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. Discussion of rape in this segment.
This part also contains a child abuse scene. It's not graphic, but it may still upset some readers.
Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
I must have fallen asleep at some stage because I awake with a start, my nightmare still with me. Jumping up from the bed, I go into the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. There will be no more sleep for me tonight.
Normally when I canít sleep, I go to the holodeck. I donít dare tonight. The thought of running into the Captain, sends shivers down me. The possibility of her being around at this hour of the night is minute, but I canít take the chance.
I consider contacting BíElanna. Just to tell her that Iíll never trust her again. The idea is ridiculous and I push it away.
Besides, Iíd rather not speak to her ever again. That idea is also ridiculous. I have to work with her. Just as I do Harry. How do I cope with that?
I am sure that they will not give up so soon. They will continue to beg my understanding and forgiveness. They will want to remain friends.
But I canít forgive them. My life will change now, and itís their doing. Their fault. Their betrayal.
I know that it will take some time before they realize that I can truly never forgive them. They will think that sooner or later I will come to understand that they betrayed me to help me.
I understand that now. It is they who do not understand. It doesnít matter what the motivations were. All that matters is the betrayal. I have been betrayed before. My friends, my school counselor, my family - but most of all - my father. Theyíd all betrayed me, in one way or another.
I had sworn to myself...never again. Never would I trust anyone with my deepest secrets. Only, Iíd told Harry and BíElanna anyway. And they - trying to help me, trying to do what was right - had betrayed my trust. Just like all the others before them.
I picture what it will be like from now on. The awkward meetings. The strained silences. Only speaking when we absolutely must. It is a future that leaves me cold and bleak.
I need them. I need BíElannaís love and understanding and Harryís never wavering friendship. I need them as much as I need air to breathe. Perhaps I should contact them, tell them I understand why they did it.
But I then picture the Captain attempting to help me. Perhaps even the Doctor. I am filled with dread.
I just want to be left alone. I was coping with what had happened, there had been no need for interference. My life was fine. Lotís of people have dark secrets that they have to live with each and every day. Iím no different.
And I WAS living with it. I was doing fine. For three years Iíd been doing just great. Okay, so I had the occasional bad day and a few too many nightmares. I was still coping.
And then the Yarans had messed everything up. There had still been no need for Harry and BíElanna to go to the Captain. I would have bluffed my way out of it, or if not, I would have accepted whatever the Captain had decided to do to me as a fitting punishment.
Rank had never meant that much to me, anyway. It was disappointing her that really got to me. Well, Iíll bet she was disappointed now.
I realize suddenly that Iím prowling around my quarters like a caged animal, so I head over to the replicator for a cup of coffee. I need to calm down. I need to get control.
Damn! I forgot! No replicator privileges. I wonder if I dare go to the mess hall. The possibility of running into the Captain is still there. I canít. I sit down on my bed and wait for my morning wake up call.
The hours drag by slowly and I find myself pacing once more. Can I even go on duty? Am I safe to fly the ship? Iím shaking. This isnít good.
It is now four in the morning. Four more hours until Iím due on the bridge. Four more hours to pull myself together.
I can hear my fatherís voice, from years gone by. He was always telling me to Ďpull myself together.í To be strong. To be a Paris. A REAL Paris, didnít act like that. Didnít talk like that. Didnít think like that.
As a small boy, I hadnít understood. Wasnít I still a Paris, anyway? What was I, if I wasnít a REAL Paris? A pretend one? That was the opposite of real, wasnít it? So, I was pretend. A make-believe Thomas Paris. Was I a real anybody?
"Whatís the matter with you, Thomas?" My fatherís voice surrounds me. "Iíve always known you were weak...flawed. None of this would have happened if youíd been strong. If youíd been a REAL Paris."
I put my hands up over my ears, trying to block out the sound of his voice. Tears stream down my face.
"A real Paris doesnít cry. Crying is a sign of weakness and Parisís are strong. You have an image to uphold. Never forget that."
The images are becoming more and more real to me and I cover my face with my hands as my childhood memories come back to haunt me.
All of a sudden I was four years old again and my father was lecturing me. Heíd come home to find me crying my eyes out, my mother rocking me to and fro.
"Whatís happened? Whatís wrong?" heíd asked, coming over and taking me from her. Heíd held me in his lap and Iíd buried my face in his chest and cried even harder.
"Itís Biddy," my mother had told him. "Sheís dead."
"I see. Iím sorry to hear that. She was a good dog." He had pulled me away a little, so that he could see my face. "I know youíre upset, Thomas, but I donít like to see you like this. Biddy was old. Youíre mother and I'd had her for a long time. I warned you that this would happen, months ago."
I'd sniffed and nodded. That was true - he had - but I hadnít known how much Biddyís dying was going to hurt.
My father had smiled at me. "Now dry your eyes and weíll go and get a new dog. A puppy that you can pick out yourself."
Fresh tears had gathered in my eyes. "I donít want a new puppy, I want Biddy."
My father had frowned. "Now, Thomas, youíre old enough to understand. Biddy is gone and she canít come back. Sheís dead. You understand about death."
I had begun to wail loudly and my fatherís frown had turned into a dark scowl. "Thatís enough, Thomas. I wonít have you acting like this. Stop that noise at once."
I had managed to stop the loud wails but I couldnít stop sobbing. My mother then pulled me from him and cradled me closely. "Itís all right, darling," she had soothed.
"No actually, itís not all right," my father had said sternly. "Iíve been worried for some time about Thomasís behavior. I canít allow it to continue any longer. There is a weakness in his character that disturbs me. Itís time to curb some of these character traits now, before itís too late."
My motherís hold on me had tightened. "What are you saying, Owen? Heís just a baby."
"He is not a baby, he is four years old, damn it! Iíve allowed him to act like a baby, long enough. Itís time now to act like a Paris. A REAL Paris."
"Thatís enough. I wonít discuss this in front of him. I mean it, Owen. Not one more word."
They argued that night, when they thought I was asleep. I hadnít been able to hear what they said, just that their voices were raised. It had gone on for a long time and then I had heard my mother moving around in the guest bedroom next to mine.
She slept in there a lot after that and I had known deep down inside me that it had been all my fault.
I tried to be strong after that. To be a REAL Paris, but it was hard. No matter how hard I tried, Iíd always mess it up somehow. And then my father would start one of his lectures again, and my mother and he would then have another fight.
I just couldnít do anything right.
That was why, the year I was eight, I pleaded to go and stay with my aunt for the summer. She was a marine biologist, working on Bracas V, investigating the unusual life forms found living in and around their coral reefs. She had come to visit us for a few days and the stories she had told us were tantalizing.
I loved the sea. It mesmerized me. My father didnít approve of my fascination, so I didnít talk about it very much. He didnít like me concentrating on anything unless it had something to do with the academy. Everything I did had to be with an eye to the future.
My Aunt Elizabeth, or Lizzy as she wanted me to call her, invited me to go back to Bracas V with her for the holidays. I wanted to go - more than anything - not just because of the great adventure it would be, but because I thought that maybe with me gone, my parents might not argue anymore. Theyíd be happy again.
My mother said it was a marvelous opportunity, but she had been a little worried that my aunt would be too busy to look after me properly. Lizzy had assured her that I would be able to go everywhere with her and there would be plenty of people around to watch me.
My father hadn't liked the idea at all. He didnít approve of my aunt or her undisciplined lifestyle, as he had put it. Lizzy was his youngest sister and she had defied the rest of the family and refused to have anything to do with Starfleet. She led a carefree life, flitting from one place of interest to another, not really having any place she called home.
My father found it hard to accept her. She was letting down the family name, as far as he was concerned. He hadn't wanted me to waste two full months under her influence. I had a career to think about.
Lizzy had laughed at him. I had been shocked. You just didnít laugh at my Dad.
"Lighten up, Owen," she had chuckled. "Tommyís still got plenty of time for you to mold him into the perfect officer."
My father had frowned at her. "Thatís not funny, Elizabeth. Thomas has it in him to be the youngest admiral in Starfleet history. Nothing should detract him from that path."
My aunt had frowned back at him. "Thatís wonderful, if thatís what he wants. Heís a little young to have made that sort of decision yet, isnít he, Owen? And anyway, I know for a fact that Starfleet likes its cadets to be well rounded. The more interests the better."
My mother had nodded. "Elizabethís right. I think Tommy should go."
My father had started to clear his throat, but before he could say anything, I'd said quickly. "Please, Dad. Let me go. Iíll do everything Lizzy...I mean Aunt Elizabeth tells me to, I promise."
I had opened my eyes as wide as I could and tried to look as bright, eager and innocent as possible. My father had shaken his head, his eyes shining with amusement. "Is this what you really want, Tom?"
I'd nodded eagerly.
"And youíll behave yourself? After all, you have the Paris name to live up to."
I'd nodded once more. My father had studied my face for a few moments in silence, before looking over at my mother.
"You want him to go?"
"Yes, Owen, I want him to go."
He'd then looked at my aunt. "You promise to look after him properly? Having a child is a huge responsibility."
Lizzy had laughed again. "Donít be such a worrywart, Owen. I promise. Besides, nothing could possibly happen to him on Bracas V."
"Very well then."
I had been up and over to him before he could even finish talking.
Hugging him tightly, I'd said, "Thanks, Dad."
He'd hugged me back. "Donít make me regret this, Son."
And I'd promised that I wouldnít. I'd thought to myself that when I got back everything would be better. I'd just known it.
Only, of course, things hadnít turned out that way. My fault again. My father definitely regretted letting me go with Lizzy and I truly regretted going.
The first few weeks were great. I tagged along behind Lizzy everywhere she went. And I got to know the other people she worked with really well.
They were a nice bunch of people. Friendly and patient with me. Never seeming to mind all of my endless questions. I had never been so happy in my life.
And then everything had changed. A man called James Manning arrived one day. Everyone called him Professor, but my aunt always called him James. She didnít like him and she was mad that he was there.
She told me that if sheíd known that he was joining the team, she wouldnít have signed up for another six months. Sheíd met him in Uni and something had happened between them. She called him a creep.
I didnít like him because she didnít like him. Besides, I felt a little scared around him. I was too young at the time to understand the strange looks I sometimes caught him giving her. If he saw me staring at him and scowling he would wink at me. For some reason that scared me even more.
The next couple of weeks were tense. Every time Lizzy turned around, James Manning was there. He would smile at her and walk away.
Then one day he asked her out.
Lizzy shook her head. "No thank you, James. I already have plans tonight."
"What about tomorrow night?"
"Iíll be busy then too."
"Doing what? Babysitting the kid?"
"Look, James, Iím not interested in going out with you."
"Why? You think youíre still too good for me?"
Lizzy sighed then. "I never thought I was too good for you, James. You wanted to get serious too quick. I told you at the time I didnít want a serious relationship."
"You just used me for a good time."
"Gods, James! It was over twelve years ago. Get over it."
He grabbed her arm, but she shook it free. "Donít touch me."
He held her by the shoulders then and I got ready to kick him. "Listen to me Ms. High and Mighty Paris."
Lizzy stomped on his foot. "Get your hands off of me. If you ever come near me again, Iíll have you kicked off this team so fast your head will spin. And that is not an idle threat."
He let her go abruptly and taking my hand she stormed away. I was dragged along behind her, having to run to keep up.
The next day James Manning tried to apologize, but Lizzy told him to go away. She then turned away from him and started packing the equipment we would need for our dive that day.
I stood there watching him as he glared at her, his eyes glittering angrily. He looked up then to see me staring at him.
"What are you looking at, kid?"
"Leave her alone," I answered angrily.
Lizzy turned around. "Come over here, Tommy."
He started to laugh as I hurried over to her.
The following day he was gone. Everyone was talking about how heíd quit and taken the first available shuttle off the planet.
Lizzy smiled. "Good riddance," she said.
We transported to the reef and got ready to dive. Lizzy always let me dive with her. I was a good swimmer and she ensured that I knew all the safety precautions. I wasnít allowed to stay down as long as she did, so I would then sit in the boat and help watch with the other team members.
That day was no different, except for the fact that I started to feel sick for some reason. I gulped some water from my flask hoping the feeling would go away, but the more water I drank, the sicker I started to feel.
I groaned and held my stomach. The rocking of the boat had made it start to churn. I groaned louder.
Pete, one of the team members, looked over. "Hey, Tommy, you all right?"
I shook my head. "I feel sick," I gasped.
He hurried over and felt my forehead. "You donít seem to have a temperature, but your skinís all clammy. Hey, Sue. Come here. Thereís something wrong with Tommy."
Sue came over, a frown on her face. "Heís awfully pale. What is it, Honey?"
"My tummy hurts," I moaned.
She hugged me to her. "Itís all right, Darling. Weíll get Lizzy and transport you out of here."
I moaned in reply. "Pete," Sue said urgently. "Go and contact Lizzy." He nodded and hurried away.
My stomach started to heave then and I just made it to the side of the boat. Sue rubbed my back as I threw up and cried at the same time.
She cleaned me up as best she could, but then I started to tremble. My teeth were chattering. "I-Iím c-cold," I stammered.
Sue jumped up. "Itís all right, Honey. Stay right there. Iíll get you a blanket." She raced away and I shut my eyes.
Somebody lifted me up and I opened my eyes hoping to see Lizzy. But it wasnít Lizzy. It was James Manning and he smiled down at me. His smile was mean.
"Hi there, Tommy," he said. "Itís time we got to know each other better. Now be a good little boy and donít scream." The boat then shimmered away from around me.
A ship appeared around me then and I cried out in surprise as I saw the stars shimmering outside the view port. I was on a small shuttle.
James Manning was still smiling down at me. I was scared. I didnít understand what was happening. Why he had brought me here or where Lizzy was.
He carried me over to the copilotís chair and sat me in it. "So, Tommy, how do you feel?"
I thought about it for a few moments. My stomach didnít hurt anymore and I was no longer cold. "Better," I told him.
"Good, because I donít want you throwing up everywhere. That stuff I put in your water flask was supposed to be only temporary."
I looked at him, my eyes wide. He laughed. "Donít you get it, Kid? I made you sick. It was the funniest thing Iíve ever seen. You actually turned green. I had to hold my sides, trying not to laugh out loud."
I was still scared, but I was getting mad now too. "That was mean," I said.
He laughed even more. "Iím a mean, nasty man."
"Down on the boat having a heart attack, I hope. I can just picture whatís happening right now. Sue would have come back with the blanket to find you gone. Lizzy would have come back up to the surface about now. Imagine her shock and horror when she finds youíre not there. Theyíll probably be thinking that you fell overboard."
"I donít like it here. I want to go back."
"Tough. Your Lizzy deserves to suffer. Sheíll be suffering right now, I shouldnít wonder. Her precious Tommy...gone." He laughed again. "The only thing I regret, is that I canít see it."
"I donít like you. Send me back."
He leant over quickly and grabbed my face between his hands. He squeezed it so tight that tears sprang to my eyes. "Letís get something straight, Kid. You be careful how you speak to me. I wonít have some spoilt brat making demands, got it?"
He let me go abruptly. My face throbbed and I wiped my arm across my eyes angrily. "I hate you," I yelled.
I saw his hand come up and then my face was stinging. The slap was so hard that it took my breath away. Iíd never been hit like that before. Iíd had a few fights at school. A couple of boys used to tease me a lot. They used to call me Little Admiral and tell everyone that I was too pretty to be a boy.
I put up with it for weeks before I punched them both in the nose. Iíd had to spend the rest of the day in the corner of the classroom, but it had been worth it. Iíd had a few scuffles as well, a few punches had been thrown here and there, but nothing like this slap.
Tears welled in my eyes and I started to sniff. I tried really hard not to cry. I knew my Dad wouldnít like it if I cried. I still cried sometimes, but I always made sure I waited till I got to my room, so that he wouldnít see me.
Crying showed that you were weak, and REAL Parisís were strong. And I wanted so much to be a REAL Paris. I wiped my eyes once more.
"Donít ever yell at me, you understand?"
I nodded, too scared to speak.
"Good. Now stay in that chair and donít move. If you do, youíre going to be sorry...real sorry."
He turned away from me and went to the back of the shuttle. I looked around trying to see where the transporter was. I didnít know how to use the transporter though.
I turned around and studied the helm controls in front of me. I knew how to fly, Iíd been flying in simulators ever since I could remember. Iíd only ever flown a real ship though, twice before. Both times Iíd been scared out of my mind, too.
I studied the controls carefully. I knew I could fly this, but could I land it? I leant further forward to see the controls better. Could I even reach what I needed? I put my arm out to see and felt myself being lifted out of the chair.
"Donít touch that." He threw me down on the floor in front of him. "What are you trying to do? Kill us?"
"I-I was j-just looking," I stammered.
"What with? Your fingers?" he screamed. He pulled me up by the hair and I yelled out in pain. "You donít touch anything, you hear?" he hissed.
He pushed me down onto the floor again. "Stay there." Silent tears slid down my face as he went over and checked the helm controls.
"Lucky for you, thereís no harm done." He swiveled around in his seat to look at me. "How old are you?"
"Eight," I answered, scrubbing furiously at my face.
He smiled. "Youíre a cute kid, you know? You look a lot like Lizzy."
I didnít smile back. His smile was cruel and twisted. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to be in my room...safe. I wanted Lizzy to come and get me and take me home. I wanted my Dad. Especially, I wanted my Dad.
The beeping of my door chime brings me back to the present. Wiping my hands over my face, I look at my chronometer. It's nearly seven a.m. and my wake up call will start soon. I go over to the door, hoping that it's B'Elanna.
When I open it, the Captain is standing there. "Good morning, Tom. I hope I'm not disturbing you. I'd like to talk to you."
The last thing I want to do is talk to her, but I step back anyway and she comes inside. She touches my arm and looks up at me, her eyes full of sympathy. "Have you slept at all?"
I nod. "A bit."
"You look terrible. I'm worried about you, Tom. So are B'Elanna and Harry. Harry told me what happened between you yesterday and I see he wasn't exaggerating."
She indicates the mess in the room, which I have forgotten about. She walks over and bends down to examine the picture I have smashed. "It's a pity about this. I loved this picture."
"You can have it," I say bitterly.
She sighs and stands back up. "Did this help?" She waves her arm around the room. "Do you feel better now?"
"Yes," I say defiantly.
She shakes her head. "I don't believe you. As I said, you look terrible. It's time we discussed what happened."
"Captain, I'd rather not. It was over three years ago, can't it stay in the past?"
"No, I don't think it can. What happened with the Yarans will happen again. I can't allow that, Tom. I would never have taken you down there with me, if I had known."
"In other words, you'll treat me differently. That's exactly what I didn't want to happen."
"You need to come to terms with what happened. The Kazon..."
"I have come to terms with it," I shout over top of her.
"No Tom, you haven't," she answers calmly, as if it is the most natural thing in the world for me to shout at her. "You would never have reacted to the Yarans the way you did, if you had. You need to talk about what happened."
"I have." I interrupt her again. "I told Harry about it... and B'Elanna. That's all the talking about it I'm going to do."
"You told them the barest minimum. You need to talk about it fully. Talk about your feelings."
"No!" I push past her and head for the bathroom. "I'm sorry, Captain, but I have to get ready for duty. I'm going to be late."
"You're not going on duty today, Tom. I've told Chakotay to find a relief for you for a few days."
That stops me cold. "Don't do this, Captain. I'm fine. I need to keep working."
"You need to resolve this. If the Doctor had been a little different to what he was back then, this would already have been handled. I'm sorry that it's taken so long."
"Captain, this happened three years ago and I've been fine ever since. You know I have. If Harry and B'Elanna hadn't told you, you would never have known."
"I would have suspected something. Your behavior would have made me find out more. I wouldn't have let this rest, Tom. Whether you want to admit it or not, you need help."
"Captain, the best help I could get is if you let this be. I'll get myself back under control and everything will be fine."
"I can't do that, Tom. It's my fault that this happened."
"I knew you'd blame yourself. That's one of the reasons why I didn't say anything at the time. I volunteered for that mission, Captain. I knew the risks, or at least I thought I did."
Sighing, she sits down on my couch. "I realize that. And that isn't what I meant. I meant that it's my fault you never spoke up about it. Never tried to seek help."
"I didn't want anyone to know."
"And that was because of me."
I look at her in confusion. "I don't understand."
"Why didn't you want anyone to know, Tom? Were you ashamed? There was nothing to be ashamed about. You were overpowered by a cruel and vindictive race of people. They would do anything to intimidate you. Rape is a form of torture used by many races. None of it was your fault. No one would possibly blame you."
I nod. Deep down I knew that.
"So, knowing it wasn't your fault, you must have also known that the Doctor would tell no one else but me. For counseling purposes I may have found it necessary to tell Chakotay."
I shake my head vehemently at that and she frowns. "If not the Commander, then some one else. Perhaps Tuvok. Regardless of that, your privacy would have been maintained above all else. I think you know that, don't you?"
I nod slowly.
"So in that case, why didn't you tell the Doctor? And the answer is, because of me. Or to be more exact, the unwitting pressure I put on you. Chakotay called you my personal reclamation project, and that's exactly the way I looked upon you. I think you thought of yourself in those terms too, didn't you?"
"I don't know," I say slowly.
"I think you felt pressurized to live up to my expectations of you. You didn't want to let me down. And you thought that allowing yourself to be raped by the Kazon, when I was under the impression that you could take care of yourself, was letting me down."
"I didn't allow anything," I say angrily. "I didn't have a choice. There were too many of them holding me down. I fought them until I couldn't fight anymore. There was nothing I could do. Nothing."
"Exactly, Tom. And the same thing applies to Akritiria. It was a matter of survival and you survived."
Barely, I think to myself, but don't say anything. I just look at the floor.
"I think the best thing to do now is to set up some counseling sessions. If you don't want to talk to Chakotay, that's fine."
I look up quickly. "No! I knew this would happen. You want to tell someone else, and then they'll want to tell someone else and then pretty soon everyone will know and they'll all treat me different."
"Tom, that isn't going to happen. Weren't you listening to me?"
"I heard what you said, Captain. And you're probably right. I did feel pressured not to let you down. But it's more than that. I put myself in that position. It's like the worst thing that could possibly happen, always happens to me. Why? Chakotay was captured only a few months before I was and he wasn't raped. He managed to stop them. Why couldn't I?"
"The situation was entirely different. You don't know the circumstances. I really think you should speak to Chakotay about this."
"No. I just want to forget it. Push it all back down where it was before and pretend it never happened."
"Burying things never works. It all comes back to haunt you."
I continue to argue. "I've been burying things ever since I was a little kid, and I've managed to scrape through all right."
"You shouldn't have to scrape through."
"Why not? Everyone on this ship is scraping through because of one thing or another. I'm no different."
"This IS different Tom. Besides, what you've been burying from childhood is nothing like this."
"How would you know?" I'm yelling again, but she doesn't seem too worried. "You don't know anything about my childhood."
"I know enough."
"I doubt it."
"I know what it must have been like to grow up with a father like Owen Paris. The pressure he must have placed on you. The expectations he had for you. I know he loved you, you're all he ever spoke of, but he was a hard man. Tough and no nonsense. And the pride he had in the Paris name bordered on the obsessive. I can imagine your childhood, Tom. I really can."
"You told me yesterday that you knew everything, well I can assure you that you don't. No one knows everything."
"I know that you were kidnapped when you were eight years old and hidden in a trunk with what you believed to be a skeleton."
"B'Elanna told you that."
"She told me about the trunk, but I already knew about the kidnapping. It's in your files. I know the man who took you was very disturbed. His name was James Manning. He thought you were his son. He lived in a fantasy world where he married your Aunt Elizabeth and you were their little boy."
I shudder at the memories. The Captain continues. "You were with him for over five weeks before escaping. He killed himself. At first you seemed to be all right but one of your teachers at school became concerned about you and you were then referred to a counselor."
"And that's the official story is it?" I manage to say.
She nods. "The file goes into a little more detail. It states that you were well looked after, although there was some concern about your mental state." She watches me closely before continuing. "There was evidence that he may have hurt you, but the report is rather sketchy about that. You only needed to be counseled for a brief period of time and were then pronounced 'over the ordeal'."
I laugh, although I don't think it's funny. "It's amazing what official versions can leave out, isn't it?"
She looks at me steadily. "I know there was more to it than that. The trunk incident isn't even mentioned."
"That's not the only thing."
"The report says that he seemed to truly believe he was your father."
I swallow a little. I really don't want to remember any of it. "I think he did," I manage to say. "He wanted so much for the story he'd made up to be true that he just started to believe it was."
"By your tone of voice I take it that that isn't a good thing. You weren't treated well, were you?"
"I was sometimes. He used to sit me in his lap and cuddle me. He liked that."
A look of horror spreads across her face. "Tom, he didn't... abuse you, did he?"
"Yeah, he abused me all right. But not sexually, if that's what you mean. The Kazon is my one and only rape. I consented in Akritiria, so you can't count that."
"Oh, Tom," she says, shaking her head. "Do you want to tell me what James Manning did to you?"
I'm the one shaking my head now. "I don't want to talk about it. I suppressed all that twenty-five years ago. I don't want to think about it now."
"I don't understand," she says softly. "The whole thing was obviously a lot worse than the report indicates. Why doesn't the report say what really happened?"
"My father must have pulled some strings. Hushed up the physical abuse. He made sure I saw a counselor he could intimidate."
"Tom, I know your father could be a little harsh at times, but he genuinely loved you and cared about you."
"I know that Captain, and I did receive counseling. It's just that he was worried that Starfleet wouldn't want me if they knew how bad it had been, so he made sure most of it didn't go in the official report."
"But, Tom, that means your father, in essence...lied."
"Pretty ironic, wouldn't you say? I got kicked out for doing the same thing. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere. If you lie, make sure you never admit to it, or something like that."
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. I know he did it to protect you, but ..."
"He did it to protect the Paris name," I correct swiftly. "He cares about that more than anything. We have an image to uphold. It was one of his many lectures."
She sits there quietly for a few moments, thinking. "That's why you lied after the accident, isn't it? To protect the Paris name. It had been drummed into you all your life how important it was, and you couldn't bear to ruin it."
"I couldn't have the Paris name sullied. My father wouldn't have been able to bear it. Only, I couldn't live with the lie. It haunted me. My friends didn't deserve that lie. They had done nothing wrong. I couldn't let people think that they had."
"So you told the truth."
"And I dragged the Paris name through the mud. Gods! What it did to Dad. His exact words to me were, 'I no longer have a son.' I tried to stay in contact with him, but he refused my calls. And then one day, a couple of years later, I ran into him. He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'you're not my son. My son died in that accident.' I was so mad at him that I went out and did the one thing I knew would hurt him more than anything else. I joined the Maquis."
"You both made mistakes, Tom. And you're making another one, if you don't let me help you. You need to put your past behind you, and I don't mean suppress it. You need to accept what happened with the Kazon and with Zio in Akritiria wasn't your fault, and you need to talk about what happened with James Manning and the affect it had on you. Your longing for acceptance and the serious issues you have with your own self worth, all stem from your childhood. You need to deal with it."
"I don't want to."
"Your future depends on it, Tom. You trust me don't you?"
I nod, despite the fact that I'd only told myself hours before that I would never trust anyone again.
"Then let me help you."
But I can't. What if once I start talking, I can't stop? What if I tell her too much? She might find out the secret that no one must ever know. I'd almost told Harry one night, over a year ago now. I thank the Gods that I didn't. If I had. I can't even bear to think about what would have happened.
I'd trusted before, and every time my trust was betrayed. I couldn't take the chance. I knew the Captain wanted to help me, but what would she do if she found out?
There was no one I could trust with this secret...no one.
And why was I thinking about this now, anyway? Why has what happened in my childhood suddenly come into focus? It has nothing to do with what happened with the Yarans.
Why had the Captain even mentioned it? Or did I? I can't quite remember now. I have a horrible feeling that I did. Why? It has nothing to do with anything. Why is it in my mind?
I've managed to lock it down firmly for twenty-five years. Why am I thinking about it now? The Yarans helped to bring back the memories of my rape, but not these childhood ones.
I've pretended for all these years that none of that happened and now it's all fresh in my mind again. I'm willing to face the memories of the Kazon and Akritiria, but not these others.
"Tom?" The Captain's leading me over to the bed and she helps me to lay down. I'm crying and I'm embarrassed now. I'm not supposed to cry. And especially not in front of the Captain.
She sits down on the bed next to me and pats my shoulder. "It's going to be all right, Tom," she says quietly. But I know it isn't going to be. It can never be.