Title: The Good Captain

Title: The Good Captain

Series: Voy

Contact: MEGDENTON@prodigy.net

Date: 11/23/00

This story is for my Mom, who is puzzled by the show because, as she says, "They never get anywhere. They just keep voyagering."

Summary: A little story about Tom and the Captain. Don't worry-it's still P/T all the way. Some inter-connected vignettes. Post-return to the AQ.

Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, I'd probably murder that irritating Icheb. Give him back to the Borg.

On warm summer evenings, mercurial little Maggie roamed the neighborhood with her younger sister, Jennie. They played until the shadows grew long, then turned reluctantly homeward. Occasionally, the spirit of mischief took over, as it will when one is ten, and the two ran beyond the range of their mother's voice. Soon they would heed her call, but there was just time for a final, rebellious dash around the block before returning for baths and bed. Their shortcut took them across Miller's brook, past the iron works and through the church cemetery. They shrieked with gleeful terror, flying past the stones on sandaled feet. Great stone angels guarded the gates, and the girls raced to pass under the penitent figures before true darkness blanketed the landscape.

They were later than usual on this July night, not long after a particularly rousing 4th. Lengthening shadows made running treacherous, but Jennie was fast as a doe, and she skipped ahead toward the angels standing sentinel on the perimeter. Nonplused, Maggie moved quickly down the gravel path and shrieked as her shoe caught on a tuft of grass, sending her sprawling onto a low grave. Jennie doubled back to find her scraped sister perched on the very stone she'd tripped over.

"You're sitting on somebody!" she exclaimed in horror.

"I fell, cheese-brain. I'm sitting here until my knee stops hurting." The stalwart Jennie plopped obligingly down in the grass.

In the spreading darkness, Maggie muttered swear words that would horrify her mother. She looked down at the low tablet serving as her seat. Only one name was carved there and Maggie struggled to make out the script in the dim light. Flowing letters announced the years that…Kathryn Janeway…had entered and left the world. Strange insignias covered a portion of the smooth granite: moons, planets, an intricately carved spaceship climbing into a starry sky. This lady seemed like somebody important. Maggie wondered aloud why she wasn't buried with a husband or kids.

"Maybe she was really ugly." Jennie suggested.

"Actually, she was quite lovely." The voice came from behind Maggie, and both girls jumped. A tall, silver-haired gentleman emerged from the shadows, leaning on a silver-topped cane. Even in the dying light, Maggie saw the twinkle in his eye. She quickly surmised that he was little threat, being very old and half-crippled. Her mother would have three litters of kittens if she knew Maggie was talking to strangers, but Maggie's natural curiosity won out and she asked him what he knew of Kathryn Janeway.

He smiled at her inquisitiveness.. He debated the wisdom of replying, for the hour was late and his story long. The eagerness in her young eyes persuaded him to answer. She reminded him of a half-Ktarian girl he'd known once, on a Starship long ago.

"My name is Tom Paris. This lady was my Captain. Both my wife and I served under her command as lieutenants. She may lie here alone, but a leader was never more loved." He spoke softly.

"Were you sailors?" Jennie asked with wide eyes.

Tom Paris laughed. "No, not sailors on the sea. We were voyagers in space, accidental adventurers, you might say."

Maggie leaned forward intently. "Was she a fair captain?" the little girl asked seriously.

Tom looked thoughtful. "She did what she had to, and we were all better for it..."


Tom looked thinner after his thirty days in solitary; B'Elanna replicated takka-berry milkshakes and cursed in Klingon when he turned up his nose. His appetite wasn't what it had been but, strangely, he felt at peace. He had finished the course for perhaps the first time in his life. No one had let him off early or consoled him through the turmoil. He'd seen it through to the end, in the Flyer and in the Brig.

Back at the helm, with a vast expanse of stars spread before him, he felt insignificant in the face of the cosmos. That was a good thing. For once, he wasn't consumed with his own importance. In his absence, Voyager and time would march on, oblivious to the despair of a wayward Ensign. The knowledge was humbling, illuminating the blurry line between heroics and showing off. Choose wisely, Lady Luck whispered, and don't perish in vain.

A hand on his shoulder drew Tom's attention to the Captain. She stood quietly beside him, her gaze also on the endless fields of space. Together, they contemplated the stars and Tom was struck by how alike they were. They understood one another, he and Kathryn Janeway. She knew his motives were pure, but couldn't condone rebellion. He thought her punishment harsh, but didn't condemn her for doing what she had to do as a Starfleet Captain. She'd been forced to aim weapons at her own pilot, and it would happen again unless he stopped playing space cowboy. This was her ship; these were her people. She saw deaths among them as personal failure, a promise broken. Every loss was her cross to bear. In the final, jarring moments of battle, it was Tom and Janeway who held the ultimate responsibility for bringing Voyager through the fire. The soundness of her orders and the skill of his piloting decided the day. They bore twin burdens of responsibility.

No words were spoken. They remained side by side, framed against the darkness.


"She doesn't sound very nice to me!" The very thought of a month spent all alone, eating yucky food, horrified Maggie.

"She had her moments," Tom defended the Captain. "It's hard to be in charge. There were things she couldn't permit, things she couldn't have..."

He trailed off, thinking of First Officer Chakotay, who was a quietly passionate man, capable of great love. Tom had seen it in his enthusiasm for exploration, history, and the sciences, but Chakotay was also Starfleet, an officer and a gentleman. There were wars on the horizon as the crew returned to earth. Chakotay fought in them all, a freedom fighter in the air and on the soil. He never really came home. He didn't find peace, as Tom himself had, as Janeway did when all was said and done.

"Was she an understanding Captain?" Maggie's next question interrupted his memories. Tom laughed, embarrassed.


"Lieutenants, Report!"

Janeway's voice cracked across Engineering like a matador's whip. Tom envied his new wife her redundant stomach. He wanted to be anywhere but this room, which was empty but for it's three red-faced occupants. He'd rather be eating Leola Root in the mess hall, running from a mob of holo-characters in Fair Haven, or fighting over a pipe at the bottom of that Godforsaken chute.

B'Elanna finished buttoning her uniform and glared at him like it was his fault. He shot her a look. It takes two to tango in engineering, honey. Janeway was staring at him expectantly, one foot tapping the floor where two pairs of shoes were heaped with Tom's socks and B'Elanna's bra. In his peripheral vision, Tom saw her trying to kick it behind the console. He began to stammer out his mia culpa. Janeway's eyebrow lifted, Vulcan-style.

"Well, Captain...You…I mean we…the bridge…extra night shifts have been hard for...bad way to phrase that..." B'Elanna's look could have frozen Dilithium. She broke in, ending Tom's humiliation.

"We've barely seen each other in 10 days with all the repair work going on. We got a little carried away." She paused hopefully and offered a winning smile. Janeway waited.

B'Elanna forged ahead. Oh, she was brave. "Yes, we got carried away on the briefing table. It's the middle of the night and now that things are winding down, we didn't expect any...visitors." Brave and tactful, too. Oh, Tom loved her.

Janeway stood glowering, hands on her hips. The Tak-Tak would go into immediate and fatal shock. Finally, the frosty glare melted into weariness.

"I know it's been difficult and you two have contributed more to the repairs that I ever could have asked. You're just married, and happiness made you a little daring, I imagine. Still, loss of control in a public place isn't acceptable on my ship." Her voice was steely. You are hear by confined to quarters for two days." A hint of amusement peeked through at the overjoyed looks she received.

The Captain stepped back. A grateful back-slap from B'Elanna would send her sprawling. She turned and made her way out of Engineering, shoulders shaking ever so slightly.

Tom turned to B'Elanna. "If she thinks this is funny, maybe we should tell her about that time in the Jeffries Tube."

B'Elanna snorted. "And the mess hall."

Tom offered her his arm and continued with, "And Astrometrics."

B'Elanna nearly bent double with laughter. "I don't think we'll tell her about the bridge though."

Their voices echoed softly as they passed down the corridor.

"Or the pool table at Sandrine's…"

"Or Sickbay..."


But Tom didn't tell them that story; only savoring the moment in memory. He told them of the Captain's good heart, how she cobbled together a crew of outcasts, rebels and gypsies. She handed important bridge positions to former enemies and ex-convicts, people the world had thrown away.

The little girls sat cross-legged on the grass, anxiously awaiting the next chapter in the saga of Kathryn Janeway. Jennie spoke thoughtfully.

"She seems like such a nice lady." The child paused. "But was she a good Captain?"


The klaxon warning system screamed and flashed red. Crewmembers poured into shuttle bay before retreating to escape pods. Tom shoved B'Elanna at Tuvok, perhaps the only one who could control her. She fought like a tigress, determined not to leave him. He tried to soothe her with words, telling her he'd be back in just a few minutes, but she was beyond understanding. A wounded Chakotay was being loaded for transport to the planet they'd located before the systems were devastated. Tom hoped something friendly lived down there. The attack had come at dawn, a jolt that destroyed half the bridge. Most of the hostile ships were taken out, but not before Voyager sustained serious damage. She was a dying Starship.

Tom raced for the bridge, the last place he'd seen her in the chaos. A huge hole had been ripped between decks and he crawled up through it, since the turbolifts had been the first thing to shut down. He could barely see her through the smoke and debris, desperately working the controls, trying to resuscitate her Voyager. This had happened before, in that long-ago year of hell.

"Captain!" Tom barked. Barking at the Captain was frowned upon, but these were extraordinary circumstances. "It's too late! You have to come with me!"

"Lieutenant Paris, get back to the escape pods or when this is over, you'll spend two months in the brig!"

Tom got mad. "Fine," he yelled back, "You can't toss me in solitary if you're dead, you know!"

"I can still save her!" Janeway's heartbroken cry echoed off the cracked walls. The left side of the ship tilted violently and the two were hurled across the bridge. He understood her pain. This vessel was key to her promise, her vow to get her crew home. There was a wild look in her eyes, and Tom knew she was thinking of martyrdom, of dying in Voyager's faith.

Finally, he stuck her under one arm like a package and stumbled into the corridor. She struggled free, but didn't try to return to her devastated bridge. A jolt sent them both to their knees. They crawled toward shuttle bay, slamming into walls and doors as Voyager gasped for life.


"Voyager rallied at the last minute and we were able to set her down planet-side and repair the damage. Janeway was prepared to die with her ship. For her, it lived and breathed. She wasn't asking others to make the sacrifice, only herself. Some would call that madness. Perhaps. The best Captains are a little crazy, I've found."

Tom looked around, suddenly aware that night had fallen. He sent them on their way, two small girls arguing amiably about who would have been less fun to play with, Seven or Tuvok. Tom smiled, and bent to brush some summer grass from the Captain's grave. Maybe those delightful girls would grow up to be Starfleet officers, like Janeway, like his B'Elanna.

Kathryn Janeway had blazed a path to the heavens, paving the way for women in command. It wasn't an easy life. Pieces of Janeway's heart littered the Delta Quadrant, and Chakotay took a chunk with him when he left for the last time. Living, loving, and even dying wasn't easy for the strong ones like her. They never lack for courage, but sin in pride.

Tom Paris turned to go. Kathryn Janeway was a good Captain, one who did her best, and brought her people home. She'd freed Tom Paris in a hundred ways. She'd plucked him from a penal colony. She'd given him the helm and let him soar. She took him down a path that led to Voyager and B'Elanna, to the Delta Flyer and his good friend Harry Kim.

It was a pleasure to be lost with her.