Only Here- Part 1
by Zappy Zaps

Rating for this part: PG

Category: P, P/T Angst

Disclaimer: The characters in this story belong to Paramount. No infringement intended but the story is mine.

Archiving: Feel free to archive anywhere (though I’m not sure you would want to)

The doctor’s been asking questions, again. ‘How have you been sleeping Mr. Paris?’ What am I supposed to say? ‘Not at all Doc.’ Yeah, right. That would go over really smoothly. Of course the doctor wouldn’t be this concerned out of his own prerogative. It seems the captain is worried. I’m not telling him a thing if I have my way about it. Some things I won’t tell. Some things I can’t tell. Ever.

Lt. B’elanna Torres walked tiredly through the barren corridors of Voyager. It was almost 0400 so she wasn’t expecting to see any one. She had been up all night working on a problem in Engineering. It wasn’t terribly important for the ship, but if she didn’t finish it she would be tossing and turning all night unable to sleep still thinking about the new puzzle. Through her hours of work and testing she had forgotten to eat dinner. Her triumph in Engineering was short lived as her stomach reminded her and anyone within five meters that she had missed a meal. Relinquishing command of engineering to Vorik she headed to the Mess Hall for a quick bite to eat.

At first when she entered the Mess hall she didn’t see him but as she came out of the cooking area with some of the leftovers that Neelix leaves out for late night snackers she noticed the still figure in a corner of the dark room. At first she didn’t recognize him but as she slowly approached she realised that it was none other than Tom Paris.

He sat at the table with his back to the rest of the Mess Hall facing the viewport watching the stars streak by apparently lost in his own thoughts. However few that may be. Torres thought to herself. That wasn’t fair and she knew it but she could rarely miss an opportunity to insult him. It was all in good fun though. It was a sort of game that they had between each other. However looking at him now seeming so lost and alone brought her no amusement.

On the table in front of him were a few pads and an old fashioned hard covered book. He sat there completely still and completely silent. She wasn’t even sure if he knew she was there. With he plate of food in hand she slowly walked closer to him. She was about to make her presence known but he beat her to it.

"Hi." Was all he said without even turning around. He didn’t know who was there but he knew that someone was behind him. B’elanna was a little startled at first but quickly recovered .

"Hi, Tom." She said. Slightly unsure whether she had disturbed him and wondering how long he knew she was there. "Can I join you?" she asked cautiously

"Sure." he said blandly as he began to clear his belongings for her to sit down. B’elanna sat down in the seat across from him. Tom picked up one of the padds and began looking through its contents. B’elanna noticed that his mask of unbridled pleasantness was not in place. In its place was a mask of cold steel that didn’t let a single emotion past it. Because of that B’elanna was unsure whether her company was welcomed or not but she was never one to be easily deterred. For a few minutes neither of them said anything. Tom seemed content fingering through his padd (although it was hard to tell) and B’elanna was picking out the edible portions of Neelix’s creation. As she was doing so her eyes wandered from he plate to Tom. She let her eyes wander up his body admiring his muscular chest to his broade shoulders, to his define jaw his beautiful facial feature, all the way to his gorgeous blue eyes that where staring right back at her. Tom hadn’t been oblivious to her gaze. Tom cracked a small amused smile. Shaking his head slightly and still smiling, he went back to his padd. It wasn’t a completely genuine smile but it was better than calm indifference that she had gotten from him so far tonight. Not wanting to leave things on an awkward note B’elanna decided to try and start a conversation. "Shouldn’t you be sleeping?"

"Shouldn’t you?" ‘TRY’ was the operative word. B’elanna’s light tone had no effect on his demenour and he had answered her with the same calm indifference. Not wanting to give up her attempt to talk to him she pressed on.

"I was working in engineering."

A distracted "Uh huh" was all she got as a response.

"And you are up because…" she pressed him for and answer.

"Couldn’t sleep." Tom raised his eyes from the text on the padd to meet her eyes for a moment and then returned to what he was doing. Though in the brief moment that she stared into his eyes she realised that there was more to his insomnia than he was letting on. She wasn’t totally sure however. With Tom Paris she was never sure what to think but he was her friend and maybe a bit more, so she wanted to make sure that he was alright so she continued.

"How long have you been having trouble sleeping?" she asked like the concerned friend that she was. ‘How about most of my life’ would have been his immediate answer but he really wanted to drop the subject so he settled for:

"A while." B’elanna was becoming slightly annoyed that he wasn’t being very forthcoming but continued with her interrogation.

"Maybe you should go see the Doctor and ask him about it. He may be able to provide a sleep aid to help you." Tom realised that she was only trying to help him and on almost any other night he would have been glad to talk to her but this conversation and his current mood was not making him very talkative.

"B’elanna, I realise that your just trying to help me but it’s nothing serious."

"All right. Then when was the last time that you got a good nights sleep?" she was not about to let the subject drop. That was the first full sentence that she had heard from him that night. She was on a roll.

"A good nights sleep…" he trailed off.

"Yes. As in six or more hours of it in a row." Tom thought for a while before he answered her question.

"Look B’elanna I usually don’t get more than four hours sleep a night so a bit less shouldn’t matter." He said casually.

"Four hours? That’s it?" Tom just nodded his head once. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why don’t you sleep for more than four hours?" This was the type of question he wanted to avoid answering. Tom took a breath that was deeper than normal and exhaled slowly. This is where B’elanna realized that she had hit a nerve.

"I just can’t sleep, that’s all." His finger nervously tapping the side of the padd. B’elanna noticed the tell tail signs that he was uncomforable about something and pressed on.

"What’s keeping you from sleeping?"

"B’elanna its nothing!" Tom was starting to get agitated by her questions especially since they were getting a little too close to home.

"Then get a sleep aid from the Doctor."

"No!" he was getting angry that she would not drop the subject.

"Why Tom?"

"Just because!" he answered with anger in his voice.

"Why?" She asked wit the same anger in her own. She wasn’t really that angry but she hoped that with his lack of sleep and obvious discomfort she could get to slip up. And it worked.

"Because you can’t wake up!" he blurted out without thinking. B’elanna quickly put two and twoo together and continued their ‘conversation’ without missing a beat.

"If your having nightmares Tom, then you should talk to somebody about it. It might help." Her tone much softer now. Tom opened his mouth as if to respond but thought better of it and closed it.

Tom sat their looking at her trying to decide what was the best course of action and for a moment he almost considered talking to someone about his nightmares. That thought lasted only a fleeting moment. He decided that now was as good a time as any to terminate this conversation. He started collecting his things saying:

"I’m going back to my quarters. Enjoy your meal Lieutenant." And he got up from the table adding "if you can." With the classic Paris smirk.

"You should try and get some sleep Tom." Her anger totally dissipated leaving in its place only worry.

Tom just smiled at her concern and exited the Mess Hall. He would usually jump at a chance to have a conversation with B’elanna but the topic of discussion was not ideal. Usually he would have been able to steer the conversation in a different direction. Replaying the conversation in his mind he saw several missed opportunities to smoothly change the topic. He had to remember these for the next time he saw B’elanna. He had a feeling that she would not let the subject of his sleeping habits drop. B’elanna was never one to give up easily. Still, I should have been able to keep my wits about me. He berated himself. I’m just tired, but I’m not going to sleep. I can’t and I don’t want to.

B’elanna sat alone in the Mess Hall after Tom had left still looking at the doors where he had left several minutes earlier. His action confused her but tom had always been an enigma to her. Returning to her food she realized she wasn’t hungry anymore and looking at the food didn’t help either. How did I eat this? She thought to herself starring with disgust at the contents of her plate.

Leaving the Mess Hall heading towards her quarters, her earlier thoughts on Tom’s behaviour returned to her. Maybe Harry knows what’s wrong with Tom. If it were not so late she would have gone to see Harry immediately but she didn’t want to disturb him. She entered her quarters her thoughts still in turmoil and wondered how much sleep she would be able to get tonight.

Tom Paris was walking through the deserted halls of Voyager with no intended destinations just as far from his problems that he could get. Then an idea occurred to him. "Computer, are either of the holodecks free?" he inquired

"Both Holodeck one and Holodeck two are not in use." The computer responded. Tom wasn’t surprised considering the late hour or early depending on which way you think about. He adjusted his course to take him to the holodecks. I can get in a few hours of rock climbing before my shift starts.

When he reached the holodecks her ran his climbing program and disabled the safeties. To him the safeties took away the thrill of climbing.

A little over two hours later Tom left the holodeck still feeling the adrenaline rush from climbing although he was slightly fatigued. He made his was back to his quarters. He had enough time to take a shower, change, get some breakfast in the Mess Hall and make it to the senior staff meeting at 0730. He made it to the Mess Hall at exactly 0704. Grabbing some breakfast and a cup of coffee he sat down at an empty table and picked through his breakfast. A few minutes later Ensign Harry Kim walked through the doors of the Mess Hall and after getting his breakfast, joined Tom at his table. They talked casually like good friends do until B’elanna joined them and changed the subject.

B’elanna knew that she would probably not get another chance to confront Tom about his sleeping patterns with Harry present. She knew that Harry would be very concerned when he heard what she had to say and that he would back her up. Perhaps he might even listen and start to talk about what was bothering him. But that was just wishful thinking.

"So Tom how did you sleep last night?" B’elanna asked with a bit of an edge in her voice and Tom knew what she was trying to do. Harry, too, heard the edge in her tone and was about to ask what was wrong but Tom replied to her before he had a chance.

"Not at all B’elanna." He replied casually "How about you?" That wasn’t the reply that B’elanna was anticipating and she didn’t know where to go from there. That comment caught Harry’s attention. He just stared at Tom, not believing what he had just said. He had just been talking to Tom and he didn’t think that he looked tired or any different than he would have any other day.

Tom looked at them without displaying a single emotion other than being calm and casual. He looked at their startled expressions. It was funny how easily he could throw them off balance with a single comment. But before either of them could regain their voices he changed the subject. "We better get moving." He said as he began to get up from the table "or else we’ll be late for the meeting.". Again, before they could speak Tom was already heading to the door and they quickly followed. On the way to the bridge both Harry and B’elanna quizzed Tom but he effectively danced around each question, changed the subject or gave them a half truth answer. By the time they reached the conference room Harry and B’elanna hadn’t gotten a single straight answer from him. They were that last to arrive at the meeting.

Commander Chakotay was already seated and looked at each of them taking in their expressions. Harry looked tired and frustrated. B’elanna looked frustrated and a little angry. I’ve got to remember to ask him questions when he’s tired. B’elanna thought. Tom, however, looked rather pleased with himself and wearing a smug smile o his face. Chakotay briefly contemplated what Tom had done to irritate them and smiled at the thought. Chakotay was brought of his reverie when Captain Janeway began the meeting.

End Part 1

I’m hard at work on the next part. This is my first fanfiction. Please send any constructive criticism or comments to