Disclaimer: Tom Paris, Captain Janeway and all the Voyager crew belong to Paramount. No profit will be made from this story as itís just for fun.
Tom groaned as he rolled over and slowly opened his eyes. It took him a few seconds to get his bearings. Where was he? Thatís right - Harryís quarters. He must have fallen asleep on the sofa, and Harry - good friend that he was - had thrown a blanket over him. As he lay looking up at the ceiling he contemplated what a mess his life was. Everything was finished. This great life that heíd managed to carve for himself here on Voyager was ruined. His life was in tatters.
Last night had been the end. His relationship with BíElanna was over and the thought of that didnít seem to bother him all that much. Heíd never forgive her. Never! He closed his eyes as he remembered her smashing the most important thing in his life. The music box. It had belonged to his mother and was passed down from generation to generation through the youngest child of each family.
His mother had given it to him on his thirteenth birthday, and at the time he hadnít realized the significance of the gift. Heíd thrown it carelessly on the top of his wardrobe and raced outside to see the new hovercar his father had bought. His sister, Moira had been furious. She was the youngest daughter, she argued, she should have it. It belonged to a girl, not a boy. He wouldnít look after it properly.
Their mother had been adamant however. The music box was passed from youngest to youngest on their thirteenth birthday. It was a family tradition that had been happening for hundreds of years. Tom had poked his tongue out at his sister cheekily, not really caring about the music box, just glad to be one up on her, and she had commented darkly that if he was found dead, sheíd get the music box after all.
It was only when he was older that Tom realized what a beautiful thing it really was. It had been hand carved back in the eighteenth century and was a truly remarkable piece of work. When you opened the lid, a little lady danced around and around to music. The music box played three different melodies, each one haunting and beautiful. He often found himself fingering the intricate pattern that had been carved into the wood. It seemed to give him peace in troubled times.
As the years went by, it became his most cherished possession. One of the few things he had left from his previous life. And BíElanna had known that and smashed it anyway. He remembered his panic when sheíd picked it up, and his pleading with her to put it down.
Sheíd eyed him thoughtfully, with a malicious glint in her eye before throwing it on the floor with all her might. Heíd seen it break apart and then her foot come down to finish the job. Heíd fled his quarters, unable to bear the sight, because heíd known if heíd stayed, he would truly have killed her.
Tom felt that his relationship with BíElanna the last few weeks had been like an out of control shuttle. They were heading for a crash, but heíd been unable to stop it. He should have bailed out when he had the chance, but like the good pilot he was, he thought there was some way to prevent it- right up until theyíd hit the ground.
His music box was the price he had to pay. And the price had been too steep. He sighed heavily as he remembered all the arguments over the past weeks. All the apologies and promises - only to start arguing again the very next day. He also knew that he started just as many of them as she did. He just didnít know why.
He opened his eyes to see Harry peering down at him. "How are you feeling?" he asked him with concern.
Tom shrugged. "Okay."
"Hurry up and have a shower and get dressed, or weíll be late."
Tom rolled over onto his side. "You go to the mess hall without me. Iím not hungry."
"Are you sure?"
Tom nodded. Harry eyed him worriedly. "Youíd still better get moving. I know you donít have to report to the bridge this morning, but the Docís pretty strict too."
"Donít care." Tomís voice was muffled. "Please Harry. Iíll be fine."
"All right. If youíre sure?"
Tom didnít answer.
Harry picked out the first thing he could see to eat and plonked it on his tray. Looking around the room he noticed BíElanna sitting by herself at a table next to the windows so he stalked over to her.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked, slipping into the seat across from her.
"Actually Harry, Iíd really rather be alone right now."
"Tough!" BíElanna looked up at him in surprise. "Do you have any idea what you did last night?"
"Itís none of your business," she snapped at him.
"It is my business, when my best friend comes to me in the middle of the night in the state he was in. It is my business when my two best friends keep tearing each other apart. You went too far last night. You know how much that music box meant to him. I canít believe you could be so vindictive."
"It was in the heat of the moment."
"Oh, so that excuses it?"
BíElanna flushed. "Youíre right. I shouldnít have done that. I donít know whatís happening with us lately. Nothingís been right since they came back from the Mostreterians. Itís all their fault."
"BíElanna, you and Tom. You have to stop this. Itís completely out of control."
"I know." BíElanna glanced around the room, and noticed the Captain and Tuvok getting their breakfast. She frowned fiercely. "Of course, she doesnít help anything."
Harry turned swiftly around to see that she was glaring at Janeway. "BíElanna, itís not her fault. Youíre not being fair."
"Donít you start sticking up for her, too. It is her fault that she keeps staring at Tom all the time. Iím the laughing stock of the ship. Everyone thinks that thereís something going on between them."
"No, they donít - not anymore. Chakotay decided it would be best if there were some sort of official word about what had happened, just to stop all the rumors. He discreetly told a few people about the way Tom was treated by the Mostreterians, nothing about the false memories of the Captains though, and now everyone on the ship knows."
Harry was surprised she didnít know this herself. "Tom came off looking like a hero, and now the story is that the Captain is worried about him. He hasnít really been acting like himself the past few weeks, but thatís more to do with whatís going on between the two of you, isnít it?"
BíElanna growled angrily. "She still stares at him far too much. Iíve seen it myself and Iím hardly ever on the bridge these days."
"Well I am, and I can tell you, she doesnít stare at him half as much as she used too. She is getting over it."
BíElanna refused to listen. "Half the time is still far too much. Sheís the Captain for godís sakes. Itís totally unprofessional. If she knew what it was really doing to Tom, sheíd stop it."
"Tom doesnít mind."
This seemed to infuriate BíElanna even more. "She has to be told. Tom and I are the way we are because of her. Heís totally unreasonable and touchy, because sheís making him so uncomfortable."
She got up from the table and with a determined look in her eye, marched across the room to where Tuvok and the Captain were sitting.
Harry leaped up in alarm and catching Tuvokís eye mouthed the word Ďincomingí before racing over to try to stop her.
Harry hurried along the corridors with a worried frown on his face. He wasnít sure how Tom was going to react to this latest fiasco, but thought heíd better tell him himself before the gossip reached him and it was all blown out of proportion. The mess hall was still abuzz with the excitement of it all. It would be all around the ship in less than an hour.
He had been dismayed when the computer had informed him that Tom was still in his quarters. Heíd been hoping that heíd at least gotten up and gone back to his own by now. Keying in his access code, he entered his quarters, only to see Tom still curled up on the sofa.
"Tom? You really should be up by now. Youíre definitely going to be late."
"I donít care," Tom mumbled. "I think Iíll call in and tell the Doc Iím sick."
"Heíll just tell you to report down there anyway. He can examine you while youíre working."
Tom sat up slowly. "I donít care. He can put me on report if he wants."
"Tom, somethingís happened. Just then at breakfast. I think you should know."
"I donít care Harry." Tomís voice was listless.
"It concerns BíElanna."
"I really donít care." Tomís voice was still listless.
"She was pretty riled up and decided it was time to---"
"Harry, I really donít want to know," Tom interrupted. "BíElanna can do whatever the hell she wants as far as Iím concerned."
"Tom, she confronted the Captain. In the messhall - in front of everyone."
"WHAT?" Tom jumped off the sofa. "What happened? Whatíd she say?" He searched around frantically for his boots.
"Tuvok managed to deflect her before it got too ugly. Sheíd only hissed a couple of things at the Captain before Tuvok escorted her out of the room."
"What hiss?" Tom found his right boot and tried to jam it on his left foot. "Hiss what, I mean? Damn it! Are these my boots?"
"Try the other foot Tom. She hissed at the Captain to stop staring at you all the time, as it was making you very uncomfortable. Affecting your work. And that you did nothing but fight and it was all because of her."
"Oh my god! Did anyone else hear?" Tom had managed to get his right boot on and was now looking for the left.
Harry handed it to him. "Only Tuvok and me, and maybe Sam. She was sitting at the table next to them."
"Donít worry. She wonít say anything. She never gossips."
Tom managed to get his left boot on as well. "I canít believe she did that. Where is she now?"
"Tuvok gave her the choice of going to engineering and calming down, or going to the brig. She chose engineering."
Tom headed for the door. "Right, thatís where Iíll be."
Harry watched him nervously. "What are you going to do?"
"Iím going to kill her Harry. I should have last night."
"Tom! No!" Harry grabbed his friendís arm. "Itís not that bad. The only reason everyoneís talking about it is because BíElanna kicked Tuvok as he was escorting her out the door. They donít know what was said or anything."
Tom wrestled his arm free. "Iím going to wrap my fingers around her neck and just squeeze and squeeze," he predicted grimly. Turning, he raced from the room.
Harry swallowed. Would Tom really? Anything was possible. He rushed out of his quarters to try to stop him and was just in time to see Tom disappear inside the turbolift. Damn! He tried to reassure himself as he raced towards the next one. BíElanna was strong. Probably stronger than Tom - even in a rage. Anyway, sheíd probably be in a rage too. That thought didnít reassure him. Tom could get hurt.
He found himself breathing heavily as he hurried into the lift and tersely ordered it to take him to engineering. As soon as the lift stopped, he was out and running. Running through the main doors he stopped suddenly as everyone stopped what they were doing and looked up at him.
"Harry? Is everything all right?" Joe Carey walked up to him to ask.
"Tom?" Harry panted. "Where is he?"
Joe frowned in puzzlement. "I havenít seen him. Why? Is he supposed to be down here? I thought he was working in sickbay today."
Harry fought to control his breathing. "He is. Itís just - I thought he was calling in here first."
Joe shook his head. "Well, he hasnít so far. I wouldnít disturb the chief either if I were you. Sheís in a real temper. Hopefully sheíll stay in the office most of the day."
"Oh! Okay." Harry was puzzled. Where was Tom then? His commbadge beeped.
"Chakotay to Kim."
"Kim here, Commander."
"Do you plan to grace us with your presence at all this morning Ensign?"
Harry gulped. "Sorry sir. Iím on my way."
Tom paused before the Captainís ready room doors. He didnít really know why he was here, as he didnít know what to say to her anyway. He was supposed to be down in engineering, strangling BíElanna. He hesitated and then turned away.
The Captain certainly wouldnít want to see him at the moment. Sheíd be too embarrassed. He was worried about her though. He wanted to assure her that BíElanna was not speaking for him. He couldnít bear to think of the Captain believing she was bothering him.
He stepped up to the door again, but then backed off. This was definitely the wrong time for this. He should wait until things had calmed down. He couldnít bear to think of her in there alone, upset.
Yes, he would definitely speak to her. He stepped up to the door again, but a dry cough behind him made him turn around. "Tom? Did you want to see me?"
"Captain. I thought you were in your ready room."
"Thatís where Iím headed. Iím glad youíre here actually, Tom. I need to speak to you." The ready room doors opened and she gestured him inside. "Take a seat," she offered. "I can guess why youíre here. You heard about BíElanna."
Tom nodded. "I just wanted to assure that I donít feel that way at all."
Janeway smiled. "I wouldnít blame you if you did. This has all become very embarrassing. For you as well as me. Iím sorry, I havenít handled this very well."
"Please donít apologize Captain. None of itís your fault. BíElanna had no right----"
"BíElanna had every right, actually Tom," Janeway interrupted him. "Sheís right too. It definitely is bothering you, no matter how much you claim to deny it. Youíve been a different person the last few weeks and itís all my fault. I canít bear to think that Iím to blame for you and her having difficulties."
"Captain, youíre not to blame for that. Please believe me."
"Iím sorry Tom. I canít. You and BíElanna were perfectly happy until I came along and ruined it."
"Thatís not true. Something hasnít been right between BíElanna and me right from the start really."
"Please Tom. Donít say things like that. It just makes me feel worse."
"Captain, itís true."
"No Tom. Iíve decided. Itís time that I admitted that there are some things I canít handle by myself. I need help."
"Let me help."
"Thereís nothing you can do to help me. Iíve humiliated you enough as it is anyway."
"Captain, I donít feel humiliated. Youíve got to stop blaming yourself for something that was completely out of your control."
"I wish it were that simple. Perhaps you donít feel humiliated, but I do. Iíve made a total fool of myself."
"No, Captain. No you havenít." Tom wished there were a way to convince her.
Janeway laughed, but there was no humor in it. "What you must think of me." She shook her head.
"Thereís nothing you could ever do, that would make me think any the less of you." Tom tried to reassure her. "I owe you everything."
"And this is your way of repaying me." The Captain nodded as if he were confirming something for her. "You donít owe me anything. Youíve more than proven your worth on this ship. You donít have to pander to a poor deluded Captain."
Tom was horrified. "NO! Iím not pandering to you."
"I think youíd better go now. Youíre supposed to be in sickbay arenít you? Iíll contact the Doctor and tell him Iíve given you the rest of the day off. You look like hell."
"Captain - please. I donít want you to think - I mean - I feel. Damn it! I donít know what I feel. I just know that, I donít remember a lot of what happened down in the Mostreterian prison camp. I remember you holding me between their Ďquestioning sessionsí, and reassuring me, and telling me everything would be all right. I remember us talking in the dark. Telling each other all sorts of crazy stuff."
Janeway stiffened. "At the time I thought you were my husband. Itís probably best if you forget all that."
Tom shook his head. "I donít want to forget any of it," he said softly.
"Well I do. Iíve made up my mind. Iím getting the counseling I should have had right from the start. I will stop embarrassing you and you must let me know if I ever do it again. Itís time to get on with my life."
Tom felt his heart sink, but he didnít understand why. This was what he wanted wasnít it? For the Captain to be able to get back to normal? For everything to get back to the way it was before. He just didnít like the way the Captain sounded. Cold and detached.
"Thatís enough Ensign. Please accept my most humble apologies. Dismissed."
Tom walked from the room as if in a dream and so didnít see the Captainís face. As soon as the doors closed she dissolved into heart-rending sobs as if her heart were breaking. Which indeed, it was.
Tom sat morosely in the messhall, completely desolate. He got quite a few curious glances as he sat there staring off into space, not even attempting to eat the strange concoction Neelix had whipped up for him, to try to cheer him up.
He didnít even notice Harry walk in, until he slapped him on the shoulder and then sat down across from him. "Tom, where did you get to this morning? I went racing down to engineering to stop a mass murder and you werenít there."
Tom looked over at him and sighed. "A mass murder would involve more than one victim Harry."
"Well, I thought there might be two. You kill her and then she kills you, or vice versa."
Tom sighed again. "I really donít care anymore."
Harry frowned. "So weíre back to this again are we?" He too, sighed. "Listless indifference. Youíre getting pretty good at it you know."
"Donít Harry. Iím not in the mood."
"Of course not. Why should I try to cheer you up? Youíre already enjoying yourself far too much with all this self-pity." Tom decided to ignore him. "You didnít answer my question. Where did you go when you stormed out of my quarters? Not to engineering that was for sure."
"To see the Captain," Tom answered quietly.
"Really? What happened?"
"Nothing much. She told me that she felt terrible for causing trouble between BíElanna and me. I told her she hadnít. She told me she didnít believe me and that sheís decided to go to counseling after all."
"Oh! Thatís good news anyway. She probably needed to."
"Yeah!" Tom said despondently.
"Tom, I know that youíre upset about the music box but youíve got to try and snap out of this."
"Itís not the music box, Harry. Itís everything."
"Tom, you and BíElanna have had fights before----"
"Never again," Tom quickly interrupted. "Itís finished. Itís over."
"Donít be too hasty here, Tom. I know you and BíElanna have got a lot of problems but you had something pretty good, not that long ago."
Tom shook his head. "It was all on the surface. It didnít count where it matters."
"Youíre upset at the moment. When youíve calmed down and----"
"It wonít make any difference Harry," Tom said in exasperation.
Harry suddenly cursed under his breath. "BíElannaís just entered the messhall and sheís headed this way."
"I really donít want to talk to her at the moment," Tom growled.
"Well, I donít think youíre going to have much choice."
"Tom," BíElanna said as she came to a standstill next to him. "Here." She held something out to him. It was the music box. He took it from her carefully and placed it on the table in front of him. Keeping his eyes on it, instead of looking up at her as she spoke, he listened as she continued. "Iíve fixed it as good as new."
Tom kept his eyes on the music box. If she thought this made everything all right, she was mistaken. "Tom? Iím truly sorry for breaking it. I didnít stamp on it, I just pretended to. It wasnít that badly damaged."
When Tom still didnít look up at her, she turned to Harry. "Harry, do you mind? Tom and I need to talk."
He grabbed Harryís arm as he attempted to slide out of his seat. "No Harry, you donít have to go." He did look up at BíElanna then. "I donít want to talk to you at the moment, BíElanna. Iím still angry, and I might say something youíll regret."
BíElanna averted her eyes. "I deserve it. I know. The Captain and I had a little talk this morning."
"I know all about your little talk," Tom said accusingly.
BíElanna looked over at Harry. "Of course you do. The point is, that after Tuvok helped me leave, the Captain came out and told me a few home truths. I didnít appreciate it at the time but Iíve been thinking about what she said all morning as I worked on the music box. Iíve been terribly unfair to both of you."
Harry managed to stand up. "Iíve got to get back to the bridge. Have my seat BíElanna." As he was leaving he leant down and said quietly to Tom. "Talk to her, Tom. You need to settle this one way or another."
End Part Four