Standard Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom owns Tom and Harry, the good ship Voyager and the rest of its crew. I am just borrowing them and will put them back neatly when I am finished with them. This story is just for fun. No profit will be made.
The EMH ran a tricorder over Tom and looked up accusingly. "There is a narcotic in his system."
"It's the pain killer the Caldon doctor gave him. He thinks he gave him too much," Harry explained.
The EMH snorted. "Where did the man get his medical degree? From the back of a Weeties box?" The Doctor beamed around at everybody. He'd found that saying in one of the old databases and had been waiting for an opportunity to use it.
He sighed heavily as it became apparent that no one else got the joke and went back to scanning Tom. "He has certainly given him too much. He's lucky he didn't kill him."
Tom laughed out loud. "Weeties box. That was funny Doc."
"At least somebody appreciates my humor," the Doctor sniffed. "Even if he is drugged out of his mind."
"Is he going to be all right?" Chakotay asked.
The Doctor nodded. "I just have to whip up a neutralizer. It should get rid of most of the drugs from his system. A good sleep should take care of the rest. May I ask where his shirt is?"
"Um, still down on the planet," Harry answered. "Do you want me to go back down and get it?"
"Not particularly. I was just wondering why he was half naked."
"Oh, his shirt and everything was taken off so that the Caldon doctor could treat his shoulder and then he had the reaction to the pain medication and never got a chance to put them back on."
"I'll check his shoulder after I've neutralized the narcotics," the EMH said as he hurried over to the replicator. "Keep an eye on him."
Tom frowned down at himself. "Harry, I lost my shirt."
Harry sighed. "Don't worry about it Tom. It doesn't matter."
Tom started to laugh. "I lost my shirt and I didn't even place a bet. That's pretty funny. Don't you think? Tuvok, don't you think that's funny?"
Tuvok watched him disapprovingly. "No Mr. Paris. I do not. Now, if you will excuse me I must get back to the bridge."
"Oh Tuvok - don't go."
"I have duties to attend to Mr. Paris. Now that I am assured that you are all right, I must get back to them." He quickly left sickbay as Tom jumped off the biobed.
"I should go too. They need me to fly the ship," Tom said earnestly.
"Not at the moment Tom," Chakotay told him leading him back to the bed. "We're not flying anywhere. We're just orbiting the planet."
The sickbay doors opened once again and Captain Janeway entered. "Gentlemen! I'm pleased to see that you're both in one piece."
"Captain!" Tom jumped off the biobed once again and hurried over to her in delight. Janeway looked slightly startled as he engulfed her in a warm embrace.
"Tom! No," Harry cried out hurrying over to pull Tom away.
Chakotay quickly followed, eyes sparkling in delight. "Tom was given a bit too much pain killer," he explained to her. "You'll have to forgive him."
The Captain frowned a little. "I see." She couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from Tom's chest.
"Why can't I hug the Captain, Harry?" Tom was complaining. "I hugged Tuvok and you didn't stop me."
"That was different," Harry said. "Trust me. You'll thank me later."
"But I love Captain Janeway."
Harry looked over to the Doctor. "When's that neutralizer going to be ready Doc?" If Tom had embarrassed himself before, it was nothing to what he could do now.
"A few more minutes," the Doctor answered smugly. He was relishing every moment as he realized that he could torment Tom for months over this.
Harry sent him a glare and turned back to Tom, who was saying - "I do love the Captain, Harry." He looked around the room. "And Chakotay and you and even the Doc - sometimes. When he's not being mean and nasty to me."
"Well really," the EMH sniffed from his position at the replicator. "I am never mean nor nasty. I have an excellent bedside manner."
"You have not. You're mean," Tom argued. He shook off Harry's hand and paced around the room. "And sometimes you're nasty to me."
The Doctor pursed his lips. "That is not true, Ensign. Mr. Kim, Commander; please make Ensign Paris sit back on his biobed. I do not want him running around sickbay half naked."
"I'm not naked," Tom protested. "I've still got my pants on." He looked down at himself. "And my socks - and my---"
The Captain found her voice. "That's enough Tom. Please go and sit down." She managed to drag her eyes away from his chest and up to his face. "The Doctor will soon have you feeling better."
Tom gave an exaggerated sigh as Chakotay and Harry led him back to the biobed. "I feel fine. I'm not sick anymore."
The Captain turned to Harry. "Harry, would you please tell me exactly what happened after you disappeared from our sensors."
"Let me tell you," Tom cried out.
"That's all right Tom. I asked Harry to."
"You don't like me anymore," Tom accused.
Harry grabbed hold of Tom's arm in alarm. "Tom, don't." He swallowed nervously.
Tom pulled away. "I told you she hates me Har. She doesn't trust me. See?" His eyes filled with tears.
There was a stunned silence. Even the Doctor stopped mixing the neutralizer. The Captain looked at Tom in shock and Harry glanced over at Chakotay, who was watching the Captain, a look of concern on his face.
"Don't take any notice of him," Harry said quickly. This suddenly wasn't funny anymore. He turned back to Tom as two tears slid down his friend's cheeks.
"It's all my own fault," Tom said miserably. "I ruined everything."
'Oh God,' Harry thought to himself. 'How do I stop this?'
The Captain cleared her throat. "Tom, nothing's been ruined. I still trust you. I trust you completely. And I certainly don't hate you. I still feel exactly the same way about you as I always have."
"You do?" Tom asked uncertainly.
Janeway nodded. "Most definitely. I think we need to have a little talk about this when you're feeling better."
Tom frowned and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "I feel fine now," he grumbled.
"You'll feel even better when the Doctor's given you the neutralizer," Chakotay told him, glancing over at the Doctor as he spoke.
"Almost done," the EMH said turning back to the replicator.
Tom smiled at Harry. "The Captain still likes me Har."
"I tried to tell you that," Harry answered, completely mortified. He could feel himself turning red and didn't dare look at the Captain.
The Doctor had finally finished mixing the neutralizer and quickly filled a hypospray. Injecting it into Tom's neck, they waited. Tom simply curled up on the biobed and went to sleep.
"Well, that was interesting," Chakotay commented. "I wouldn't like to be him when he wakes up."
"No," the Captain said, still looking a little shaken.
"Captain," Harry said hastily. "I'm sure Tom didn't mean any of that."
Janeway sighed and patted his arm. "I'm sure he did, Harry. Don't worry. In a way, I'm glad this happened. It's made me realize that we should have had a talk when he first came out of the brig. I should never have left it this long."
"Tom's going to be so embarrassed when he wakes up."
Janeway nodded. "For a little while. Now what happened down there anyway?"
Harry quickly told them. "It's good to have you both back," Janeway said with a small smile when he finished. "Now I think I'll go and contact the Caldon President. Start some friendly negotiations." With a nod she left sickbay.
Harry watched her as she left. He turned to the Commander. "I think Tom upset her."
Chakotay nodded. "I'm sure they'll sort it out." He turned to the doctor. "How long will Tom sleep?"
"At least eight hours, maybe longer. I can't say for certain."
"And the effects from the drugs will be gone?"
The Doctor nodded. "I, for one, can't wait for Ensign Paris to wake up." He rubbed his hands with glee. "This should be quite enjoyable."
"No Doctor," Chakotay said firmly. "You are forbidden to tease Tom about this. That is a direct order."
The Doctor stared at him in surprise. "I beg your pardon?" he huffed.
Chakotay turned to Harry. "Stay here with Tom. I'd just like to talk to the Doctor for a few minutes."
Harry nodded as Chakotay led the way to the Doctor's office. "Your teasing sometimes crosses the line, where Tom's concerned, Doctor. I would have said something before if I'd realized how troubled Tom was about it."
"Commander, Mr. Paris has the hide of an elephant. My teasing doesn't even scratch the surface. In fact most of the time, I don't think he's even listening to me."
"Well, that's where you're wrong Doctor. He hears it all. And some of it is truly upsetting him."
"Commander, he programmed me to have the hiccoughs, this morning. You have no idea how upsetting that was to me."
"I'm sure it was, and believe me I know how annoying Tom can be, when he tries. But I believe this morning's episode was in retaliation to something that you did earlier."
The Doctor sniffed. "That may be so, but it wasn't anything as bad as that. He's always doing something. He is the biggest tease on the ship."
Chakotay sighed. "Don't misunderstand me Doctor. There's nothing wrong with a little teasing, and in Tom's case, more than a little. But sometimes some of the things you say are a little mean-spirited."
"I have never said anything deliberately mean to him," the Doctor argued indignantly.
"What about when he was in the brig and you told him that the Captain was thinking of making Ensign Culhane chief conn officer? That wasn't very nice. It was also completely untrue."
"I was trying to lighten the moment."
"Okay then, what about all the times you've told him that he was completely incompetent?"
"I don't remember saying those exact words, but there have been times when he has pushed my patience to the limit."
"You seem to delight in calling him Ensign Paris these days too. You almost seem to be gloating, each time you say it."
"That is his rank now after all, Commander."
"I know that. It's just something about the way you say it. I could give you many more examples, but the point is that that is more than simple teasing."
"Perhaps I need to work on my sense of humor a little more. Please tell me of all the times I have been mean to Mr. Paris."
"That's not really necessary," Chakotay objected.
"It is to me Commander."
The EMH sat quietly after Chakotay had finished telling him of a few more examples he could remember. "You're right, Commander," he finally said. "I have been mean-spirited to Mr. Paris. I do not understand why, as I feel closer to him than anyone else on the ship, now that Kes is gone. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I must rectify the situation at once. Offer my apologies and ensure that I never do this again."
Chakotay shook his head. "That's not necessary. You'll just make him feel worse if you bring attention to what you've been doing. Most of the time how you treat him is fine. Don't treat him any differently. You can still tease him. Just be a little more aware."
"Of course Commander." The Doctor hurried out into the main room and told Harry he could go now. He would watch Tom now. And he proceeded to do just that - sitting in the chair opposite and just watching Tom as he slept, a thoughtful look on his face.
Chakotay sighed. Perhaps he shouldn't have said anything.
Tom woke up to the feel of a soft hand on his forehead. "B'Elanna," he said with a smile. He opened his eyes to see the Doctor smiling down at him.
"I'll get her right now for you," the Doctor stated. "She's already been in to check on you a few times."
Tom sat up and looked around. "What's the time?"
"Almost ten hundred. You've been asleep for almost sixteen hours. Are you hungry? You have unlimited replicator use as long as you're here."
"Starving," Tom answered.
"Good. I'll make you breakfast. All your favorites coming right up."
Tom watched the EMH as he bustled around. Something wasn't quite right here.
"Doc? How long do I have to stay here?"
"You should be able to go quite soon. I just have a couple of tests to run. I'll be as quick as I can. In the meantime eat up."
Tom shook his head. Something really wasn't right here.
"Um - Doc? I had a really weird dream. At least, I hope it was a dream. I didn't do or say anything kind of funny yesterday, did I?"
"Of course not," the Doctor said quickly.
Tom was about to say something else when B'Elanna entered sickbay. She hurried over to him and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Glad to see you're awake, Sleeping Beauty. I can't stay. Problem with one of the sensor relays. Thought I'd just pop in to say hello."
"Surely Lieutenant you can stay a while," the Doctor said reproachfully. "Your name was the first thing Tom said when he woke up."
Tom glared at the Doctor, but B'Elanna smiled in delight. "How sweet. I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise. If they've sprung you from here, I'll meet you in your quarters. The Doctor's insisting that you have the rest of the day off to recuperate."
"He is?" Tom looked at the Doctor suspiciously. He felt fine. Better than fine. He was certainly ready to go back on duty. The Doctor was setting him up for something.
B'Elanna kissed him once more and hurried from the room. "So what's going on?" he asked as soon as the doors closed.
The Doctor looked surprised. "What do you mean?"
Tom scowled and folded his arms across his chest. "I know you're up to something. Just get it over with."
"I don't know what you're talking about. Now have you finished your breakfast? Is there anything else you'd like before I run these tests?"
Tom shook his head. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
"I am treating you as I would any patient."
"No, you're not. You're being way too nice. It's making me suspicious."
"I am sorry to hear that." The Doctor picked up a tricorder and started to run it over Tom. "The narcotic has completely left your system."
"Narcotic? Was I drugged?" Tom asked in alarm. "Did it make me act strange? You said I didn't do anything funny, but I'm having some really vivid memories."
The doors to sickbay opened before the Doctor could think of an answer and Harry came in. "Hi! B'Elanna said you were awake. I thought I'd stop by on my way back to the bridge."
"Ensign Kim," the Doctor said brightly. "Come in. Come in."
Harry looked a little surprised at the welcome. Usually the Doctor grumbled about people popping in. He cautiously came over and sat in the chair the Doctor pulled out for him.
"You two have a nice little visit. I'll be back shortly." The Doctor hurried into his office and Harry looked back at Tom.
"What's up with him?"
"I'm not sure," Tom frowned. "He's acting really weird. He hasn't made one sarcastic comment and he's been nice to me." Tom leaned forward, his frown deepening. "I woke up to him stroking my forehead. I thought it was B'Elanna. It was kind of creepy."
Harry's eyes widened. "That is really creepy. Maybe there's something wrong with his program. I'll check him out in a minute."
"That's a good idea." Tom swallowed nervously. "Harry. I need to know something."
Harry waited for Tom to continue, but Tom was unusually silent. "What is it?"
"Did I do anything yesterday? I mean, I've got some strange memories and I thought they were just dreams, but they're becoming more and more real. I have to know."
Harry looked a little nervous. "What do you remember?"
"That's just it Har. I'm not sure. Please tell me. I need to know."
Harry said slowly, "I don't think you really want to know."
"It's as bad as I thought then? Please Har? Tell me."
Harry sighed. "All right then. I suppose you should be warned in advance."
Tom groaned. "Oh no."
"You told me that you love me," Harry told him, trying to keep a straight face. "Twice, as a matter of fact." He sighed dramatically. "Just as my heart soared, you told Tuvok and Chakotay the same thing. And then up here in sickbay you told the Captain the same thing. And the Doc. You're completely fickle Paris. I'll have you know, you broke my heart."
"Shut up Harry. This is serious. If I did that, then I must have also hugged the Captain. Oh God! And I didn't even have a shirt on."
Harry grinned. "You were completely bare chested. I wouldn't worry though. The Captain seemed to enjoy it. She couldn't tear her eyes away from your chest afterwards. I wish I had chest hair like yours. Do you think I could get the Doc to stimulate some chest hair for me? The Captain was practically drooling."
"Harry, shut up!" Tom yelled, throwing himself back against the pillow on the bed. "That means that I must have said to her what I thought I did. Oh god, no!"
"She seemed a little upset that you thought she hated you. She's always had a soft spot for you, you know."
"Harry, I can't believe I said that to her. Why didn't you stop me?"
"I tried," Harry said indignantly. "Anyway, she said she's glad it happened. She's going to have a talk to you later to clear the air."
Tom put his hands over his face and mumbled through his fingers. "I can never face any one again. I'll have to spend the rest of my life in my quarters."
Harry chuckled as the Doctor hurried over. "Tom; are you all right?"
Harry's chuckles died. The Doctor had just called Tom - 'Tom'. He never called Tom - 'Tom'. It was always Mr. Paris or more often than not these days Ensign Paris, with a stress on the Ensign. Harry decided he'd better check the Doctor's program straight away.
Tom meanwhile had sat up again. "I'm fine Doc. Just wondering how I can live with the total humiliation of what I did yesterday."
"Don't worry about it Tom. It wasn't your fault, it was the overdose of narcotics. And everyone understands that."
Harry stood up. "Doc, I'm definitely going to have to check your program."
The doors swished open once again and a crewman from maintenance staggered inside. "I cut my hand pretty bad," he moaned.
The Doctor hurried over. "Let me see. Well really! You've just dripped blood all over my nice clean floor. I suppose you've left a blood trail all the way here as well." The Doctor sighed and rolled his eyes. "Thoughtlessness. That's what I have to contend with every day."
He ran a regenerator over the crewman's hand. "There's no permanent damage. A lot of fuss about nothing. You may go."
"Thanks," the crewman said, hurrying away.
"Now that's the Doc I know," Tom remarked.
Tom walked stiffly into the briefing room, his head held high. He wanted to get there before too many of the others arrived. He hated the thought of walking in to all their stares and probable grins.
Tuvok was the only other person in the room and he sighed in relief. "Morning Tuvok."
"Good morning Mr. Paris. I trust you are over the effects from the Caldon medication?"
Tom could feel himself turning red. "Yes thanks. Um - Tuvok? I'd like to apologize for my behavior the other day. I know you probably didn't appreciate me hugging you."
"That is quite all right Mr. Paris. You can hardly be held responsible under the circumstances."
The doors opened and Chakotay walked in. "Tuvok. Tom," he greeted. His eyes twinkled as he regarded Tom. "Feeling better?'
Tom felt himself go red again. "Yes thanks." He waited for Chakotay to say something else, but he didn't. He felt a little surprised. He'd teased the Commander quite often over the years and with far less reason. The Commander usually gave as good as he got though and Tom couldn't believe he'd miss this opportunity.
"The Captain's running a little late. She's been held up by Neelix."
Tom felt his stomach lurch at the mention of the Captain. He was not looking forward to seeing her again. Not at all.
The doors opened once more and Harry and B'Elanna hurried inside, laughing at something Harry was saying.
Harry looked across at Tom and slapped his hand to his heart. He pretended to look heart-broken. "You'll have to sit next to him B'Elanna," he said sadly. "I don't think I'm ready for that yet. My heart still hasn't mended."
Tom went even redder. "Shut up Harry," he mumbled. Harry grinned back at him.
Chakotay chuckled. "Now Harry, don't tease him. I, for one, am deeply touched that Tom has such deep feelings for me. I would never have guessed it."
Tom rolled his eyes. "Okay, all of you. Make the most of it while you can."
He looked at B'Elanna as she sat down next to him and was concerned to see her scowling darkly - and at him.
"What's wrong?" he asked softly.
"I am more than a little upset with you Tom," she answered loudly. Everyone looked at her. "It has just come to my attention that you told all the senior staff - even the Doctor - that you loved them. Everyone but me. I don't know whether I can forgive you for that Tom."
There was a hushed silence.
Tuvok cleared his throat. "I believe whoever was with Mr. Paris at the time was told this. I am certain it was not meant as a slight on you."
B'Elanna merely snorted disbelievingly and glowered even more fiercely. "I demand that you tell me how you feel about me, right now Tom."
Tom stuttered in surprise. "Y-you know h-how I f-feel."
Tom gulped. "Here? Now?"
B'Elanna nodded. "Yep."
Tom looked around the room, swallowing nervously. Tuvok was watching them with one eyebrow quirked, but both Chakotay and Harry were looking elsewhere. It was obvious they were both trying not to laugh.
Tom couldn't believe this was happening. He had come to this meeting fully prepared to be teased unmercifully by both Harry and Chakotay and maybe even the Captain would say a few things. What he hadn't expected was B'Elanna's reaction.
Chakotay took pity on him. "Um B'Elanna? He told us that he loved you. When we were down on the planet. Does that count?"
Chakotay nodded. "He said that he loved you and asked me if I knew that. I told him that I did and I thought that most of the ship did as well."
"You did? And they do?"
Tom's face was flaming but B'Elanna beamed. "That's wonderful." She turned to Tom. "You're so sweet."
Tom sputtered in indignation as B'Elanna grinned at him, a wicked gleam in her eye. "You knew!"
She laughed and nodded. "Harry told me everything. I just couldn't resist."
Tom shook his head in disbelief. "That was not nice," he protested. "Laugh it up, all of you. Just remember, one day something will happen to one of you and when you get to sickbay I'll be there."
The doors opened and the Captain strode into the room. Tom quickly put his head down. "Good morning. Sorry I'm late," she said as she sat at the head of the table. She glanced around at everyone, her eyes lingering on Tom, taking in his flushed face. "I've just been making a few last minute arrangements. The Caldon President has invited us to spend some time on one of their planets. As you know, there are four in this system."
She looked around at everyone again, smiling brightly. "I think the crew would enjoy some shore leave. The Caldon's are being most hospitable. Their fourth planet, Caldon IV is apparently very beautiful. They call it the pleasure planet."
Chakotay smiled. "Have we found the Delta Quadrant's equivalent to Risa?'
Janeway chuckled. "Not quite Commander. It's where they all go to relax. The four planets in their system all have a main purpose. They travel between them all, although with their technology it takes many hours to travel between each planet. The fourth one is mainly for recreation. The third planet's main function is for food harvesting , the second one for mining etc. and the first one, the one where Tom and Harry crashed, is for business."
Her eyes flickered to Tom as she said this. He felt her staring at him and looked up. Her gaze was riveted on him and he flushed once more when he realized she was staring at his chest. Shifting uncomfortably, he gazed around at everyone to see if they'd noticed.
Tuvok was staring at her with his eyebrow slightly raised and both Chakotay and Harry were grinning broadly. Oh yeah! They'd noticed all right. He turned to see B'Elanna watching the Captain with a small frown between her eyes.
He shifted once more as Harry ventured. "Um, Captain?"
She looked at Harry in confusion. "Yes Hairy? I mean Harry?" she added quickly. Her face flushed a little.
"You were saying about shore leave?"
"Oh yes. Of course. I thought we would travel to the fourth planet and spend a few days there. The Caldon President will come with us." Her gaze drifted back to Tom again. "The crew have all worked extremely hard. They deserve a chest - ah - I mean - rest." Her face went even redder and Tom wished desperately for a black hole to appear and suck him in.
The Captain turned to Chakotay. "Commander, I'll leave you to work out a roster for shore leave."
"Of course," Chakotay nodded, failing miserably to keep a straight face.
For the rest of the discussion the Captain studiously avoided looking at Tom, for which he was most grateful. He didn't utter a word himself. He did notice that B'Elanna kept frowning at the Captain though.
As soon as the meeting finished, he jumped up, ready to make a quick escape, but B'Elanna captured his arm. "Wait till everyone else has left," she whispered fiercely. "I don't like the way she was looking at you."
Tom's eyes widened. "B'Elanna, what are you talking about?"
"That chest is mine. She'd better keep her eyes off."
"Are you serious?"
"B'Elanna, she thinks of me as kind of like a younger brother."
B'Elanna snorted. "Big sisters don't look at their younger brother's chests like that. I'm going to have to have a talk with her."
"She needs to know where I stand."
"I'm sure she already does. Please don't do this B'Elanna. I'm begging you."
B'Elanna looked him up and down for a few seconds, noticing the true anxiousness on his face. "I'll be diplomatic," she assured.
Tom opened and shut his mouth. No sound came out.
B'Elanna marched determinedly over to the Captain. Tom prayed fervently for the black hole and hurried after her. He had to diffuse this situation somehow, before B'Elanna ended up embarrassing him even further and the Captain too.
He wondered if it were even possible to be any more embarrassed than he was already.
"Captain," B'Elanna practically growled.
The Captain turned towards them. "B'Elanna. Tom." She flushed a little as she said his name.
"I have to talk to you," Tom said urgently, before B'Elanna could open her mouth. He wasn't sure what he was going to talk to her about, but was sure he could think of something. Anything - just so long as he stopped B'Elanna.
"Of course." The Captain smiled up at him. "I want to talk to you too."
That took him by surprise. "You do?"
Janeway nodded. "Some things were bought up in sickbay that we need to discuss. Now would be the perfect time, since you're feeling better."
Tom felt himself go red as B'Elanna looked from one to the other of them. "Please forget about what I said in sickbay. I wasn't myself."
"I understand that Tom, but we should talk about it," Janeway insisted.
"Tom?" B'Elanna asked, her eyes questioning.
"It's all right," Tom told her. "I said some stuff while I was under the influence of those drugs, to the Captain, that I never should have said. It was all sorted out in sickbay though."
"I see," B'Elanna said slowly, her eyes saying - 'tell me later'.
"I'd still feel better if we could talk about it. I think there's some unresolved issues that need to be addressed." The Captain sounded like she meant business.
Tom was relieved that B'Elanna's curiosity had made her - temporarily at least - forget the reason she was going to talk to the Captain, but he really didn't want to have a heart to heart with the Captain either.
"That's not necessary Captain." It was a weak protest, even to his own ears.
"Yes it is," Janeway said firmly. She turned to B'Elanna. "If you'll excuse us B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna nodded. "Of course. Comm me later, Tom? Maybe we could have lunch together?"
"Sure." He tried to smile but his heart wasn't in it.
The Captain led Tom into her ready room and indicated the couch under the view port. "Sit down Tom. Would you like anything to drink?"
She sighed as she noticed how ill at ease he seemed to be. "Relax Tom. This is an informal chat," she told him as she replicated her third cup of coffee for the day and went and sat on the couch next to him.
Watching him over the rim of her mug, she sipped the pick me up. It was perfect but she grimaced anyway. "I've used up most of my replicator rations, so it looks like I'll be relying on whatever Neelix has created for the rest of the week," she said, putting the mug down on the table near them.
Tom gave a small laugh. "This mornings coffee substitute was interesting. A little thick for my taste though."
Janeway shuddered. "Thanks for the warning." Silence followed, so she picked up her mug and took a few more swallows. "You seemed quite anxious to talk to me out there," she finally said.
Janeway nodded. "You asked to speak to me, remember?"
"I - yes of course. I did, didn't I?"
"Was there something wrong? It seemed urgent."
Tom seemed to hesitate. "No. It wasn't anything important. I - um - just wanted to apologize for the way I behaved in sickbay. You know, the hugging and everything." He seemed to find the floor fascinating.
She couldn't help smiling. Privately she thought Tom had been rather endearing. A vulnerable, childlike Tom was almost irresistible - not to mention; 'the chest' - but she firmly clamped down on that thought. "There's nothing to apologize for," she told him. "It was hardly your fault. It was the narcotics. And I don't want you to feel embarrassed either. I'm quite sure you'll be able to laugh about this in a few days time."
"I hope so. At the moment I just want to crawl into a hole."
She patted his leg. "Just between the two of us; you brightened up my day."
He laughed a little at that and smiled at her in gratitude.
"Tom, I'm a little concerned about some of the things you said in sickbay," she began hesitantly. "About some of the things you believed. I know I addressed this at the time, and hopefully you remember that."
Tom nodded, his face redder than his uniform. "It's all right, Captain. I was wrong. I should never have said any of that anyway."
"No Tom. It's a relief, in a way, that you did. I've known ever since you came out of the brig that things weren't the same between us. It's been quite uncomfortable at times over the last few months. I thought you resented me for what I had to do to you."
Tom shook his head vehemently. "Never. You did what you had to do. I understand that. Hell, if we were in the alpha quadrant, I probably would have been court marshaled."
"There's no 'probably' about it. You would have been. But the point is, if we were back in the alpha quadrant, there would have been other choices open to you. I told you at the time that I admired your convictions and I meant that."
"I know you did, Captain. I guess where the prime directive is concerned, we'll never agree."
"I suppose not. But I'm the Captain here, Tom. This is my ship."
"I know Captain. I'm just sorry that I let you down. I thought that I'd destroyed your trust in me. That you'd never forgive me."
Janeway shook her head and spoke with absolute conviction. "I want you to know that you have my complete trust. I have absolute faith in you. Nothing's changed in that regard. I told you that you had disappointed me, and I truly regret saying that to you."
She gave a small self-deprecating laugh. "Yes, you did let me down. I had certain aspirations for you. I had it all pictured. Getting back home - seeing your father. Showing him the wonderful job I had done - resurrecting his son's career. And then you blew it. Only I've come to realize that none of that matters. You didn't let yourself down, Tom. And that's what matters. You stuck to your principles. Did what you believed was right."
"You really believe that, don't you?" Tom asked, his voice breaking a little.
"Yes Tom, I do. Officially, I punished you - personally, I'm proud of you. And I think your father would be too."
"I hope so," Tom choked out.
"I put Harry in charge of the mission, because I thought he needed a little command experience. Quite frankly, I think I was right. We were very fortunate that these people turned out to be friendly."
Tom nodded reluctantly, but had to defend Harry anyway. "Harry trusted the President right from the start. He just went on his gut instincts, and he was right."
"Yes, he was. And that reminds me. Shore leave. I'll see to it that the two of you are sent down in the first batch."
"That's all right Captain. I'd prefer to wait for B'Elanna anyway."
"I'm sure Chakotay can arrange for her to be on the first roster too," she replied with a smile. "We'll be here for a few days, so we should all get plenty of chances for a nice break."
Tom rushed into sickbay, breathless and anxious, to see Harry sitting up on one of the biobeds as the Doctor fussed over him. Tuvok stood to the side watching.
Tom hurried over. "They said you were caught in an avalanche. How are you Har?"
"It was one boulder, Mr. Paris. That hardly constitutes an avalanche," Tuvok said dryly.
"Oh, well that's a relief."
"You should have seen the size of the boulder, though Tom. If Tuvok hadn't have pushed me out of the way in time, I'd have been crushed." Harry shuddered at the thought.
Tuvok nodded. "That is indeed true."
"Lucky you were with him," Tom commented.
"Just a few scrapes and bruises. Nothing serious," the Doctor said, putting the regenerator away. "In future Mr. Kim, I would suggest reading warning signs before traipsing through gorges where rocks are falling all over the place."
"There wasn't any signs," Harry quickly defended himself. "The gorge was supposed to be perfectly safe."
"The Caldon authorities have assured us that this is the first time anything like this has ever happened," Tuvok stated.
"And of course, it would have to happen with me," Harry frowned.
The doors swooshed open and the Captain entered sickbay. "What happened?" she asked.
"I'm fine," Harry said sitting up and dangling his legs over the side of the biobed.
"He was lucky not to have been crushed under a huge boulder," the Doctor sniffed. "As it was he just suffered from some minor cuts and bruises."
Tuvok explained to the Captain what had happened, while Tom grinned over at Harry. "They have you at deaths door down in the transporter room."
The Doctor snorted. "The over exaggeration on this ship never ceases to amaze me." He looked at Tom with concern. "You must have been worried sick." He pulled a chair out and pushed Tom into it. "Sit down and have a nice little visit." He bustled away.
Tom turned back to Harry. "You did check his program out didn't you?"
Harry nodded. "I couldn't find anything wrong. Maybe we should get B'Elanna to have a look at him. She knows more about his program than I do. Although no one else is complaining. It only seems to be with you that he's acting so weird."
The Doctor came back at that moment and handed Tom a glass of juice. "I thought you might be thirsty," he said with a smile.
Tom took the glass and sniffed it suspiciously. "Um - thanks."
"I wouldn't mind a drink," Harry said. "I'm kind of thirsty."
"Well, you know where the replicator is," the Doctor huffed. "That's if you have any replicator rations left."
"But, I'm a patient," Harry protested. "Aren't you going to get me a drink too?"
"You are fully healed Mr. Kim. If you want a drink, go and get one. I'm not your servant."
Tom couldn't help grinning. "Here Har, you can have this. I'm not really thirsty."
He handed his glass over to Harry and the Doctor sniffed in the background. "That was supposed to be for you Tom."
"That's it," Harry said over the rim of the glass. "I'm definitely getting B'Elanna to take a look at him." Tom nodded.
"I can't find anything, Harry," B'Elanna said looking up from her console.
The Doctor sniffed. "Naturally. I could have told you that."
"You haven't been tweaking around with your program have you?"
"No," the Doctor said highly insulted. "I promised I wouldn't after the last time."
"Hmmn!" B'Elanna thought for a few moments. "I've checked everything I can think of."
"Why are you insisting that there is something wrong with me?"
"You're being way too nice. Not to us. Just to Tom actually," Harry told him.
"I don't think I like what you are insinuating. I am always - nice."
B'Elanna gave a wry smile. "That's debatable. Why are you being so nice to Tom?"
The Doctor turned away. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
"Tom thinks you're setting him up for something, but it's been going on for days now," Harry said.
"I'm not setting him up for anything," the Doctor denied.
"I know the Commander forbade you to tease Tom about the way he reacted to that pain medication, but what's going on?" Harry asked.
"Nothing is going on Ensign. The Commander merely made me realize that I have not always treated Tom as I should. Sometimes my teasing has gone a little too far. I am trying to rectify that situation."
Harry and B'Elanna exchanged looks. "I think you've gone from one extreme to the other Doc," Harry told him. "Why don't you just treat him like you do every one else?"
"I thought I had been before. No, I must make it up to him."
B'Elanna smiled. "Well, I think that's very - nice. As long as there's nothing wrong with your programming, I'm happy. Speaking of Tom, I'd better hurry. I'm supposed to meet him down on the planet."
"I'll go down with you," Harry said. "See you Doc."
Tom pushed his way through the busy street as he headed for the museum. He'd told B'Elanna he would meet her there. He watched as a vehicle rushed by and smiled in delight. The Caldon transportation vehicles reminded him of the hovercraft back on earth in the twenty-first century. He was definitely going to have to ride on one of them.
He frowned a little as the crowd jostled him around. There was only a small, narrow footpath to walk on here and everyone seemed to nudge and bump their way forward. An extra hard nudge from the side had him fighting to remain on the footpath and then another had him falling sideways.
Screams erupted around him as he fell onto the street into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Trying to twist out of the way he felt a sickening thud and then everything went black.
Tom woke up to soft hands smoothing his forehead. "B'Elanna?"
"I'm right here Tom."
He opened his eyes and saw B'Elanna standing over him, with the Captain, Tuvok and Harry standing behind her. He frowned as he realized however, that it was the Doctor who had been smoothing his brow.
"You're going to have to stop doing that Doc," he said crossly. "What happened?"
"You were in an accident," B'Elanna told him. "You fell off of the footpath and a Caldon vehicle hit you."
"That's right. I remember now. Everyone was pushing and shoving and I lost my balance."
"It's lucky you were not killed," the Doctor sniffed.
"How do you feel?" the Captain asked.
"I've got a doozy of a headache," Tom answered.
"I'll get you something for that." The Doctor hurried over to fill a hypospray.
"Well, I'll just let the Caldon President know that you're all right," the Captain said. "He's quite upset that both you and Harry have been hurt. He can't believe that out of all the crew it would be the two of you in these accidents."
"Perhaps when he gets to know the two Ensigns better, he'll realize that this is a common occurrence," Tuvok said dryly.
The Captain smiled and patted Tom's arm. "I'm glad you weren't seriously injured." She then left sickbay with Tuvok.
The Doctor injected the hypospray into Tom's neck and patted his arm as well. "You'll feel better any minute now. Your friends can stay and keep you company if you like. You can have a nice little visit." With a final pat he walked away.
Tom groaned as he sat up. "You did check his program didn't you, B'Elanna?"
B'Elanna nodded. "There's nothing wrong. He's just trying to be nice to you."
"Do you remember when you were drugged out of your mind you told Chakotay that the Doctor was mean to you and hurt your feelings?" Harry asked him.
"Yes," Tom said slowly.
"Well, you said it again up here in sickbay. Chakotay must have taken it to heart and he had a little talk to the Doc," Harry told him.
"Oh yes!" B'Elanna smiled as she continued. "Chakotay must have laid a guilt trip on him. You know how good he is at that. The Doctor's trying to make it up to you."
"Damn! Me and my big mouth. Chakotay shouldn't have taken anything I said seriously then. I was out of my mind at the time."
Harry clutched at his heart. "Do you mean, you don't really love me?"
"Shut up Harry," Tom growled. "I don't think I can handle the Doc being quite that nice to me. If he smoothes my brow one more time."
"Yeah, that was pretty funny," Harry chuckled.
Tom scowled. "It's creepy. That's what it is."
B'Elanna laughed. "I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure the Doctor won't be able to keep the nice act up much longer. It's just not him."
"I hope you're right," Tom said still scowling. "Hey Doc? Can I go now?" he called out.
The Doctor hurried over. "If you're quite sure you feel all right?"
"Very well then, Tom. You may go." He patted Tom's arm once more and Tom scowling stalked from the room.
Harry burst out laughing and B'Elanna chuckled quietly. The Doctor turned to them and frowned. "Tom seems a little upset. I hope you haven't been teasing him."
Harry and B'Elanna continued to laugh and the Doctor's frown deepened. "What are you both still doing here? This is a sickbay not a way station for laughing hyenas. Please leave, before I decide to run a few tests on you." He sniffed disdainfully as he walked away.
Tom leaned forward and sniffed appreciatively. "Doesn't that smell wonderful?"
B'Elanna sniffed also. "I can't smell anything."
"Fresh air, B'Elanna."
"Oh! Well I suppose it does smell better than Engineering."
Tom laughed. "You don't really believe that, do you?" He spread his arms wide. "Look around. We're out in the great outdoors. Beautiful surroundings. Not a soul around. And it's real, not some holodeck simulation."
They were standing on the edge of a cliff face, overlooking a breathtaking view of the valley below. B'Elanna leaned against the safety rail and grinned over at him. "There's no-one around, Tom. That's a shame isn't it? I guess everyone had other things they wanted to do."
"It's a terrible shame," Tom grinned back at her playfully. "What can we do up here, all by ourselves?"
"Oh, I'm sure we can think of something." Tom had pulled her against him and she reached her arms up to encircle his neck.
"We could play twenty questions---" Tom said, breaking off as he started to nuzzle her earlobe. She growled approvingly and ran her hands through the back of his hair.
All of a sudden he stiffened and his head jerked up. "What was that?"
"I thought I heard something."
"Some shuffling noises and a twig snapping or something." He broke away from her and stood listening for a few seconds. "There aren't any wild animals on this planet, are there?"
B'Elanna shook her head. "Not that I've heard of." She listened also. "I can't hear anything. Your imagining things."
Tom turned back to her. "I must have. Sorry about that. Now where were we?" He hugged her to him once more and their mouths came together in a hungry, passionate kiss.
This time it was B'Elanna who stiffened and pulled away. "I definitely heard it that time. There's something in the bushes over there."
Tom turned to look and the rustling increased. They caught the barest glimpse of color as whatever it was, moved away.
"That's not something, that's somebody," B'Elanna growled hurrying forward. "They were spying on us."
Tom hurried after her. "What did you see? All I saw was a flash of blue."
B'Elanna nodded. "Me too. But it was a sweater. A royal blue sweater. I'm sure of it. What was somebody doing, spying on us?"
"One of the locals, out for a cheap thrill?"
"I don't think so. I can't imagine them coming all this way, just to see what we were doing."
"That's true," Tom admitted.
B'Elanna started poking around in the bushes their observer had been hiding in. "I can't find anything here. Maybe we should report this to Tuvok."
Tom groaned. "There wasn't any harm done and if we tell him about this now, we'll spend the rest of the day filling out reports and answering questions."
"You're right. There are better ways to spend the day."
Tom smiled. "Starting with a picnic lunch." He walked over to his backpack and pulled out some packages.
B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "Great! Squashed sandwiches and cake. My favorite lunch."
Tom pretended to frown at her. "I'll have you know the sandwiches are not squashed."
Tom stretched out on the blanket and rubbed his stomach. "Well, I'm full."
B'Elanna curled up next to him. "Me, too."
The sandwiches had been a little squashed and the cake had been a lot squashed, but they had eaten everything Tom had packed, the hike up the mountain making them hungry.
B'Elanna gave a small growl and sat up. "It's probably just my imagination, but I feel like we're being watched. I guess whoever it was in the bushes has made me jumpy."
Tom looked at her in concern. "You think they may have come back?"
She shook her head. "No, not really. I haven't heard anything. I just can't relax."
"Do you want to go?"
She sighed heavily. "Yeah, I guess I do."
Tom slowly got up. "No problem. We'll just pack up our mess and then get Voyager to beam us back up."
"That's probably the best idea. I don't fancy going back down the trail now. I feel like I'd have to look over my shoulder the whole time."
Tom quickly packed everything back into his backpack. "I think we'd better report this to Tuvok after all. The hairs on the back of my neck are starting to crawl. I feel like we're being watched now too."
B'Elanna swore under her breath and looked around sharply. Peering intently into the foliage surrounding them, she thought she detected a flash of blue. "P'tahk! Come out right now, before I come in and get you," she called out.
Tom grabbed her arm. "That's really not a good idea."
She pulled free and headed for some nearby bushes. Rustling from further to her right caught her attention and she hastily turned that way. Tom dashed after her.
"B'Elanna," he called out after a minute or two. "The locals are a lot bigger than us."
B'Elanna didn't turn around. She kept pushing her way forward, through the undergrowth. "I thought he went this way." A dull thud and then grunts from behind her, made her turn around. She'd known Tom was a few meters behind her, but now there was no sign of him. "Tom?"
There was no answer, but there were definite rustling noises headed away from her. "Tom?" she called out loudly. She caught a glimpse of blue again through the thick foliage, and realized just how stupid it had been to plough her way in here without thinking.
She headed back the way she had come and tapped her commbadge. "Torres to Voyager."
'Voyager here.' It was Chakotay's voice. 'What's up B'Elanna?'
"Can you beam Tom back up to the ship? I think he's in trouble."
Vorik's calm voice came over the commlink. 'Energizing.'
B'Elanna kept pushing her way out of the undergrowth as she waited for Vorik to report that Tom was all right.
'I regret that I have only managed to beam back Ensign Paris's commbadge.'
B'Elanna swore. 'B'Elanna? What's going on down there?'
"Chakotay! Someone's taken Tom." She finally came to the edge of the bushes and practically fell out. She found she was on the pathway a little way down from where they'd had their picnic lunch. In the distance she could see a Caldon man dragging along an obviously unconscious Tom. She gasped in horror as she realized he was dragging him towards the edge of the cliff.
'Tuvok's on his way,' Chakotay's voice assured her.
Rushing forward, B'Elanna cursed. She didn't have a phaser with her. "Stop," she yelled, but the Caldon ignored her. He picked Tom up and held him over the edge of the mountain and then looked down at the sheer drop below.
"No!!!" B'Elanna screamed and threw herself forward onto her stomach as the man let go of Tom. Her reflexes were quick and she grabbed one of Tom's arms as he fell through the air. He slammed into the side of the mountain, but the wrench was too great even for her superior strength and she felt herself falling forward also.
"I've got him," she managed to gasp out before she was hurtling through the air, going down - down. "Energize," she said frantically holding onto Tom through sheer force of will. The ground rushed up to meet her and she closed her eyes.
"I have them," Vorik announced calmly. She opened her eyes quickly. She was laying on the transporter padd in Voyager's transporter room, still holding Tom's arm.
She let go and sat up. "Vorik, I could kiss you."
A definite look of alarm flashed across the young Vulcan's features for a few seconds, before he suppressed it. "That will not be necessary Lieutenant. I was merely performing my duty. I will now transport both yourself and Ensign Paris to sickbay."
B'Elanna cradled Tom's head in her lap. "Thanks Vorik," she said softly.
End Part Two