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 watch the man whom I love sleep. I refuse to leave his side. He needs me. The shock of Harry's disclosure is still with me.
What the hell did he think he was doing and why the hell didn't he say something sooner? If he was here right now I'd strangle him with my bare hands.
What the hell was he playing at? Announcing to all the world, as if we were in some cheap melodrama, "You killed him; you killed James Manning."
And so what if Tom did? I say - well done. I don't know exactly what went on between them, Tom has never told me, but Harry obviously does.
I have very dark suspicions, however, and if even half of what I believe is true, then I'm glad that Tom killed him. It was his right.
If the man wasn't already dead, I'd kill him myself.
I just wish that Tom would confide in me the way he seems to with Harry. It hurts. I know it's not fair of me to feel this way, as I don't really confide in him either, but the feeling is there, nevertheless.
I feel that he is closer to Harry than he is to me. I'm not jealous, well perhaps a little, but I am more concerned with the reason why he feels he has to hide things from me. Is it because of my volatile Klingon nature?
I remember the night I discovered one of Tom secrets.
We had been forced to endure staying in stasis chambers for over a month and Tom had been nervous about it. Our first night out of them, he had had one of the worst nightmares I've ever seen.
He was screaming to be let out, yelling something about a skeleton and spiders. When I finally managed to wake him up he was so traumatized that I had no trouble in finding out what was wrong.
He told me about James Manning, the kidnapping and the trunk. There was so much left unsaid. He refused to talk about it, and he was far too upset for me to push him. So, I decided to speak with Harry.
And Harry had pretended not to know any more than I did. He should have told me. He should have told somebody. Tom should have received help a long time ago.
I don't know what to think. Tom may not have told me what happened when he was a little boy, but I have pieced together quite a bit from the nightmares he began to have regularly after coming out of the brig.
I understand completely why he killed James Manning and I am proud that at even that age, Tom had the fighting spirit of a true warrior. I doubt if I could have killed someone at the age of eight, but then I have never considered myself a true warrior.
That's the Klingon in me talking, but the human in me is deeply troubled. Taking a life is never easy. It profoundly changes people. You can never be the same again.
I have taken more than one life since joining the Maquis. I told myself that they were the enemy and we were at war. It made pressing the trigger a little easier, but it didn't help the aftereffects. It didn't ease the nightmares.
They were people with families and loved ones who cared about them. Somewhere, someone would be mourning them.
No, taking a life is never easy. It is not something that you can simply shrug off. You try not to dwell on it. You somehow learn to live with it; move past it. But how does a child cope with it? How does a child move past it?
Tom buried it, deep inside, never acknowledging that it happened. Never admitting the truth.
I had thought he needed help to overcome the abuse from Manning and the sexual abuse from the Kazon and Zio. I had no idea that there were even more issues to deal with.
Harry has kept this to himself. For how long, I wonder? How long has he been carrying this burden? Poor, sweet, Harry. In some ways, he loves Tom even more than I do.
It is not the same as my love for Tom, naturally, but it is just as strong and even more lasting. I may not always be Tom's lover, although I can't imagine life without him, but Harry will always be Tom's friend.
I've thought long and hard about Tom's accusation the other day. I've had a lot of time to sit and think. He told me that love, to me, is all about control. That I was trying to control him. That I resented the fact that he told Harry so much more than he would tell me.
I know it was said in anger. I know he was trying to hurt me. But is there some truth in the accusation? I have a horrible feeling that there may be. I do like to be in control. I hated the fact that I didn't know what was really going on with Tom.
When he wouldn't tell me, I tried to worm it out of Harry. The nightmares Tom had when he first came out of the brig were terrible. He refused to talk about them, so I went straight to Harry.
Harry was very worked up and worried, but he still wouldn't tell me anything that I didn't already know. I did resent that.
Tom's nightmares settled down a little and although he was quieter than usual, he seemed to be getting back to normal. Our lives fell back into their normal routine, although Harry still adopted a worried air about him.
It made me a little angry. I didn't like the fact that Harry obviously knew something that I didn't.
And then came the night that I discovered Tom's secret. I should say, one of Tom's secrets. At the time I couldn't imagine that there could possibly be anything else.
Our sexual encounters have always been a little Klingon in nature but that night I was even more aggressive than usual. I had had a hard and frustrating day and needed to release some of my pent-up emotions.
I pinned Tom face forward against the wall and refused to let him turn around. Twisting against me, he gasped, "B'Elanna, let go."
"No," I said with a playful growl. "You're mine and we're going to have some fun."
He gasped once more and I began to nibble at the back of his neck. His struggles increased and I found I had to use my superior strength to hold him.
"Let me go," he cried out and I laughed, gleefully. Tom was playing hard to get and considering the current mood I was in, it was exactly what I needed. Tom always seemed to know exactly what I wanted the most.
Using my full strength, I turned him around and flipped him over my shoulder. I then threw him to the floor, pouncing on top of him with a roar. The fall knocked the wind out of him and I took the opportunity to rip his shirt open and pin his arms above his head.
Struggling frantically, he tried to buck me off, his eyes huge and unfocused. I failed to recognize the desperation in their depths as I was in full Klingon mode by then.
Leaning forward, I bit his shoulder and was slightly surprised that he continued to heave and struggle against me. He was certainly acting in the spirit of the game. I was so excited by this time that I could hardly control myself.
Holding his arms above his head with one hand, I used the other to fumble with the fastening on his pants, which was rather difficult to undo in the position I was in.
That was when it hit me. Tom wasn't turned on. Not at all.
I stopped in confusion and my hold on Tom's arms relaxed. With a violent heave, he bucked me off of him and jumped up to a crouch. The look of sheer panic on his face unsettled me and I realized that we were no longer playing. That, perhaps, we had never been playing.
"What is it, Tom? What's wrong?"
Panting heavily, the panic gradually left his face. He gazed around my quarters a look of bewilderment clouding his features. "I'm sorry. I don't know what happened."
"You panicked," I said slowly, getting to my feet. "Care to tell me why?"
"I don't want to talk about it." He stood up too. "Maybe I should go."
I wasn't going to let him get away with that. "I don't want you to go. I want you to tell me what that was all about."
"I'd rather not discuss it."
"I think you owe me an explanation, Tom. If I was too Klingon for you, then you should tell me."
"Not everything is about you being Klingon, B'Elanna."
I swallowed a little at the rebuke. "So what was it then?"
"I..." He stopped and I stood there waiting patiently. That fact in itself is pretty amazing. I didn't think I could be patient.
It took some time and a lot of prodding from me, but he eventually told me about the Kazon. I immediately leapt up from the couch we had shifted to and prowled around my quarters.
I was determined that we would turn Voyager around and go back and hunt down every last one of the Kazon scum. I'd kill them all.
Tom tried to calm me down and it was only because he became so upset that I managed to get my own swirling emotions under control. He then told me about Zio and the Klingon in me took over once more.
I'd like to think that I'm not like that anymore. In the past few months circumstances have forced me to come to terms with myself. Tuvok has begun to help me with my self-control, but I still have a long way to go...I know.
Back then, however, my volatile Klingon nature was in full swing and Tom only told me what he had to. I regretted my reaction, but it was too late. Tom wouldn't tell me any more.
I went to Harry - again - and told him that I knew. That we had to do something. We couldn't let Tom struggle with this anymore. We had to get him help. I wanted to DO something.
In the meantime, Tom became moody. One moment he would be his usual, sweet charming self and the next he would be a sullen stranger.
We both tried to talk to him about it, tried to make him see he needed help, but he acted as if he didn't know what we were talking about. And then we visited Yaran and everything became so much more complicated.
I'm not sorry I told the Captain what I did. I'd do it again. Only sooner. A lot sooner. If Tom can never trust me again, then so be it. That is the price that I am willing to pay.
Harry's way of helping Tom may have been a little extreme - and I shake my head as the memory of the scene from the day before replays in my mind - but at least now everything is out in the open.
There are no more secrets. Tom killed James Manning. Somehow, he must learn to live with that. Somehow, he must let us help him.
I sit here quietly watching Tom as the sedative slowly wears off. He has been awake for some time, lying unmoving with his back to me.
I am not sure how I will react when he rolls over to look at me.
Turning over I see B'Elanna sitting in a chair next to me. Although she hasn't said anything, she is watching me in concern. I sit up slowly, my eyes glued to hers.
I swallow with difficulty, unable to speak. I have vague recollections of someone sitting in that chair all through the day and night. The Captain, Chakotay, but mostly B'Elanna.
I swallow again, but still there is nothing I can say. The Doc bustles over and I welcome the distraction.
"How do you feel?" he says softly.
I can't answer that. Tears well in my eyes at the gentle tone of his voice. I can't believe that I'm going to start bawling just because the Doc's being nice to me. But no one should be nice to me. I'm a murderer. I've been a murderer for almost all of my life.
I take a deep breath, fighting for composure, and look around the room wondering where the security detail is. Where, especially, Tuvok is.
Doc hands me a glass of ice cold water and I sip it, gratefully. As soon as he moves away again, B'Elanna stands up and takes my hand in hers. "It's going to be all right now, Tom," she says, her eyes full of sorrow. "I love you."
The words almost choke me. How can she love me? I'm a murderer. She looks at me with concern. "Tom?" she says uncertainly.
The doors open and the Captain approaches. She looks drawn and tired. "The Doctor told me you were awake."
I find that I can't hold her gaze and I look down instead. "Tom," she says softly. Tears form once more. People have to stop being nice to me. I don't deserve it.
I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. "What's going to happen to me?" I ask shakily.
She is quiet for a moment and I look up to see that she is also struggling for control. "Chakotay thinks you should be counseled each day for the time being. Long, extensive sessions, he said."
"Will I be allowed to stay here?"
"We didn't think you'd want to. We thought you'd be better in your quarters."
"My quarters? You mean you're not sending me to the brig?"
"The brig?" She looks at B'Elanna, whose hold on my hand has tightened, and then back at me. "Why would I send you to the brig? You need help, not imprisonment."
"Captain, I'm a murderer." I somehow choke the words out.
She pales and B'Elanna gives a small gasp. Swearing under her breath in Klingon, B'Elanna then says fiercely. "You were eight years old, Tom. You can't be held responsible."
I shake my head. "I am responsible. I did it. I shot him."
"Tom," the Captain says softly. "I don't know what happened between James Manning and you; but I do know one thing. You're not a murderer. You're not capable of murdering anyone and especially not at the age of eight."
She's wrong, of course. Very, very wrong. I'm too tired to bother to argue, however.
When it's obvious that I'm not going to say anything, the Captain tells me that Chakotay will be coming to see me soon. Depending on how things go with him, I'll then be released to my quarters. B'Elanna will be staying with me - I'd expected that - until Chakotay says otherwise.
I close my eyes and lie back down, suddenly too tired to sit up any longer. I can feel the Doc waving a tricorder over me. "He needs to rest for a while. Ms. Torres, I suggest you do the same. No, in fact, I order you to go to your quarters and get some sleep."
"I don't like to leave him," she says.
"He will be quite all right. I will watch over him. Now go. That goes for you too, Captain. Rest. Doctor's orders."
"Well since you put it like that." There's wry amusement in the Captain's voice. B'Elanna kisses my cheek and I hear the two of them leave.
"You don't know how lucky you are, Mr. Paris," the Doc says, his voice close to my ear. "There are a lot of people on this ship that care a great deal about you. There have been many inquiries regarding your welfare."
That makes me open my eyes. "Everyone knows what I tried to do?"
"No, of course not," he says briskly. "Only the senior staff know of your attempted suicide. The rest of the ship is under the impression that you have been ill. There is a rumor going around that you picked up some sort of virus on Yaran that we've only just discovered. This seems to explain your uncharacteristic behavior over the past two weeks."
"I see," I say. If only that had been all it was.
My session with Chakotay starts off rather awkwardly. For privacy reasons we're sitting in the Doctor's office with the door closed and I'm feeling a little embarrassed about the way I reacted the day before. I'm also waiting on tenterhooks for him to ask me about the murder. But he doesn't.
He tells me to talk about whatever I feel like and since I don't feel like anything at the moment, I stay silent.
The silence stretches. Chakotay shifts in his chair. "What are you thinking, Tom? Right now, this very moment?"
"You must be thinking something."
"Sorry, Commander, but I'm not."
"I suppose you're wishing you didn't have to talk to me. I can understand that. If the resemblance between James Manning and myself is too much for you, I can understand that too."
"I wasn't thinking that."
"The resemblance doesn't bother me any more. You don't really look anything like him, you know."
"I'm glad to hear it. Harry thought that by making you acknowledge it, it might help you move past it."
I stiffen automatically at the mention of Harry's name. I don't want to talk about Harry. Chakotay will want to discuss what else Harry wanted me to acknowledge.
Just because I no longer have anything to hide, doesn't mean that I want to talk about all of it. I don't, but everything's out of control.
I realize that he's watching me closely and I force myself to relax. I don't know what I'm going to do now. I don't know how I'm supposed to react.
I suppose I should be glad that I don't have to pretend anymore. Harry once told me that I didn't have to pretend. I could just be myself. But who am I? Who am I really?
I've always pretended. Now I don't have to, and I don't even care. It doesn't matter anymore. I just want to finish this. Why can't this all be over?
"What is it, Tom? What are you thinking?"
'I want to die', I feel like telling him.
"I guess I was thinking that I didn't know what to talk about," I say instead. "You told me to talk about whatever I felt like and I don't feel like talking about anything."
"I see. Well, how about I suggest something?"
I tense immediately. "I don't want to talk about it."
"How do you know what I was going to suggest?"
"I can guess."
Chakotay regards me steadily for a few moments and I find myself looking everywhere around the room but at him.
I clear my throat. "Could I have some water? I feel a little weird."
"Of course," he says, quickly going over to the replicator.
He hands me the glass, a frown on his face and watches me take a few sips. "Is that better?"
"I suppose so," I say quietly. I just want to go back to bed. I don't want to sit here talking to him. I don't want to talk to anybody.
I spend the rest of the session staring at the floor, refusing to answer any of his questions.
He eventually gives up, and tells me to go back to my bed. I curl up under the blankets thankfully, with my back to the room.
I can hear Chakotay talking to the Doc. The sound of their voices drifts over to me, but they are speaking too softly to distinguish the words. I really don't care. I don't care about anything anymore.
"That didn't appear to go very well," the Doctor says softly.
"He wouldn't talk to me," I admit. "I'm out of my depth here. I'm not really sure what to do. I thought I was dealing with sexual assault and now there is just so much more. Where do I start?"
"Perhaps you need to find something that he is willing to discuss and take it from there."
"I don't think he's willing to discuss anything."
"You've only had one session, Commander, don't be discouraged."
"I'm just worried I'm going to make things worse."
"I find myself wondering just how much worse they could possibly get."
"I really don't want to find out, Doctor," I say fervently. Perhaps I'm expecting too much, too soon, but I can't help feeling that this first session is just a preview of things to come.
"I'll come back this evening for another session," I tell the Doctor. "Perhaps he'll be in a better frame of mind by then."
"Tom, I think we need to discuss Harry's accusation. We're not going to get anywhere unless we bring it out in the open. You're waiting for me to mention it, so let's talk about it."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"You told the Captain and B'Elanna that it's true."
"That's right. It is."
"I see. You told them that you were a murderer. That's the term you used."
He nods. "I am."
"I find that hard to believe."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"I know, and I wish we didn't have to, but..."
"We don't have to."
"I'm afraid we do, Tom."
"No, we don't," he says, shaking his head.
"Tom," I start to say, but he's still shaking his head. "We don't, we don't," he's whispering repeatedly.
"Tom," I say again. There's no response. He is now rocking back and forth as he whispers. I can feel myself beginning to panic.
Leaving my chair I go to kneel in front of him. Taking his shoulders, I attempt to stop the rocking. "It's all right, Tom. We don't have to talk about it now."
The rocking slowly eases off and he slumps against me. "I'm tired. Can I please go back to bed?" he says softly.
I sigh wearily and let him go. Sitting back in the Doctor's chair I watch Tom as he climbs back into bed. He curls up into as small a ball as possible with his back to the room.
The Doctor hovers over him, but he refuses to speak to him.
I place my head in my hands as I replay what just happened. I handled it badly.
Our next session the following morning is even worse. Tom does not even return my greeting. He sits looking down at the floor. I try to find something that he is willing to talk about so that we can at least start some sort of dialogue. He refuses to be drawn.
I finally give up in frustration and send him back to his bed. Tiredly, I rub my hands over my face.
The Doctor pokes his head in the office. "Please don't be disheartened, Commander. I'm sure you'll get through to him soon."
"Well I'm not. I think I should let the Captain know that Tom's problems are too much for me. I can't help him."
"You're giving up so soon?"
"It's not a matter of giving up. I'm stumbling around here, Doctor. I don't know what I'm doing."
"Give it time, Commander. Ms. Torres was here last night after you left. She wanted to know when you would be releasing Mr. Paris to his quarters."
"I have no idea. Has he mentioned that he would like to be released to you, Doctor?"
"No. He seems quite content to stay here at the moment."
"I think this is the best place for him."
"I agree. Commander, I was thinking. Perhaps you would like to access my program and download the data regarding psychoanalysis. It is all there in my database. Just because I didn't know how to utilize it does not mean that you won't."
"Thank you, Doctor. I have actually been doing some reading. Unfortunately, there's just so much to take in and Tom needs help now, not after I've managed to study for my master's degree."
The Doctor sniffs. "It was merely a suggestion."
"I'm sorry," I apologize hastily. "I appreciate the offer. I'm afraid this whole thing is getting me down. I want to help Tom so much, but I'm afraid I'm making a mess of things."
"I understand, Commander. But please don't give in."
"I won't," I assure him. "I don't think I could live with myself, if I did."
I return again that evening. I smile brightly at Tom as he sits down and looks immediately to the floor.
"I'm not going away, Tom," I tell him. "We can do this day after day, if that's what you want."
"It doesn't matter what I want," he mumbles to the floor.
"That's where you're wrong. It matters a great deal."
He looks up at my words and stares directly into my eyes. "All right then. I want you to leave me alone."
I sigh sadly. "You know I can't do that."
"Then it doesn't matter what I want, does it?" He looks back to the floor.
I fight to keep my frustration from showing. I want to go around there and shake him. Make him talk to me. That's the very last thing I should do, I know. I'm afraid to push him too hard.
The image of the distraught man in sickbay after Harry's 'little announcement' is fresh in my mind. I don't want to do that to him again.
The rest of the session is spent sitting quietly together. Sometimes I ask a question and sometimes he answers with a 'yes' or 'no'. Most of the time, however, he sits there mutely.
I find myself asking how long he can keep this up. Tom is many things, but 'quiet' is not one of them. I just have to be patient.
"Perhaps after a good nights sleep, you'll feel a little more communicative," I say finally.
He goes back to bed without a word.
My optimism is non-existent the following morning as I watch Tom as he sits looking at the floor, yet again.
"So, how do you feel?" I finally ask.
He looks up at me, a little surprised by the question. "Feel? What do you mean?"
"Exactly what I asked. Are you feeling all right?"
"Never better," he says, sarcasm dripping off of every syllable.
"The Doctor tells me that you're not eating."
"I'm not hungry." He shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
"I can't release you to your quarters until you're at least attempting to eat."
"Don't you want to get out of here? You'd be far more comfortable in your own quarters."
"I don't care."
I sigh. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"Don't be. Why do you care, anyway?" He sounds a little hostile now.
"I care about you, Tom. We all do."
He frowns at me. "If you care so goddamned much, why don't you do what I want and leave me alone?"
"I know, I know. You can't do that," he mimics harshly.
"You seem to be rather angry."
He gives an all suffering sigh. "I'm not angry. I'm just..."
"Nothing." His eyes drop back to the floor.
"Tom, won't you at least try to talk to me?"
"I'm really tired, Commander."
I continue to press him, but he refuses to be drawn. His eyes stay on the floor as his whole body slumps in the chair.
He appears to be completely exhausted and I eventually go over and help him to stand.
"Come on," I say, giving in once more. "You'd better rest now. We'll talk some more later."
I guide him back to bed and he's asleep in minutes.
I wake up, slowly, to the smell of food directly under my nose.
"Ah, Mr. Paris. You're awake. I've replicated some tomato soup for you. Sit up and eat it while it's hot."
I sit up carefully, my eyes misting over a little. "You shouldn't have bothered, Doc."
"It's no bother. You really must eat something. I don't want to have to feed you intravenously."
I don't want him to, either, so I pick up the spoon and try to swallow some of it. The Doc stands right next to me, watching.
"The Commander will be back shortly to speak with you again. I would really like you to cooperate."
"Why?" I ask.
"Because he can help you, if you let him."
I shake my head. "No one can help me."
"They can if you let them."
I take another spoonful of soup, not bothering to correct him.
"He's not going to go away, you know. Sooner or later, you'll have to talk to him."
I know the Doc's right, but I don't want to. Why can't Chakotay take a hint? I don't want to talk about anything. I just want to be left alone.
I can feel the small bubble of anger rising once more. I take a deep breath and suppress it. I don't want to get angry. I don't want to feel anything.
It's good not to feel anything. Not to care about anything. I want to stay like that. I want to stay numb.
The problem is that there's anger within me and it keeps trying to surface. I can't always control it. Sometimes I want to scream and release it. I fight the impulse, but it's getting harder to contain.
It's Chakotay's fault. He won't leave me alone. His constant presence and questions are causing it.
I don't know how to deflect him. How to make him go away. If I start talking to him, that will only encourage him, won't it? He'll think he's making progress.
How much longer can I do this? How much longer before I surrender and talk to him? I don't want to. Why the hell do I have to?
I look down at my hand, which I have unconsciously balled into a tight fist. I mustn't get angry. I have to stay calm. I have to stay in control.
Why, oh why, can't this all go away? I don't want to talk about it. Why can't Chakotay understand that?
The anger is teeming, just below the surface, as I sit across from Chakotay. I am so sick of doing this.
I try to remain calm. I focus on the top of the Doc's desk. I can feel Chakotay's eyes on me. I bite my lip.
"I thought that perhaps we could discuss your suicide attempt," he says quietly.
I shrug my shoulders, trying to appear nonchalant. Damn it all, anyway!
"When you think about what you tried to do, how does it make you feel?"
"I don't know."
"Try to tell me, Tom."
"There's nothing to say."
"What was going through your mind at the time?"
"I can't remember."
I close my eyes and try to imagine that I'm not here. I'm anywhere but here. I tell myself that I'm not sitting here in my blue sickbay pajama's feeling vulnerable and slightly nauseous. And Chakotay is not sitting across from me, watching my every move like some vulture ready to pounce.
There are so many emotions swirling around inside me at the moment. I can't even identify what they all are. Frustrated anger is definitely the most prevalent and I fight to push it away.
Why does it have to be like this? Why couldn't I have just died when I was supposed to? I don't want to do any of this.
Now I feel like I'm going to cry, and I have to fight to push that away as well. Swallowing, I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
A hand touches my shoulder and I open my eyes in surprise. Chakotay is squatting down in front of me.
"Tom, please let me help you," he says softly.
"Go away," I choke out.
"I'm not going anywhere," he says quietly. His face is lined with worry and he squeezes my shoulder gently.
The urge to give in to the threatening tears is so overwhelming that a sob escapes me before I can gain control.
"It's all right, Tom. It's all right to cry."
I know that, but if I start now, I'll never stop. Never.
I push my chair back and stand up quickly. My legs are shaky and I have to grab the desk for support.
He stays kneeling on the floor, looking up at me, as I take deep breaths to get myself back under control.
As soon as I feel my legs will hold me I turn and head for the door.
"Tom, where are you going?"
"Back to bed. I can't do this. I don't want to."