And This Is His Story 5
By Zappy Zaps
Part 5: Higher Learning
Author’s Note: These are just some excerpts from his academy years. Thanks to Brigid for beta-reading.
Tom finished his year of high school and was glad to be leaving. His friends had made the experience bearable but the rest of his classmates had not been as accommodating –Jeremy and is friend Cal (Calvin) in particular. His strong personality and non-conformist attitude won him the respect of many but the wrath of others.
When the year came to an end Tom didn’t bother to attend the formal dance and party even though his sisters tried to convince him it was worth going. Being over three years younger than many of the seniors he hadn’t felt totally comfortable around them and had opted for quietly leaving the school.
Tom wrote the entrance exam to Starfleet Academy and was accepted, much to his father’s delight. Owen had always wanted Tom to attend the academy and before the abduction, had been ready to push Tom as much as he thought was necessary. He believed his son had the potential to be the youngest Admiral in Starfleet. However, after loosing his son once he was not as keen on pushing Tom, fearing he might push him away. Owen didn’t know it but reconsidering how he encouraged his son would be the saving grace in the sometimes-turbulent father-son relationship.
“Julian Bashir,” the young man introduced himself and extended his hand.
“Tom Paris,” Tom replied and shook the proffered hand. “Nice to meet you. What program are you in?” Tom asked his new roommate.
“Medical. In nine or so years I’ll be a certified Starfleet doctor,” Julian said smiling.
“In four years I’ll finally be piloting a starship,” Tom said with a smile and opened up one of his bags. He had just arrived at the dorm and met his first ever roommate. Tom still had to unpack but Julian had arrived early and had unpacked already.
“Do you want some help?” Julian offered.
“No thanks. I’ll be done soon,”
Julian looked at Tom for a moment before he pulled out a padd and did some reading. Ever so often he would glance up at his roommate wondering what he was thinking. Julian remembered hearing about how the son of Admiral Paris had been found and it looked like he would be sharing a room with that very person.
The year started out well enough for Tom. He attended classes like a good cadet and did his work but there was still something about him which stood out from the other cadets and the other cadets noticed it. Thomas still had the scar on his forehead and therefore he still wore his black headband. Most Academy professors didn’t mind but some did and he was ordered to remove it revealing the mark which was not totally covered by the hair falling over his forehead. He managed though and most cadets didn’t even take notice but still, Tom was different from the other cadets. The girls where intrigued and the more they found out about Tom the more they liked him. The boys however disliked the attention Tom received from the female population but still tolerated his presence. Since they had access to the Starfleet database they had been able to read up about Tom Paris and they liked what they read.
“Hey Paris,” a cadet called and Tom turned around to see who it was. Tom recognized him as another cadet in his warp theory class but didn’t actually know his name or what he wanted.
“A bunch of us are thinking of heading out to the city tonight,”
“Breaking curfew,” Tom said and the other boy nodded. Lower year students who stayed at the dorms had to adhere to the curfew and other rules. “What’s that have to do with me?”
“We’re just inviting you along and since we know you have certain skills which might come in handy…” the cadet left the rest of his statement go unfinished.
“Looking for trouble are you?” Tom inferred knowing what these people where into.
“Maybe. Think you could help us out?”
“I could but I have one question for you. Are you ready to do the time?” Tom walked away without waiting for an answer. They weren’t ready for the type of trouble Tom could get them into and if they were as naïve as they sounded they would definitely get caught.
“What are you reading?” Julian asked his roommate as he entered their shared room.
“Some text from a security course,” Tom said. Starfleet had added a few tactical and security courses to his roster. With Tom’s previous training by his kidnappers they would be able to hone those skills to be useful for security -use a thief to catch a thief as it were. Also Tom was not the type of person to take orders easily especially if it was from somebody he didn’t trust or respect. The security courses were more physically tasking than others and they hoped it would help mould Tom into a more compliant officer.
“I thought you were doing the command courses,”
“I am but they added some security and tactical courses to my roster,”
“You’re going to be busy with all those courses,” Julian stated.
“Probably to keep me out of trouble,” Tom said quietly. Tom had a tendency to find his way into situations when he wasn’t occupied. That’s the way things had been on the ship. When he was bored he looked for something to do and it usually got him in trouble. At some point boredom had equalled getting in trouble. When Tom was on monitored probation, Lt. Hargan knew of the times when Tom had left his house late at night but he knew Tom would be like any typical teenager so he turned his cheek to the infractions as long as Tom hadn’t committed any offences.
“Why would they need to keep to that?” Julian asked. The surprise didn’t show on Tom’s face as he looked at Julian. It was nearly impossible to hear what he had said. “What?” Julian said when he noticed Tom’s eyes on him.
“Nothing,” Tom said and went back to reading. He never did answer Julian’s question. Something about Julian made Tom wonder. Julian was a genius and had reflexes and hand eye coordination which could have made him a better pilot than Tom. For reason unknown to Tom, Julian harboured a lot of resentment towards his parents for something they had done a long time ago.
A few days later Tom was thoroughly intrigued by what secret Julian was hiding and had a hypothesis as to what it was. Julian was busy reading some texts for his course while Tom sat on his bed staring at Julian’s teddy bear named Kukulaka. Tom had some jazz music playing. The current song was ‘Take Five’ by Dave Brubeck. Julian didn’t seem to mind the music so Tom kept it on. No one spoke for several minutes until Tom asked Julian if he had ever been to a certain planet outside the federation. The planet wasn’t a big tourist spot but genetic alterations where done there. Julian gave Tom a half-truth response saying he may have been there once as a child.
Tom could tell he was lying or at least not telling him the whole truth. “I went there once,” Tom said casually. Julian tried to act like he was still working but was listening very carefully to what his roommate was saying. “I had a job to do but the people there seemed nice enough.”
“Is there a point to this?” Julian asked in irritation. He knew that Tom knew of his genetic enhancements. Julian wasn’t sure how Tom knew but he did and it could mean trouble for him.
“Not really but you should let it go. They were just trying to help you.” Tom lay back on his bed and stared up at the ceiling with his hand under his head.
“Just trying to help me!” Julian said in outrage. “They changed who I was! I have a right to be angry at them!”
“Yes you do, but how long do you intend on staying angry at them?” Tom turned his head so he could see his roommate.
Julian didn’t have an answer to that question. He couldn’t forgive them for killing the person he was. He had not been a bright child but when they had him genetically enhanced it killed that person.
“You should give them another chance. You might regret not having a good relationship with them someday,” Tom continued.
“And how would you know?” Julian asked incredulously.
“Because I cherish the relationship I have with my family after ten years of not knowing I had one.” Tom told him. “Just give them a chance.”
Julian looked at Tom for a moment knowing what he was referring to before turning back to his work. For a few minutes on the sound of jazz music was in the room until Julian asked Tom something.
“How did you find out?” he asked not looking at Tom but at the text. Tom picked up a padd from his desk.
“Julian,” he called as he threw the padd at him. Julian turned his head and saw the padd flying towards him and with impossibly quick reflexes he caught the object in mid air. “That’s how,” Tom said simply. “Most people would be sporting a bruise on their face if I did that to them.” Julian reflected on what had just happened and realised Tom was right. His genetic enhancements made him faster, smarter and gave him and edge at nearly everything he did.
“Are you-” Julian was about to ask Tom if he was going to tell anybody about what he knew. Genetic enhancements were illegal and it was of the utmost importance his secret not get out. If it did he would be kicked out of the Academy and Starfleet Medical.
“Nobody will here anything from me. I’m not in the business of ruining lives.” Tom assured. “At least not anymore,” Tom whispered to himself as the same feeling guilt and shame came over him as he remembered the things he had done and how they could have ruined somebody’s life or destroyed their business.
Tom went back to listening to the music while Julian went back to studying.
As the first semester wore on Tom and Julian became friend and Tom also made a few friends in his classes. He had to be careful who he trusted due to his status as an admiral’s son. He had underestimated what it actually took to get into Starfleet. Many of the cadets had to apply more than once before being accepted so they were looking for ways to make the rest of their time in the Academy easier and Tom would have been the way if he had not found out what their intentions where.
Two of his other close friends where
Marcus and Sural. Marcus had caramel coloured skin and curly, black hair.
He was also training to be a pilot as was Sural who had black hair, pointed
ears and other Vulcan features. Another person Tom became close to was
Suzie Crabtree, another first year cadet. She had auburn hair, green eyes
and she had Tom’s heart.
Tom waited outside the quarters of a friend after he had pressed the chime. Actually it was the quarters of Isaac’s sister Sarah. She was also going to Starfleet Academy and was in her second year. Tom was in his third year but was a year younger than Sarah.
Tom had been drafted by Isaac, whom he kept in touch with, to check up on his sister when she was in her first year of the Academy. Tom was in second year at the time so he knew the grounds well enough to be able to show her around and they became friends.
“Sarah!” Tom called through the door. He knew she was here, she told him to come here at this time. Maybe she was playing a joke on him-it wouldn’t be the first time. He decided to try again and reached for the announcer just as the door opened.
A young with woman dark brown hair stood in front of him. She wasn’t Sarah and she assumed she was Sarah’s roommate.
“Hi, I’m looking for Sarah. She told me to meet her here,” Tom trailed off as he noticed the woman run her eyes up and down him suspiciously. Tom noticed the ridges on her forehead. //She must be part Klingon,// Tom thought to himself. Her Klingon features were softer than a full blood Klingon would be. He remembered Sarah telling him about her roommate who was a first year cadet but an extremely talented engineer.
“Come in,” she said quietly and moved out of the way. Tom stepped inside the shared room and she closed the door.
“Tom Paris,” he extended her hand to him. She looked at it for a moment disinterestedly and Tom wasn’t sure if she would shake his hand but she eventually grasped it.
“B’Elanna Torres,” she introduced herself. Tom smiled softly at her.
“Do you know when Sarah will be back?” He had noted her absence.
“She’s in the washroom I’ll get her,” B’Elanna said and went to the door of the washroom they shared with the girls next door. She slipped in and closed the door behind her. Tom was left to wait patiently for her return.
“Sarah, Tom Paris is here,” B’Elanna said to the girl who was brushing her hair.
“So what do you think of him?” Sarah asked as she finished doing her hair.
“He seems nice enough, though I’m not sure why I should care,” B’Elanna crossed her arms.
“You could come with us,” Sarah put the brush down and looked at B’Elanna’s reflection in the mirror. “You know you want to,” Sarah urged but she could see B’Elanna was still debating whether to go with them.
“I don’t want to intrude-” B’Elanna started.
“Intrude?” She rolled her eyes and turned to face B’Elanna. “He’s only a friend, Bea. You said you wanted to meet more people outside classes and here’s your chance.” B’Elanna had trouble making friends here due to her volatile and confrontational nature. Sarah however enjoyed B’Elanna’s company and was the only true friend B’Elanna had made since she had arrived.
They walked back into the room and saw Tom looking out the window to the San Francisco campus. B’Elanna was about to announce their presence but Sarah stopped her and crept up behind him. She was going to try and scare him but before she could….
“Don’t even think about it Sarah,” Tom said and turned around. Sarah let out the breath she had been saving up to yell in his ear with.
“One of these days I’ll get you,” she vowed. Tom only smiled at her.
“Uh-huh. Do you mind if B’Elanna comes with us?” she asked.
“Not at all,” Tom said and smiled
at B’Elanna. A few minutes later the trio left the building to go and find
something to entertain themselves in the big city.
Only a few seconds after they returned there was a knock on the door. Sarah and B’Elanna looked at each other wondering who it could be. Maybe Tom forgot something. He had been enough of a gentleman to walk them back to their room. Sarah opened the door and two of her friends practically flew in.
“What are you guys doing here?” Sarah asked in surprised.
“We just saw Tom Paris leaving, and had to ask what happened,” One girl said excitedly.
“Did you finally make a move on him?” the other girl asked impatiently. B’Elanna ignored them and continued reading her novel. They talked about him as if he were a piece of meat. Tricia and Hilary where two of Sarah’s friends, though B’Elanna couldn’t see why. Something about them told her they were the type of friends that would start saying nasty things about you right after you left them room.
“I am not going to make a move on my brother’s friend,” Sarah said as she sat on the edge of her bed.
“I can’t believe you!” Tricia exclaimed.
“If you want him so badly then go talk to him,” Sarah said.
“Are you kidding? Since Crabtree he’s only had one girlfriend and you’re the closest girl to him now,”
“Who’s Crabtree,” B’Elanna asked. Tricia and Hilary were going to ignore her but Sarah answered.
“Suzie Crabtree was Tom’s girlfriend when he was in first year. She broke up with him and he took it hard. I think he was in love with her. At least that’s what I’ve heard.”
“Oh,” B’Elanna said and was silent for the rest of the night as the other three gossiped, mostly about Tom.
Tom was in his room sleeping when a cold bucket of water was dumped on him. He bolted upright in bed and looked around in the dark. He couldn’t see them clearly but he heard one of them laughing as they ran out of his room. Tom shook his head to get some of the water off his face. He sat there in his wet bed for a few seconds. He knew who had done this to him and he was going to pay for it. He got up and walked to the washroom now regretting telling them how to open up locked doors.
“So Tom, did you have a good sleep?” Marcus asked when Tom walked out of his room in the morning. Tom looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
“Quite. The bucket of water you dumped on me was rather refreshing,” Tom said humourlessly.
“Aw, poor baby,” Marcus reached to pinch his cheek but Tom batted his hand away. Tom glared at him.
“There will be retribution for this stunt,” Tom promised. “You and Sural will pay dearly.”
“Whatever,” Marcus said and began walking away. Tom ran to catch up. “Speaking of our Vulcan buddy we should get going. You know how he is when we’re late.”
“How did you manage to pull him into
your stupid scheme anyway?” Tom asked. Sural wasn’t one for silly human
stunts. Marcus began his tale and Tom listened and laughed along with him.
A few weeks later the Academy classes were on a break and Tom went home to spend some time with his parents. That weekend Admiral Paris was hosting a party and since he was home Tom had to attend. So for three hours Tom played the gracious host as he met several admirals, captains and other high-ranking officers. During the party Tom also met Commander Dumas, Jeremy Dumas’ father. That was how Jeremy was able to get the information about Tom. His father probably allowed him access to the Starfleet database.
It was a boring party to say the least but Tom suffered his way through it until finally the guests were beginning to leave. Tom was ready to seek the refuge of his room but before he could make it to the stairs he was called by his father to meet another officer.
“Tom, this is Commander Janeway, she serves as the first officer on the USS Billings. Kathryn this is my son Tom.” Owen introduced the two.
They shook hands and Owen left them to go accompany another guest to the door. “It’s pleasure to meet you,” Tom said as he smiled. “Billings, constitution class isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Kathryn said, slightly surprised Tom knew what class the ship was.
“It’s in dry-dock for an overhaul as they fix the sensor array,” Tom stated.
“How did you know that?”
“I looked at the set-up of the sensor array and noticed it had the same flaw as a ship I had been on before,”
“You read about constitution class ships?” Janeway asked knowing there were more exciting classes of ships out there for a young man to be interested in.
“All types of ships actually. It’s a hobby,” Tom shrugged and Janeway smiled.
“Quite a hobby,” Kathryn said. They talked a bit more about the Billings and some of the mission she had been on lately before she left the house. She had enjoyed her conversation with Tom and hoped to see him again.
Inputting another string of commands the shuttle in the simulation rolled and avoided an onslaught of weapons fire. The simulation ended a few minutes later after Tom had defeated his enemies and the shuttle’s screen went black. Tom sat back in the chair and sighed. He was born to fly yet for the past four years he had not done much piloting and he very much missed it. Simulations were all right but they were no competition for the real thing. Having the ship respond to your touch, only a few pieces of metal separating you from the vacuum of space- he missed it all, including the danger.
That’s what had been lacking the most: danger, excitement and adventure. His life right now had him grounded in more than one sense of the word. Although he was generally happy with his current situation there was a void. He had grown up with danger being around every corner and now there was none. He was always safe and found himself itching to do something stimulating.
Logging out of the system, Tom left
the simulators and headed back to his dorm room. It was late at night and
only the stars and moon illuminated the path. There was little waiting
for him back there but he had nowhere else to be. The main doors would
be locked soon so he was supposed to get in before that occurred but locked
doors had never been a problem for him.
Tom was looking at a poster for the upcoming variety show when a voice asked: “Are you going?” Tom looked over his shoulder and saw B’Elanna approaching him. They had only seen each other a few times in the past few months.
“You’re not?” B’Elanna was surprised. Tom Paris seemed like the ideal Starfleet Cadet –hard working, dedicated, talented and with a long history of Starfleet officers in his blood. She had expected him to attend all the major functions. At least that’s how he looked on the outside but she was beginning to realize she didn’t know much about him.
“Where the Academy’s brightest stars come out to shine,” Tom said without enthusiasm. “No, you won’t see me there.”
“What makes you think I’ll be going?” She crossed her.
“I went my first year,” Tom shrugged. “I figured you’d try to experience it at least once before skipping it.”
“So what will you be doing instead?” she tried not to sound too interested.
“Would you care to join me?” Tom responded.
“Tell me what you’re doing first,” she demanded.
Tom finally turned to face her and smiled smugly, “No.”
“It’s a surprise,” his eyes sparkled with mischief and B’Elanna admitted to herself she was intrigued. “If you’re interested come to room 412 in the Graham Dorm at twenty-two hundred,” Tom said and walked away with a slight smile.
The night of the variety show arrived and while most cadets were watching, Tom and three others would be making their own fun. A few minutes after 2200 a soft knock on room 412 was heard. B’Elanna walked in when Tom opened the door hoping nobody had seen her coming.
“’Bout time you showed up,” Tom joked. “Women, always fashionably late.”
“Shove it, Paris,” B’Elanna snarled.
B’Elanna took notice of the other two people in the room. Leaning against the wall was Marcus and calmly seated on the edge of the bed was Sural. It was Marcus who had spoken and B’Elanna was ready to go after him when it occurred to her that Marcus was smiling. He had only been joking and for now B’Elanna let the comment slide.
“So why the hell are we here?” Marcus asked Tom.
“To have some fun,” Tom said as he opened the window.
“What are you doing? Where on the fourth floor!” Marcus exclaimed.
“Really I hadn’t noticed,” Tom remarked sarcastically.
“Four floors to the ground! Hello? What are you thinking?” Marcus protested as Tom stuck his head out the window and looked around.
“I’m thinking there’s only one floor to the roof.” Tom came back into the room.
“No!” Marcus stated firmly and crossed his arms. Tom shook his head and smiled.
“You say that now but just wait.” He looked at Sural. “You coming?” Tom asked.
“I am not,” Sural stated and Tom shrugged.
“How about you, Torres?” Tom asked and after a moment she nodded. Tom’s smile grew. “We’ll see you guys later,” Tom said and started climbing out the window. There was a small ledge about a foot below the windowsill where Tom planted his feet. B’Elanna followed suit. Tom used the ledges on the building and the window to climb to the roof.
Once on there he was ready to offer his help to B’Elanna but found she was almost all the way up without his help. Looking below his female companion he could see Marcus starting the climb as well. “Marcus what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Tom used Marcus’ words from less than five minutes ago.
“Shut up, Tom,” he grunted and reached for the next ledge. “Somebody has to make sure you don’t do something stupid.”
A few minutes later the three were on the roof but Tom wasn’t ready to go just yet. “What are we waiting for?” B’Elanna asked.
“Sural,” Tom said matter-of-factly.
“He said he wasn’t coming,” B’Elanna informed him.
“Just wait.” And so the trio waited
and a few minutes later another hand reached the ledge of roof and Sural
pulled himself up. “Glad you could join us,” Tom said. He knew all along
they would all be coming despite their protests.
An hour later the group of four wandered the streets of San Francisco ready to have some fun. What they could do was limited due to their age but Tom wasn’t one to give up so easily. There was some fog that night and the music drifting from the local establishments added a strange charm to the setting.
As they passed another bar two of the men loitering outside eyed B’Elanna up and down. The others were oblivious to the men’s appraisal but Tom could read people easily. He shifted his position so he was closer to B’Elanna in the event the men were looking for trouble or just a good time.
“Hey there,” one of them leered and cut off B’Elanna’s path. The smell of alcohol hung heavily on the man and B’Elanna cringed. “Want to have some fun?”
“No,” was the firm response and B’Elanna went to walk by him but the man grabbed her arm.
“Hold on! You haven’t even heard my offer,” he pulled B’Elanna close to him and B’Elanna retaliated. She punched him square in the jaw and the man fell backwards. The second man started to approach but Tom cut him off.
“Are you looking for a broken jaw too?” he asked the drunk.
“Get out of my way boy. I’ll teach her a lesson,” the older man threatened but Tom didn’t move. The man glared at Tom and tried to punch him but the man’s reflexes where so slow Tom had no difficulty dodging the blow and then tripping the man so he joined his friend on the ground. The group walked away and they were all silent for a while until Marcus spoke.
“That’s the most fun we’ve had all night,” and the others excluding Sural smiled. After a while longer of wandering in and out of clubs and bars where they managed to pass for the legal drinking age they ended up staring out at the ocean as the moonlight glinted off the calm surface. The other’s talked and gossiped but Tom was mostly silent through the exchange –his thoughts where elsewhere. While the others wondered and talked about what they would like to be doing and where their life might lead Tom was wondering if he was more cut out for the life he had and not the life he was currently living.
Tom had been transferred to a training base in France for the first semester of his last year. It had been surprisingly easy for him to adapt to life with a group of strangers without his parents next door to offer support. He had been able to visit his other sister Moira a few times too since she was studying in Barcelona. Tom also got in some snowboarding. With the Alps only a few kilometres away he couldn’t pass up the opportunity they presented.
During his time in France he also discovered a nice little bar in Marseilles called Sandrine’s. It was a small establishment but it had a lot of history and Tom, being interested in history, was drawn to it like a magnet. He became friends with Sandrine and the regulars of the bar but the time soon came for him to depart and finish his last semester in the San Francisco.
Tom arrived back and immediately looked up his friends wondering where they had ended up this term. He found, Sarah, Marcus and Sural without any trouble but there was one name he couldn’t find: B’Elanna Torres.
“Did she transfer to a different campus or something?” Tom asked Sarah while they walked through the gardens.
“No,” Sarah said quietly.
“Then where’d she go?” Tom asked.
“She dropped out,” Sarah said with a sigh. Tom looked at her to make sure she was serious and unfortunately she was. He noted the sorrow on Sarah’s face and wondered if B’Elanna knew how much she was missed.
“Did she tell anyone where she was going?” Tom asked. He knew B’Elanna didn’t have a great relationship with her mother but still wondered if maybe she went home. Sarah shook her head indicating the negative. He had never told her how much he valued her friendship and it looked like he might never get that chance.
End Part 5: Higher Learning
The next part is coming really soon.
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