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. As before, this part contains some rather harrowing child abuse scenes. This man is deeply disturbed and I found it disturbing trying to portray him. Please, do not read if it may offend. For the rest of you - on with the show.
Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
I survey my quarters with a grim satisfaction. Everything is spotless. The bare wall mocks me, so I refuse to look at it.
My door chime buzzes and I look up expectantly. The Captain will let me back on duty now, Iím sure. Sheíll see my quarters and Iíll tell her that Iím willing to talk to Chakotay and sheíll relent. I just know she will.
"Come in," I call. I smooth my sweatshirt down, wishing Iíd had more time to have a shower and put on some clean clothes.
I swallow nervously as BíElanna - not the Captain - steps through the door. She looks a little nervous herself, but she stares at me defiantly.
"Hello, Tom," she says.
"B'Elanna," I return. I stand there and wait to see what sheís going to say. I donít really know how I feel about seeing her right now.
"You okay?" She frowns as she says it. Obviously she wasnít going to ask me that.
"Why? Donít I look all right?" I decide that sarcasm is a good defense.
Her frown deepens. "You look dreadful."
"Oh! I canít imagine why. Itís not like Iíd have any reason to."
She sighs. "Youíre still mad."
"No, Iím not. Iím resigned. The Captain isnít going to let me back on duty unless I receive help from somebody. Sheís been very understanding. I can choose whomever I want. And I have you and Harry to thank for that."
"We only spoke to her because we care about you so much."
"I know why you did it. And believe it or not, I even understand. But every time people have betrayed my trust itís because they care about me. And every time things are always worse afterwards. I canít see why this time will be any different."
"Tom," she says softly. "Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. I found that out myself."
"And what if they get so bad that you canít cope with it?"
"Iíll be here to help you."
I shake my head. "I donít trust you."
The pain is clear in her eyes but I refuse to feel guilty. She betrayed me. She betrayed my trust. Does she have any idea how hard it was for me to confide in her in the first place?.
"Iím sorry you feel that way," she says quietly. "I deserve that, I know."
"So, did you tell Harry everything I told you? And did he do the same?"
"No, it wasn't like that. It was never like that. We discussed some things, yes, but Harry was always very reluctant to talk about anything. I didnít offer him any information that he didnít already know and he did the same to me."
"Why don't I believe that?"
"It's the truth, Tom."
"You told the Captain about the trunk," I say accusingly. Damn! What did I mention that for? I wasnít supposed to think about any of that. I'm trying to push all those memories away and instead, I keep on bringing them up.
"Iím sorry," she says. "I know I probably shouldn't have done that, but it just sort of happened."
"How could it just happen? That had nothing to do with the rest of this. I can understand you telling her about the Kazons and maybe Zio. I don't like it, but I do understand it. But why did you tell her about the trunk?"
"Does it matter? I would have thought that was a rather minor revelation compared to the rapes."
"Minor?" I shout. "It's not minor."
"I know what happened wasn't minor,' she says quickly. "I know how deeply it affected you. But I don't understand why my telling the Captain about that seems to have upset you more than telling her about the rapes."
"Because it's made her start digging around in my files. Reading about the kidnapping. She wanted to discuss it with me."
"Well, I'm sorry about that, Tom, but maybe you should talk about it. You've never spoken about it with me. The only reason I even know about it is because of the nightmares you were having after we came out of the stasis chambers. If it bothers you this much, perhaps you should talk about it."
"No," I yell. "I'm never going to talk about it. Never!"
"Tom, please calm down."
I try to control myself. Getting this worked up is not a good thing, but I've never been able to pretend where B'Elanna is concerned.
Harry is the only other person on board this ship that I can truly be myself with. I gave up pretending with him years ago. And now I've lost them both.
I take a deep breath. "You shouldn't have told her about it, B'Elanna. Why did you?"
She sighs. "We were talking. She was pretty upset after what weíd told her and she couldnít understand why you didn't report what the Kazon did to you. She blamed herself."
"I know. She told me. What does that have to do with my claustrophobia?"
"She said you put too much pressure on yourself. She felt that a lot of the things you do and the way you behave sometimes, has got a lot to do with your childhood."
"And that just automatically led to your telling her about the trunk?"
"Not exactly. We started talking about your childhood and some of the scars it had left on you and that sort of led to it."
"Damn it all, B'Elanna. What you mean is that you all just sat there having a nice old discussion about me. What gave you the right? Who the hell do you all think you are, anyway?"
"We care about you."
"It still doesn't give you the right. I told you and Harry things in confidence that should never have been repeated. Never."
"You're right and I'm sorry, so sorry. And we never would have if it wasn't for what happened on Yaran. But please believe me, we only told the Captain the bare facts. I promise you."
"Your promise means nothing to me," I yell.
There are tears in her eyes and looking at her becomes unbearable. I turn away so that I donít have to.
"Tom, I know that we've hurt you and shattered your trust in us and I deeply regret that, but Iím not sorry that we spoke to the Captain. It had to be done."
"I can never trust you again," I mumble.
"You're wrong; you can," she says softly. "I'll always be here for you."
I turn back to look at her. "How can you say that, after this?"
"I love you," she answers. "And Iíll do whatever I have to, to help you."
I swallow over the lump in my throat. "I was doing fine," but my voice is uncertain.
"I sleep with you, Tom. I see the nightmares."
"The nightmares are occasional."
"I agree, but since the brig, theyíve been more frequent. And the way you looked after you attacked Britax, I was truly scared for you."
I donít really remember what happened those first few minutes after Iíd hit Britax. I remember the Captain leaning down over me. Down? Shouldnít she have been looking up at me? I shake my head.
"You were a mess when you came out of the brig before, we couldnít let you go there again. And I think underneath it all, I was hoping that the Captain would do something."
"Yeah, well it looks like she has," I say sadly. I go over and sit on the couch and she comes over to sit down next to me. "I really do understand why you did it, but I didnít want this."
"I know that, Tom. And Iím sorry, but Iím glad itís all out in the open. I have no excuse, except that I love you. Harry didnít want to tell the Captain anything except that youíd had a bad experience with the Kazon and that was why you acted the way you did. Iím the one who insisted on telling her everything we knew. You shouldnít blame him."
I donít say anything. For some reason Harryís betrayal had hurt the most. He was the one who Iíd almost told everything to. Iíd been so close one night. So damn close. The only reason I hadnít was because Iíd been scared of the way he might look at me afterwards.
BíElanna would understand what I had done, I was sure of it, but I had never even come remotely close to telling her. She was always so volatile about everything. I had to be careful what I told her. Her temper was the last thing I could handle in my moments of weakness.
Harry was always so calm and quiet. I just found myself opening up to him. Telling him things Iíd promised myself I would never tell anyone. How can I get through this without them?
"Tom, weíre not going to let you push us away," BíElanna is saying. "Weíre going to be here for you, if you want us or not."
"Iíd rather you left me alone for a while." Never let it be said that I don't cut off my nose to spite my face.
"We're worried about you."
"I'll be all right. I'm going to be counseled, remember?"
She sighs. "So who are you going to talk to? The Captain?"
I shake my head. "She knows what happened. Thatís enough. Thereís no way I could tell her all the vivid details."
"You wonít even tell me," she says bitterly. "Did you tell Harry?"
I shake my head again. "I didnít think heíd be able to handle it."
"Youíre probably right. So, who are you going to talk to? Tuvok?"
"Chakotay," I answer.
"Chakotay?" Her voice rises in disbelief. "You wonít talk to Chakotay." Her eyes narrow as she looks at me. "What are you trying to pull? The Captain wonít let you back on duty until youíve received help. You wonít let Chakotay help you."
"Go away," I say quietly.
"You canít push me away," she says, but sheís struggling to control her temper. "You think you can go to Chakotay, spin him some of your bullshit and then piss him off so that heíll okay you for duty just so that he can be rid of you. I wonít let you get away with it."
"You know nothing about it." Iím angrier than she is.
"I know you, Tom. I know exactly what youíre thinking."
"Well obviously, you donít. Now leave me alone."
"No. You have to let someone help you."
"Stop interfering. Just because you love me, doesnít give you the right."
"The hell it doesnít," she says, jumping up angrily.
"Get out," I yell at her, just as I did to Harry, only the day before.
"If I wasn't so worried about you, I'd punch you right in the nose about now, Tom Paris."
"Go right ahead," I shout. "You've already punched me in the gut."
"I'll tell the Captain what I know you're planning."
"Now there's a surprise. Just get out."
She clenches her fist, her Klingon temper boiling over. "So help me, if I didn't love you so much..."
"Love? You don't know the meaning of the word. Love to you is all about control. You want to control me."
"That's not true."
"You've always resented the fact that I've told Harry more than I told you, and this is your revenge, isn't it?"
"Tom, you're being completely irrational."
"Get out," I scream. "How many times do I have to tell you to get the hell out of here?"
And now sheís leaving, her head held high. And I want to call out to her and tell her Iím sorry. Gods, I'm so sorry.
Only, no sound comes from my throat and my doors open and sheís gone. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to control the shaking.
I feel really awful about hurting BíElanna like that. Iíd just thrown the love she feels for me, and so openly admits to, back in her face.
Iíve never said those words to her. Sheís never expected it of me and I find the words too hard to say. I donít know why. I know that I love her.
I wouldnít interfere in her life the way she was trying to do to me, though. As soon as I think it, the thought stops me short. I HAVE interfered in her life. More than once.
I should never have said that to her. Iím overwhelmed with guilt. But this is what I wanted, isnít it? For her to leave me alone. She would now, wouldnít she?
Sighing, I sit down on my bed. It's for the best. If she stayed, I'd tell her things I didn't want to. And she's proven to me that she'll tell the Captain.
James Manning's face flashes before my eyes and I groan as I try to push it away. It's impossible. The image of him leaning over me is overpowering.
"After Iím finished with you, youíll never yell at me again, will you, Tommy?" he's saying. His eyes are narrowed to slits and his face is white with anger.
I find myself whimpering and cowering back on the bed as he comes towards me. The thin piece of cord is lashing through the air.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I cry out frantically. "Please don't. Please don't hurt me."
The memories are with me now and there's nothing I can do to stop them. I remember my embarrassment as he rolled me over and swiftly jerked down my pajama bottoms. The embarrassment that quickly turned to horror as the cord came down on my bare buttocks.
And the pain! I remember the pain. It was so bad that it took my breath away. I couldnít even scream.
I screamed the second time though. And the third. And the fourth. The rest of it is a haze of pain.
I woke up so sore the following morning that I immediately started to sob. He was bending over me immediately. "I know it hurts, Tommy, but Iím not going to regenerate you. I think you need to suffer a little bit, to remind you in future to listen to me."
I cried even harder at that and he leant over and kissed my forehead. "You can stay in bed all day today. How will that be?"
I just continued to cry.
"Iíll be back later," he said, leaving the room.
I cried until I couldnít cry any more and then fell into a fitful sleep.
I woke up later to find that he was holding me in his lap, rocking me gently. I didnít hurt anymore and I realized he must have regenerated me after all.
"Daddy doesnít like hurting you like that, Tommy. You have to be good. Promise me youíll be good."
The next few days were rather quiet. We stayed in the house and I tried my very hardest not to make him mad. I did everything he told me, as quickly as I could, and tried to remember to call him Daddy.
I was on tenterhooks the whole time. I never knew what would make him mad. He would get angry over anything. Sometimes he would punch or kick me, but he didnít hurt me the way he had with the cord.
It had now been a whole week since he had taken me and I couldnít understand why someone hadnít come to rescue me. Didnít they know where I was? Didnít they know how scared I was? Why werenít they trying to find me?
I didnít want to be here. I had to get away. But he was always with me, and he set up some type of alarm that would go off, if I got off the bed at night. I was terrified of staying there with him, but terrified to try and escape again.
And then I had my chance. He had to go away for a few hours to see someone. He warned me to behave while he was gone and locked me in the house.
All the doors and windows were locked, but I managed to jimmy open one of the windows with a knife from the kitchen. It took some time and I was starting to panic as I didnít know when heíd be back.
I finally climbed out of the window and stood looking out to the wilderness I was about to run in to. I paused. Should I go? If I ran away and he caught me, what would he do? I shuddered to think about it.
Maybe I should climb back into the house. I couldnít bear to be whipped again. But what if I did something else to make him mad and he whipped me anyway? Or even worse, threw me in the trunk again? Heíd threatened to do that several times.
I made up my mind. I was going to run away and he wasnít going to catch me. Iíd hide somewhere he could never find me. Iíd be safe. Iíd find someone to take me home.
I took off at a run and it wasnít long before I was completely lost in the thick undergrowth. I ran until I fell down with exhaustion and then as soon as I could, I got up and ran some more. I tried to run in as straight a line as possible, so that I could get as far away from him as I could.
When nightfall came, I could see some lights in the distance, so I headed towards them. There would be people there. People who could help me. People that would help me get back home and keep me safe from James Manning.
I ran into a small town and thumped and banged on the door of the first house that had a light on in it. A man answered and looked down at me in surprise.
"Please help me," I panted.
He quickly ushered me inside. "Marie, come quickly. Itís a child."
A woman hurried over to me. I was shivering with cold. "I need help," I told them, my teeth chattering.
"Oh my goodness," the woman said. "Youíre freezing. Iíll get you a blanket."
She wrapped me up warmly and sat me down on the couch. I managed to stop shivering enough so that I could speak clearly. "Please, you have to contact my Dad. A man took me and Iíve run away."
"Youíre Tommy, arenít you?" the woman asked.
I nodded my head. "How did you know?"
"We've been searching for you."
So my parents had been looking for me. I sighed in relief. I was safe. At last, I was safe.
"Marie, stay with the boy," the man said. "Iíll contact his father."
I sank back into the cushions gratefully. My Dad would come and get me. Everything would be all right.
The woman fussed over me until the man came back. "Your father is on his way, Tommy. He said heís leaving right now."
I almost started crying, I was so happy. I didnít know how long it would take him to get here, as I was pretty sure we were a long way from Earth, but at least he was coming.
"Heís been worried sick," the man continued. "You said a man took you. Where is he now?"
"I donít know. He had to go and see somebody." I shivered. "Can I stay here until my Dad comes?" I didnít want James Manning to get me again.
"Of course you can," the woman said. "Youíre safe here." She turned to her husband. "Iím sure his father will put in a report about this. We canít have some lunatic going around taking children."
"Thatís what I donít understand, Marie. Weíre a very small community here. I canít imagine who would do such a thing. As if the poor child hasnít been through enough as it is."
"His nameís James Manning," I said suddenly.
The woman patted my leg. "We know that, Dear. How would you like some hot chocolate while you wait for him?"
"Yes, please," I said quickly. Then I frowned. Something wasnít right. The way they talked didn't sound right. A horrible feeling of dread washed over me. "Weíre not... weíre not...James Manning...heís not...heís not coming here, is he?"
"Of course he is, Tommy." The woman gave a small laugh. She frowned as I sat up in panic. "Whatís wrong?"
"Please donít let him take me," I cried out. "Please." I tried to jump up from the couch, but the woman held onto my arms.
She looked up at her husband, who shook his head. "Itís just as he told us. The poor boy seems to be having a delusion of some sort. Perhaps his story of someone taking him was one too."
"Oh, the poor child." She turned back to me. "Itís all right, Tommy. Only your Dad is coming. I promise. Just your Dad."
"I want my Mom," I screamed, fighting to get away from her. The man held me now, too. "I want my Mom."
"Oh dear. You poor little thing. Such a tragedy. Your mother dying like that, right in front of you."
What was she talking about? My Mom wasnít dead, was she? Is that why my Dad hadnít come to get me? Had my Mom died while Iíd been gone?
"I donít want my Mom to be dead," I cried out with a sob.
"How long did James say he was going to be?" the woman asked.
"He said he was leaving straight away. He was worried sick that this might happen. He thought the child was leading up to having one of his episodes."
"Well, he should be here any moment then."
"No!" I screamed, struggling wildly to get away. "He took me. He took me from Lizzy."
"Well, I think James should take the child to another Doctor. He should be in a hospital or something."
"I agree," the woman sighed. "But James wants to give the boy time to adjust and get used to him first."
The door chime went just then and she stood up. "That will be him now. Thank goodness!"
"No!" I screamed again, kicking furiously at the man to let me go. He just tightened his hold, as the woman opened the door and James Manning stepped inside.
I froze as she hugged him and then he came over towards me. "Tommy, I was so worried."
He held out his arms to me and I then clung to the man holding me. "Please donít let him take me," I pleaded. "Heíll hurt me. Please. Please."
"Itíll be all right, Tommy. I promise," the man said, trying to pry my arms loose from his neck.
"No, No," I screamed. "You promised I was safe. You promised."
"Your Daddy will look after you now," the man said.
"Heís not my Daddy. Heís not," I yelled.
"Tommy, please calm down," James Manning said and I could feel him trying to pull me from the man.
I continued to kick and scream and then all of a sudden I felt something cold against my neck.
"Itís a sedative the doctor prescribed. I hate using it on him," James Manning said. He was holding a hypospray in his hand. "It should calm him down."
And suddenly, I did feel calm. I relaxed completely, going limp in the manís arms. He laid me carefully on the couch. "God, James! How often does he have these episodes?"
"Well, he had one every day for the first week, but now that we're back home, he's only had two this week. The Doctor said theyíll gradually disappear all together."
"Well until they do, perhaps the child should be in a hospital," the woman said, bending over me and stroking my face. "Heís such a sweet little thing, too."
"I donít want to do that, Marie. Heís been through so much as it is."
"And what about you? Youíve been through a lot too. Weíve known you for seven years, and in all that time, all youíve spoken of is your lost love. Lizzy. And then six weeks ago you come to us, telling us that sheís contacted you. She wants a reconciliation. You were so happy. The whole town was happy for you. And then you returned to us only four weeks later, completely devastated because she had been killed and left you with a son that you didnít even know you had."
"And as if that wasnít bad enough, the child has problems. Serious problems," the man added. "I donít know how youíve coped."
"I manage. Tommyís problems are going to get better. Once heís over the shock of losing his mother like that and he accepts me as his father, everything will be better."
"Iím sure youíre right. But in the meantime I think Marie is right. The child should be in a hospital. It was just blind luck that he ended up here in the town."
I watched in surprise as James Manning started to cry. "I know. But I canít bear to do that to him. Heís all I have left of Lizzy. I love him so much, already."
"Of course you do," the woman said, hugging him once more. "But donít try to do it all on your own. The whole town is here to help you. Weíre all worried about you, James."
"Yes," the man continued. "The next time he has one of these episodes, call for assistance. I donít know how youíve managed so far. Iím drained from trying to hold him for just the short time that I had to."
"Youíre right. It is very draining. Thank you for what youíve done tonight. I couldnít bear it if anything happened to him."
The woman bent down to stroke my face once more. "He looks so tranquil now. You know, heís the spitting image of his mother, isnít he? He looks exactly like that picture you always carry of your Lizzy."
James Manning looked at me and smiled brightly. "Thatís one of the reasons I love him so much."
He came and leaned down over me. I knew I should feel frightened, but I didnít. I felt so peaceful and calm. Nothing would disturb me.
I knew I should feel disturbed about what they had been talking about. Everyone in the whole town thought I was James Manningís son. They thought that Lizzy was my Mom and that she was now dead.
I did feel relieved. That meant that my Mom was still alive, didnít it? But did that mean that Lizzy was dead? Had James Manning gone back and killed her?
I didnít remember anything that happened while I was in that trunk. I didnít remember arriving on this planet or going to the house. Maybe during that time, James Manning had gone back to Bracas V and used his knife on Lizzy. Like heíd told me he would. Because I didnít call him Daddy.
For some reason, even though I knew I should be upset about that, I didnít feel it. And I didnít feel scared, as James Manning looked down at me. His eyes looked scary, but I didnít care.
He picked me up gently and kissed my cheek. "Letís go home, Son." I knew I should be terrified. I wasnít though. I didnít feel much of anything actually.
When we got home, he sat in the big rocking chair and cuddled me in his lap. "You scared me, Tommy. When I came back and found you gone, I didnít know what to do. Everyone in the town helped me search for you all afternoon. We were just about to set up a special infrared search. You really caused me a lot of trouble."
I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but I still found it impossible to speak. He stroked my cheek and then kissed my forehead. "Iím going to have to punish you, you know. Iím not sure what to do. Nothing I do seems to work with you. I really thought youíd be too scared to try and get away. I was wrong. Whatever I do to you only scares you for the moment. Nothing lasts."
He sighed and stroked my cheek once more. "I guess I should be proud of you for that. But it makes things difficult. What can I do? Iíll have to think up something special. Something very, very special."
He started to rock in the chair, stroking my face absently. "We have all night, Tommy. Iím sure Iíll think of something by morning. After all, I canít punish you until you can feel it. The sedative wonít wear off until then. Damn it, I hate using those things. Iíll have to punish you for that, too."
I could feel the fear gradually starting to bubble inside me. It was still too far down though. Just out of reach. I wanted it to stay there. I did not want to feel it.
I looked up to see that James Manning was crying again. "You hurt me, Tommy. You hurt me so much. You told them I wasn't your Daddy. And I am, you know. I truly am. That hurts so much."
I felt really bad. I hadn't meant to make him cry. But he wasn't really my Daddy. Was he? I wasn't really Thomas James Manning. He'd named me that in the shuttle. I was Thomas Eugene Paris. My Daddy was Owen Paris, not James Manning.
I wanted to say that out loud, but my mouth wouldn't work properly. True terror awaited me in the morning. I knew that, but I couldn't worry about it.
At the moment I felt safe and calm and totally loved. I wanted to stay that way forever.
I shudder as I climb back off the bed. Gods! Why is this happening now? Why can't I repress everything the way I always have?
How the hell am I going to be able to pretend that I'm all right? The Captain will be here soon and my plan doesn't stand a chance of success, if she sees me like this.
Knowing B'Elanna, she probably has told the Captain of her suspicions. I need to be extra convincing. I don't know if I can do it.
Pushing the panic down, I sigh and head into the bathroom to take a shower. When the Captain does come I want to at least look presentable.
End Part Six