False Miracles, part 7
Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
A/N: I realize this chapter goes a little off the beaten path, but here I had Tom Paris is the whole different, alien
existence…and I had to explore it a little bit. So let me know if this is all just a little too weird.
False Miracles, part 7
As it turned out, Tom didn't leave that next day for the Moch'raen as he'd planned. Instead, he was woken later that
evening by a steady pounding on his domicile's door. He immediately feared the worst – a problem at the lab; a
problem with a patient. Had something happened to Dr. Bree'aje? His fears turned out to be for naught, however.
Tom stumbled to the door, dressing as he went and trying to be quiet so that he didn't disturb Lisave. Once there, he
was met by a young boy whose family was one of the few in the colony to maintain their business holdings – so
many of the others had simply abandoned their homes and offices to migrate away from the infirmaries, of which
there were now two – one at each end of the settlement. Tom recalled the boy's name was Kierran – he'd offered,
occasionally, to do the odd job or two around the lab.
"What is it, Kierran," he asked, trying to focus on the adolescent's face in the darkness.
"It's your brother, Doctor. He's at the Gathering again, and Ceelam can't get him to leave. He's gone senseless."
Tom frowned, closing the door behind him.
"Darmask?" he asked, and Kierran nodded, nervous. They began to make their way quickly across the settlement.
"I know the two of you haven't been on good terms lately, but I didn't know who else to go to. Someone has to do
something – Ceelam's threatening to contact the Mediators."
Tom grimaced. That was just what they needed right now – attention from the Luari Council. A Mediation in the
colony would fare badly at the Division's Review. Tom put a hand on Kierran's shoulder.
"It's okay – you did the right thing," then he smiled, one eyebrow raising. "And I don't want to know why *you*
were at the Gathering anyhow."
Kierran blushed, and Tom laughed. The kid was only fifteen years old, but it was only at moments like this that
Kierran actually looked his age. It was good to see.
They reached the large, wooden building that served as the colony's meeting hall, auditorium, and – most nights – as
the colony's only establishment that resembled what off-worlders might call a "bar". Through the open door at the
front, Tom could just make out Darmask's slumped form at a table near the service counter, downing another glass
of something mean looking while the barkeep looked on warily. Tom nodded, and Kierran left. Then Tom took a
deep breath…and walked in.
For some time, Tom had wondered what a reunion with his brother might be like. Since the heated argument they'd
had two quarters ago, they hadn't spoken, nor had they parted in a way that guaranteed that they would ever speak
again. Tom felt as though he wasn't the sort to hold a grudge, but the argument had hit uncomfortably close to
home, and Darmask, unlike his brother, most certainly did hold grudges. Since he'd spent the last six months
spending entirely too much time in places like the Gathering, Tom supposed he should have expected they'd have
their talk here, if anywhere, but he wasn't relishing a confrontation with a drunk, angry Darmask.
Tom approached his brother's table, wondering what he would say; how he would announce himself. Then
Darmask saved him from having to do so.
"Isn't there any sick people hanging around, somewhere, waiting for you to help them?" he muttered, in way of a
greeting. Tom smiled, for the first time realizing how Euran must feel working with him.
"I see somebody who needs my help right here," he replied, calmly, taking a seat across the table from his brother.
Darmask kind of snorted.
"Who says I need your help?"
Tom was unfazed by the hostility. "The Mediation Committee, for one," he replied, his casual tone at odd with the
That got Darmask's attention.
He looked up from his drink sharply.
"Haven't been contacted…yet," Tom told him, now reaching across the table to take his brother's glass away.
Whether the man was simply too drunk to stop him, or too startled over what he'd just told him, he didn't know.
"But they will be," he continued, "If you give Ceelam over there any more trouble."
Darmask laughed, but it was a half-hearted attempt, if anything.
"Ceelam wouldn't dare."
Tom didn't say anything, but with the look on his face he supposed he didn't have to. And a glance at the displeased
bartended some feet away confirmed the same.
Tom sighed. "Come on, brother. You had to know that this would happen if you kept on like you have been. What
did you think was going to happen?"
The threat of a mediation had taken some of the fight out of the other man, but there was still too much anger and
pain there to make room for cooperation.
"You don't know what the hell you're talking about," he muttered, reaching again for his glass, and glaring daggers
when Tom again moved it out of his reach.
"I know what day it is," Tom answered solemnly. And the soft, certain statement froze Darmask where he sat.
He couldn't even manage the effort to try and laugh it off.
"I think you do," Tom insisted. He looked his would-be brother in the eyes. "What I want to know," he continued,
"Is why my brother is sitting here, drinking himself to death, on the anniversary of my child's death."
The silence that permeated the air at Tom's statement was suffocating. And Tom didn't know what was more
uncomfortable – that or the pain of speaking of his child for the first time in nearly an entire division.
Darmask stared at him cooly. Numbly.
"Maybe because it wasn't your child," he said simply, and left.
The next thing Darmask knew, he was lying on the ground with a bloody lip.
He'd made it just outside the Gathering when Tom stopped him. Or, rather, his fist did.
Resigned to the fate he had sealed by betraying his only brother, Darmask steeled himself for more blows. But they
"Get up," he heard Tom say, his voice low and rough and dangerous.
Darmask didn't move, wondering why he wasn't getting the shit kicked out of him already.
"I said, get up!" Tom ordered, and Darmask finally found himself stumbling to his feet.
He should have known his brother, benevolent doctor that he was, wouldn't kick a man when he was down. He'd
wait for him to stand and then he'd kill him.
Alas, Tom did no such thing.
Tom paced a moment, trying to reign in all the dark emotions filling his brain before they could explode, and he
along with them. He paced, seeing red, seeing nothing. Trying not to look at his brother for fear that the sight
would push him over the edge.
Even now, fists that had never been used for anything other than healing, clenched ad unclenched, looking for a
target. Surprisingly, though, they didn't feel unused to the sensation. He felt as though he'd felt such rage before;
as though he'd given in to it before. Too many times. And he felt a disturbing calm at the thought of giving in to it
now; of hurting instead of healing. He was angry at Darmask for that; for making him feel that.
Oddly enough, it was one of the only two things he was angry at Darmask for. That and his betrayal. For some
reason, the very thought of being betrayed by a family member filled Tom with such despair that it shook him,
leaving him with the puzzling feeling that he'd suffered such betrayal before. The fact that Darmask had betrayed
him with Lisave didn't seem half as disturbing somehow – it was wrong, but true. He and Lisave hadn't had a true
relationship for as long as he could remember. And beneath the façade of the adoring wife that Lisave had crafted
so well, Tom had suspected as much from her. Perhaps he'' even suspected Darmask. Wasn't' that what he'd been
getting at back there at the Gathering?
Somehow suspecting it and hearing it, straight from Darmask, were two different things.
And to hear that the child had been a part of it all…
Tom felt a wave of emotions wash over him so strong it nearly brought him to his knees. Most of them were
remembered. He didn't remember much of his life before the abduction, but he remembered having loved his
unborn child with all his heart. He remembered having loved its mother. Their separation seemed to have changed
her; them, their marriage. But it hadn't changed his feelings for the child. He'd loved it. It had been his future; his
link to the past; proof that, even if he and Lisave no longer loved one another now, that they had known love before.
It had been his child…
But it hadn't. Now Tom knew it hadn't. When Lisave had lost the baby…it had torn at him. He was a doctor.
Great Giving-Ones…he was a *doctor*. And he couldn't keep his own wife well enough to carry their child to
He'd mourned the child. Mourned it still…mourned even if it hadn't been his own. Because he'd loved it. He
remembered that, if nothing else.
Darmask hadn't changed that.
But his memories of loving the child's mother were different. The fact that he held no such feelings for his lawful
wife now hadn't been enough to dispel Tom's belief that he had loved her once. After all, he remembered loving
her. Well, not her, exactly. But he remembered loving. Loving so strongly he was consumed with it. He
remembered asking her to marry him. Leaning in close to her…catching her scent…wanting her so badly it hurt.
He was still pumped up with the adrenaline of battle and of asking the single most important question of their lives.
"I thought you were only asking because we were about to die," she'd said.
He'd smiled. He'd loved her and hurt for her insecurity and smiled. "I'm still asking," he told her. Asking the
single most important person…
No, that wasn't right.
'…battle…question….about to die…'
Pain lanced through Tom's temples. He grabbed his head, shaking with the sudden searing heat that arched through
him, sending blood rushing to his ears.
He was getting confused, mixed up. He was upsetting himself into having those old hallucinations again.
He tried to calm himself down. 'Breathe, Tom…come on, breathe…'
He'd never loved Lisave. All those old memories were just hope-clouded delusions, he realized that now. Those
things had never happened, had they? And even if they had, how could he stand her now? She'd obviously never
felt for him, never cared…
And to tell him that it was his…
"…but it's a girl, right?" he heard himself asking, in the recesses of mind and memory. A strange voice, a man's
voice, was answering…but Tom didn't hear him…
Tom clutched his head and screamed.
Darmask watched. "She told you it was conceived before the abduction, didn't she?" he asked then. He stood there,
still waiting for an attack to come, hoping for it. He watched Tom's pain and anger with sorrow and self-hatred.
"She told me we couldn't tell you. Couldn't risk a reconscription…"
Tom swore. Reconscription…he hadn't even thought of it. The participants of a badly failed marriage, or an
unauthorized affair, were always relocated. And in cases like these, in the Luari society…a society that condemned
infidelity as a detriment to the continuation of the species…in a community, such as theirs, where disease ate at the
population, making the propagation of the species paramount…Tom blanched. Could he do that? To Lisave, even
after all she'd done. Could he do that to his own brother?
"It wasn't supposed to happen," Darmask was saying, the eternal lament of the unfaithful. "You were gone…we
thought you were dead…so alone. Lisave went nuts…she really…" Darmask's face seemed to crumple and he
actually began to cry. "I thought she really…cared. That she…that she needed…"
He stopped, just stopped. Couldn't speak for several moments. And through his own dark feelings, Tom noticed his
He hadn't loved Lisave. But Darmask must obviously have felt something for her. It was evident in his face, his
defeated posture. Tom couldn't believe he hadn't seen it before. And she'd obviously had no more concern for the
feelings of Darmask Yaden than she had for Tom Paris…
Finally Darmask was recovering himself.
"She didn't want to tell you, so I went along with it. I didn't want to make her mad. Didn't want…hurt the baby…"
Darmask was drunk, sick from it, and at the end of a long string of sobs, but Tom heard him. And the words chilled
him as a thought suddenly occurred.
Tom looked at his brother. Really looked at him. Yet all he could see was the child that had never been.
He didn't even have to ask. Darmask didn't have to tell him.
Tom turned and headed home.
And Darmask didn't try to stop him.