After Faces, in the time of the episode where Voyager almost crashes on a planet looking for Chakotay (who was talking with his alien ancestors with the same tattoo as him). Concerns rise about Tom's mental state.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

GAMES


Voyager recovered from freefall at the last second. Tom sat at the helm control trying to catch his breath. He did it. Even with the cessation of the violent weather Voyager still could have crashed, but it didn't, so why was he shaking?

The Captain stood behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Lieutenant Paris, have a seat in my ready room." Ensign Baytart took the helm as Tom wordlessly followed her order.

Fifteen minutes later, the Captain joined him.

"Good job, I can see how you got your reputation."

"Which one?" He could still hear his Father's voice in his ear telling him all he'd ever be is a failure. Just a matter of time before they learn what you really are... A coward. It was true, he even admitted it to Neelix, and despite popular belief confronting his demons didn't make him feel any better.

Kathryn poured him a glass of water from the pitcher on her desk. "It's normal to feel an adrenalin rush after a life threatening situation." She said calmly, no evidence of an adrenalin rush in herself.

He stared at the glass but didn't touch it. "What is this really about?"

"I can't afford to have my best pilot doubt himself at the helm..."

Tom stood up and backed away from the desk. "What is this really? A test? See how a Paris holds up under pressure? You served under my father and I already know he likes to play games, how about you?" His voice remained calm and even, still aware that this was his Captain he talked to.

"No test Tom. But tell me, what games did you're father play?"

"You worked with him, don't you know?" Tom walked towards the door.

"You aren't dismissed Lieutenant." Kathryn stood up. "Sit down." She waited while he reluctantly came back and took his seat. "How have you been feeling?"

"Fine?"

Katherine sat back down and leaned back in her chair. "Back in the Academy, Admiral Paris spoke of you often. A brilliant child, seemingly born to serve in Starfleet, I've never seen anyone so proud. However, at the age of twelve you were admitted to a psychiatric hospital."

"For observation. So?" Tom asked emotionlessly.

"What happened to you?"

"It's in my medical file. Why don't you read it?" He asked, already knowing the answer.

"I already have. I've also read your psychiatric evaluation from Auckland Penal Colony. The man they describe is very different then the one I know, and I need you to tell me why."

Always with the questions. "Why do you think I'd be able to tell you anything my file doesn't?"

"You've been institutionalized three times. The ship needs you Tom, and if there's going to be a relapse, I'd rather deal with it sooner then later." Katherine turned over her padd to show him the information in his file. "Even before what happened today, I planned to speak with you."

He glanced at it briefly. "Isn't this supposed to be classified?"

"The councillor at Auckland penal colony felt I should be forewarned. It didn't seem nearly as important at the time seeing as you were never intended to become a permanent part of my crew."

The padd described specific behaviour patterns he showed previous to... they called it an episode. The patterns included lack of sleep, lack of appetite, headaches, nausea, increased solitary activity. The more disturbing confidential portion consisted of the transcripts to his private counselling sessions.

Katherine walked around her desk and touched his arm in a gesture of support. "I only want to help."

"What happens now?" Tom asked and handed her back the padd. If she deemed him unfit to continue his duties, what could he do?

"I want you to talk to me Tom. We don't have a ship councillor, and though Chakotay has offered to fill the void, I felt you wouldn't be comfortable confiding in him."

"What do you want me to say?"

"Why don't you start by telling me about the field trip?"

"It's all in my file Captain." Tom said.

"Like I said, I want to hear it from you." Katherine watched his face for any change of expression.

He recited the same story he told all the councillors and all the other inquisitive people he couldn't evade. "It was just a field trip. Starfleet participated in the program, sort of a see what a real star ship is like sort of thing. I signed up for a shuttle excursion to the Deloran space station, just a routine stop for supplies. We were given permission to take a look around, and I guess I got lost."

"How much do you remember?" Kathryn asked.

"The accident had nothing to do with my problems. I just fell down a malfunctioning turbo lift, it could have happened to anyone."

"The authorities were under the impression you were attacked."

"They couldn't prove it."

"So what did cause your problems?" Katherine asked.

"Because of the extent of the injuries, they put me into stasis until I could be transferred to a more sophisticated medical facility." Tom answered. "Something went wrong with the stasis chamber and I woke up while still in transport. They didn't believe me." Tom looked at her eyes. "Of coarse, the file says I'm in denial."

"You seem very familiar with the file, why the suspicion of an attack?" Kathryn asked with a frown.

He shrugged. "There were bruises. But I was an active kid, those bruises could have been from anything."

"The file says you suffered nightmares?"

"Waking up in a stasis chamber isn't fun, but they didn't know what was wrong so they sent me right from the medical centre to the psychiatric hospital."

Katherine leaned back in her chair. As convincing as his story sounded, she had to wonder why so many trained councillors believed otherwise? "What happened to bring about the subsequent attacks?"

Tom looked behind him towards the door. "Life? There were three times, the first after the stasis chamber. What happened while in the academy took place over Christmas holidays at the Admiral's house, but you know the Admiral, he thinks anyone who disagrees with him must be crazy. And the third time was after Caldic Prime, they thought it might be easier to label me insane rather then criminally negligent."

"You seem very open to talking." Katherine commented.

"Do I have a choice? Either talk or be taken off the helm, right?"

"Do you think the incidents are related?"

"How should I know? I'm not a councillor."

Kathryn thought for a while. "How do you feel now?"

"At the speed we were falling we would have made a very impressive crater. but we lived so I guess it's been a pretty good day, right?" He couldn't look in her eyes. "I'm okay."

"Have you ever lied to me?"

Tom shrugged. "If I said no, would you believe me?"

She weighed what she knew of the man in front of her, and honestly she didn't know what to believe. As Captain she couldn't judge crew on personal feelings, so whether or not she personally believed him wasn't the issue. What mattered was that she never caught him in a lie.

"Am I relieved of duty?"

"No. I expect to see you on the bridge for tomorrow's alpha shift. Right now I want you to check in with the doctor and get a complete physical. Understood?"

"Yes Captain." He didn't look happy about it, but he didn't argue. On his way off the bridge Harry tried to catch his attention, but Tom ignored him. Harry made a mental note to catch up with his friend later.


To be continued!