Comparisons
By TíPam

Disclaimer:Voyager and all her crew belong to Paramount/Viacom. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit will be made, as this story is just for fun.
 

Part Six

The days and then weeks went by as Voyager continued on its quest for home. Tom continued to work diligently in sickbay and was quite pleased with his progress. He had even learnt to appreciate the Doctorís rather dry sense of humor, although he and Kes seemed to be the only ones who could see it. The EMH had even told him that he might be of some use after all, which was high praise indeed.

The only cloud in his otherwise bright horizon was the improvement in his hands. Or lack of it, he amended. He hadnít been able to notice any discernible difference in them for over a week now and was becoming seriously worried. He had known it would take time and a lot of hard work and he was prepared to be patient, but nothing seemed to be happening at all.

On this particular day he had gone down to sickbay a full hour before he was due to start his shift, hoping that the Doctor would help him plan a new therapy program. As he entered sickbay he could hear voices coming from the Doctorís office.

"I think you should talk to him Captain. He is becoming more agitated each day, but refuses to listen to me."

"If you think I can help, but I know the Commander has already tried to speak to him, on more than one occasion."

Tom wondered idly who they were talking about. He decided to go and clean up the cupboard on the other side of the room, while he waited, to give them a little privacy. He had just turned around when the Doctorís next words froze him in his tracks.

"Lieutenant Paris is determined to pretend that he will fly again. I thought that by having him work in here and increasing his medical knowledge, he would gradually accept the truth of his situation for himself. But this has not been the case. He refuses to accept that his hands will never be any better than they are now. He continually speaks of when he will fly again. It is a fantasy that has kept him going until now."

"No," the protest was ripped from his throat.

A hand on his shoulder made him turn around. "Tom, we didnít realize that you were here. Iím sorry that you heard that, but perhaps itís for the best. Itís time to face the truth."

"No," Tom protested again. "How can you listen to him Captain? Heís wrong. He doesnít know what heís talking about. Heís not even a real Doctor. Heís just a hologram."

"Insulting me will not change anything, Lieutenant."

"Shut up!" Tom yelled.

Janeway took a step towards him but Tom took two steps back. "Tom, please come and sit down. We need to talk about this."

"Thereís nothing to talk about. Itís not true." Tom backed away a few more steps. This wasnít happening. It was a nightmare. Heíd wake up soon.

The Captain stepped towards him again and he bolted for the door. He didnít know where he was running to. He just knew he had to get away.


"Well, I do not believe that went particularly well," the EMH commented and Kathryn turned around to glare at him.

She headed for the door. "Iíll find him and try to calm him down," she said.

Hurrying through the ship she was alarmed when the computer announced that Tom was headed for the shuttle bay. Slapping her commbadge she ordered. "Tuvok, meet me in the shuttlebay. We could have a problem."

"At once Captain," Tuvok replied calmly.

Tuvok arrived at the shuttle bay doors the same time as she did. She quickly told him what had happened and they entered the room carefully.

"Tom?" Kathryn called out. "We know youíre here. Come out where we can see you." There was no answer.

Tuvok indicated a shuttle at the far end of the room, and they hurried over. He had a keen sense of hearing and Kathryn guessed that he must have heard something.

Cautiously climbing into the shuttle they saw Tom sitting at the helm. "Tom?" Kathryn came up behind him.

He didnít turn around. "I was going to take the shuttle and run away." He gave a small laugh, but there was no humor in it. "I was always running away when I was a kid."

Kathryn squeezed his shoulder and sat down in the co-pilots seat.

"My fingers wonít stretch far enough to fly properly. And theyíre never going to be able to, are they? This is as good as theyíll get."

"Iím sorry, Tom."

"The Doctor was right you know. I knew it all along. I just didnít want to accept it." He held his hands up. "Theyíre useless. Iím useless."

"No Tom. Thatís not true. There are plenty of other things you can do. The Doctor says you have the makings of an excellent field medic and nurse."

"I canít do that properly either. My hands havenít got enough feeling in them and some of the equipment I canít even use."

"There will be limitations, I know."

Tom snorted. "Letís face it. I wouldnít be much help."

"Well the Doctor seems to think otherwise."

"Heís just saying that. He doesnít mean it."

"Oh? Iíve never known the Doctor to say anything he didnít mean. I realize that I donít know him as well as you do, and that Kes and you have managed to soften his attitude a little, but I still donít think heís capable yet of saying something that wasnít true, just to make some one feel better."

Tom sighed. "I guess youíre right."

Kathryn squeezed his arm. "I know itís going to be hard for you. I know how much flying means to you, but there are other things. Nowís your chance to find them."

"Iíd like to go back to my quarters now, if itís all right?" Tom asked quietly.

"Of course," Kathryn answered softly.


Over the next few days Tom kept to himself as much as possible. He did his duty shifts in sickbay and spent the rest of the time in his quarters. Even Harry and BíElanna didnít see him. After three days they decided that he had been left alone to brood long enough and went to his quarters as soon as they had finished their shifts.

"Hi Tom," Harry said brightly as their friend answered the door. He was a little surprised to see Tom wearing the blue uniform of sciences instead of the red one he usually wore.

"Hi," Tom answered. He didnít step back as he usually would have, to let them in.

BíElanna pushed past anyway and Harry sheepishly followed. "We thought weíd come and see how youíre doing," he explained.

"Iím fine," Tom said shortly, still standing by the door.

"Whatís with the change in uniform?" BíElanna demanded.

"It seemed more appropriate," Tom answered shortly.

"This place is a bit of a mess, isnít it?" BíElanna screwed her nose up.

"Itís as neat as I can manage these days," Tom said a touch of anger in his voice.

Harry immediately felt guilty. "We can help you clean it up," he offered.

"No, itís all right, I can do it." Tom stepped away from the door. "Iíve just been kind of tired lately. In fact, I was just about to go to bed now."

"Tom, itís not even eighteen hundred yet," BíElanna protested.

"Well, itís been a busy day. Iím tired."

"Weíre going to the holodeck tonight and wondered if you wanted to come with us?"

Tom shook his head at her. "I donít think so."

"Come on Tom. It will do you good," Harry pleaded.

"Thanks, but I really donít feel like it."

Harry tried again. "Youíll feel better once you get there. There are all sorts of great programs in the data base."

Tom shook his head. "I donít want to."

BíElanna growled angrily. "Youíre coming and thatís the end of it."

Tom crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at her. "Whatís the matter with you Torres? Canít you take no for an answer?"

She glared back at him. "Youíre not holing up in here, feeling sorry for yourself, any longer."

"I am not holing up here," Tom hissed angrily. "Will you get out of here and leave me alone?"

"No!"

"BíElanna, maybe we should----"

"Shut up Harry! Weíre going to the mess hall for something to eat and then weíre going to the holodeck - and heís coming with us. Even if I have to carry him."

Tom faced her angrily. "Just try it Torres and see how far you get."

Harry nervously stepped between them. "I really donít think this----"

"Harry - shut up!" BíElanna pushed him out of the way.

"Hey! Donít push Harry!"

"I will if I want to."

"Hey, now wait a minute," Harry stepped between them again and BíElanna pushed him away again.

"Stop pushing Harry around," Tom yelled furiously.

"And whoís going to stop me?"

"I will!"

"I seriously doubt that Paris." Before Tom even had time to blink she hurled herself at him and tackled him to the floor.

"BíElanna!" Harry cried out, trying to pull her off of Tom, as he struggled beneath her.

BíElanna started yelling in Klingon and Tom was yelling in all different languages. "Stop it!" Harry shouted as loud as he could, trying to be heard above the two of them.

"What the hell is going on in here?"


Kathryn slowly made her way to Tomís quarters. She was worried about him. The Doctor had reported that Tom had barely spoken over the past few days and no one else had even seen him. She wanted to make sure he was all right.

As she neared his quarters she could hear raised voices and by the time she reached his door all hell seemed to have broken loose. Without hesitating she overrode the code on the door and hurried inside. The sight before her froze her in her tracks for a few seconds. BíElanna had Tom down on the floor and Harry was trying to pull her off of him.

Janewayís voice seemed to ring around the room and the three on the floor, stilled - as one - and then hastily scrambled to their feet.

"C-Captain," Harry stammered, helping Tom to stand up. The three stood stiffly at attention before her.

"Can some one please tell me whatís going on?" she asked coldly.

"Itís my fault Captain. Please donít blame them."

"I see." Kathryn studied Tom for a few moments. "It appeared that Lieutenant Torres was attacking you and Ensign Kim was trying to stop her. May I ask what you did to incur her wrath?"

Tom flushed a little. "Itís kind of personal Captain."

"Really? Iím still waiting."

Tom flushed even brighter. "I wouldnít go to the holodeck," he finally mumbled.

"Well that sounds like a good reason to attack a fellow officer," Kathryn said sarcastically, glaring at BíElanna.

BíElanna looked mortified. "Iím sorry," she said shakily. "I lost control."

"It would appear so. I will not have senior officers behaving in this way. Is that understood?"

"Yes Captain," all three answered together.

"Ensign Kim, please take Lieutenant Paris into the bathroom and help him to clean up. His lip is bleeding."

As soon as they were gone she indicated to BíElanna to sit down on the couch. Glancing around she noticed for the first time, just how messy Tomís quarters were. "It would appear that Tom hasnít bothered to do much housekeeping."

BíElanna seemed a little surprised, but answered. "He says heís been too tired. Harry and I were going to give him a hand, but he didnít want us to."

Kathryn sat down on a chair opposite her. "I know you care about Tom, but what do you think you were trying to do?"

BíElanna sighed. "He just made me so mad. Harry and I have been worried sick about him. We thought he needed to get out a bit. Get back into life, so to speak. He refused and I just lost it. Iím so sorry Captain. The Klingon part of me is hard to control sometimes."

"I understand that BíElanna and I know you wouldnít have reacted so strongly if you didnít care so much. The Klingon blood in you will always make you a little volatile and Iím willing to accept that. Itís part of who you are, but youíre going to have to learn some restraint. Learn to control your temper a little. We canít have you attacking every one that displeases you. It would become rather disrupting to say the least. Iím wondering if Lieutenant Tuvok may be able to help you."

"Iíd be willing to try, Captain."

Kathryn smiled. "Good. Iíll speak to him about it." She stood up as Tom and Harry re-entered the room. "BíElanna, Harry, you may go now. Iíd like to speak to Tom alone."

"Yes Captain," they both said, and with one last glance at Tom, they left.

"Tom, come and sit down. I came to see how you were actually. The Doctor is rather concerned about how quiet youíve been."

"There hasnít been much to say," Tom said quietly, sitting down on the couch.

Kathryn sat back in the chair and regarded him thoughtfully. "I can only imagine how devastated you must feel."

Tom stiffened. "Iíll get over it. As you said, there are other things in life. I just have to find them."

"Yes, thatís true, but youíve lost something very important to you. Flying was a part of you and I know itís going to be hard for you to readjust."

Tom shook his head. "Donít worry about me Captain. Iíll be fine."

"I know you will, but if you need to talk, Iím more than willing to listen. And Iím not the only one. The Commander has offered his services also."

"Talking isnít going to change anything," Tom said and there was a trace of bitterness in his voice. "Besides, Iíve already said it all. Thereís nothing else to say."

And Kathryn had to leave it at that.


BíElanna cursed, as the console in front of her beeped once again. Slapping her hand down on it angrily, she struggled to control her temper. Taking a deep breath she felt herself calming down and even managed to say to Carey, in a normal tone of voice, "Youíd better do this. I canít seem to concentrate."

As Joe Carey took over, she told him she was going to go and grab a late lunch and headed for the mess hall. When she entered, she saw that there was hardly any body in there, but Tom was sitting by himself at a table at the far end of the room.

She had been hoping that he would be. She had only seen him twice in the past week and heíd barely spoken. She knew that Harry hadnít had much luck either. Tom was taking late meal breaks and skipping some meals all together. Picking up the first thing she could see, she dumped it on her tray and hurried over to him.

"Hi," she said, slipping into the seat opposite him. "How are things?"

"Fine," Tom answered. "How are things with you?" He quickly looked down at his tray again, as if the pudding-like concoction on it had suddenly become fascinating.

"Good. Actually, you should congratulate me." At Tomís quizzical look, she explained. "Tuvokís sessions seem to be helping. I managed to calm myself in just a few seconds, a couple of minutes ago."

Tom looked back down at his tray again. "Thatís good."

BíElanna gave a small sigh. "Anything exciting happening with you?"

"No."

"Nothing in sickbay?"

Tom shook his head. "No."

BíElanna sighed again - louder this time. She could feel the anger starting to surface and decided to count to ten, as Tuvok had taught her. They ate in silence for a while.

"Have you seen Harry lately?" she asked suddenly. They were the only ones in the mess hall by now, except for Neelix, who was pottering around behind the counter.

Tom didnít look up. "I saw him last night."

"How is he?" She already knew that Harry was fine. Sheíd called in on him herself this morning. But she thought it might get Tom talking.

"All right. He doesnít have any memories of being turned into photonic energy."

She already knew that too. "The Doctor did a good job getting Chakotay, Tuvok and Harry back, didnít he?"

Tom nodded. "Yes."

"Who would have thought of Harry as Beowulf? Iím going to have to tease him about that."

Tom didnít say anything to that and BíElanna gritted her teeth and counted to ten again. Youíre not mad at him, she kept telling herself - youíre worried. The friendly, cheerful, outgoing man she had come to know, was now quiet, withdrawn and completely anti-social. On top of the fact that her best friend in the Maquis - Seska - had turned out to be a Cardassian spy, betraying them to the Kazon, it was all too much.

"Tom, how about coming to the holodeck with me tonight? Harry doesnít want to, after yesterdayís fiasco with the photonic beings. Iíd really like some company. Iíll even let you pick the program."

Tom shook his head. "No thanks. I was going to have an early night."

BíElanna growled. "Youíre always having early nights. You never want to go any where or do any thing." She wondered why she cared so much. Heís a friend and he needs help, she told herself.

"Iím just a little tired."

"Thatís what you always say. I donít believe you."

Tom stood up abruptly. "Iíd better get back to sickbay."

BíElanna grabbed his arm. "We havenít finished talking."

Tom managed to break free. "Yes, we have."

BíElanna jumped up. "Stop running away."

Tom turned around to glare at her. "I donít know what youíre talking about. Did it ever occur to you, that I donít want to be around every one feeling sorry for me? I canít stand all that pity."

"The only pity around here, is your self-pity. Youíre full of it."

"Will you mind your own business Torres?"

"Donít make me hurt you Paris." She grabbed hold of both of his arms this time and determined not to let go.

Neelix, hearing the raised voices, hurried out from his galley. "Lieutenants," he said. "Whatever the problem is, Iím sure we can work it out."

BíElanna growled at him, and he took a step back.

Tom struggled to get away, but this time she had a better grip. "Let me go."

"No. Youíre not going any where."

"I said - let me go," Tom yelled, struggling even harder.

"Please, please," Neelix begged, trying to be heard over the top of both of them.

It was absolute chaos, and into this entered the Captain and Tuvok, about to have a very late lunch.


Tuvokís eyebrowís rose and Kathryn put her hand over her eyes. "Not again," she muttered.

"It appears Lieutenant Torres requires more sessions with me," Tuvok commented before hurrying forward to try to separate the two.

"Enough," Janeway bellowed in her best command voice and BíElanna let go of Tom abruptly. Tom staggered backwards and Neelix steadied him.

"May I ask what is happening here?" Kathrynís voice was frosty.

BíElanna gulped and opened her mouth to confess; only to have Tom beat her to it.

"Iím sorry, Captain. Things got a little out of hand. It was all my fault."

"No, it wasnít," BíElanna hastily said. "I lost my temper again."

"Yes, but I made her Captain, so it is my fault."

As BíElanna was about to argue, Janeway held up her hand. "I donít care whose fault it is. I just want to know, why it happened. Whatís going on this time?"

Tom looked at BíElanna and BíElanna looked back at Tom. They both hesitated. BíElanna certainly didnít want to admit that she had lost her temper because Tom wouldnít go to the holodeck with her - again. She didnít think the Captain would be particularly amused or as understanding as the last time.

Tom didnít want to admit that he was feeling sorry for himself and pushing his friends away.

"Oh, let me tell you, Captain," Neelix offered. "Lieutenant Torres wouldnít let Tom leave here because she was trying to get him to go out with her, but he doesnít want to go out in case everyone feels sorry for him, and she says heís full of self-pity and he wants her to mind her own business and she wants to hurt him - I think - and oh - I nearly forgot - she thinks he keeps running away."

He took a deep breath but before any one could say anything, he rushed on. "Lieutenant Torres wouldnít let Tom go, no matter how much he struggled. I was about to suggest that he kick her in the shins or trip her up or something, but I wasnít sure if I should. Some species frown upon a gentlemen physically fighting with a lady, but I think under these circumstances it would have been acceptable. After all, she is so much stronger than he is and---"

"Thank you Neelix," Janeway finally managed to say. She turned to Tuvok, who was watching Neelix as if he were the most unusual thing he had ever seen and she had to struggle not to laugh.

"Oh my pleasure Captain. Iím just glad that I could be of assistance." Neelix beamed around at every one. BíElanna glared at the Talaxian, while Tom studied his shoes.

Kathryn turned back to Neelix again. "Iím sure weíve kept you from your duties long enough."

"Why no Captain," he interrupted. "This is much more interesting."

"Iím sure it is, but you must be very busy." She wondered if the Talaxian could take a hint.

"Not at the moment Captain. I have the next few hours to myself, until I have to start preparing the dinner. Iíd be more than happy to stay here and help in any way that I can."

"Thank you, but thatís not necessary."

"Oh, but I donít mind."

She decided she would have to be straightforward. "I do. I would like to speak to the two Lieutenants in private."

"Oh! Of course Captain. You should have said. Come along Mr. Vulcan. We have to go now."

Tuvok looked at him in amazement and then turned to her. "Do you require me to leave Captain?"

Kathryn shook her head. "No. Iíd like you to stay, thank you Tuvok."

"Oh! I understand," Neelix bobbed his head up and down. "In case Ms. Torres becomes uncontrollable, you will need Mr. Vulcanís superior strength to contain---"

"Goodbye Neelix." Kathryn glared at him.

"Um, goodbye." Neelix bustled from the room and they all breathed a sigh of relief - even Tuvok.

Kathryn turned back to Tom and BíElanna and folded her arms. "Although Neelixís account of what happened was rather amusing, Iím no longer amused. I will not have my crew behaving in this manner. It was just a bit of luck that there was no one else in here to witness this little spectacle."

"Iím sorry Captain," BíElanna said miserably.

"Iím sure you are, but that doesnít really change anything. This is becoming a serious problem. Tuvok, do you think that you can help Ms. Torres to achieve some self-restraint?"

"Yes Captain, I do. But it will take time."

"Very well. I want you to increase your sessions with her, to as frequently as you deem appropriate - daily if necessary." BíElanna looked as if she were about to protest. "Yes Lieutenant? You have something to say?"

"No Captain."

"Good." She turned to Tom, who was still studying his shoes. "Mr. Paris. I would like you to speak to Commander Chakotay. I believe you need some counseling to help you readjust."

Tom looked up at her in surprise. "Thatís not necessary, Captain."

"I think it is."

"Iím fine," he protested. "Just because I donít want to go out partying every night."

"Itís a lot more than that and you know it, Tom."

"If Torres would just quit bugging me, Iíd be all right."

"You are going to speak to Commander Chakotay, thatís an order Lieutenant."

"Yes Maíam."

"Now both of you get back to work and I never want to hear of anything like this happening again. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes Captain," they both said at once, marching towards the door.

As they stepped out into the corridor she heard Tom hiss. "This is all your fault Torres."

"My fault?" BíElanna hissed back. "If you werenít so stubborn---"

"And if you werenít so interfering."

"Interfering?" BíElannaís voice rose to full volume. "Iím trying to help you, you pig-headed pig."

Janeway rolled her eyes and looked towards Tuvok, who merely raised one eyebrow.

"Some help. And who are you calling a pig, Pinocchio?"

"Pítahk! Whatís a Pinocchio?"

"Itís a creature that sticks its nose where its not wanted and each time its nose grows." Janeway raised her eyebrow, herself. She hadnít heard that particular story told in quite that way before. "Itís a wonder your nose hasnít made its way back to engineering by now."

A loud thump was heard after that, followed by a yelp.

Kathryn shook her head. "I did not hear that Tuvok. Please tell me, I didnít hear it."

More thumps could be heard, then a loud groan. "You didnít hear that either Captain," Tuvok said dryly.

As the bangs and thumps grew louder, Kathryn hurried to the door. "Iím throwing them both in the brig this time Tuvok. I mean it."

"Indeed!"

End Part Six