Missing scenes covering Tom's recovery from the trauma of Memorial and the deepening of Tom and B'Elanna relationship.
This story shows Tom at a very dark moment, and B'Elanna less concerned about the Starfleet way of doing things. It was a bit too intense for a T rating.
Violations of the Mind
Tom haunted the corridors of Voyager nightly, avoiding the areas where he might run into crew from Gamma shift. In the early days, he'd run into Harry and the others who were infected with the implanted memories. Now Tom was the only one left to regularly walk the halls at night.
He had managed three hours of sleep tonight. It wasn't enough. If he didn't get more sleep, he'd never get back on regular duty. He had to tire himself out and try to get in another hour of sleep before morning.
Tom found himself outside holodeck two. Chakotay said that his boxing program gave him a good workout and helped him to get to sleep. That might be a good idea. Tom wouldn't mind a workout.
Something stopped Tom from going in. The implanted memories had found the cracks in his vulnerabilities and one wormed its way past the friendly brawls into the dark corners of jail where the prisoners reinforced the pecking order. Deeper than that, came whispers of obscure memories, of being close to despair, memories of fighting for his life. Tom turned sharply away. This wasn't for him after all. He kept walking.
When morning finally came, Tom took care to ensure that his hair and uniform were perfectly in place. He did what he could to hide the dark circles under his eyes. There was no point in giving them any more to talk about by showing up looking as tired and disheveled as he really felt.
He had another of those debriefing sessions this morning. The debriefing sessions made a difference for many of the crew, but not for Tom. It was getting so he hated taking part in these things.
The group that gathered in Chakotay's quarters today was smaller than usual, just the four members of the away team that found the monument on Tarakis.
Harry, Chakotay, Neelix and Tom sat in a loose circle. Chakotay said that was for mutual support. Tom thought it was so no one could hide.
Chakotay went first. Then Harry was up. Harry's voice wavered as he told his story. But he kept going. "I can see them shooting at me and me shooting back. I know that it happened hundreds of years ago. I know that it's not really me. But I can still see it!" Harry made it all the way through to the end. He was getting stronger each time.
The monument on Tarakis had transmitted its store of memories as individual experiences. Each recipient took on the role of one of the soldiers in the troupe that massacred the Nakan colonists. Each person on Voyager who received a transmission had a different perspective on the murders and the subsequent cover-up.
Chakotay nodded to Harry when he finished and then turned to Tom. "It's your turn."
Tom flinched. He really hated this. He hated trying to untangle the memories transmitted from Tarakis from deeper ones that they had found and latched onto. He wasn't about to share those secrets. It was best to stick to the bare facts, the ones that everyone already knew.
"We met with Saavdra to plan our strategy. I went out to help round up the colonists. I heard weapon fire. I fired back. Then I was hit. That's all I remember." Tom remembered more than that. He didn't admit it though.
"How do you feel about it, Tom?"
"What? Oh, sorry. I didn't realize that you were going to ask questions."
"How do you feel?" Chakotay repeated.
"I don't know. Not fine, miserable, awful. What do you want me to say?"
"That'll do, for now. Maybe you'll have more to say another time." Chakotay moved on to the fourth member of their group. "Neelix, what would you like to tell us today?"
Neelix clenched his hands into tight fists and rocked in his chair. "I remember the children. I can see them falling! I tried to protect them. It was no use. They were afraid and ran right into the cross fire."
While Neelix continued retelling his story, Tom sank back and let the sound sweep over him.
"Say more another time? Say what? What more does he expect from me?" Tom muttered to himself.
This 'let's share how we feel' is okay for the others. Look what kind of memories they have to share. Neelix has the memories of a guy who tried to save the children. Neelix always was a softie with kids. Harry has the memories of a young guy who realized how appalling things were and tried to get away. The kid would definitely be one to smell out how bad things were getting and want no part of it. Chakotay's officer was another who saw the danger. He tried to get Saavdra to postpone the relocation. They all picked up the memories of soldiers who tried to prevent the disaster.
Whose memories did I get? My guy rounded up the colonists, fired on them and then tried to cover it all up. So, despite everything that I've tried to do on Voyager, including that little side trip into causes that cost me thirty days in the brig, at heart I'm still most like that kind of guy, a coward who murdered innocent civilians, and then lied about it.
*Why don't they leave me alone!" Tom concluded bitterly,
"Tom?" Chakotay's voice pulled him out of his musings. "Was there anything more you wanted to add?"
Tom straightened up. "No, no, I think we've covered everything." Tom prepared to stand, relieved that the session was over.
"Do you have a personal message you'd like me to pass along to the Captain. She asks about you, you know."
"Another time. I'm sure she's very busy these days. Come on, Harry, I'll buy you a coffee."
"Pure Tom Paris evasion," Chakotay commented to himself. He could recognize it from clear across the ship. Chakotay jotted down some notes for the Captain. Even though she, like all the others who received the Nakan memories, was supposed to be on limited duty, Chakotay knew that he'd find her in her ready room. Her interpretation of half shift was six hours longer than anyone else's.
Kathryn put her reports aside when Chakotay arrived. She'd been expecting him. "How did the latest session go?"
"As well as can be expected. Harry and Neelix are making progress. It's slow, but it helps them to get everything out into the open. It's Tom that I'm most concerned about. He goes through the motions at the debriefing sessions. But if I try to probe, ask him about his feelings, he shuts down. He's not really getting better. He's just getting better at covering up."
"That's what I was afraid of." Kathryn picked up a small, flat box that sat on her desk. The surface was a rich brown, probably fine old wood. "Do you know what this is?"
Chakotay shook his head. "I've never seen it before."
"I usually keep it in a drawer in my quarters." She opened the box to show him its contents. A single black pip rested like a jewel on the plush fabric. "It's Tom's lieutenant pip. He's completed all the requirements for reinstatement, more than satisfied them actually. I didn't make it easy. I brought the box to my ready room the day the four of you left on your away mission. I was going to present it to Tom when he got back."
Kathryn closed the box.
"But now you're not going to?" Chakotay asked.
"No," she confirmed, shaking her head, "at least not yet. If I gave him the rank pip now, he'd probably throw it in my face."
"I don't think he'd go that far, maybe throw it on the floor though." Chakotay considered what to say next. "Tom's not angry with you, Kathryn. Yes, he disagrees with your decision to repair the transmitter and he's angry that others will have to live through what he has. But it's the soldiers who murdered the colonists that he's mad at. He's mad at the people who programmed the monument that forced us to relive those experiences. He's even angry with the colonists for dying. On top of all that, he's mad at himself."
"I thought that assigning the away team to repair the monument would reinforce the fact that the memories were imposed on you from an outside source. I thought it would put some distance between you and the memories, bring closure." She glanced over at Chakotay. "No one else will go through what we did unless they choose to do so, not with the warning buoy we put in place."
"That's rational thinking, Kathryn. Right now Tom isn't doing well on his rational.
"I know," Kathryn agreed. "That's why this pip will have to wait. It wouldn't be fair to load him with the extra responsibilities that come with it. Tom can't cope with that right now.
"Give it time, Kathryn."
"I will. The box will be here when he's ready again." She put it on a shelf behind her desk.
Chakotay gave her another moment before he asked. "Didn't I hear the Doctor put you on reduced duty? Isn't it time for you to call it a day?"
"He did and it is. I was about to hand the keys over to Tuvok and head to my quarters.
"That sounds good. But, as I recall, I've found you here in your ready room every afternoon this week."
"Well, I plan to spend this afternoon indulging in a relaxing bubble bath and then read a good book. What about you? What are your plans for your off-duty time?"
Chakotay wasn't fooled. They'd played this game before. He knew she'd go through another pile of reports in her quarters before opening that book or sticking her toe in the water. Today, he let it go.
"B'Elanna asked to see me. I'm on my way there now. After that, my plans are similar to yours - minus the bubble bath."
Kathryn was an accomplished strategist. She counted on him not giving her an argument this time. She extended a peace offering as compensation for her stubbornness. "Walk you partway?" she asked.
"I'll be glad of the company."
They ignored the curious stares of the less seasoned crewmembers filling in on the bridge, and exited together via the turbolift.
Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres was a demanding but fair boss. Her staff had developed respect for her blunt, yet highly effective, leadership style. There were, however, certain situations that B'Elanna's staff had learned to avoid if possible. Each had its own code.
In a level one, you kept your head down and did your job. In level two you did your best to get assigned to shuttlebay maintenance or the Jeffries tubes. Level three meant you volunteered to try Neelix's latest food experiment so you could spend a few hours in sickbay.
There'd been a lot of level threes lately.
The B'Elanna that Chakotay met when he made it down to engineering was much more subdued and vulnerable than her staff usually saw.
"Chakotay!" B'Elanna brushed the hair from the side of her face, suddenly unsure of herself. "Do you have a minute?"
"I was on my way to my quarters. Why don't you come along and we can talk there?"
"All right." B'Elanna agreed. Then she raised her voice to 'command' level. "Nicoletti, take over for me. I'll be back in half an hour!"
They didn't bother with small talk in the turbolift. In Chakotay's quarters, he cleared a striped blanket from B'Elanna's favorite chair and ordered two hot drinks from his replicator.
B'Elanna curled up with her feet tucked comfortably into a corner of the cushion. She ran a finger along the chair fabric to find a loose thread to play with. These loose threads once existed only in her imagination. Over time she had gradually worked real tufts from the surface of the seat cushion.
"Have you pulled out enough thread to knit me another blanket yet?" Chakotay joked.
"Very funny," B'Elanna tried to push her latest find back under the surface.
It was a testament to their friendship that Chakotay accepted the mess that B'Elanna made of his chair, while B'Elanna tolerated what she called his twisted sense of humor.
Chakotay handed B'Elanna one of the mugs and sat down in his own chair of choice.
"Hot chocolate?" B'Elanna asked, wrinkling her nose in surprise.
"Comfort food in a cup." Chakotay explained.
"That sounds like something Tom would say."
"Tom seems to be the topic of the day. I assume that he is why you wanted to see me."
B"Elanna looked up guiltily from her mug. "I'm sorry. I know he's not the only one going through all this. How are you doing?"
"Don't apologize. I'm not fine yet, but I'm getting there. Tom isn't. I'm worried about him too. What can I do to help?"
"We both know that those 'let's share our pain' sessions aren't working for Tom. Right now, he's like a wounded animal, licking his wounds, snapping at anyone who gets too close. It's time to try something else."
"You think you can get through to Tom? I thought you said that he wouldn't listen to you."
"He might not listen to me. That doesn't mean that I can't kick his ass!" B'Elanna retorted.
"I don't think sex is the answer." Chakotay commented dryly.
B'Elanna glared to remind him that it she would still break his nose if he didn't watch it. "Tom needs to face up to how he feels about these memories."
"If he can't do it on his own, he needs a push. I've created a simulation of the massacre," she explained. "We uploaded the entire bank of information to our data base when we repaired the monument. I had everything I needed to recreate the program."
B'Elanna suddenly realized that her hands had gotten cold. She warmed them around her mug. "I'm going to take Tom into the program," she announced without looking up.
"That's dangerous, B'Elanna," Chakotay countered, "in more ways than one."
"I know what I'm doing," she insisted. "You've got to admit there's no one on board who has more experience facing demons on the holodeck than I do."
"That doesn't make you an expert. You don't have all the answers, B'Elanna. None of us do."
"I don't need to have the answers. I only need to have the questions. Tom will find his own answers. I believe that. I believe in Tom."
"All right," Chakotay finally agreed. "Give it a shot. Nothing else is working right now. What do you need me to do?"
"Once the program begins, Tom can't stop until he's finished. I need unlimited access to one of the holodecks so the program can run its course."
"How long will that take?"
"I don't know. It depends on Tom."
"Consider holodeck one offline for maintenance. It's unavailable to the rest of the crew until further notice. Just be careful!" Chakotay admonished her, hoping that this time B'Elanna would listen. Unfortunately he also remembered some old saying about water off a duck's back.
After B'Elanna left, Chakotay dug out a book that Kathryn had lent him and found the page where he'd left off. He'd only read a couple more chapters when his lazy afternoon had a rude interruption. A long unused alarm signaled that B'Elanna had just shut down the safeties on holodeck one.
"Damn it, B'Elanna," Chakotay muttered as he marked his place in the book. "What are you up to now?"
He left his long cooled tea and went to confront B'Elanna.
He found her bent over the holodeck console, absorbed with her program modifications. She looked up when he came in.
"Chakotay! What are you doing here?" she asked, as if she didn't already know.
"Cut the crap, B'Elanna. Let's just say that a little bird told me that you'd disengaged the holodeck safeties."
"Were you spying on me?" she demanded, her own anger rising.
"Come on, B'Elanna. You know how it works. After all those programs last year, I now get an alert when the safeties are disabled. What do you think you're doing?"
"This isn't going to be a pleasure ride, Chakotay. I need to turn off the safeties for it to work."
Chakotay held firm. "I can't allow that. It's too risky."
B'Elanna bit her lip in frustration. "How abut 50%?" she asked.
"That's still risky."
B'Elanna steadied herself against the control panel and rocked back and forth. She did her best not to rip it apart while she figured out what she could say to make him change his mind.
Chakotay could see her determination. She really believed in this. "How about a compromise," he offered, "safeties at 25%?"
"I won't haggle with you, Chakotay. The minimum that I need is 50%."
"I won't haggle either, 25% is my final offer."
B'Elanna brought her fist down on the panel and glared at Chakotay. "I need 50% or this won't work. We might as well shut the program down and forget the whole thing. Is that what you want?"
Chakotay held back his answer, weighing the pros and cons.
"I know what I'm doing, Chakotay. Trust me on this," she pleaded.
"All right," he conceded. "But you're the one who's going to have to settle up with the Doctor afterwards."
She grinned in triumph.
That evening Tom once again found himself in front of the door to his quarters. Another day had managed to pass since he left it this morning.
Once inside, Tom stretched out on his bed. He didn't bother to undress. It made little difference if he did. He wouldn't sleep, not yet anyway. He simply lay there and began the long wait for morning.
Tom spent his nights alone now. He'd barely spoken to B'Elanna since she stormed out of his quarters. He'd hurt her. She'd wanted to comfort him and he'd refused her. If they were going to mend this rift, it was up to him to make the first move. He couldn't do it.
B'Elanna thought he was rejecting her. That wasn't it at all. The problem was with him. How could he make her understand that the memories of the Nakan massacre were just another reminder that he was unworthy of her. Those memories had chosen him. It was no use arguing that these were someone else's memories. Their ugliness had found a home in his subconscious. They belonged to him now.
B'Elanna was a fierce warrior. She'd fought with honor for a cause she believed in. She refused to make compromises. For him, she was beauty and honor personified. He avoided B'Elanna because he couldn't bear the thought of sullying her with his touch.
The door chime came as an unexpected intrusion. Tom thought that he had succeeded in discouraging all visitors.
"Yes! What is it?" Tom yelled across the room.
"Open the damn door!" B'Elanna's demand came back through the door. "Unless you want me to use my engineering code to over-ride your lock!"
"B'Elanna? Hell!" Tom swore to himself. He'd set his door for manual activation, so he had to get up to open it. Tom found the floor with his feet and stumbled his way to the door. He thumbed the inner control pad and the door swished open.
B'Elanna didn't waste time on 'hello' or on commenting on his disheveled appearance. She stalked over to Tom's couch and flung herself down.
Tom stayed by the door, unsure of what to do. "I thought you said that you'd wait until I came to you," he managed to say.
"You took too long," B'Elanna retorted. "I got tired of waiting. I have better things to do with my time you know."
"I know." Tom agreed sadly. "Why are you here?"
"Look, Tom," B'Elanna's tone was softer, but not too soft. Sympathy was the wrong tack to use with him. "You've holed up in here long enough. The ship needs you. I need you. You're not getting better. It's time to do something about it."
"Like what?" Tom reacted by getting angry. It was the only defense he had left to keep her from getting close to him. "Do you want me to forget and move on? Because I can't!"
"I know you can't. That's not what I meant!" B'Elanna matched him growl for growl. "You've got to stop hiding. Stop pushing everything inside. If you won't talk about what's really bothering you in the debriefing sessions, you have to find another way to deal with it."
"What other way is there?"
B'Elanna stood up and closed the distance between them. She was careful not to come too close. She knew that he became agitated if she tried to touch him. 'I know something about using the holodeck to cope with depression," she said in what both of them recognized was an understatement. "I've created a program for you. It's set up and ready to go on holodeck one. "
"You mean like Chakotay's boxing program? No thanks. I don't need that kind of holoprogram." Tom turned away so she would take the hint and leave.
B'Elanna stood her ground. "You've got a lot of nerve. Who was it who hounded me to try out the Klingon holoprograms that he wrote for me? I ask you to return the favor and you won't even look at the program!"
"Quit playing games, B'Elanna. This isn't the same!"
"Why? Because this time you're the one who has to trust me to know what I'm doing?"
"That's not it."
"Then what's your problem? Are you afraid of getting too much of a workout? Or do you think my programming skills aren't good enough for you?"
"Fine!" Tom's answer exploded out of him. "Fine. I'll do it. Let's just get it over with." Then he added in a quieter voice, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
B'Elanna forced herself to ignore the impulse to turn and hold him. She picked up a blanket that Tom hadn't noticed that she'd brought with her and waited for Tom to go through the door ahead of her.
"What's with the blanket?" Tom asked along the way. "Are you planning to set up camp?"
"Who knows? You took so long to talk to me. I may need to make myself comfortable while I wait for you at the holodeck."
Tom grunted ambiguously. Then he shut up.
For Tom, the walk to the holodeck was like the walk he had taken from the Captain's office to the brig. He wanted to turn and run. But he'd given B'Elanna his word. He wouldn't break it.
"Computer, initiate holoprogram Torres zeta gamma four." B'Elanna made sure that her program was running properly and stepped back to let Tom go through. "I'll be right here, if you need me," she told him.
"Thanks." Tom tried to get a clue about the kind of program she'd set up. All he could see from the entrance was darkness. He took a deep breath and stepped inside, letting the doors close behind him.
B'Elanna sank to the floor. She crushed the blanket to her chest and pulled up her knees for comfort. An unfortunate crewman stared down at her as he passed by.
"What are you gawking at?" she snarled.
He made a hasty retreat. His instinct for survival overrode any point he might have made about having a perfect right to walk past holodeck one.
So far, Tom could tell nothing about the program B'Elanna had set up for him. Everything was still dark. He felt around him, trying to pick up clues. A few steps in, his knee brushed up against low growing vegetation. A few steps more, he felt the brush of leaves against his face. The ground was spongy under his feet and a light breeze carried the smell of water. The sound of voices became louder.
"Shit!" Tom recoiled as if struck. He knew this place! He pushed his way back through the bushes to get to the holodeck doors. But even though he clawed the branches aside, he found nothing but more bushes and leaves.
"Computer! End program!"
No response. Nothing when he tried his comm badge either, B'Elanna must have rigged it somehow. The voices were closer now.
"Computer!" Tom yelled at the air where the door should be. "B'Elanna! What the hell do you think you're doing? B'Elanna, do you hear me? Shut down the damn program!"
"Hey, soldier, who are you talking to?" A hand grabbed Tom's shoulder and pulled him around. The face in front of Tom was in no mood for listening. "We have work to do. Saavdra wants those colonists rounded up right now. Move it!"
Other hands dragged him along.
"Computer, freeze program!" A sharp slap across the face told Tom that the program safeties were either turned off or not working properly.
The soldiers shoved a weapon into his hands and led him to a clearing where they left him to guard a group of colonists. He recognized this place. A small child called out for her mother. One of the other soldiers hissed at her to pipe down.
"Hey!" Tom shouted. "Lay off. Can't you just help her find her mother?"
"If you want to be a bleeding heart, go right ahead. I've got my orders. I was ordered to 'guard the colonists' and that's exactly what I'm going to do! I'm not getting into trouble over this job." The soldier turned his back on Tom and took up a position farther away.
Tom lowered his weapon and made his way over to the child. Before he could reach her, another figure stepped forward and knelt down beside her. "Shhhh, now. Let's see what we can do to find your mother. Can you describe her for me? What is she wearing?"
The child calmed down. The two of them walked off together. Just before the soldier turned away, Tom caught sight of his own face staring back at him.
Tom watched his twin escort the child from group to group until they found her mother. Then another colonist sought his help. "Where is my sister?"
One by one, the colonists approached this 'Tom' for help.
"My neighbor's son was with us when we left home."
"I need to find my father. He's too old to walk by himself."
"I have to find my husband."
Shots rang out, just as Tom knew they would. He saw his twin back away from his latest supplicant. Then he swung around, desperately firing. Tom saw his twin get hit in the shoulder and fall to the ground. After that, he heard more screams. There was more firing. Then there were only bodies, and silence.
Tom sank to the ground and covered his face with his hands.
"Hey soldier." A hand grabbed his arm and the whole thing played over again.
Tom lost track of the number of times he watched the scene play out. He didn't bother to get up anymore when the soldiers yelled at him. He just sat there and watched his twin. The poor sap ran in circles trying to help the worried colonists. This part Tom understood. He too was a sucker for anyone who asked for his help, always had been. So the two of them had that much in common.
"Is that what you want me to see, B"Elanna?" Tom demanded of the trees. "It doesn't make any difference." He shook his head in disgust, "This guy panicked, like I did. So we have 'that' in common too. That flaw is a part of me. Nothing can change it, not even if I went back to the beginning and started all over again."
Tom's words reset the program. This time it began in the command post at the briefing with Saavdra. The familiar scenes played out, but then kept going.
Tom now saw his twin after the massacre with his bandaged shoulder. He went from body to body, vaporizing the remains. He stopped at one particular body. It was a small child, maybe even the child he had helped earlier.
Tom sighed. He pulled himself up and walked over to the other 'Tom'. "You don't have to do this." As he spoke, the program shifted again.
His twin jerked away from Tom. "This was all just a mistake," he blurted out. Tom didn't know whether he was trying to convince Tom or convince himself. "Saavdra said that none of this was supposed to happen. He ordered us to vaporize the bodies. That's all I'm doing. I'm following orders."
"You know it's not right." Tom insisted.
His twin wavered. Then his face set. He aimed his weapon at the form on the ground and fired. "Don't preach to me about right and wrong. You're no better than I am." He pushed his gun at Tom. "Here! Take this! We have to finish before we can leave."
Tom flung the weapon into the bushes. "No way! This is your decision. It's not mine!"
Tom turned to walk away. But his twin blocked his path. "You've got to stay! We have to stick to Saavdra's plan."
"Look, Buddy. You stay and try to live with this story, if that's what you want. I'm out of here." Tom sidestepped 'Tom' and resumed walking. The program rippled and shifted once more.
His twin lunged, dragging Tom to the ground. "You're not going anywhere. You can't escape that easily," he said. The force of his attack pressed Tom down, grinding him into the dirt and gravel. "If you tell the truth, everyone will know what we did, Tarakis, Caldik Prime what's the difference? You killed innocent people too. You're just like us."
Tom tried to pull up to get leverage to throw him off. "That's not true," he spat out. "I didn't murder people! Caldik Prime was an accident."
The other 'Tom' sneered. He shoved Tom back to the ground, knocking his head against one of the scattered stones. "If it was an accident, why did you lie to cover it up?"
Tom shook his head to clear it and the twin loosened his grip. Tom took advantage of the reduced pressure to roll away to the safety of a pile of rocks. He rested there, momentarily drained. "I didn't set out to lie," he managed to get out. "I just didn't believe it, not at first. It didn't seem real. It didn't seem possible that those people were dead. There was no way that I could make that kind of mistake. When I realized that it was true, I felt numb. I thought that if I just kept pretending that it wasn't true, it really wouldn't be true. It would fade away like it never happened."
"So that's what you tell yourself? Nice story!"
"It's the truth! Believe me, I've had enough time to think about it. I froze. I lied. I'm not proud of myself."
The other 'Tom' just laughed. He pulled a knife from a sheath on the inside of his boot. With knife in hand, he made a slow pass around Tom's position. "I think you're still lying to yourself. Just like you did when you set out to follow your 'principles' on that Monean crusade. You actually think you have those?"
Tom struggled to his feet. He held his hands palm out to ward off the blade. When the thrust came, Tom deflected the knife and grabbed his twin's wrist. In their fight over control of the knife, it slipped away and clattered among some loose stones in the dirt. The two fell back, eyeing each other and the knife between them on the ground.
"You're pathetic," Tom's twin continued. His tone was almost conversational. But he was now attacking on two fronts. "All that talk about principles. You think that one act can make up for your past? You'll never be anything but the coward who lied and threw away his honor at Caldik Prime. You'll always be weak. You're not worthy of B'Elanna. You're not worthy to be on the same ship with those people. You don't belong there. You belong with me. You and me, we're exactly the same."
His words prodded at demons lying deep in Tom's soul where they'd found a measure of rest. They stirred up memories of shame and loss, of darkness and despair. These were Tom's past. His twin was right. He'd never get away from his past.
But, even when there was nothing left to fight for, Tom had never given up. He wouldn't give up now. Like a man determined not to drown, Tom pushed his way up from the darkness. Although slowed by the heavy weight of memory, Tom pulled himself together to make his move.
His opponent countered. They fought with the knife between them. In close quarters it cut both ways. His twin got a free hand on Tom's throat. Tom found the other's face with the heel of his hand and pushed back. That opened a space between them. Tom used his knee to gain more space and shoved his twin onto the same rocks where Tom had taken refuge. His twin fell back and did not move.
Tom slipped to his knees, breathing heavily. Everything he'd accomplished on Voyager, that was real too. It was as real as what happened at Caldik Prime. He'd earned his self-respect, paid heavily for it too. He would fight to keep it, no matter what the odds. He wouldn't let some programmed memory steal it from him. If he still had demons, he'd rather face his own than the ones in this shadow land.
"You are not me." Tom hissed at the hologram. His fingers loosened their grip on the knife he still held in his hand. It slipped and fell to the ground. Tom stared at it, waiting for something more. He found it inside himself. "And I am certainly not you."
Tom staggered to his feet and made his way back to the arch. It was difficult to walk. His legs threatened to buckle under him. Tom grabbed the edge of the arch and held on, his breathing harsh and labored.
He knew that B'Elanna was waiting outside. B'Elanna was the world that was real, the world he was fighting for. She sent fire through his veins and warmed his heart. She was the one who helped him find a way to rekindle the embers of his soul. He had get to B'Elanna.
Tom lifted his hand. It felt so heavy. For some reason, it was wet. Tom wiped his fingers roughly on his jacket. He found his comm badge and, in desperate hope, tapped it. "B'Elanna?" His throat was sore, his voice raw.
Tom forced out a cry, anguished, primal. "B'Elanna! I NEED you.
Then B'Elanna was there. She threw her blanket around Tom's shoulders. He reached out his hand to her. The blood that welled up through a cut smeared his fingers. B'Elanna lifted his hand to her lips and licked the drops. Then she pulled the edges of the blanket together to hide his torn and bloodied clothes from view.
B'Elanna guided Tom back to her quarters, dragging him when he faltered. Tom's steps were slowing even more. Sometimes he couldn't lift his feet high enough to clear the carpet. B'Elanna wrapped her arm more tightly around his waist.
'It's not far now, Tom. Just a little longer," she urged him.
B'Elanna slapped her code onto the touch pad beside her door. She led Tom inside to her bedroom. There, she pulled the blanket off his shoulders and let it fall to the floor. There was more blood on his arms and his face. This was blood won in battle, honorable blood. She left it there.
Speaking gently, she got Tom to lie on the bed. She pulled off his shoes and crawled in beside him, arranging herself so that his head rested on her lap.
In age-old Klingon custom, B'Elanna kept vigil in the dark, watching over Tom while he rested and recovered from his trial by fire.
They now shared more than the blood of passion. He had offered her his blood shed in battle. She had accepted it. They were bonded as in the early days of Qo'nos, when Klingons on the home world believed that the heart speaks most truly when facing death in battle.
Blood spoke to blood. Tom had made his choice. He had chosen her. He had chosen honor.
And B'Elanna's honor was Klingon.