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 turn over restlessly. It doesn't look like I'll be getting much sleep again tonight.
I still feel panicky about talking to Chakotay in the morning. I really don't think I can confide anything to him and if I don't, I'll never get back to the conn.
The Captain meant what she had said. She had that steely look of determination, which I've seen so many times before. If I don't co-operate with Chakotay there really will be hell to pay.
I try to imagine what it will be like telling Chakotay about the Kazons, or even worse...Zio. At least with the Kazons I hadn't had a choice.
My insides start quivering as I picture the scene with Chakotay. I just can't do it. And that leaves me with the question; what AM I going to do?
The trapped feeling is settling over me once more. Was it too late? Could I contact the Captain and tell her I'd changed my mind? I'd rather speak to the Doc, not Chakotay.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I could talk to the Doc. I'd handled him rather well after Akritiria. I could do it again. Of course that had been nearly three years ago.
My mind drifts back to the scene in sickbay, just after the Captain had rescued us from Akritiria.
I didn't really know what was going on at first. I felt so bad and my mind was drifting all the time.
Harry's face was hovering over me and then so was the Captain's. All of a sudden, the Doc was there and then Kes. I could hear Neelix in the background chattering away, but I couldn't make out what he was saying.
The Doc was leaning over me then, saying something about another few minutes and it would have been too late. I started feeling a little better and Kes was smiling down at me, telling me I was going to be fine.
"I'll let you rest for a few moments, Mr. Paris, while I see to Mr. Kim," the Doc said.
He moved away and the Captain came over. I could feel her patting my shoulder. "It's good to have you back, Tom."
Out of my line of vision I could hear the Doc telling Harry to sit still, so that he could examine him.
"There's something in our heads, Doc," Harry almost yelled. "You have to get it out. Now."
Of course! The clamp! I'd forgotten about it. I still didn't feel well enough to worry about it, however.
The Captain left me to go over there. "Harry, stay still so that the Doctor can take a look."
"Yes, Ma'am," Harry mumbled.
"Hmmn! Very interesting. I'm not sure what purpose these serve, but I can easily remove them."
"Then do it," Harry grumbled. "I can't stand it any longer."
"If you would just sit still for more than two seconds, I might be able to."
"I can't help it."
My head began to itch, just listening to them, so I put up my hand to scratch it. Kes must have seen me, because she hurried over. "Don't touch that, Tom. We'll have it out in no time."
"There," the Doc pronounced. "One down and one to go."
He sent Harry into the bathroom to clean up and came over to see to mine. It wasn't long before Harry was back, all neat and tidy, dressed in a fresh uniform and it was my turn to use the bathroom.
I turned around in surprise, as the Doc followed me in. "I'm okay. I don't need any help," I told him. My stomach felt fine, as a matter of fact.
"That's not why I'm here, Lieutenant."
"I wish to discuss with you in private some of these scan results. Were you sexually assaulted, while in prison?"
Oh Gods, not again. "No," I said shortly.
"My results show otherwise, Lieutenant."
"Well, your scans are wrong. It was completely consensual, so can we please drop it?"
"It appears to have been a little rough, to have been consensual."
"Yeah, well that's what sex is like in prison. No lube."
He sniffed. "So, you're telling me that you willingly engaged in sexual activity with one of the prisoners?"
"Yeah, Doc. Don't look so shocked. It helped pass the time."
"I see. Do you realize the risk you took? Alien sexual encounters are fraught with hidden dangers."
"Yeah well, in case you've forgotten, you weren't around to ask. Next time I decide to let some alien screw me, I'll check with you first. Okay?"
"Well really, Mr. Paris. There's no need to take that tone."
"Look, I really don't want to discuss this anymore."
"So, your official statement is that this was a consensual encounter."
"Yeah, Doc, it is. Because, it was. And that's my final word on the subject."
With another sniff, he left me alone to get cleaned up, and he never mentioned it again.
I close my eyes as I think about the Doc. He's a lot more sympathetic these days. And I actually like him. I might tell him too much.
But would it matter if I did? He was a computer program bound by ethical subroutines. He wouldn't be able to betray my trust, no matter how much he wanted to. Unlike Tuvok, who, with his suppressed emotions would never understand what happened.
I definitely can't talk to Tuvok. He's always so controlled. How could he possibly relate to what I went through? Besides, his position on the ship makes it impossible for me.
It will have to be the Doc. I've had a lot to do with him over the past two years. Being his medical assistant hasn't always been easy. His sarcastic attitude is hard to take sometimes and his constant put downs are even harder. I know he does it to be funny. I get the feeling that he genuinely cares about me, but the thought of him knowing even more about me than he already does makes my insides crawl.
Besides the fact that I can't even imagine telling him any of my shit, there's also the fact that I have to work with him. I know that's true of anyone I may pick, but the Doc and I work one on one. It's different.
And I also find it even harder to imagine him being sympathetic to me. How could he possibly understand any of it? And can I trust him?
I've trusted before. I trusted Harry with almost all of it. I hadn't given him the vivid details - he'd probably die of shock - but I had told him the bare bones. At least I think that's all I told him.
Sometimes he looks at me as if he knows more. Maybe I told him more than I should have in Akritiria. I can't remember. Most of that is a blur. He's never said anything though.
The strange thing is, I think Chakotay would understand and I even think I could trust him. He's a man of his word. He would never betray my confidence. For some reason, I just know that's true.
I don't think he really likes me all that much, so I don't think it would matter what I told him. His opinion of me can't really go any lower, can it?
That's not really fair. His attitude to me has definitely changed over the years, but we are not close friends. I think that's what I need at the moment.
Someone who cares, but not too much. Someone whose opinion of me doesn't matter so much. The truth of the matter is that B'Elanna, Harry, the Captain and even the Doc...all care too much about me and I care too much about them.
So, I have made the right decision. Chakotay is the person to speak to. Not that I have any intention of telling him very much. I'll tell him just enough so that I can get back to the helm.
Why then, if I know I've made the right decision, is my heart thudding so loudly? Why do I feel so scared? What is it about my decision that is so frightening?
Chakotay. Am I scared of Chakotay? No, I can't believe that. Why the hell would I be scared of Chakotay? He's never done anything to me.
There is something about him that has always made me a little wary. I don't know what it is, but it's there. And because of that, I don't think I can talk to him after all.
What if he makes me tell him more than I want to? What if I can't control the sessions the way I have planned? What if things that I have buried so deeply inside of me that I can't even admit them to myself, come out?
I can feel the panic rising within me. Talking to Chakotay won't be like talking to Harry or B'Elanna. He won't care if I get upset, he won't back off the way they do. He won't let me get away with, 'I don't want to talk about it.' Oh Gods! What am I going to do?
In the morning, Chakotay will be here. He'll be expecting me to talk to him. The Captain will be expecting me to tell him everything. I hate her. I hate her for making me do this.
Why is she doing this to me? I'm all right. All I needed was a day or two to pull myself together. There's no need for this.
I can't. I can't do it. I can't talk to Chakotay. He'll make me tell. He'll make me tell the secret. I can't remember the secret, I don't want to remember the secret, but I know there is one. I can't talk to him. I can't.
Without meaning to, I hit my commbadge. "Paris to Chakotay." I struggle to keep my voice steady.
"Yes, Tom, go ahead." He sounds a little startled.
I don't know what to say. I don't know why I contacted him. What the hell am I doing now?
"It doesn't matter," I say quickly.
"Of course it does. What did you want?"
What do I want? I don't know. A way out of this mess, that's what I want.
"Tom, are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Sorry to have disturbed you."
"Would you like me to come over now?"
"No. I'm sorry. I'll see you in the morning."
"No, I think I should come over."
"No, Commander. It's fine. I'm fine. I'm sorry. I guess I'm too tired to think straight. I'm really sorry."
"That's all right, Tom. Are you worried about talking to me?"
Gods, if he only knew!
"I guess so." Damn! Why'd I say that?
"Tom, we'll take things slow. I promise. How about if I come over now, for a little while? We don't have to talk about anything at all. I just want you to feel that you can trust me."
"I do," I say quickly.
There's a pause. "I'm glad, Tom."
"I'll be all right now," I tell him.
"If you're sure?" He sounds uncertain and I curse myself.
"Yeah. I need to get some sleep. Thanks, Chakotay."
"All right. Goodnight, Tom."
"Night," I answer. What am I going to do? Oh Gods, this is such a mess. Why didn't James Manning kill me all those years ago, like he was supposed to.
My life's been one long hell, ever since. I push that thought away. That's not true. I've been basically happy, haven't I? I've had some really great times over the years.
I try to remember some of them, but I can't. I can't remember any happy times. But there must have been some.
The first two years after the kidnapping were spent trying to appear normal so that I wouldn't have to go back into counseling.
Once I started middle school, I had to concentrate on my studies. I know I didn't spend all of those years studying. I spent a lot of time playing Parrises Squares and swimming and flying.
All I can remember now, though, is the pressure I always felt whenever I was doing any of that. I don't remember having any fun, but I must have. Mustn't I? Why can't I remember the good times?
After I reached high school, the pressure was even worse. It became stifling. My father began lecturing me about his expectations. The academy accepted me when I was only fifteen and I thought the pressure would ease, but it became worse.
My childhood had been a nightmare. An absolute living nightmare. But that can't be true. There must have been some good times. There must have. Why the hell can't I remember them?
My life at the academy had certainly been tough. My father oversaw all of my work. He discussed my progress with all of my lecturers and went over every one of my assignments with me before I handed them in. I was even in some of his classes.
He also monitored my social life, telling me what parties to go to and even going so far as to tell me whom I should date, and whom I should befriend. I had to go to France, just to escape from him.
I didn't take all of this meekly. I became rebellious and went out of my way to cause him displeasure. Whenever I complained about my father's interference in my life, he would say that I should be grateful that he cared so much.
I guess that's true. I should have. Can someone care too much? What would my father think now, if he could see me? Would he be disappointed? Would he tell me to smarten up, be a REAL Paris?
The whole time that I had been at the academy hadn't been that miserable, had it? There had been excitement and a genuine will to succeed, hadn't there? Had it really been so bad? Yes, yes it had!
And then there had been the accident and the terrible years after it, before I joined the Maquis. The more I drank, the less work I was able to get, thus the more I drank. It was a vicious circle.
I open my eyes and look at the ceiling. I was right the first time. My life really has been one long hell. The reason I can't remember any good times is because they were few and far between.
But here on Voyager things have changed. I have a good life now. Had. I HAD a good life. All of that's over now.
My friendship with Harry is now ruined and my relationship with B'Elanna is destroyed. The Captain feels nothing but pity for me, I could see it in her eyes. She'll never treat me the same again. There is nothing left. She has made it abundantly clear that I can't fly unless I cooperate with Chakotay, and I now know that I can't.
So where does that leave me? I need to fly. As much as I need to breathe, I need to fly.
I have nothing. Everything that meant so much to me is now gone. James Manning really should have killed me all those years ago. My life ever since then has been a macabre joke.
A pitiful existence for someone who really shouldn't even be alive. I should have died that day on the edge of the cliff with James Manning. He should have killed me. The past twenty-five years should never have happened.
I sit up on the bed as I realize now, what I should have done differently twenty-five years ago. If only I could go back in time. Change things. Make them right. But I can't.
I can't do this. I can't face the life that I will be forced to live after this. I can no longer do what others expect of me. I can't do any of it anymore.
I stand up and head out of my quarters. There's no one around at this hour. It's well after midnight.
I walk towards the nearest turbolift. A phaser would be fitting, but I don't have a phaser.
I feel calm now, finally at peace. There is only one answer. It will be, as it should have been.
I toss and turn restlessly, unable to sleep. I am greatly disturbed by what the Captain has told me. That this could have happened to Tom! Bright, energetic, sparkling Tom Paris. And I had never guessed! I had never thought, not even for one moment, that the act he put on was just that... an act.
I've seen some pretty ugly things in my time, but rape and its consequences are one of the worst. It's beyond me how Tom has managed to carry on as if nothing had happened.
Of course, he must not have been able to keep up the pretense all of the time, or otherwise B'Elanna and Harry wouldn't have found out about it.
I remember how resentful he was when he came back from the Kazon and how for some reason all that resentment had been targeted at me.
I still don't really understand why, although his accusation that I had been all too ready to believe his little rebellious act, had made me feel guilty at the time.
He had been right too. The first thing I thought, when he started acting up, was...I knew he would do this. But, I wasn't the only one. Hell, everyone on the ship had believed it. Why was he so mad at me? That was what he was supposed to have achieved. Wasn't it?
After Akritiria, he went out of his way to be bright and cheerful. I should have guessed then that something was wrong. I had expected him to be a little quiet and withdrawn, the way Harry was. Although I hadn't been inside the prison, the Captain's description had sent a shiver down my spine.
I just assumed that the reason that Tom didn't seem affected by his experience was because he was tough and had seen things like that before. He probably had, but I now realize he was pretending to be fine on the outside, whilst inside he was trying to deal with a terrifying ordeal. I also realize that it was straight after that, that he started to show an interest in B'Elanna.
The thing that concerns me the most, however, is his reaction to Harry and B'Elanna's so-called betrayal. There is something very wrong there. Tom obviously has some problems with trust. The Captain believes it is tied into his childhood and I was shocked when she told me that he had been kidnapped as a child.
There is so much in Tom's life that he has kept hidden. I feel more than a little guilty over the way that I first treated him. Right from the first time I saw him in that bar, and recruited him for the Maquis, I judged him.
Poor little rich boy. Sheltered and cosseted all his life, I thought. He couldn't handle it when things got a little rough. I had thought that he was out to hurt his father in the most spectacular way possible. His piloting skills were truly amazing, however, and I hired him despite my personal dislike for everything he stood for.
I had believed him to be spineless and he's proven me wrong about that time and time again. I thought he was a spoilt brat and I was wrong about that too.
I am more than a little surprised that he chose me to talk to. The Captain didn't really give him a lot of choice, but still, I thought he would have chosen Tuvok. We're not that close.
We get along a lot better these days than we used to, but I don't really think of us as friends. Too much water under the bridge perhaps. And he really knows how to push my buttons.
I think about what the Captain told me B'Elanna suspected and I sigh. She's probably right. Tom probably will try to wriggle his way out of our counseling sessions. He'll allow me to get only so close and then he'll back away. I'm prepared for him, however. I wonder if he realizes that?
"Paris to Chakotay."
I jump a little and then sit up. ""Yes, Tom, go ahead."
The silence stretches. "Tom?" I ask carefully.
"It doesn't matter," he says quickly. Too quickly.
"Of course it does. What did you want?"
I wait for his answer, but it doesn't come. I don't like this. I don't like it at all. "Tom, are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Sorry to have disturbed you."
He's disturbed me more than he thinks. "Would you like me to come over now?"
"No. I'm sorry. I'll see you in the morning."
I don't like the way he sounds. "No, I think I should come over."
"No, Commander. It's fine. I'm fine. I'm sorry. I guess I'm too tired to think straight. I'm really sorry."
He does sound tired. The exhaustion in his voice is unmistakable, but he also sounds scared. "That's all right, Tom. Are you worried about talking to me?"
There's silence again. I'm really starting to worry now. "Tom?"
"I guess so."
I'm surprised he's admitted it, but pleased too. "Tom, we'll take things slow. I promise. How about if I come over now, for a little while? We don't have to talk about anything at all. I just want you to feel that you can trust me."
"I do." The answer is quick. Almost as if a reflex.
I'm more than surprised this time. I've always felt that Tom didn't really trust me. He always seems wary around me. "I'm glad, Tom."
"I'll be all right now," he says.
"If you're sure?" I feel a little hesitant.
"Yeah. I need to get some sleep. Thanks, Chakotay."
It's late - almost midnight - I can't force him to speak to me now. A good nights sleep would be a good idea. "All right. Goodnight, Tom."
"Night," he answers.
There is a vague worry in the back of my mind. Having all night to brood over things, couldn't be good. He was probably regretting choosing me to counsel him. He had definitely sounded strange.
Perhaps I shouldn't have put off talking to him until the morning. I should have spoken to him while he was still in a positive frame of mind. While he still wanted my help.
I climb out of bed and pace around my quarters. The worry is becoming stronger, and I'm not sure why. I'm sure that Tom will not be sleeping, either.
I really don't like the way he had sounded. I have a horrible feeling that I've already made a mistake and the counseling sessions haven't even started yet.
I realize suddenly why he contacted me. He was panicking. I was right. I have made a mistake. I've already handled things badly. After the Captain had spoken to me, I should have gone straight to Tom and ensured that he was relaxed with both me, and his decision.
Instead, I'd left him to stew over it. Left him to doubt the decision. Left him to panic. And he had panicked. Of that, I am sure.
Tom had held out his hand to me for help and instead of grabbing it immediately, I had hesitated. I had hesitated for over three hours to be precise. I had needed time to digest what the Captain had told me.
I should have insisted on speaking to him in person, letting him know that I would do all I could to help him. That he could trust me. Sure, he'd just told me that he trusted me. But was that real, or was he just saying that so that I would leave him alone?
I'm sure he will be unable to sleep. I know I certainly won't be able to. I make my decision quickly. I will go and see him. Make sure that he is comfortable with me. Because I know that he has never been comfortable with me and that is what is worrying me. No wonder he is panicking.
I dress quickly and head out of my quarters, but when I reach his, Tom is not there. Perhaps he is in the mess hall or sitting in one of the observation lounges.
"Computer, please state the location of Ensign Paris," I ask.
'Ensign Paris is in transporter room two.'
Why the hell is he in the transporter room? And then, my heart stops with horror.
"Computer, disable all transporters. Authorization Chakotay alpha three four gamma." This was a little safety feature the Captain and I had deemed necessary after Neelix had tried to space himself off the ship a few months previously. I hate to think that Tom has had the same idea.
'Transporters are now disabled.' I sigh with relief and take off at a run.
The sight that greets me as I enter the transporter room confirms my suspicions. My heart sinks.
Tom is standing at the transporter controls trying to override my safety protocols. "Tom, this isn't the answer," I say.
He looks over at me, his eyes wild and unfocused. "You don't understand. I can't do this. I can't talk about everything."
My commbadge chirps. "Kim to Chakotay."
"Go ahead," I answer, my eyes on Tom.
"Is everything all right down there? My readings are showing a transporter lock down, via your authority."
I'd forgotten that Harry was in charge tonight. "Everything's fine," I answer. "I'm just running a few tests."
I wait for his comment on the hour, but it doesn't come. "Very well, Sir," he says instead.
I take a step towards Tom, who's looking around frantically for a way out. The trouble is, to get out, he has to run past me, so he's backing away instead.
"Tom," I say, trying to keep my voice low and gentle. "I'm not going to push you. We'll take things slow. I won't make you tell me anything you don't want to."
He stands looking at me silently for a few moments. "I can't tell you anything."
"I see. Well, you don't have to."
"The Captain won't let me fly unless I do."
"Maybe you can talk to someone else then. Tuvok, perhaps?"
He shakes his head. "I can't. He wouldn't understand."
"Is there anyone you feel you can talk to? It doesn't have to be me."
"There's no one now."
"Tom, I'm not going to force you to seek counseling with me if you truly believe you can't talk to me, but I promise you that if you do, I'll do my best for you. I've seen some horrifying things in my time. I'm sure I can help you."
"No one can help me."
"That's not true, Tom. Just give me a chance."
"I'm scared," he whispers.
"I understand. It's a scary thing to reach out and put all your trust in someone. I promise I won't let you down."
"Is that because you don't feel comfortable with me? I realized tonight that you've never been completely at ease around me. I know that we've gotten along fine over the past few years, most of the time anyway." I smile, but he doesn't smile in return. "But you always seem a little wary around me. Is that why you feel you can't talk to me?"
"I don't know."
He looks like a trapped animal and I can't understand why. I try to make myself as unthreatening as possible. If only he'd talk to me, tell me what's going on inside that head of his.
But of course, that's what the problem is. He doesn't feel that he CAN talk to me.
I sigh and step back away from him. "I'll talk to the Captain in the morning, see if we can work something else out."
"There isn't anything else to work out. I either talk or I stay off duty. She won't change her mind." He sounds mad now.
"I'll speak with her."
"What the hell good will that do?" He's shouting now. "She won't listen to you. She NEVER listens to you. Haven't you realized that yet? You're just her token first officer. Everyone knows that but you, it seems."
Okay, so now he's trying to bait me. And he's doing a pretty damn good job too. I resist the urge to snap back at him.
"Why are you trying to make me mad, Tom?"
"I don't know," he yells. "Why did you have to lock down the transporters? This would all be over now."
"I couldn't let you do that, Tom." I hear the doors swish open behind me and I turn around in surprise.
Harry looks from Tom to me, and back again. "The computer told me that you were here. I just wanted to make sure everything's all right."
"No Harry, everything is not all right," Tom yells again. "Mr. Perfect here, just ruined everything."
Harry nods. "I thought so."
"Why are you so angry with me, Tom?" I ask quietly.
"I don't know," he yells again. "This wasn't supposed to happen. You weren't supposed to stop me. I have to..."
He breaks off. "You have to what, Tom? Die? If you don't want to talk to me...then don't, but for Spirits sake, there's no need for this."
"Just go away and leave me alone."
"I can't do that, Tom," I say quietly.
"Why do you always have to be like this?"
"Like what, Tom?"
"In control. You're always in control. No matter what happens, you can handle it. The Kazon, for Gods sake, captured you and what'd they do to you? Nothing? That's what."
"It wasn't exactly nothing. They beat the shit out of me."
"They smacked you around a few times, big deal. They took one look at you and said, this one's too much to take on."
I shake my head. "That isn't what happened. And they didn't just smack me around a few times. You know what Seska did to me."
"All I know is that they didn't hold you down, while they took turns with your ass. That's all I know. And do you know what they said to me, Chakotay? They told me how soft I was. How easy I was compared to you. They told me that you wouldn't let them near you and you really deserved it, so they'd have me instead."
"Tom, I'm sorry that happened. So sorry. The Kazon would do anything to intimidate you. They wanted you to fly for them and they were hoping that you'd give up some of Voyager's secrets, as well. I had no idea about any of this. I didn't know they said that to you. I didn't know that they did that to you."
"I hated you for that." Tom's voice is a mere whisper. "They couldn't have you, so they took it out on me."
"I'm sorry, Tom. Spirits, I'm sorry." I step towards him, but he backs away again.
"You know what I hate the most? The fact that you could stop them and I couldn't." He won't look at me. Or Harry. He keeps his eyes on the floor. His tone is harsh.
"The truth is, I couldn't have stopped them if they'd tried that with me," I say. "Seska wouldn't let them. She wanted me for herself. I was as helpless as you were, Tom. Completely and utterly at their mercy."
"You were?" He looks up at me now.
I nod. "They could have done anything to me, Tom. Anything. It was completely out of my control. And there was no way I could have escaped, the way you did."
Tom continues to stare at me and I risk taking a step towards him again. He doesn't back away this time. "Is that what's been wrong between us, all this time?"
He gives a small nod, barely perceptible, and I step even closer. He lets me. I sigh with relief. I can't believe that we've already made such a huge step forward.
Now that I know the root of the problem, I'm sure I can help him. Everything's going to be all right. I say that out loud as I reach out to touch him.
He lets me take his arm and guide him down, away from the transporter controls. He's starting to tremble a little. Reaction is setting in.
I look across at Harry, who is still standing by the doors and I'm surprised to see that there is no relief on his face. His eyes are full of anxiety and fear and I realize that he is having a reaction of his own. Not unexpected of course. His best friend has just tried to space himself.
"Harry," I say softly, trying to get his attention. His gaze remains fixed on Tom.
"Harry," I repeat. My voice is louder this time. His eyes flick to mine for a few seconds before returning to Tom.
"Yes, Commander." Harry's voice is tight and controlled.
"Are you able to return to the bridge, or do you want me to see about a replacement?"
Tom is shaking violently now, so I turn my attention back to him. Vaguely I realize that Harry has not answered me, but my concern is with Tom. "I'm going to take you to sickbay now, Tom," I say softly.
I am still holding his arm, so I gently guide him towards the door, pulling him in closer towards me to do so. All of a sudden I'm lying flat on my back on the floor, my jaw throbbing painfully.
"Don't touch me. Don't touch me," Tom is yelling. I sit up carefully, rubbing my jaw. I've made another mistake. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy.
End Part Eight