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 Seven

BíElanna paced up and down in the tiny cell, wondering what the hell was the matter with her. Nobody stirred her up, the way Tom Paris did. He was stubborn, pigheaded, irritating, attractive--, she broke off at the thought. Was she attracted to him? He was certainly good looking and kind and generous and brave and ---, she stopped herself. He was a friend - nothing more. She cared about him as a friend would. She cringed as she thought about how angry the Captain had been with them both. Her ears still burned.

Of course, she hadnít helped matters with her little display as theyíd arrived at the brig. But that had been Parisís fault as well. She had walked through the corridors behind him and in front of the Captain and Tuvok with as much dignity as she could muster. She thought sheíd done a pretty good job too, until they were standing outside the cells.

"You can both spend the night in here to cool off," Janeway had said angrily.

"I donít think these cells are big enough Captain," Tom had answered. "Youíll never fit both Torres and her nose in one of them."

Sheíd screamed angrily and pounced on him, only to find herself propelled into one of the cells and Tuvok almost glaring at her.

The Captain had been furious and told them that they could both stay in the brig for the rest of the journey home as far as she was concerned.

"Would you mind pacing a little quieter? Youíre giving me a headache," Tom complained. She couldnít see him, he was in the cell next to hers, but they could certainly hear each other. She promptly started stomping around the cell as loudly as she could. This didnít last for very long however, as Tom made no comment.

She looked across to the guard. It was Ayalla, a friend of hers from the Maquis. "Do you know how long weíre going to be kept in here?"

"Iím sorry BíElanna - I donít. And Iím not supposed to talk to you."

"I wonít tell anyone."

"Sorry. Iím just following orders."

"Come on Ayalla. Weíre friends."

"Sorry BíElanna. I donít want to get into trouble."

A snort came from the other cell. "Sheís pretty good at getting friends into trouble."

"What are you saying Paris? That this is my fault? Youíre the one with the big mouth. Itís almost as big as your head. And if you donít shut it, Iím going to put my fist in it."

Tom chuckled. "I think the wall might stop that."

BíElanna kicked the wall in frustration and Ayalla hurried over. "Come on BíElanna. Calm down. Heís just trying to stir you up."

"And Iím doing a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself."

"Paris, will you shut up?" Ayalla said in exasperation, as BíElanna started swearing in Klingon. She hurled every insult she could think of at him, before sinking down on the bunk at the far side of the cell.

All was quiet for a few moments and Ayalla, with a look of relief, headed back to his station.

Tomís voice ruined the peace. "Same to you Torres, with bells on."


"Do you see what Iím trying to cope with here? Theyíre like two little kids." Janeway threw her hands up in frustration as Chakotay turned off the security monitor from the brig.

"Tuvok, youíd better get down there before Torres does manage to put a hole through the wall," she said with a sigh.

"Yes Captain. Do I have your permission to nerve pinch her if necessary?"

"You have my permission to shoot her, if necessary. That goes for Tom too."

Tuvok raised his eyebrow a little before speeding away. Chakotay couldnít hide his amusement.

"Itís not funny Commander."

"I agree. Itís a very serious situation," he answered, struggling to keep a straight face.

"Yes it is. What if the rest of the crew decided to act like that?"

"I donít think thatís very likely."

"Perhaps not. Quite frankly Commander, Iím out of my depth here. I donít know what to do with them."

"Well, Lieutenant Tuvokís sessions with BíElanna should help."

"Yes, but thatís in the long term. What do I do with her in the meantime?"

"Perhaps if we kept them apart? Banned them from going near each other?"

"This is a small ship. But I suppose it might be possible until BíElanna can control herself a little more. The sad part of it is that sheís been trying to help him. Tomís been so quiet lately."

"Well, heís certainly not quiet now."

"No. Perhaps this has done some good after all. I still would like him to come to you for counseling. He needs to accept his loss and move on."

Chakotay nodded. "I agree. Heís obviously very angry with BíElanna for not leaving him alone and this is his way of dealing with it. He certainly knows how to push her buttons."

"Oh, heís very good at that. The first time I met him, he pushed a few of mine."

She quickly filled him in and Chakotay couldnít help laughing. "Talk about making a great first impression."

Janeway laughed as well. "Despite all that, Iíve really come to like him and care about him. I hate to see him withdrawing into himself. I hope you can help him."

"Iíll try Captain."

"Good. Now, shall we turn the security monitor back on and see if Tuvok has actually had to shoot either of them?"

Chakotay chuckled and reached across to turn it on. All was quiet. Both Tom and BíElanna were sitting on their bunks. They watched in silence as Tuvok prepared to leave.

"Please contact me Mr. Ayalla if there is any more trouble."

"Yes Lieutenant."

As soon as Tuvok had gone, Tom lay down, but BíElanna jumped up and hurried across to the barrier of her cell. "Iím sorry if I got you in trouble, Ayalla."

He shrugged carelessly, but didnít answer.

She sighed and sat down again.

As the silence lengthened, Janeway sighed in relief. "Hopefully, thatís the end of it now." She turned off the monitor.

Chakotay smiled. "It should be."


There was silence in the brig for quite some time. Tom had a pounding headache and he was starting to feel very guilty about baiting BíElanna. She was his friend and was only interfering because she cared.

"BíElanna?" he called out tentatively. "Iím sorry too. I shouldnít have goaded you like that. I know you were just trying to help."

"Yes, I was." BíElanna said gruffly. "But I shouldnít lose my temper all the time. Iím sorry I attacked you. I didnít hurt you did I?"

Tom gave a small laugh. "A few bruises here and there, but Iíll live."

"Oh Tom! Iím so sorry."

"Forget it. I deserved them."

"No you didnít."

"Yeah. I did."

BíElanna jumped back off her bunk again and started pacing. "I feel terrible. Iím a lousy friend."

"No, youíre not. Youíre a great friend. The best."

BíElanna snorted, continuing to pace.

"Um. BíElanna? Do you think you could stop pacing? It really is giving me a headache."

BíElanna sighed, but Tom heard her sit back down on her bunk. He sighed with relief. Shutting his eyes he tried to go to sleep.

"Tom?"

He decided to ignore her.

"Hey Paris?" She was louder this time.

Tom groaned quietly and opened one eye. "What? Iím trying to go to sleep here."

"Sleep? Itís the middle of the afternoon."

"Yeah, well Iím tired." He opened both eyes and stared at the ceiling.

"Youíre always saying that."

"Well, this time I really am."

"Yeah, right Paris. If you donít want to talk to me, just say so."

"Okay. I donít want to talk to you."

"Very funny." She lapsed into silence, and Tom - with another sigh of relief - shut his eyes again. If he stayed still, with his eyes shut, the headache wasnít so bad.

"I hate being locked up in here," BíElanna suddenly grumbled, making Tomís eyes open immediately. "How long do you think sheíll keep us here?"

Tom gave in, and slowly sat up. "Hell knows. It was supposed to be overnight, but now it could be longer."

"How much longer?"

Tom sighed. "I donít know." His head continued to pound.

"Well, you must have some idea. Whatís the usual procedure in a case like this?"

"I donít know," he repeated, starting to become annoyed. "Iíve never actually had a fight with a fellow officer before."

"Well, you didnít have a fight this time. You just let me attack you."

"What was I supposed to do?" He was becoming seriously annoyed now.

"I donít know. Fight back. The least you could have done was try to stop me."

Tom shook his head in anger and the movement made his head spin. "Iím not in the habit of fighting girls Torres, although in your case, I could make an exception."

BíElanna hooted. "What are you getting so riled up about? Did I embarrass you?"

Tom tried to think of some smart rejoinder, but his head was pounding too hard. "Why donít you shut up?" was all he could manage.

"Donít tell me to shut up," BíElanna yelled.

"Well someone sure as hell should," he yelled back.

They started hurling insults at each other and Ayalla rushed over. "Cut it out you two."

They continued to yell back and forth taking no notice of him. Ayalla was yelling at them both too by now.

"When I get out of here, Iím going to---"

"Who says youíre going to get out of here?" The voice was quiet, but deadly. It had the desired effect. BíElanna shut up in mid sentence.

Chakotay and Tuvok stood in front of them. "I didnít want to believe just how childishly you two were behaving," Chakotay continued. "Do you want to spend the rest of our journey home, here in the brig? Because Iím telling you, if you keep this up, you will be."

Chakotay continued to remonstrate with them, but Tom barely heard him. Now that the adrenaline rush, from arguing with BíElanna was over, his head was hammering once again. He wondered whether he should say something about it. Ask if he could go to sickbay. His eyes watered as the pain increased.

He had just decided to, when he heard BíElanna say, "I think I need to go to sickbay. Iíve got a toothache." Damn Torres, anyway!

"Nice try, but it wonít work." Chakotay said with a smile. "Youíre both staying here for the next two days. Whether youíre let out after that, depends on you."

"But, my tooth really does hurt."

"Then it looks like youíll be suffering."

"Chakotay! Prisoners are supposed to be given proper medical attention," BíElanna protested.

"For proper medical conditions; they are."

Tom seethed with anger. He couldnít possibly tell the Commander that he had a fairly severe headache, now. Heíd never believe him - thanks to Torres.

Chakotay left, but Tuvok took over Ayallaís station.

"Lookís like Tuvokís going to keep us under control," BíElanna commented. Her voice was amused.

But Tom wasnít. "Why donít you just shut up Torres? Now, because of you, Iím stuck with this headache."

"Lieutenant Paris, I will only say this once," Tuvok said from his station. "There will be no discussions of any kind, between yourself and Lieutenant Torres. I do not expect to have to repeat myself."

Tom sighed and sat down heavily on the bunk.


"Tuvok intends to keep an eye on them himself," Chakotay told Janeway. "Iím not sure if I got through to them or not. BíElanna certainly looked contrite enough. Then she ruined it all by pretending to have to go to sickbay with a toothache." He looked worried.

"What is it Commander?"

"Iím just wondering if perhaps weíre being a little hard on Tom. After all, BíElanna was the one fighting him. He wasnít fighting her, just trying to defend himself. I know he stirred her up, but she should be able to handle a little teasing. Heís very upset."

"I canít say Iím surprised. Heís had an exemplatory record up until this and we both know he has emotional problems at the moment."

Chakotay nodded. "At one stage, while I was reading them the riot act, I thought he was going to cry. He had tears in his eyes, and was very pale and shaky. He didnít say a word either."

"Oh dear. I shouldnít have thrown him in the brig. Heís still trying to deal with not being able to fly. I think we should let him out in the morning."

"I agree. What about BíElanna?"

Janeway sighed. "Weíll let her out too. Sheís needed down in engineering."

"Should we turn on the monitor and check to see if theyíre finally behaving?"

Kathryn shook her head. "Iíd rather not know. Lieutenant Tuvok will let me know if there are any more problems, Iím sure."

"I donít think there will be. If thatís all Captain, Iíll get back to the bridge."

"Thank you Commander."

Kathryn continued to read her reports after he had left, but she found it more and more difficult to concentrate. She couldnít stop worrying about Tom. She had a soft spot for him and freely admitted it. She wondered if she should go down to the brig and check on him. Make sure he was all right.

She could go down later this evening, on the pretext that she was telling them personally that she was ignoring their behavior in the brig, and that they would be let out in the morning. That way she could see Tom for herself. Let him know that she wasnít that mad at him. That would go a long way to reassure him, if he was as upset as Chakotay thought he was.

She sat up abruptly. Why was she so worried about Tom? Heíd had a bad blow, she knew. His whole life would now be changed. But in a way, hadnít they all? She supposed it was because flying meant so much to him. He was so gifted and now because of her, he had lost that gift.

She felt guilty about it. If he hadnít come back for her on the crumbling staircase, his hands might not have been so badly damaged. She knew that the damage had been done when the helm had exploded, and then the Caretaker had beamed Tom down to the Ocampans, instead of leaving him in sickbay so that the EMH could treat him. She couldnít help wondering just how much more damage he had done on the staircase though.

She shook her head. Thoughts like this were counter productive. It wouldnít change what had happened. She also knew that the reason that she felt so close to Tom was because of his father. Over the years, Tomís father had told her so much about him that although she had only really known Tom these past few months, she felt like sheíd known him since he was a small boy.

Owen Paris had been like a second father to her. He had guided her and supported her all through her Starfleet career and she owed it to him to make sure that Tom was all right. Since accepting the painful truth that he would never be able to fly again, Tom had become withdrawn and the fight with BíElanna and subsequent punishment could be more than he could handle.

The thought of him sitting in the brig, so upset, was more than she could bear and she determined that she would go down there before her evening meal. This firmly decided; she found she was able to concentrate on the reports in front of her.


"Did it not occur to any one that Mr. Paris might have been injured? It appears that Ms. Torres did more than just bruise him. He is concussed. I cannot believe that you have two crewmembers fighting to the death----"

"It was hardly to the death Doctor," Janeway interrupted.

"Be that as it may, they were fighting - inflicting bodily harm on one another----"

"Well they werenít really fighting," she interrupted again. "Tom was just trying to get BíElanna off of him. But I realize now that BíElanna was banging Tomís head against the wall. He didnít say anything about being hurt."

The Doctor sniffed his disapproval. "I realize that you are not medically trained Captain, but surely it has not escaped your notice that Ms. Torres is Klingon and----"

"Half," Janeway interjected. "Sheís only half Klingon."

"Oh, well that makes all the difference," the EMH said sarcastically. "If you will allow me to finish what I want to say? She is stronger than most of the crew and especially a human with limited use of his hands. I find it hard to believe that you just threw them both in the brig without having him examined first."

"Youíre right Doctor," Kathryn agreed. "Iím afraid that I just didnít think of it at the time. I was mad at the both of them," she pulled herself up short. She didnít have to explain herself to this computer program. Although it was becoming more and more difficult to think of him in those terms. As she watched him bustling around Tom, it occurred to her that the EMH was becoming as real to her as any other member of the crew.

She was glad that all Tom had was a concussion; he had looked so deathly ill when sheíd had him beamed directly to sickbay. When she had entered the brig, Tom had seemed to be sleeping peacefully and she had almost left without speaking to him. It was only because Tuvok had informed her that he had been asleep for nearly three hours that she had gone over to him.

She was standing looking into his cell, thinking how tired he must be, when BíElanna commented that he slept like the dead. She had been unable to awaken him, she had said, sounding a little annoyed and Kathryn had taken a closer look. Tom looked awfully pale and she had asked Tuvok to lower the force field.

She had been shocked to discover that Tom was not asleep as he appeared, but unconscious and had had them both beamed to sickbay immediately. The Doctor had begun treatment quickly and efficiently, but not without his usual caustic comments.

"Is he going to be all right now?" she asked.

"Naturally. My medical expertise has conquered once again. However, I can only hope that you have learned from this experience Captain and that in future any crewmembers under these circumstances will be examined before incarcerated."

"I can assure you, these circumstances will not be repeated. I will not have crewmembers attacking each other."

The EMH snorted a little as if he found that idea totally unbelievable and then continued as if she hadnít spoken. "If you are in too much of a hurry to have them thrown behind bars to come to sickbay, then I suggest notifying me and since I am stuck in this," he waved his arms around the room, "hell-hole, I will send someone to the brig. Kes is more than capable of carrying out a simple examination already and even Mr. Paris should be able to check for injuries. Although, that is of course if he is not one of the combatants."

Kathryn sighed rather loudly, but merely said, "thank you Doctor. When Tom wakes up, send him back to his quarters."

"Oh? You donít want him back in the brig?"

"No. I think heís been punished enough. He didnít really do anything except not know when to keep quiet."

"Ah! I am gratified that you have discovered this apparent character flaw. I myself find him quite trying at times. Considering how patient and understanding I have learnt to be, I believe that this fact is telling in itself. If I find that he tests my patience, I can only imagine what Ms. Torres - who is renown for her lack of patience - has to----"

On that note Kathryn quickly left the sickbay, without another word.

She heard the Doctorís - "Well, really! People can be so rude!" - as the doors closed behind her.


"It seems to me that everythingís turned out rather well," Chakotay remarked as the doors to the ready room closed behind Tuvok.

"Yes, it would appear so," Kathryn agreed. "Although Iíd rather not have had to deal with a guilt stricken Vulcan. Putting himself on report for dereliction of duty was a bit much. And the argument as to why it was a logical step, since he had heard Tom say that he had a headache and ignored it, almost had me agreeing with him."

Chakotay chuckled. "Vulcans can be very persuasive with their logic. If it comes to that, he probably should have reported me too. After all, I knew there was something wrong. If Iíd asked Tom if he was all right instead of assuming he was upset, he probably would have told me."

"Yes, and if I had done what the Doctor suggested, and had him checked over before throwing them in the brig. Everythingís Ďif onlyí, Chakotay. At least heís all right now."

"Yes he is. I had a long session with him last night and he seems much more cheerful today. He let out his anger at fate and his grief, and I think now heís ready to move on. Heíll need a few more sessions with me yet, but heís definitely better than he was."

"Iím glad. I thought he seemed a little more like his old self this morning."

Chakotay laughed. "Heaven help us when he does get back to Ďnormalí. I get the impression he can be a little irrepressible at times."

Kathryn bobbed her head up and down in agreement. "But if thatís all we have to worry about, Iíll be happy."

"BíElanna seems determined to try her best with Tuvok too. She was horrified at what she had done to Tom and genuinely never wants anything like that to happen again."

"Well that makes two of us. I know she cares about him, but he seems to bring out the Klingon in her."

"I know. I think she cares about him a little too much."

"Oh? You think itís more than just friendship?"

Chakotay nodded. "Iíve known her for a while now and yes, sheís definitely attracted to him. She wouldnít admit that though, not even to herself."

"You sound a little disapproving. Donít you like Tom?"

"Of course I do. I think everybody does. Itís not that. Itís just not a good idea to become romantically involved on a starship."

"Under normal circumstances, Iíd agree with you, but we could be out here a long time. People are bound to start pairing off. Itís only natural."

"I suppose youíre right. But if something happens and they break up, they canít exactly be reassigned. Theyíre stuck on the ship together."

"I think that would be taken into consideration before any serious relationships were formed. Arenít you jumping the gun a little, Commander? All you have is a suspicion that BíElanna may be attracted to Tom. You donít know if he returns these feelings, and I donít think heís even thought of her in that way, or even if they would ever do anything about it. They may prefer to remain friends."

"I suppose so."

"Iím still hoping that we can find a way home before any of this becomes an issue."

Chakotay smiled. "Me too."


Over the next few weeks Tom settled into his new life and even admitted to really enjoying working in sickbay. He still missed flying and sometimes that depressed him, but on the whole he was amazingly cheerful. He helped Kes in the airponics bay, when he wasnít in sickbay and had even devised - with Chakotayís help - some training programs, for the pilots.

Chakotay had talked him into that - he hadnít wanted to remind himself of what he could no longer do. But the Commander had been very insistent, saying that Tom had so much experience that would really benefit the other pilots, that he had finally agreed.

It had been painful to watch Chakotay testing and enhancing his program, asking his opinion on how to ensure that the pilots got a proper workout. He had wanted to take over the controls many times himself, but knew that his fingers wouldnít move quickly enough to allow him to complete the complex maneuvers.

That first time had been difficult; the pain had been a tight knot in his throat and Tom had found it hard to even answer the Commanderís questions. Chakotay had been his usual understanding self and somehow Tom had got through it.

Each time had been a little easier than the time before and now Tom, who realized that it would probably always hurt a little to see someone else at the helm controls, was able to contribute to the training programs with enthusiasm. The other pilots were even coming to him for advice, which he was more than happy to give.

They had been out in the Delta Quadrant for seven months now and although the crew were still hopeful of finding a wormhole or the other caretaker, they no longer believed that they would be home in the foreseeable future. They had all settled into their respective roles on Voyager and other than a slight suspiciousness that still lingered between the Maquis and Starfleet, the ship was running smoothly.

The main problem that they seemed to have was with the Kazon. Every few weeks they seemed to run into a different sect of them and none of them were friendly. Voyagerís superior weapons and shields protected them to a certain extent, but they still suffered damage, and they all realized that if ever the different sects united they would be in real trouble.

Luckily they had not seen the Vidiians since their first encounter with them, when they had stolen Neelixís lungs. The Vidiians had obviously taken Janewayís warning seriously. Unfortunately they had also not seen any planets that had any suitable materials that they could use. Their shortages were becoming serious and the Captain had the crew searching each sector that they entered hoping for a planet that they could use.


Finally they reached a section of space that the Kazon didnít seem to have any claim to and contained three separate planets that were rich in the materials that Voyager needed. Janeway beamed down an away team to investigate the first planet, which showed promise of having materials that were needed urgently in engineering, while Voyager continued on to the other two planets, rich in food supplies.

She told the away team that Voyager would be back in three days to pick them up. BíElanna was in charge of the team and was as excited as anybody had ever seen her. On the away team with her were two ensigns from engineering - Janine Palmer and Brian Mitchell, a security officer - Peter Durst, and Tom in his role of field medic.

The Captain wasnít expecting any trouble, but since Voyager would be out of communications range, she didnít want to take any chances. Somebody with medical knowledge would come in handy, in case someone had an accident and got hurt. She told herself sternly that her decision had nothing to do with the fact that Tom had been dying to get off the ship.

The away team were beamed down, next to the entrance of a cave and BíElanna went straight to work. While Lieutenant Durst and Tom scanned the cave to ensure that there wasnít any safety hazards there, she and the other engineers set up their equipment. The cave was huge, dark and damp, but there were no security problems that they could find.

"Iím getting all sorts of readings from these walls," BíElanna announced a short time later. "I think weíve hit the jackpot." They worked quickly and efficiently for some time before Tom, who wasnít able to help much, told BíElanna he was going to go outside to see if there was any food they could have for dinner instead of their ration packs.

"Good idea," she said. "Durst, go with him. I donít know about the rest of you, but I donít fancy sleeping in here tonight. Itís too creepy or something. Maybe we could camp out under the stars. The nights are supposed to be quite mild here."

Everyone readily agreed with the suggestion - obviously the cave was getting to them all - so Tom picked up their backpacks and went outside to set up the camp.

"What about here, Tom?" Durst indicated a clearing not far from the cave entrance. "This should do fine."

Tom nodded and dropped the backpacks. "I donít know about you Pete, but I seriously do not want to eat those field rations. Letís see if thereís any native fruits and vegetables we can eat, before setting up camp. I think itíll be dark soon."

"Okay Tom. My tricorder says there could be something promising in this direction."

They had only just set off, when Tom stopped abruptly. "What was that?"

"What?"

"Iím not sure. I thought I heard something." Tom turned around and stared at the cave entrance.

"It was probably BíElanna or one of the others." Durst pointed his tricorder at the cave and paled visibly. "Thereís five lifesigns in there."

"Come on," Tom took off at a run, pulling his phaser from his belt as he ran. As they reached the entrance, they entered slowly and carefully. There was no sign of the other away team members.

"Where the hell could they have gone?" Durst asked in disbelief as he scanned the cave once again. "Thereís no other way in or out of here that I can find."

"Since BíElanna and the others arenít here, there must be something hidden somewhere," Tom answered. The sudden sound of a phaser shot behind him had him spinning around, in time to see Durst fall to the ground. Movement from the corner of his eye made him realize that someone was pointing a weapon at him too.

Before he could react, blackness engulfed him.

End Part Seven