BETRAYAL
By TíPam
 
 

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. This part also contains a disturbing child abuse scene. You know the drill. If youíre likely to be offended, please do not read.

Codes: P, All, P/T
Rating: R (Just to be safe. Rather dark in places.)
 

Betrayal
Part Seven

~^~

I have just finished dressing when the Captain arrives and she sweeps straight past me to my replicator. "You havenít left these quarters since yesterday, have you?"

I shake my head and she sighs. "That means that you havenít eaten for two full days."

I shrug. "I havenít really been hungry."

She purses her lips and turns to the replicator. "Before we discuss anything, youíre going to eat. Now sit down."

I sit and she brings me over a bowl of tomato soup, just the way I like it and there are even little finger slices of toast to go with it.

She places it on the table in front of me and then sits down across from me. "Eat."

Sheís smiling at me and I smile in return. "Thanks." My voice is a little husky and my eyes sting a little.

I pick up my spoon and begin to eat. The Captain sits there watching me, not saying a word until Iíve finished. "Would you like some more?"

"No, thanks."

She picks everything up and takes it back to the replicator, coming back with two cups of coffee. "I see youíve cleaned up in here."

"It gave me something to do."

She sits down again and takes a sip of her coffee. I sip mine. The silence stretches.

"BíElanna came to see me," she says finally, looking at me over the rim of her cup.

"Again?" I drawl.

She smiles. "She really does love you, you know."

"I know."

"She told me that you have decided to choose Chakotay as your counselor."

I nod. "She thinks Iím trying to pull something."

"Yes. Sheís finding it difficult to see you confiding in him. I must say I can see her point. I honestly believe that Chakotay is the best person for the job, but I didnít think youíd agree."

"You changed my mind. I donít have a whole lot of options here, Captain. And as you pointed out, heís seen some terrible things. He might understand. You said yourself that heís probably the only one who can help me with the Kazon."

She nods her head. "I just didnít think youíd agree so quickly."

"You didnít give me any choice there either, Captain. I have to get back on duty. I need to."

"Good. You do realize that if I find out youíre not co-operating, all hellís going to break loose, donít you?"

I smile. "Yes, Maíam."

She drains her cup and stands up. "Iíll talk to Chakotay. What do you want me to tell him?"

I look at her in surprise.

"I can tell him what I said I would. That you have some serious problems that you need to work out, or I can tell him what I know. Itís your decision."

I take a deep breath. I don't know what to do. Can I do this? Can I talk to Chakotay? Can I tell him about the Kazon and Akritiria without telling him anything else?

The Captain is watching me. I really donít want to do this, but if this is the only way I can get back to the helm then I have no choice. And maybe, just maybe Chakotay can help me to get over what the Kazon and Zio did to me.

"Tell him what you know," I say softly. Oh Gods! Did I just say that? Why did I just say that? What have I done?

She smiles and comes over to squeeze my shoulder. "Thank you, Tom. You're doing the right thing."

~^~

I lay down on my bed once more, knowing that I've just made a huge mistake. The Captain will tell Chakotay about James Manning. If the Captain tells him everything she knows, then that will save some time and frankly I wouldnít have known where to start, anyway.

But will he think that the kidnapping has anything to do with all of this? I know that it hasnít, except that it taught me not to trust anyone, but will Chakotay want to talk about it, anyway? I lay there in misery for hours waiting for Chakotay to comm me.

When he finally does, itís almost a relief. "Tom, I know itís late, but would you like me to come and talk to you now?"

"Can we wait until tomorrow? Iím really tired now, Commander."

"Of course, Tom. A good nights sleep is probably a good idea. Then we can start fresh in the morning." He sounds as reluctant as I feel.

"Thanks, Chakotay." Why the hell Iím thanking him is beyond me.

"Do you want me to come to your quarters tomorrow morning, or would you prefer to come to mine?"

My heartís pounding painfully in my chest. "Can you come here?"

"Sure," he says and his voice is soft and gentle. "Iíll be there at nine."

I sign off feeling angry all of a sudden. The last thing I want is his pity, and there had definitely been pity in his voice. I grit my teeth. Iíve made a terrible mistake. Who am I trying to kid? I canít talk to Chakotay.

Iíd asked the Captain to tell him so that I wouldnít have to. And now what? What have I done? Iíve trapped myself and there's no way out.

Why the hell did I tell the Captain to tell him everything she knew? What the hell is the matter with me, anyway? I shouldnít have chosen Chakotay. I know that for absolute certainty now.

Iíd made the biggest mistake of my life and there is no way to fix it. No, the biggest mistake of my life is James Manning. That was definitely my biggest mistake. One that will haunt me forever.

My life was so different after him. I squeeze my eyes shut and picture his face once more. Heís leaning over me and then the face blurs and its Chakotay...not Manning. It blurs again and itís now Britax. I shake my head and it turns back into Manning.

"Whoís your Daddy, Tommy? Who?" Heís whispering softly into my ear now and Iím eight again and the rest of the memories come flooding back.

~^~

I looked up as the door opened and he came into the room. "These last three days have not been pleasant, Tommy. Not pleasant at all. Letís hope we never have to repeat them."

He came over to me and bent down next to me. I was tied to the leg of the bed, kneeling awkwardly on the floor. The rope wasnít long enough for me to be able to stretch out properly or even climb up onto the bed.

He examined my back. "I think Iíll regenerate that for you now. Would you like that?"

"Yes please, Daddy," I sobbed.

He ruffled my hair. "Good boy. Youíre learning."

He untied me and lifted me onto the bed. The regenerator was soon buzzing over me. I tensed, waiting to see what he would do next. The past three days had been a constant pattern. He would whip me and then tie me to the bed. After a few hours he would come back and untie me and regenerate me, only to start whipping me once again a few minutes later.

He rolled me over this time. "Whoís your Daddy, Tommy?"

"You are," I whispered.

He smiled. "Thatís good, Tommy. Very good." He hugged me to him. "I love you, Tommy."

He pulled away from me a few moments later. "Tommy, I said I love you."

I stared at him uncomprehending. He was mad again and I had no idea why. "When somebody tells you that they love you, youíre supposed to say it back," he said grimly. "And youíre my son. Youíre supposed to love me."

He picked up the cord again and lashed it through the air. I started to cry. "I love you, Daddy," I sobbed out, but he shook his head.

"Itís too late now. You waited too long to tell me."

The next time he regenerated me and hugged me and told me that he loved me, I told him that I loved him too. He looked sad. "You donít sound very sure. Youíre a little hesitant."

The following day when he came in again, I cried out as soon as he walked in the door. "I love you, Daddy. I love you."

He smiled and wiped tears from his eyes. "Now everythingís perfect."

*

He left me in the house alone a few days later, telling me he would be gone for three hours and to behave. He made a big show of not locking the doors and windows, saying that he now trusted me.

I watched him go and then hurried to the door and checked to see if heíd locked it after all. He hadnít and I started to tremble. I wanted to open that door and just run and run, but I didnít know where to go. Everyone in the town thought I was Tommy Manning and that I had Ďepisodesí. They wouldnít help me.

I stood there uncertainly for some time, before going over and sitting down once more. I picked up the holocomic that heíd given me and started to read. I had the feeling someone was there and I looked up quickly.

I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and I knew, I just knew, that he was watching me from the window. Heíd set a trap for me to see if Iíd try to escape.

I pretended to read my holocomic, listening for any sounds of him. He came back inside about an hour later. "You didnít try to escape," he said quietly.

I shook my head. "You told me to behave, Daddy."

He beamed in delight. "Iím so proud of you."

Proud and love were the same thing, werenít they? So I said quickly, "I love you, Daddy."

Tears ran down his cheeks. "You donít want to leave me?"

"No, Daddy." I smiled the biggest smile I could at him. "Youíre my Daddy. This is where I belong."

He took out his handkerchief and blew his nose. "Iím the happiest man in this galaxy."

My cheeks hurt, but I kept on smiling anyway. Then I stood up. "I have to go to the bathroom. Is that all right, Daddy?"

"Of course, son."

I went in there and grabbed a towel and stuck as much of it in my mouth as I could and then I screamed and screamed and screamed.

I then very carefully hung the towel back up and went back out into the living room. He was sitting in the rocking chair. "Come here, Tommy. I think itís time I told you the whole story about your mother and me."

After sitting me in his lap he shut his eyes and rocked in the chair a little. "We met in university. We were doing the same marine biology course. We fell in love immediately, but were too shy to do anything about it. Lizzy wanted so much out of life. She didnít want to get married and have a family, so we put our feelings to one side and focused on our studies."

He sighed and opened his eyes to look at me. "Finally, a few months before we graduated, we started to date. It was wonderful and we were all prepared to get married after graduation, when her brother stepped in. He was a Captain in Starfleet and a real stiff-neck. He disapproved of me. Told her she could do better. Iím sure we would have been married there and then if it wasnít for big brother, Owen."

Owen? He was talking about my Dad. I sat up straighter. He closed his eyes once more. "I was devastated when she broke it off. I loved her so much, you see. And I know that she loved me. I didnít see her again for over four years and I thought I was over her. But you know how beautiful she is. How could anyone get over her?"

He was silent for a few moments and I watched his face. He looked so sad. "Anyway," he said suddenly, "I fell in love all over again and she told me that she loved me, too. We got secretly married, because we didnít want Owen to find out and try to stop us. And we were so happy. And then Lizzy got a new job on an entirely different planet to me. We fought about it. One of us would have to give up their job. And then one morning I woke up and she was gone. No message...nothing."

He opened his eyes and looked at me again. "It took me a long time to get over that. And then eight years later I found out, quite by accident, that she was working on Bracas V. So, I applied for a position there. I just wanted to see her. Imagine my surprise when I saw her with you. She told everyone that you were her nephew, but I knew that wasnít true. Just one look at the two of you together and you can see youíre mother and son."

I looked at him in confusion. Was this true? I remembered the woman from that night, Marie, saying how much I looked like Lizzy. She had said I was the spitting image.

He nodded as he looked at me. "She didnít want to be held down by all the obligations of a child, so she left me and after you were born gave you to her brother and his wife to raise. She never even told me she was pregnant."

I shook my head in dismay. I didnít want this to be true. I didnít want to be Lizzyís and his. I wanted to be my own Mom and Dadís.

"Itís true, Tommy. All of it. I asked her and she confirmed it. Lizzy told me she wanted you to stay with Owen, though. He accepted you because you were still a real Paris."

I started to cry then, because thatís exactly what my Dad would have said, and how would he know about that unless my Dad had said it?

He hugged me to him, rocking gently. "Thatís why I had to steal you away. Do you understand why I did it now? She wouldnít let me have you and you were mine."

I sobbed even harder. My Dad wasnít my Dad and my Mom wasnít my Mom. And this man, who I hated so much, was my Dad. My real Dad. And that was why they had let him steal me and not come to rescue me. I really did belong to him.

We settled into a routine after that. Sometimes we went hiking, or fishing or swimming, but we did everything together. And I tried really hard to love him like I did my Dad. But he was scary. I had to be so careful not to make him mad.

Sometimes, when he would hold me and rock me and tell me stories of the things he did when he was a boy, I would almost forget how mean he could be when he lost his temper.

As the days passed and I remembered to call him Daddy and tell him that I loved him, things became easier. He still lost his temper a lot, but he didnít hit me as much as he used to.

As the weeks went by, it began to feel more and more as if I had always lived like that. This man was my father and my other life was a dream.

And then I woke up one day to hear him swearing in the other room. He started to shout then. "Tommy! Get your butt out here now! I swear to God, Iím going to rip your arm from its socket this time."

I scrambled out of bed and ran into the other room. I hardly dared to breathe. What had I done?

"What the hell is this mess?" he yelled.

I looked around. I couldnít see any mess. I was always very careful to be neat and tidy. He liked things to be neat.

He pointed to the table and I could see the picture I had been drawing the night before sitting on it. My heart sank. He was very particular about me putting my toys away.

But I had fallen asleep at the table last night and I was so tired that he had carried me to bed. I didnít have time to put it away.

"I-Iím sorry," I stammered.

"I havenít got time for this now," he yelled. "Pack it up."

I hurried over, watching him out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes he woke up in a bad mood and just hit me for no reason. I put the picture away in a drawer and jumped as he put his hand on my shoulder.

"What did you forget to do last night, Tommy?"

I swallowed nervously. "I donít know, Daddy."

"Think about it."

"I forgot to put my drawing away."

He slapped my face. "Iím not talking about your stupid picture. Think."

I thought. We had gone hiking the day before. Further than weíd ever been before. I had been so tired when we finally got home that I could barely keep my eyes open.

"You didnít clean our hiking boots," he yelled at me.

I shivered and cringed. What would he do to me now?

~^~

I swallowed nervously as I remembered the boots. They had been covered in mud from our hike and he had told me to clean them after dinner. I had been so tired that I had forgot and started to draw instead.

"Youíre lazy," he shouted. "And I wonít abide laziness. Go and get dressed and go out and clean them. It will be a lot harder now. Iíll punish you later."

I quickly did as I was told. He came out and sat on the step to watch me. When the boots were finally cleaned to his satisfaction, he told me to put them away and then come back.

When I stepped back outside, he grabbed me and threw me over his knee. "Now, itís time to spank that laziness out of you."

Heíd only reached the count of four, when we heard a transport vehicle approaching. He put me down and quickly hurried around to the front of the house. I followed him slowly.

"Marie, what are you doing here?"

"I thought Iíd come up to see how youíre doing. I havenít seen you for weeks, James. Howís Tommy?"

"Heís fine. Weíre both fine. Havenít I kept you updated?"

She laughed. "Of course you have, but I just felt like paying you a visit."

She noticed me standing behind him then. "Hello, Tommy."

"Hello," I said warily.

"Your Daddy tells me that you like to go fishing."

I nodded. "I like hiking even better."

"Well, I can understand that. The views around here are simply wonderful. Did your father tell you that I teach at the local school?"

I shook my head.

"Well, when you come down to school, Iíll be your teacher. Would you like that?"

I nodded.

"Heís not ready for school yet, Marie."

"I understand that, James, but the child needs to mix with other people. Keeping him up here, isolated, isnít the answer."

"I know whatís best for my son."

"James. Iím worried about the both of you. I know you like your solitude. We all do to a certain degree. Thatís one of the reasons we all like this planet so much. We have hardly any contact with the outside worlds. I understand why you kept Tommy here by himself until he had adjusted, but itís time for him to lead a normal life."

"He still hasnít adjusted fully."

"Maybe he needs to be with other children."

"Not yet."

"James, itís not like Iím not aware of Tommyís special problems."

"I know youíre trying to help, Marie, but itís too soon."

She smiled down at me. "Youíd like to come to school, wouldnít you ?"

I nodded eagerly.

"No!" he cried out angrily. "Youíre trying to take him away from me."

"James, what are you talking about?"

"Heís mine and no one else is going to have him. Not you, not Lizzy, no one." He pulled me roughly to him, his fingers digging into my arms. I cried out in pain.

"James, are you crazy? Let him go. Youíre hurting him."

"Heís mine." He spun around and dragged me back into the house. She ran after us.

Panting heavily, he put his arm around my throat, half choking me.

"James, calm down. Iím not trying to take the boy away. Youíve obviously been under a lot of stress and itís starting to take its toll. You mustnít hurt the child though. Let him go, James, please."

He began to back us into the kitchen and then he rummaged around in one of the drawers with his free hand. I struggled to get free and he hit me across the head.

"James!" she cried out in horror.

"He knows better than to defy me. Donít you, Tommy?"

"Yes, Daddy," I gasped.

He rummaged around some more and pulled something out of the drawer. I couldnít see what it was. But the woman sucked in her breath. "James, put that down...please."

He laughed. "I donít think so. I went to a lot of trouble to steal Tommy away, I canít let you ruin it all."

"Gods, James. What have you done?"

"He IS my son, you know Marie. He is." He shook me a little. "Whoís your Daddy, Tommy?"

"You are, Daddy."

"And who do you love, Tommy?"

"You, Daddy. You."

"Thatís my boy."

"Oh God! Let him go, James."

"I wonít let you have him. I canít live without him."

"Killing me isnít going to solve anything. Everyone knows I came up here. Youíll be on the run for the rest of your life."

"Marie, what do you take me for? Iím not a killer. This is set on stun."

"Thatís not going to accomplish anything, either."

"Itíll give me time to get away."

"You wonít get away, James."

"Iím not going far. Just to the lookout. This phaser isnít for you, Marie. Not really. Itís for me."

"No!" she called out frantically and then there was a zapping noise and she fell to the floor.

He pulled me from the house and we took off at a run. It wasnít long before we reached the lookout. The view from here was spectacular. You stood looking down into the valley below.

It was a long way to the bottom and the drop was fairly steep. He perched me on a rock close by and stood looking down.

"Things donít always turn out the way you want them to, you know, Tommy? I guess I always knew that this couldnít last. I really blew it back there, thatís for sure."

I didnít say anything, just sat there watching him. "I canít let them take you back. You know that, donít you?"

He adjusted the setting on the phaser and then pointed it at me. "I donít think this will hurt. Come here, Tommy."

"Please donít kill me," I begged.

"I donít want to, Tommy. I really donít. But I donít know what to do anymore."

He knelt down on the ground and hugged me tightly, and then kissed my forehead. "Who do you love, Tommy?"

"You, Daddy. You."

"I love you too, Tommy." He then lifted the phaser.

~^~

They found me, wrapped up in a little ball, a few hours later. I was huddled as far away from the edge of the cliff as I could get.

Marie hurried over and pulled me close. "Are you all right, Tommy? Did he hurt you? Where is he?"

I pointed to the side of the cliff. "Down there."

The men hurried to look over the side. "Thereís a body down there," someone called out.

"He has a hole in his head," I told them and then I started to cry. "My Daddyís dead and itís all my fault."

"Itís not your fault, Tommy. Itís not."

One of the men bent down to check me over. "Under the circumstances, itís probably for the best," he said to Marie.

She hugged me tighter. "Why the hell did he have to do it in front of the child, though?"

"He was sick, Marie."

"And to think, I never guessed. Iíve known him for seven years and not once have I ever thought he wasnít completely normal."

The man patted her shoulder. "He fooled us all, Marie."

She kissed the top of my head. "Itís going to be all right now, Tommy. Youíre safe."

The man looked into my face. "Whatís your name, kid?"

"Thomas James Manning," I said automatically.

The man looked at Marie. "Is he really Jamesís son?"

She shook her head. "I donít know. I donít know what to think. James told me that his mother was killed in front of him. I donít know if thatís true or not, because he said back at the house that heíd stolen Tommy."

"My Momís not dead," I said suddenly. "He lied."

Marie shifted me gently. "Whatís your Mommyís name?"

I hesitated. I didnít know what was true. "Lizzy Paris? Elizabeth Paris." I was sure now.

The man lifted me up. "Come on. Itís time we contacted the outside worlds. There has probably been an alert out for this kid since James took him."

Marie nodded. "Sometimes, living such an isolated life isnít such a good idea."

The next few days are a blur as they kept me sedated until my parents arrived. Lizzy was with them. And then everything was wonderful. My Dad didnít even care that I was crying, because he was crying too.

Theyíd given up hope of finding me. At first, Lizzy and everyone had thought Iíd fallen overboard and drowned. They scoured the sea bottom looking for me, to no avail.

When my parents had arrived on Bracas V, my Dad had set up an intensive search and thatís when theyíd discovered the faint traces of a transporter signature.

Starfleet then took over, deeming my kidnapping as a revenge plot against my father. Nobody ever thought about James Manning. Not even Lizzy.

I wish I could say that everything stayed wonderful after that, but of course it didnít. Even before we reached Earth, my parents were fighting again. About me.

My Mom wanted me to go straight to a counselor to talk about my terrible ordeal. My father said to wait to see if it was necessary. He said I was a Paris and had a strong constitution. He didnít want the rest of my life ruined because Iíd had to seek counseling.

My mother had screamed at him that Starfleet would never consider me, knowing what had happened, if I wasnít officially counseled and declared able to resume a normal life.

My father gave in then, but their fight remained with me.

I began to have terrible nightmares at night. Skeletons reaching for me in the dark, that all somehow turned into James Manning with a hole in his head.

He would be yelling at me, and whipping me and then he would be looking at me with his eyes full of horror. I would wake up screaming and my Mom and Dad would be there, telling me I was safe.

While I continued to have the nightmares, I had to see the counselor. I knew my Dad wasnít happy. The longer I had to be counseled, the worse it would look to Starfleet.

Thatís when I started to pretend. I pretended I was all right. I let the counselor think I was fine. I set my little alarm to wake me every couple of hours, so that I couldnít dream.

It worked. The counselor said that I had worked out all of my anger and fear and that I didnít need to see him anymore. He told my parents to watch me closely and call him if they needed him.

I continued to pretend. I stepped back into my old life as if nothing had happened. My father was pleased, but my mother was worried. She watched me all the time.

I was worried too. Iíd asked them if they were my real Mom and Dad and my Mom had started to cry. They had told me that of course they were, but I just didnít know what to believe.

I didnít say anything else though, because I didnít want to make my Mom cry again. I alternated between believing them and believing James Manning. I wanted to see Lizzy, to ask her the truth, but she had gone back to Bracas V and although she had promised to keep in touch, she hadnít.

That hurt me a lot. Every time I tried to contact her I was told she was out and they would leave a message.

I was tired all the time, too, because I wasnít sleeping properly, and my schoolwork began to suffer. I was always one of the top students and so they noticed it straight away.

My school counselor, Ms. Adams, tried to talk to me, but I couldnít tell her what was wrong. I was supposed to be fine. She called in my parents and they told her what had happened. She began to watch me, too.

I started to fall asleep in class and finally Ms. Adams decided I needed help. She promised me that I could trust her and that whatever I told her would stay between us. So I told her some of the things that James Manning had done to me.

I told her how confused I was. I didnít know who my real parents were because of the story that he had told me and how awful I felt that if he was my real Daddy, I wasnít sad that he was dead. I was glad.

I told her all sorts of things about my feelings and about how he made me feel loved. And then I came home early one day. I was supposed to be at Parrises Squares practice but I didnít go and I entered the house quietly.

I could hear their voices in the living room. Ms. Adams was saying how confused I was and that I needed a lot of help. My Mom was crying and my Dad was arguing. She told them that they needed to prove to me that I was theirs.

And they did. Lizzy contacted me, at last, and told me that she wasnít my mother. James had made the whole thing up. She had seen him over eight years ago, but they had never married and she definitely had not had a child.

They showed me pictures of my mother pregnant with me and even had a doctor do a DNA test and showed me the results.

My father seemed angry about it. He kept on saying that he couldnít understand why I would believe such nonsense. I felt like Iíd let him down.

I did believe that they were my real parents but I could never trust Ms. Adams again. Sheíd lied to me. After that, I didnít tell her anything else. I just pretended I was fine.

And then came the day that we had the Ďincidentí at school. One of the girls in my class brought in her Trevis doll. As soon as I saw it I froze. I couldnít move.

My teacher, Mr. Winters, came over to see what was wrong. He bent down over me and put his hands on my shoulders. "Tommy?"

I gasped in horror and took a step back. He stepped towards me in concern and all of a sudden his face turned into James Manningís and I screamed.

I had to go back to counseling again. It was harder to pretend this time. He also told me the same thing as Ms. Adams - that whatever I told him was between the two of us - so I decided to test him. I told him about the whippings. Iíd never told anyone about them before. He was shocked, I could tell.

That night I snuck around listening to my parents talking after they thought I was asleep. They were talking about the whippings and I knew then, without a doubt, that I could never trust this counselor.

What worried me the most though, was my father. He kept on asking if Iíd ever be normal again. And would Starfleet want me now. I wanted to tell him about what had happened, but whenever I tried, something in his face stopped me.

One night, after I'd had another of my nightmares, my father told my mother to go back to bed. He said he'd stay with me.

"It's all right, Owen. I want to be with him," my mother said.

"You've been sitting up with him every night this week. You need to rest. Let me do my share."

My mother watched us for a few moments as my father sat me on his knee and gently rocked me, and then she left. This felt so good. I felt safe. This was my real Daddy and he loved me.

He rocked me steadily until I was almost asleep and then he whispered. "This has to stop, Tom. Your whole future is at stake. You're made of stronger stuff than this. You're a Paris."

"I'm sorry," I said, trying hard not to cry. I wanted it to stop too. I wanted the nightmares to go away more than anything, but I didn't know how to make them.

"You have to make a determined effort to put all of this behind you. Will power is the key here, Tom. Sheer will power. Talking about everything with this counselor is just making you worse. You have to force yourself to forget it. Starfleet won't accept you unless you're normal, Tom."

After that I was determined to be Ďnormalí and get into Starfleet. And, although it was hard, I managed to do it. My nightmares slowly lessened and I taught myself not to scream out when I had one. I made myself forget it all.

Only, of course, I hadnít really forgotten it at all.

End Part Seven