Title: Responsibilities
Contact: kelhapam@worldpath.net
Series: VOY
Rating: G
Code: P, EMH
Part: 1/1 NEW
Date: November 2000

Summary: A coda to Flesh and Blood. Tom confronts the EMH.

Disclaimer: Voyager owns all the characters, etc., I am just
using the characters for a little fun and relaxation.

Note of Appreciation. Special thanks to my beta readers:
Marianne and Ronda. Any similarities to Tracy S.'s coda to Flesh
and Blood is purely unintentional.

Email: kelhapam@worldpath.net

Posting: OK to ASC. Please notify me if you post anywhere
else.



**BREEP**

Tom looked up from his report he was working on. "Come in."

The door whispered open and the EMH stepped into the room.

Seeing who his guest was, Tom returned to his task.

"I need to speak with you, Lieutenant."

"I'm busy. I have a lot of work to finish before B'Elanna comes
home." The pilot looked back down to his dataPADD and punched
several keys, purposefully ignoring the Doctor.

The EMH stepped forward, taking note of Tom and B'Elanna's new
quarters. Looking through the open door to their bedroom, he
could see that their new bed was bigger than either had before.
The living area was also larger. Tom's television was positioned
in front of the sofa and chairs from his old quarters, while
B'Elanna had brought with her the dining set from her cabin. "I
came down here to talk with you, Tom."

The pilot's fingers paused over the dataPADD, but he didn't look
up. "Tom, huh? I don't hear that much coming from you."

"I realize that. It's one of the things I need to fix."

"One of the things?"

"Yes. I came down here to apologize for my actions. While I was
gone, you were the one that was most affected."

Tom finally looked up from his work and focused on the hologram.
"Why would you say that, Doc?"

"You were the one who had to assume my duties while I was away,"
the EMH explained. It unnerved him to see the usually easygoing
Tom Paris looking so intense.

"That's true. While I was Acting Chief Medical Officer, I had to
treat not only the Hirogen wounded, but also Voyager's own
injured crewmen. In addition, I was called upon to perform my
duty of Chief Pilot during your absence."

"I know that you..."

"Not all of them survived," Tom interrupted. "John Thompson, one
of the Cargo Handlers, and a fine man, one of the best pool
hustlers on the ship, died. I co...couldn't save him." Tom's
voice cracked with emotion.

"I'm very sorry."

"That doesn't cut it. Not this time." Tom tossed the dataPADD
across the table where it slid across the surface before it
landed with a thud on the floor. Rising from his seat, he
crossed the room to where a picture of his wife hung on the wall.
With one finger he reached up and traced the curve of B'Elanna's
cheek, before he turned back to look at the EMH. "This isn't the
first time you've left the ship putting me in charge of Sickbay.
This isn't the first time when I wasn't even sure if you'd be
coming back, nor the first time that B'Elanna's life was at risk.
Both times, might I mention, she was in danger of losing her life
at the hands of a warped-minded hologram!"

"It'll never happen again," the physician reassured him.

"I wish I could believe you."

"You can. You have my word."

Tom sighed and ran his long fingers through his already tussled
hair. "In the past your word would have been good enough."

"I assure you..."

The sudden sound of Tom laughing stopped the EMH from continuing
for laughter sounded far from humorous. "That's weird," Tom
remarked.

"What's weird?"

Tom cooly eyed the hologram. "In the past, your word would have
been enough, but it just isn't any more."

The EMH was at an uncharacteristic loss for words.

"I don't know exactly when things changed," Tom continued.
"Maybe it was when B'Elanna was on that Borg cube, or when she
placed this ring on my finger." The newlywed held up his hand,
displaying his wedding band. "What I do know, Doc, is that I'll
do anything in my power to protect my wife."

The Doctor nodded. "That's understandable. You love her."

"Then you can understand why I worry when you're gone. I worry
something might happen to her I couldn't treat, and you wouldn't
be here to help her. I worry that B'Elanna and I might have
children and their lives would be at risk because you might get
it into your head you want to leave the ship and gallivant around
the Quadrant. And I also worry about the rest of the crew, who
depend on me for their medical services when you are away. Me?
Isn't that something? They rely on me, a medic, to make them
better. Some of these people would have spit in my face not that
many years ago!" Tom turned away from the Doctor to collect his
emotions and thoughts before he abruptly pivoted back. "Do you
have any idea how it feels to feel that inadequate? I have no
doubts about my piloting skills...but I'm only a medic, a nurse.
I'm not a trained doctor."

The Doctor stepped forward and placed his hand on the pilot's
shoulder. "I'm sorry, Tom" The words were laden with sorrow.

"I--I know you are," Tom admitted, "but this time sorry isn't
good enough. This time things are going to change."

"What can I do to convince you I won't leave the ship again?"

"I wish it were as simple as that. Sometimes, there are
circumstances beyond your control. I realize that. This time
you were initially kidnaped, but then you opted to stay and
assist the holograms--you even helped them to take B'Elanna. In
the future, there might be other circumstances that will take you
away from Voyager; or your holomatrix might be damaged. Next
time, I want to be prepared." Tom bent down and picked up the
dataPADD where it had fallen and handed it to the EMH. "Read
it."

The Doctor thumbed the activation button on the PADD. On the
small screen a carefully laid out schedule was displayed. It
covered everything from Tom's working hours, meals, sleep, play,
and something that was referred to as "mushy time." He somehow
knew better than to ask his medic about this "mushy time." He
did note that the work time included shifts both on the Bridge
and in Sickbay. In fact, the EMH realized that the Sickbay hours
listed were greater than he was presently assigned.

"What's this all about?"

"It's my new schedule." Tom explained. "I just have to clear it
with Chakotay and the Captain.

The Doctor looked puzzled.

"Starting at 0800 hours tomorrow, providing I get approval, which
I don't believe I'll have any trouble receiving, you will begin
instructing me. I want to know all I can about being a doctor."

"You *want* to be a doctor?"

Tom nodded. "I suppose I could tell you it was for the good of
the ship, and that would be true. I could tell you that it will
help me feel more confident, and that I'll be able to take better
care of my wife and any future children we might be blessed with.
That would also be true. But I've also found that I've come to
like medicine....not as much as piloting mind you." Tom shook
his index finger at the Doctor. "But when I like something, I
want to know more about it."

"I had no idea you felt that way."

"Neither did I. I guess it was gradual. I was determined to
hate it at the beginning. When Kes took over, I gladly
relinquished the reins, but it wasn't long before I found that I
missed it. I still don't know why exactly I like it."

"I think I do."

Tom's eyes widened. "You want to enlighten me?"

"You like to help people. You may have been born to fly, but
your greatest talent has always been helping people. It's
instinctive I believe. That's why the patients respond to you so
well."

"And I thought it was because they like my wit and good looks,"
Tom quipped.

The EMH chuckled. "I'll see you at 0800."


The End