak, but close it again. What if the conclusions I've drawn are wrong? I don't know what to do. Tom trusts me. At least...he did.
I can't do it. I really need to talk to him first. I need to find out if Chakotay is wrong. Maybe Tom meant what he said. Maybe he wasn't lying. Maybe he really does intend to let Chakotay help him.
Who am I trying to kid? The one person on this ship that Tom has always been able to manipulate is Chakotay. Why would anything change now? Chakotay knows that Tom will try to manipulate him, but then again so do I. He still manages to do it, anyway.
"And what happens in the meantime? What happens if he tries something like this again?" the Captain is asking.
Would he do that? Oh God, would he?
"We will have to be put him on suicide watch," the Doc tells her.
Chakotay's frown becomes even deeper. "He'll have to have someone with him at all times."
I can't believe it. I look at Tom through the window. I've never seen anyone who looks less like taking their own life than Tom at that moment. Then I remember what Tom is hiding; at least what I think he is hiding.
I know it wasn't just the delirium. Too many things have been confirmed. I'm right; I know I am. And I also know that Tom will never tell Chakotay...never.
I sigh as I turn back to Chakotay. "Do you really think he'll try again?"
"I don't know, Harry. I hope not," he tells me.
Fear strikes through me. Chakotay thinks he will. I'm sure of it. "If Tom was hiding something from his childhood, and you could find out what it was, it would help...wouldn't it?" I find myself asking.
'Don't do this,' I tell myself. 'Don't do this.'
"Of course, but I think we know everything that he's been hiding. We might not know all the details, but we certainly know the basics."
"What if there was something else?" I persist. 'Shut up,' I yell at myself. 'Shut up!'
I cringe a little as Chakotay's eyes narrow. "Is there something you haven't told us, Harry?"
"I'm not sure."
"Harry, I need to know everything you know, or suspect."
"I know, Commander. I really need to talk to Tom."
"Harry," the Captain says sharply. "If you know something then you'd better speak up."
Can I tell them? Can I tell them what I know? Will Tom ever forgive me?
"I have to talk to Tom first," I say desperately. "If I'm wrong he'll hate me for thinking something like that and if I'm right he'll hate me for making him acknowledge it."
"Harry," Chakotay says softly. "I think we all suspect that James Manning sexually abused Tom. I'm hoping that he'll talk about it with me eventually."
I swallow, my eyes on the floor. "Do we have eventually, Commander? Can we wait for Tom to talk? Because I don't think he ever will."
"I don't know," Chakotay says sadly.
I fight for composure as the Captain squeezes my shoulder. Bursting into tears isn't going to help Tom. "Please, can I speak with him?" I ask, when I have myself a little more under control.
I look at the Doctor, who shrugs. "I don't have any objections. Lieutenant Torres has been with him for some time."
The Captain nods. "It's important that Tom knows he has people who care about him."
Chakotay grabs my arm as I prepare to walk out of the office. "Try not to upset him, Harry."
"Of course, Commander."
With a deep breath I walk quietly over to the biobed. Please, Tom. Please let Chakotay really help you. Please mean what you said. Please don't be lying. Please don't make me tell.
Tom looks up as I approach.
"Hi," I say, forcing a smile.
B'Elanna stirs next to him and pulls away from his arms. "Harry," she says. "I thought you were supposed to be resting."
Tom flushes. "I'm sorry, Harry. I'm sorry for what I've put you through. Those things I said to you, Harry. I didn't mean it. Any of it."
"It's okay, Tom. I know. None of that's important right now. What's important is what you've been going through."
"Tom's agreed to talk to Chakotay," B'Elanna tells me.
I nod. "I know. Are you really going to talk to him, Tom?"
"I'm going to try."
I watch his face closely. He looks genuine enough, but he's fooled me before. "You're lying," I say softly.
"Harry," B'Elanna protests, but I ignore her.
"Tom, it's really important that you tell Chakotay everything. Don't try your usual tricks with him. Let him help you."
"I know that, Harry. I don't know why you think I'm lying, but I'm not. I will talk to Chakotay. I don't want to, but I will."
He's still lying; I can see it in his eyes.
"I want you to promise me that you'll honestly talk about everything with him. That you won't pretend with him."
"Harry," he grinds out in frustration.
"I mean it, Tom. I want your solemn word."
He stares at me for a few moments. "I said I'd try."
"I know you did, but it's not enough."
He's beginning to look agitated. "Leave me alone, Harry."
"I can't. Why won't you promise me, Tom?"
He moves closer to B'Elanna and she immediately puts her arm around him.
"Harry," she hisses at me. "What are you trying to do? You're upsetting him. Stop it."
She's trying to keep her voice down so that she doesn't alert the Captain and Chakotay to the fact that there's something wrong.
I ignore her once more. "I'm not backing down this time, Tom."
B'Elanna hits my arm. "I said to stop it," she whispers urgently. "I don't know what the hell the matter is with you, but I swear to Kahless, if you don't leave him alone, I'll make you."
I turn on her angrily, although I too try to keep my voice soft. "Can't you see that's exactly what he wants you to do? He won't promise, B'Elanna. That proves that he has no intentions of telling Chakotay everything. That's exactly what I suspected."
"He promised me that he'd let Chakotay help him."
"He's lying. He's not going to tell him anything, B'Elanna. How many times do I have to say that?" I battle to keep my voice down.
Tom has no such problems. "Will you two quit talking about me as if I'm not even here?" he shouts. "I said I'd try and I will."
His shout will bring Chakotay running, just as he planned. "You're leaving me with no choice, Tom. If you won't tell Chakotay everything, then I will."
"What the hell are you talking about?" B'Elanna yells at me, but my whole attention is focused on Tom. He's pale and shaky and I hate what I'm doing to him. What I'm about to do to him. It's the worst thing I've ever done in my life. I pray that one day he'll forgive me.
I harden my heart. "I know," I tell him. "I know everything."
He turns even paler, which was something I didn't think possible. "No," he says shakily.
I can feel Chakotay hurrying towards us. I continue anyway. "I know what you did, Tom."
"Oh God, Harry!" he says frantically. "Don't, Harry, don't."
Chakotay's behind me now, pulling me away from the bed. I've never seen him so angry, but it's too late now. I have to finish what I started. I have to finish destroying the most important thing in my life. My friendship with Tom.
"You killed him,' I say quietly. "Didn't you, Tom? You killed James Manning."
The room is hushed. Nobody makes a sound. Nobody moves. It's as if everyone and everything is frozen in place.
Everyone is looking at me. The Captain's and Chakotay's eyes are wide and appalled. B'Elanna is staring at me intently, her mouth open.
My eyes remain on Tom as he stares up at me, his eyes dilated in fear. His mouth opens and closes and a part of me watches in fascination as a vein in his temple pulsates.
His face is so pale that it's almost transparent as he continues to stare up at me. He begins to tremble but his eyes are still fixed on mine.
And then he screams and the spell is broken. The cry that escapes his lips will remain with me forever. Its inhuman quality shakes me to my very core. It's the cry of a wounded animal. The pain, unbearable.
The Doctor hurries to him, but he screams again. He's pulled his knees up to his chest now and his face is hidden in his arms. Muffled gasps are coming from him and the Doc injects something into his neck. "Try to take deep breaths," he tells him.
I stand there watching helplessly as my best friend falls apart. Because of me. Because of what I have said.
B'Elanna puts her arms around him as his gasps turn into sobs. Deep, heart-wrenching sobs that are painful to hear. I swallow, my insides quaking at what I have done.
Chakotay shakes my arm. "I told you not to upset him. What the hell did you think you were doing?"
"I had to," I choke out. "He never would have told you himself."
"Damn it, Harry," the Captain whirls on me angrily. "I told you to tell us if you knew anything."
"You should have left this to me," Chakotay continues. "You should have told me what you suspected and then let me handle it."
"You don't understand," I say shakily. "This was the only way."
"This?" the Captain says incredulously. Her eyes reflect her horror as she waves her arm towards Tom. His whole body shakes with each sob as B'Elanna tries to soothe him. The Doctor is patting Tom's back and shaking his head at me.
I swallow once more and look down to the floor, half expecting to see myself lying there in a million pieces. Surely that's what that noise is, isn't it? My body shattering and breaking into tiny fragments?
But no...the noise is Tom. The cries are Tom's. Crying like I've never heard anyone cry before. And I did this to him. Me. Harry Kim. The one person he truly trusted.
What possessed me? Why did I say that? Why did I do it like that? Why didn't I speak to Chakotay privately?
I look up in time to see the Captain giving me one last glare before she goes over to Tom. The Doctor steps back out of the way as she perches on the opposite side of the bed of B'Elanna and wraps her arms around him also. He's nestled between the two of them now and they rock him gently in tandem, speaking softly.
My legs feel weak now, as if they don't really want to hold me up. I'm slowly dissolving. Chakotay still has hold of my arm, and without that support I feel I would fall to the floor.
Tom's sobs continue and I wish desperately that I could cover my ears, to drown out the sound. What have I done? Oh Gods, Tom! I'm sorry! The Captain and B'Elanna continue to hold him.
Chakotay turns to me. "I think you'd better go. We'll talk about this later, but right now I think it's best if you leave."
I nod and stagger a little as he lets me go. I look at Tom one last time before I head to the door. "I'm sorry," I whisper brokenly.
Somehow I make it back to my quarters. I have no memory of walking through the ship. All I can see is Tom's crumpled form. All I can hear are Tom's anguished cries.
I sit down shakily on my bed. Chakotay was right. I should have told him and let him handle it. I'm no counselor. I have no idea what I'm doing. Why the hell did I do it? What the hell was I trying to accomplish?
I know the answer to that, of course. I wanted Tom to face the truth. I didn't want to give him a chance to hide any more.
I was scared. Chakotay's words had terrified me. I was afraid that Tom really would try to kill himself again. I was afraid that he'd let Chakotay think he was helping him and then try again. What if no one realized in time? What if next time he succeeded?
No! His secret had to come out. And it had to be now. I couldn't just tell Chakotay and wait for him to bring it up when he felt Tom was ready to talk about it. Tom's guard would have been up.
That's if he was still even alive. If Tom was really determined to end it all, then being on suicide watch wouldn't stop him. I couldn't take that chance. I just couldn't.
There was no time to waste. I'd wasted so much time as it was. I'd put it off for far too long. It's as I told Chakotay in sickbay. I had to do it. Tom gave me no choice.
Exactly why I did it in such a dramatic fashion is not really clear to me. Perhaps it was because everyone was there, not in spite of it. If they all knew, he could no longer hide it. At least now he'll be able to receive the help he's needed for so long.
There is no doubt in my mind that he will pull through this. Tom has an inner strength that I can only envy. It won't be easy for him. But I know, with Chakotay's help, he'll do it.
B'Elanna will be by his side every step of the way. The Captain and the Doctor will be there for him too. Me? No. Not me.
Our friendship is a small price to pay. Isn't it? A sob catches in my throat and I curl up on the bed. It is now my pain, that is unbearable.
"Tom will get help now," I tell myself fiercely. "That's all that matters."
Another sob forms, and this time there is nothing I can do to hold it in. Another one soon follows. And another one. Tears are pouring down my face now and I do nothing to wipe them away.
I close my eyes instead and cry myself to sleep.
The last day has been rather hazy. The Doc's kept me sedated most of the time. Things might feel a little surreal, but unfortunately everything I did is clear. I remember how I hurt everyone and then I lied to them. I told them what I knew they wanted me to. Perhaps I was lying to myself most of all.
I didn't want to talk about any of it. I didn't want their help. Death seemed so much easier. And somehow it seemed right. I felt like I was finally making up for what I had done.
I hated Chakotay for stopping me. And then along came Harry and dropped his little bombshell. Chakotay and Britax both reminded me of James Manning. Until that moment I hadn't realized it. Chakotay had always made me feel uneasy, but I had never known why.
The truth had been more than I could bear, but then Harry had been there beside me. He was crying and I felt so guilty for upsetting him like that. I hugged him and told him everything would be okay. I didn't know how it could possibly be, but I told him that, anyway.
When I woke up in sickbay, the first thing I saw was Chakotay. He looked terrible. His skin had a gray hue about it and he appeared to be sick at heart. The guilt stabbed at me again. I had done that to him. He didn't deserve it.
And then there was the Captain, blaming herself for what I had tried to do. She cared about me and was only trying to help. The guilt and self-loathing were overpowering.
They wanted to talk about James Manning, but he was the last thing I wanted to discuss. I didn't really want to discuss anything. I just wanted it all to be over. I wanted it to end.
The remorse and self-disgust I had been feeling up to that point was nothing in comparison with how I felt after B'Elanna's accusations.
I lied to her. I knew exactly what she wanted me to say and I said it. I thought I sounded like a character in one of those romantic novels she loves so much, but she believed me. I guess she needed to believe me.
I'd like to think that I didn't deliberately lie to her. At the time I just wanted to make her feel better. I wanted to reassure her, to take away some of the pain I'd caused.
So I promised her that I would never do anything so stupid again. She was crying and I'd never seen her cry like that before. I hated myself for what I had put her through.
It was only after we were sitting on the biobed and she was cradled in my arms that it really hit me. I'd told her that I loved her. I'd never told anybody that. I found the words impossible to say. A left over legacy from the sick little ritual that James Manning used to force upon me.
The word 'love' is no problem for me to say. I love rock and roll. I love to fly. I love the feel of the helm under my fingertips. I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I love so many things.
I can even cry out in the heat of passion, as B'Elanna does something especially erotic, "God, I love that." But I could never say those three little words to her.
Sometimes, when we were lying there sated and complete, she would look at me with all the love she felt shining in her eyes and she would say the words. "I love you, Tom Paris." I would struggle to answer her, but the words just wouldn't come.
As I sat there on the biobed, rocking her and telling her how sorry I was and how everything was now going to be all right, the futility of the situation crashed down upon me.
I did love her and I was glad that I had finally been able to tell her that, but nothing had changed. My life hadn't changed just because I had managed to say 'I love you', to B'Elanna.
I could feel Chakotay watching me through the window in the Doctor's office, so I made a concerted effort to look the way I thought he would be expecting me to look. I concentrated on B'Elanna and away from the dark thoughts running around inside my head.
I wasn't aware that Harry had come in until I saw him striding towards us from the Doctor's office. He had that determined look in his eye that he sometimes gets and I started to feel a little nervous.
I thought he was going to ream me out the way B'Elanna had. Maybe he wouldn't get violent, but I felt myself cringing a little anyway.
When he insisted on my promise to tell Chakotay everything, I wasn't quite sure what he meant. I opened my mouth to promise anyway, but for some reason, I couldn't do it.
I wanted to, just to get him to leave me alone. I wanted to say, 'I promise', even though I had no intentions of keeping that promise. There was something in his eyes, however, that told me he would know it was a lie.
Even after he told me that he knew, I was hoping that he meant something else. I could never imagine - ever - that he knew my soul-destroying secret.
The accusation, when it came, shattered me.
"You killed him. Didn't you, Tom? You killed James Manning."
He said it. The thing I could never say. The thing I couldn't even say to myself. I could never admit what had happened, simply telling myself that I had a secret that could never be shared.
But Harry had shared it. And then I could no longer pretend it had never happened. I could no longer bury all those feelings of guilt and remorse and horror deep down inside myself. I was eight years old again and I was pressing the button, wanting the man, whom I thought was my father, whom I was supposed to love, to die.
I remember the shocked faces surrounding me, and then the horrifying wail that filled the room. That terrible noise had been coming from me, but I couldn't seem to do anything about it. I couldn't stop it.
The sedative that the Doc gave me has almost worn off and the awful memories of the past twenty-four hours sit heavily on my shoulders. Wishing that it was all a bad dream will not make it so.
Gods, the people I have hurt in the past few days. How can I face any of them ever again? How can they ever forgive me? How, oh how, can I ever forgive myself?
The truth, and I must admit the truth to myself, is I don't want to. After all the lies I must at least be truthful to myself. I don't want to be held accountable for what I have done.
I want to continue pretending. But that is no longer possible. I am a murderer. I can't make up for what I have done.
I have always been a murderer and I will die a murderer. I just want that to be soon.