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. Disturbing in parts.

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

Betrayal
Part Nine

~^~

*Chakotay's POV*

I sit on the floor, gazing up at Tom, my jaw pounding in time with the thudding of my heart. He's looking down at the floor, his arms tightly wrapped protectively around himself.

"I'm sorry," I begin, but he's backing away.

"You can't help me," he says brokenly. "I can't talk to you."

Harry helps me to stand as Tom continues to back himself into a small corner of the room.

"Tom," Harry says quietly. "I know you feel you can't trust me anymore, but trust Chakotay. He can help you. I know he can."

"I don't need any help," Tom yells. "I was fine. Fine!"

"That's not true and you know it," Harry says quickly. "Let him help you."

"I can't." His voice is a mere whisper.

"Why? Why won't you let me help you?" I ask quietly. There's a lot more going on here than I understand.

Tom says nothing, he just continues to look at the floor.

"I know what the real problem is, Tom," Harry says suddenly. "I don't want to say anything. But if you're not going to let Chakotay help you, then I'm going to have to."

"Harry?" I say in bewilderment. What did he mean?

Harry is approaching Tom now. "Commander, Tom is just using what the Kazon did to him as an excuse to be angry with you. So that he can hate you, and have a reason for that hatred. But that's not why you hate him, is it, Tom?"

I wonder what Harry is talking about and I can see by the look of confusion on Tom's face that he doesn't know either.

Harry stares hard at Tom. "The reason you can't talk to him is a lot more complicated, isn't it? You've been strange with the Commander right from the start, haven't you? I always thought that something had happened between you in the Maquis and that's why you were always needling him. Always making sure that he was a little upset with you."

"But that wasn't true, was it?" Harry continues. Tom just stands there, staring at him. "You wanted him to keep his distance, didn't you? You wanted to make sure that you never became close. Never became friends. For some reason you felt threatened around the Commander, didn't you, Tom?"

Tom doesn't answer, but I can see the truth in his eyes.

"I can assure you..." I start to say, but Harry cuts me off.

"I know you didn't do anything, Commander. Not really. Unfortunately, you didn't have to. Tom felt threatened anyway."

Had he? I remember the false air Tom always adopted around me in those first few years. The arrogance and bravado. I'd put it down to immaturity and resisted the urge to wipe the floor with him.

"I always wondered why Tom reacted that way around you, Commander, and now I know why. Britax gave me the clue. I can see by your face, Tom, that you don't know what I'm talking about."

Harry is right, Tom looks utterly confused, but I'm sure I'm feeling just as confused as he is.

"I wondered if you realized, or if it was just on some unconscious level," Harry says calmly.

I'm feeling anything but calm. "Harry, what are you talking about?" I ask, as it's obvious that Tom isn't going to say anything.

Harry turns to me. "Commander, Britax is the Yaran male that Tom decked."

"I know that," I say a little impatiently.

"Do you know what he looks like, Commander?"

"No."

"Well, he is about the same height and build as you, Sir. His hair is very similar to yours and his eyes are the exact same color. I won't say that he looks exactly like you, but there are similarities. A vague resemblance that would be even more pronounced if it wasn't for the Yaran nose ridges and pointed ears."

"Are you saying that Tom hit that man because he reminded him of me?"

I am horrified that Tom must hate me that much, but Harry is shaking his head. Tom is still watching Harry in confusion.

"No, Commander," Harry tells me. "The problem is, that you both remind Tom of someone else."

Tom's sudden gasp, alerts us to the fact that he's realized what Harry is talking about. That's good. At least one of us does.

He grabs Harry's arm. "Shut up, Harry. I mean it."

"No, Tom, I won't. You just tried to kill yourself, for Gods sake. I'm not going to shut up. Can't you see? You don't even know what the problem is yourself. You can't talk to Chakotay and you don't even know why. Well, I do. Chakotay's going to help you and I'm going to help him help you."

He shakes himself free from Tom's grasp and turns to me. "I hate to tell you this, Commander, but you look a lot like James Manning."

"No!" Tom cries out. "He doesn't look anything like him. Nothing at all."

"Yes he does, Tom. I dug through some old records and finally found a picture of him. It was taken over thirty years ago, but the resemblance is there."

"It's not true," Tom insists. "He was tall. A lot taller."

Harry shakes his head. "You were a little kid at the time. Of course he seemed a lot taller."

Tom pushes past him and makes his way towards me. "You don't look anything like him," he tells me. His face has a pinched, haunted look about it.

"I can show you his picture," Harry insists. "Then you won't be able to keep on denying it, Tom."

Tom is trembling now and I reach out to touch his arm. He flinches and steps back. I'm at a complete loss. What does James Manning have to do with this?

I know whom they are talking about, of course. The Captain told me about the kidnapping. She also said that the official version of events left a lot out. She had gathered from Tom that the man had physically abused him.

We had both thought that Tom had attacked the Yaran, Britax, because of his memories concerning the Kazon and Zio, we had had no idea that it had anything to do with his kidnapping.

Could this James Manning have sexually abused Tom? Tom told the Captain that he hadn't. The doctor's report at the time, made no mention of such a thing, either. It mentioned several regenerated broken bones, supporting the theory that he had been physically abused.

Tom's counselor's report was also in his files and that made no mention of any sexual abuse. It did mention the physical abuse, however. He was supposed to have worked through all this. I just don't understand it. And the thought that I may resemble the man is sickening.

"Tom," I say, reaching out for him once more. "Is this true? Do I remind you of him?"

"No." He shakes his head. "I don't know. I just don't know." His voice is a strangled sob and he falls to his knees.

Harry races over to kneel down beside him. "I'm sorry, Tom."

"Why did you do this, Harry? I thought you were my friend. I thought you'd never hurt me."

Harry is crying now. "I AM your friend, Tom," he sobs. "But don't you understand what you just did? You tried to transport out into space. I'm terrified that you'll try to kill yourself again. You have to talk about it all. You have to get help, Tom." His cries are anguished. "Please, Tom. Please!"

I watch in surprise as Tom puts his arm around Harry and hugs him tightly. "I'm sorry, Harry. So sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."

"I'm so scared for you, Tom," Harry sobs. "Please let somebody help you."

"It's okay, Harry," Tom says softly. "It's okay."

I shake my head trying to understand what has just happened. Shouldn't it be Tom sobbing his heart out, with Harry trying to comfort him?

For a moment it had looked as if that was exactly what was about to happen, but somehow the roles have been reversed. I narrow my eyes, not liking the suspicion that is forming.

I walk slowly over to the transporter controls and override my lock down. I then transport them both to sickbay.

~^~

It's some time before I can get to sickbay myself, as I first have to contact the Captain and ask her to meet me there and then ask Lieutenant Rollins to take over Harry's duty shift on the bridge.

I hurry through the doors to find Harry pacing back and forth while the Doctor is running a tricorder over Tom. Tom appears to be sleeping.

The Doctor looks up as I enter and motions me over. "Perhaps you can tell me exactly what is going on here, Commander?"

"How is he?" Harry chimes in.

The Doctor gives him an annoyed look. "Not good actually, Ensign. And in future, Commander, if you are going to beam in patients to me, it might be helpful if you contacted me. I almost sedated the wrong man."

"I didn't want to say anything over the comm channel. I wanted to ensure Tom's privacy."

"I see."

The doors swish open then and the Captain walks briskly over to us, her eyes darting to Tom . She looks at Harry's tear streaked face and than at me. I guess I look a little pale and shaky myself.

"What happened?" she asks.

"Tom tried to transport off the ship," I tell her. "If it wasn't for that safety lockdown we put in after Neelix, he'd be dead now."

She visibly pales. "I knew he was troubled, but I had no idea he would try something like this."

"Mr. Paris is severely depressed. According to my readings he is also exhausted. It appears he has neither slept very much, nor eaten very much for days," the Doctor tells us.

The Captain goes over to Tom and picks up his hand. "We're going to help you, whether you like it or not," she tells him softly.

"I'll keep him sedated for now," the Doctor says. "He needs to sleep. Now perhaps somebody can tell me what drove Mr. Paris to do this. I know you have been accessing his medical files, Captain. And, Commander, you did only a few hours ago. What exactly is going on?"

I leave the Captain to fill the Doctor in a little, and move Harry away so that I can speak to him in private.

"You know a lot more about this than the rest of us. Care to fill me in?"

He flushes. "I don't really know anything, Commander. Most of it is just guesswork. Tom wouldn't tell me much."

"I need to know as much as I can if I'm going to be able to help him. That's if he'll let me. It doesn't look too good so far. Do I really look like this James Manning?"

He nods. "I'll show you." He leads me to a computer terminal and accesses his personal logs. "It took me a while to find this, as not much was written about this guy. It was lucky he did some work with the Katarian eel, or I wouldn't even have found this."

The picture is of a man in his early thirties, wearing a swimming outfit. He looks a little startled as if he wasn't aware that the picture was being taken.

I frown as I look at it. There is a slight resemblance. Not much, but enough. Harry is right. "No wonder Tom could never relax around me. Every time he looked at me, he must have subconsciously seen him. I don't think he'll be able to trust me."

"At the moment, he doesn't trust anyone," Harry says sadly.

The Captain comes over. "Is that James Manning?"

I nod. "Harry thinks I look like him."

She studies the picture closely. "I can't see it. Perhaps a little. I'll tell you who this does remind me of, though. Britax. It's something about the eyes, I think."

Her eyes open wide as the implication sinks in. "Is that why...?" She breaks off.

"I see you're thinking what I did, Captain. His attack on Britax had nothing to do with the Kazon's, but everything to do with this man instead."

"But this doesn't make sense. The Admiral managed to gloss over what happened to Tom, I know, but I'm sure he couldn't have made a sexual assault disappear. There were the Doctor's records as well as the counselors."

"That's what I thought," I say.

"Well something happened with him, that's for sure," the Captain says. "Tom denies there was anything sexual, but there's more to it than we know."

"What exactly do we know?" I ask.

"We know that he was kidnapped when he was eight. We know that Manning was mentally ill and believed that Tom was his son. As far as I know, he had fallen in love with Tom's aunt years before and he thought that she had had Tom secretly and didn't want him to know. He stole Tom away one day, so that he could raise him as his own."

"Tom was with him for five weeks, wasn't he?" I ask. "How the hell did he manage to keep him hidden for so long?"

"He didn't. He took Tom to Tarisiar III, where he had been living for quite a few years. Everyone knew him. At the time the community was rather self-contained. They didn't have a lot to do with the outside worlds. They had no idea who Tom really was."

"I see."

She continues. "He told everyone that Tom's mother had been killed and he was suffering from the shock of seeing it happen right in front of him. They all believed his story of a secret pregnancy and Tom was the son he didn't know he had. I suppose they had no reason not to."

"Didn't Tom try to tell them the truth?"

"I'm not sure. The report doesn't say. The local teacher found out the truth when she went to visit them one day. She tried to talk Manning into letting Tom start school and the small grip the man had on sanity deserted him. He was convinced she was trying to take Tom away from him and after stunning her, took Tom up on some mountain and shot himself in front of him."

"It must have been a terrible ordeal for an eight year old," I say with a shudder.

"According to the report, Tom was counseled and deemed fine and then a few months later, his school counselor found something wrong. He had to go back into extensive counseling for a few months and that's when the physical abuse was addressed."

"Do they know exactly what this man did to him?"

"There were a couple of broken bones, which he told the counselor he'd done falling off a boulder when he was out hiking. That could have been true as he told the counselor all about the beatings. Manning used to spank him sometimes and even used a cord to whip him. He would often hit him across the head or ear and punched him sometimes too."

"Sounds like a charming guy. And to think that I remind Tom of him."

The Captain pats my arm. "That's hardly your fault, Commander."

"So, do you think he did anything else?"

"I don't know. The counselor didn't think so. Tom's nightmares had eased off and he appeared to be coping fine, so his sessions were discontinued pending further development. When nothing else happened he was deemed 'over the ordeal'. I know there's more to the story though. B'Elanna told me that Manning had locked Tom in a trunk with a skeleton. More than once. I don't think there was really a skeleton in there with him, but at the time he believed it."

Just how much horror was Tom put through? What made him bury all of this deep within him? And why the hell wasn't this addressed properly at the time?

Tom's past is more shocking than I could ever have imagined possible. There is so much that needs to be addressed. I don't even know where to start.

The major problem at the moment seems to be getting Tom to admit that he needs help. The coping mechanisms that he's always used are no longer working.

"There's obviously a lot more to the story than we know," I say thoughtfully.

"There is more," Harry says suddenly and I look at him in surprise. I'd almost forgotten he was there. "That sick bastard played mind games with him. Had Tom so confused that he started to believe that he really was his son. He insisted that Tom call him Daddy. He had this sick ritual. He'd ask Tom who his Daddy was and Tom would have to say, 'you, Daddy.' And then he'd say, 'Who do you love, Tommy?' and Tom would have to answer, 'you, daddy, you.' He used to belt him up and then cuddle him in his lap, telling him how much he loved him. It was sick and twisted and I think the abuse was a lot worse than anyone realized."

"He told you that?" asks the Captain.

Harry flushes. "When we were in Akritiria, Tom was pretty delirious. I kind of pieced it together."

He looks completely mortified, and I have the feeling that he didn't mean to tell us that.

"So you don't know the full story either?"

He shakes his head, but avoids looking at me. "Not really. He didn't like to talk about it."

"Well he sure as hell needs to talk about it," I say vehemently. "Everything's tied in together somehow and that's what makes me think this James Manning sexually assaulted him. No matter what Tom or the records say."

I watch Harry's face for a clue. I get the distinct impression that he knows more than he's said. "Harry, is there anything more I should know?"

He still won't look at me. "No, Commander."

Now I know that he's lying. "Harry, I know that you don't want to betray Tom's trust, but it's very important that I know everything that you do."

"I've already betrayed Tom's trust," Harry says bitterly. "I can't tell you any more."

"Not even if it may help him?"

Harry's lip trembles and his eyes fill with tears. "He trusted me," he says in a choked voice.

The Captain puts her hand on his shoulder. "We all know how loyal you are to Tom. But if there's anything... anything at all...?"

He wipes his eyes with the back of his hand. "There isn't Captain...not really. It's just that I know the abuse was, bad...real bad. He told me about some of it."

The Captain pats his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him. He looks like he might burst into tears at any moment. "Can you help him, Commander?" he asks me.

I run my hands through my hair. I'm having serious doubts. "I'll be honest with you, Harry, I don't know."

"B-but you have to."

"How the hell can I help him, if every time he looks at me, he sees Manning?" I grind out in frustration. "I want to help him, more than anything, but can I?"

"I don't think he sees Manning every time he looks at you, Commander. It's just that the vague resemblance made him kind of wary of you. I thought that by making Tom acknowledge it, it might help him to move past it."

"Perhaps," I say doubtfully. I turn to the Captain. "He seems to speak quite openly to you, Captain. Perhaps you should try to counsel him?"

She shakes her head sadly. "I'm not a trained counselor, Chakotay. I would probably make matters worse. Besides, I think he's told me all he's going to. Look at what my misguided attempts have already done. I pushed him into trying to commit suicide."

"That wasn't your fault, Captain," I say quickly. "It was mine. I should have gone to speak to him immediately. Reassured him."

"I doubt he would have listened," she says dryly. "No, the fault is mine. I will have to live with that."

I sigh. "So, what do we do now?"

"I have no idea. Tom needs extensive counseling and the only person with any experience in these matters is you, Chakotay."

"And, as I said, I doubt he'll let me." I sigh in frustration and turn to look at Tom, who is still sleeping peacefully.

The Doctor waves a tricorder over him once more. "He'll be asleep for some time, I suggest the three of you try to do the same."

"I don't think I'll be able to, Doc. I should be on duty anyway," Harry says, running his hands through his hair.

"Rollins will finish your shift," I tell him. "Don't worry about it."

Harry sighs. "Thank you, Sir. Actually, I think maybe I should go and see B'Elanna. Let her know what's happened, before she hears any rumors."

"She'll be sound asleep now, Harry. Leave it for a few hours," the Captain tells him. "Besides, I intend for there to be no rumors."

He nods and then says hopefully, "Maybe I could stay here?"

"No, you should go back to your quarters and rest. Let me handle Tom," I say.

He glances towards the Captain. "The Commander's right, Harry. You need to rest."

"Yes, Ma'am." Harry glances at Tom one last time, and then leaves.

I watch as the Captain pulls out a chair next to Tom's bed and sits down. "I'll stay here with him."

"Captain, that's really not necessary," the Doctor protests. "He won't wake up for hours."

She gives him a hard stare. "I'm staying."

I grab a chair and sit down next to her. "I'm staying too."

She looks at me in surprise. "You don't have to, Chakotay. I'll be fine."

I give her a look very similar to the one she just gave the Doctor. "I'm staying."

She smiles and pats my hand, before turning her gaze to Tom's face. I watch him also. He looks a lot younger when he's asleep. Innocent and trouble-free. I wish he could look like that when he's awake.

The Doctor sighs and hands the Captain and myself a mug of steaming coffee each. "If you're going to stay here, cluttering up my sickbay, you'll need this."

~^~

It is some time later that Tom first begins to stir. The Doctor hurries over and waves his tricorder over him. Tom's eyes open and he looks directly at me. "Good morning," I say quietly.

A look of confusion crosses his face for a few moments before he flushes. "I'm sorry," he says attempting to sit up.

The Doctor pushes him back down again, a little roughly in my opinion. "You've had a nasty shock, stay still," he says abruptly.

The Captain stands up and goes over to take Tom's hand in hers. "I'm sorry," she says. "I pushed you too hard."

His eyes open wide. "No, Captain." He struggles to sit up once more and pushes the Doctor away as he tries to stop him. "Don't blame yourself. Please! It wasn't anything that you did."

"Then, what was it?" she asks softly.

"I don't know. I wasn't thinking clearly."

The Doctor clears his throat. "In my medical opinion, your rather poor lack of judgment can be directly attributed to your lack of rest and nourishment. Why you allowed yourself to get into that state in the first place requires further investigation, naturally."

"Thank you, Doctor," the Captain says, giving him a glare.

The Doctor shrugs but moves away a little.

I watch as the Captain perches on the side of Tom's bed. She's always had a soft spot for him, of course. I've known that right from the start of our journey. He seems to bring the mothering instinct out in her. It used to bug the hell out of me in the first year or so. I could never understand it.

My opinion of Tom and hers were totally different. He had to save the ship and all of us with it, more than once, before my opinion of him changed at all. I began to see what she saw in him and started to treat him with a little more respect.

I half expect her to brush the hair back from his forehead, or stroke his cheek or something, but she doesn't. She does keep hold of his hand, however.

"Tom," she begins. "I thought I understood how bad things were for you, but I obviously didn't. Harry's told us of his suspicions regarding James Manning and Chakotay's resemblance to him. I can see a slight resemblance, but the resemblance is much more pronounced between Britax and Manning."

She stops, waiting to see how Tom is going to react to this. His face is a carefully controlled mask. She sighs heavily. "You need to face this, Tom."

He shakes his head. "I don't want to talk about him."

"You need help, Tom. We want to help you. Why won't you let us?"

"I can't."

He's said all he's going to at the moment and the Captain looks at me in frustration.

I shake my head at her, letting her know not to push it. I'll speak to him later.

~^~

*Kathryn's POV*

That it should come to this! I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I was helping him. My meddling interference almost cost Tom his life.

Could I have lived with myself if that had happened? The answer is no. There are too many wrong choices on my conscience already.

Telling myself that I stumbled around in ignorance... pushing Tom into a situation that he couldn't possibly handle in the state of mind he was in...because I cared, would not bring Tom back.

Thank God Chakotay stopped him. Now I can only hope that Chakotay can help him.

He has that stubborn, closed look about his face. He's not ready to accept help yet. Chakotay is looking at me, shaking his head, silently letting me know to drop it.

I am willing to listen. Chakotay often accuses me of not listening to him. That is not true. I always listen, but I do not always agree.

This time I do. I have done enough. Far too much, actually. Chakotay knows far more about this type of thing than I do. I don't want to make matters worse, although I have no idea how much worse they could possibly get.

Tom means a great deal to me. I like to think that I feel that way about everyone on this ship. I think of myself as more than just the Captain of Voyager, leader of our small community. The truth is, however, that I am closer to certain members of my crew than I am to others.

Tom is special to me. At first I thought it was because of his father. He was my mentor and I admire and respect him greatly. I felt a bond with Tom because of him. Despite his relationship with Tom, he is a good and decent man. There is no one I would trust more than Admiral Paris.

I told Tom that I could imagine what his life was like growing up and unfortunately that is true. The Admiral knows how to get the best out of people under him and that makes him a strong and powerful leader.

The problem was that he had no idea how to treat a child. From the things that I have gathered over the years, he always treated Tom as the potential Starfleet officer. He had certain dreams for his son and could be quite ruthless in achieving them.

He didn't understand Tom and he didn't understand the pressure he was putting on him. As an adult I found the pressure enormous as I tried to live up to his expectations of me. And I was just his student. Someone he had taken an interest in.

As a child I could never have coped with it. I would have fared no better than Tom, in all probability I would have fared worse.

I also told Tom that I had no doubts that his father loved him, and of that I am sure. Why he covered up just how cruel James Manning had been to Tom, is something that only he knows. But I do know that it wasn't because he didn't care.

Tom thinks that it was because he was worried that Starfleet wouldn't accept him, but I know that wouldn't have been the case. And the Admiral should have known that too.

I think it had more to do with the ideal that Owen Paris had in his head for his young son. He had mapped everything out for Tom. Being kidnapped and suffering after effects because of it would not have been part of the plan.

That he would have been worried sick about Tom is obvious to anyone who knew him, but in a rather misguided attempt to make it all go away as quickly as possible, he pretended that as much of it as he could had never happened in the first place.

I remember so clearly the Admiral's reaction after we had been captured by the Cardassians and he had been tortured. He told me that he doubted he would ever be the same again, but he received no counseling. He believed that a person's strength of character would see them through anything.

It was a heartbroken man that came to see me the day I discovered that Tuvok and the Maquis ship he had infiltrated were missing. I had been busy with my plans for the mission and the excitement of being assigned command of Voyager.

I hadn't seen the Admiral for some time. I had spoken to him just after Tom's arrest and had been bitterly angry that any son could hurt his father the way Tom had.

The Admiral asked me to take Tom with me. The truth is, it wasn't really necessary. His knowledge would come in handy, but we didn't really need it. He wanted to give Tom a chance to redeem himself and I couldn't bear to say no.

My doubts must have crossed over my face, however, as he said. "I know he's done some stupid things and he has a lot of growing up to do, but he has it in him to be so much more than he is now. A lot of what happened can be directly attributed to me. I wasn't a very good father."

As I had opened my mouth to deny that, he had shaken his head. "I made a lot of mistakes with Tom, Kathryn. Too many. I regret a lot of the things I did. I always told myself that I was acting in Tom's best interests. His future was even more important to me than my own."

"You loved him," I said softly.

"Yes, more than anything in my life. But somewhere along the way, I crossed the line. Fatherly love and pride turned into an all-consuming passion to see him succeed. I need to try to undo some of the damage I have caused. I'm asking you to give him a chance, Kathryn. If not for him...then for me. If the young fool doesn't grab it with both hands then at least I'll know I tried."

I can only imagine what it must have cost the Admiral to come to me that day. He is a very proud man. Refusing him never entered my head.

Tom's genuine desire for redemption and his obvious devotion and loyalty towards me were like a balm to my wounded soul. The Maquis resented me and many of my own Starfleet crew had a problem with my decision to strand us out here in the Delta Quadrant.

I gloried in the knowledge that my decision to make Tom my chief conn officer was the right one. I saw the same innate integrity in him that I so admired in the Admiral, but there was a more human quality to Tom. Hidden beneath that cool, charming exterior was a very vulnerable young man. My heart went out to him and all my protective instincts kicked in.

As he sits here before me, looking so lost and alone, I want to pull him towards me and hug him tightly. I want to mother him and I want him to know that he's not alone. Very un-captainly, I know, but true nevertheless.

I would never have forgiven myself if Tom's suicide attempt had been successful. I will not interfere again. At least... not unless I feel I must. I will leave this to Chakotay. I trust he will know how to handle this.

The sickbay doors open at that moment, and we all look up to see B'Elanna striding towards us. Her eyes are blazing fiercely, fixed firmly on Tom as she approaches the bed. Her breathing is rapid and shallow and from where I sit, still perched on the bed, I can see she is shaking. I've never seen her so upset. Anger is vibrating off of her in waves.

I jump off of the bed and face her over the top of it. "B'Elanna, now is not a good time."

She isn't listening. Her whole attention is focused on Tom. "P'Tahk!" she screams.

Before I can react, her hand comes up and she hits Tom so hard across the face that the impact sends him sideways. I am just able to grab him before he can fall from the biobed.

I hear Chakotay leap up from behind me and then he races around to stop her as her hand raises again.

End Part Nine