DICLAIMER: The characters of Startrek: Voyager don't belong to me and some references are also taken from the book "Pathways", this is for entertainment purposes only and not for commercial use.


Nobody really knows what happened between my father and me. But that's ok, 'cause I don't either. I guess our differences are just too vast, yet our similarities are what really clashed.

The admiral always wanted me in Sarfleet. From the time I could walk I always heard my fathers voice, "One day you'll make the line of Paris' proud." A hard thing for one kid to do. I guess he never understood my grumbling about what I wanted to be. I guess I never spoke up loud enough.

So, even before I finished high school I already had my acceptance into Sarfleet academy. What a day that was. The Admiral was never one to pass up an opportunity to demonstrate how great the Paris clan was and invited everyone from his office to a party in 'My honor'. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he meant well, but I never liked a fuss. I guess it seemed more like a party for him than me. And I never invited a soul. Not even my best friend Charlie. I just hated the arrogance of it all.

Arrogance is something I certainly had plenty of. By the time I was in my second year at the academy, I was already the best pilot there. Beating out people years ahead of me in all the racing games. But this wasn't a game to me; this was my life. It was the only bit of individuality I had at the academy. In the great line of Paris', this was something I was great at. But it was something that almost cost me my life, and there are some nights I wish it had.

I will never forget it. Cadlik Prime. It's forever within me. Those awful images are a part of everything I've become. How could anyone forget the sight of seeing three friends die one after the other, their shuttles all crashing into an asteroid. A simple mistake I made cost them their lives, and I believe a part of me died there forever remaining a part of that asteroid.

I know my friends would've wanted me to move on, but I don't think they expected me to lie placing the blame on Bruno for the accident. I thought I was doing the best thing I could to save my career, but above everything else I didn't want to face my father. God, what a coward I was.

I never considered their ghosts would haunt me, just my fathers, and when they did I finally realized I had to do right by them, but mostly for my soul.

My father wasn't at the hearing this time. He couldn't bring himself to watch his only son get dishonorably discharged from the only thing he cherished more than life itself. I guess his pride got the best of him. My mother was there, I remember hearing her soft crying as they sentenced me. It was all I could do to keep grounded, clenching my fists on the edge of my chair and looking straight ahead. Hearing her faint sobs tore me apart, and I couldn't face her tears. I guess my pride got the best of me too.

I listened as the judge stripped me of my rank, cashiered me out of Starfleet and told me it was all for the lie. "Thomas Eugene Paris," I looked deeply into his eyes and all I could see was disgust. I drowned out whatever he said and concentrated on his commanding eyes that reminded me of my fathers. In his mind I had thrown everything away while tainting both starfleet and my father's name. He was right, and I walked out of that courtroom no longer a starfleet officer, but I could hold onto the fact that I finally did what was right. I had a piece of my honor back.

No matter how bad it got in that courtroom the sight of my father was worse.

I stood at my parent's front door, too afraid to even knock as my dad opened it somehow conscious of my arrival. Through his stanch stare I could easily unmask the anger and disappointment, but I also saw resentment.

I would find out why.

"Come in," he ordered curtly.

I just nodded my response too confused, upset and angry too reply. That was what my father did stare you down until you either talk or clam up.

"Sit down Tom."

As my father clipped his sentences, my situation was getting worse by the second. I realized, as the room began to swim, he was about to give me one of his patented lectures, and as I was in no mood for one I tried to stand my ground, "I can't stay, I just came to collect a few things."

Bullshit. I came to see my father's reaction. It was his reactions that have framed the course of my entire life and it is his reaction now that will forever break it.

"I said, sit down Tom." He never did like one of his orders disobeyed.

"Sir, I-" But he cut me off as he so often does.

"You'll listen young man, and learn something. You have disgraced this family, Starfleet, and-"

But with my own anger building I cut him off, "Starfleet, why the hell should I care about them! Where were they during this whole mess? Hu?!!"

"Tom, do you understand that you've just got thrown out?"

"Oh, I understand alright!"

"Your career is ruined! What are you going to do now?"

"I don't know, and you know what? I really don't care."

"That's you're problem Thomas, you never cared."

You know what? He was right. Maybe. Maybe that was the problem. My father was always right, and had no tolerance for anyone who was wrong. No tolerance for anyone who thought differently, especially his son, who just had to follow his path. I however didn't care enough about his path to want it for my own. I never cared about Starfleet rebelling against everything my father taught me leaving both of us at a constant wall fighting for what we both believed I needed.

So I walked away from him, took up a path of my own spending the next several months trying to drown him out. Whiskey, Romulan Ale, Beer, you name it, I had it. I thought it would dull the ace of the wound I had placed on myself. Well, again I was wrong. It would make me forget, for awhile, but sooner or later it'd all come back forcing itself into the pit of my mind, forcing me to have just 'one more'.

When the whiskey didn't work, which was quite often in the later months, I sought female companionship. It didn't matter what they were like as long as they were easy. It became a habit for me, being totally wasted, sleeping with someone I didn't even know and waking up the morning after hating myself even more. I think on some level it was my way of sticking it to my father. He was always so straight cut never one to break the rules and always the first to reprimand. Well, he couldn't cause I was no where in sight, so when I look back on that time it all seems pointless. Though that was the story of my life back then. Pointless.

After I joined the Maquis I knew in my father's eyes I had reached rock bottom. I was a criminal. Someone he'd have to arrest if he found me. Someone he'd have to shoot if it came down to that. I'm glad it didn't, but we still fought on different sides, and for different reasons. I for the latinum. Him for his pride. Problem was I couldn't figure out which reason is worse.

By the time I was arrested I had only served with the Maquis for a brief time. I'll never forget that day, being brought out in manacles and an anklet before a panel of stogy Starfleet admirals. I actually felt like I had hit rock bottom, but once again I didn't seem to care.

When I look back, I realize the things I actually cared about were the things I constantly thought I didn't. Starfleet, my father, myself. Well, I had plenty of time to think over all that I had done which led me to this point, lying on a makeshift bed in prison on New Zealand, and I would've given everything just to have my old life back. I figured I sabotaged everything that mattered forever on Caldik Prime and I wanted my life restored before I'd thrown it away. I still couldn't grasp that my career was over, my father despised me and now I was a statistical part of the federation penal system. I wanted my own life all right, and I got it, but how it cost me.

I don't know why, but somehow my time in New Zealand was well spent. I guess I came past the breaking point to finally want to turn my life around. I guess, once you reach rock bottom, the only thing left to do is start climbing back up. There were no distractions from the work they had me doing. No Alcohol. No Women. No Admirals. Toying on some piece of machinery, out in the sun, I could work at my own pace. Constantly afraid of what I would do once I got out, I concentrated on my work make-believing I didn't have a care in the world.

Luckily for me, before I'd finish my sentence Starfleet came looking for me and with the best captain I've ever served. She didn't like me at first, but I didn't like me back then either.

"Tom Paris?" I still remember the authoritative stance she held. How could I forget, it reminded me of my father, "We'd like you to do a job for us."

"I'm already doing a job; for the federation," sometimes I wish I'd keep my sarcastic mouth shut long enough to listen.

She was a cold cucumber not letting anything show, lest of all her annoyance and I kept my annoying grin plastered on my face as a shield between us. I kept up the fa├žade until she said the words that spelled out my entire life it seemed,"You'll be an observer."

How ironic she didn't know I've been observing my entire life. An observer? "The story of my life."

I bit my tongue desperately wanting to impress someone, anyone that would give me a second chance. I knew I didn't deserve one, but I would spend the rest of my life making up for that, and I would spend forever with three ghosts if I didn't turn my life around. As I stood on the bridge of the USS Voyager I finally wanted to.

I just didn't know how.

So I rolled with the punches, and let fate take me to where I would finally land, that being Lieutenant Tom Paris, lead con officer of Voyager. Lost in the Delta quadrant away from my father and my inhibitions I would prove myself worthy slowly gaining the respect of my colleges, my captain, and myself.

Until one day a little over five years into our voyage home I did what I do so well. I disobeyed orders. I wasn't being rebellious, I just finally found myself caring about something more than myself. I, Tom Paris, found a cause. Kind of trite, but once I did I almost threw my entire life away for it.

"I would have destroyed your shuttle."

Captain Janeway's words stung, "I thought you'd outgrown that kind of thing," leaving a lasting imprint on this bruised pilot, but I walked out of her office with my head held high knowing I did the right thing.

When it was all over I'd lost my rank, my captain's respect and spent thirty days in the brig. Maybe the way I went about fighting was wrong, but my belief in it wasn't, and if there was one thing I learned in solitary confinement it was that. It became one of the most difficult months of my life, in such a confined space nearly suffocating from both the size of the room and my constant posturing. I felt I was going crazy so I started writing a letter to my father trying to explain my former rebellious self wasn't resurfacing, that I had just cause. Even though I knew it was doubtful he'd ever read it, after listening to Harry I realized the letter wasn't for him alone. It was for my own piece of mind.

"I'll never understand you, or what went wrong between us, but maybe this helps you understand me a bit better," I finished, "Computer save in my personal file and transmit when in range of earth." I realized the anger, sorrow and self-depreciating transformed somehow into love, happiness and pride. Somewhere between Ocompa and Earth I let it go.

When I finally heard my father's voice, for the first time in years, I knew I had one more demon to shake. Lt. Reginald Barclay opened a sub- space rift using the Midas array as a catapult. I don't remember what Reg said. I can only piece together what Captain Janeway said. But when my father spoke I almost broke down at the con. Here I was Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris a grown man, bleeding to hear my fathers voice, completely soaking in his words, "Tell him.tell him I miss him and I'm proud of him."

"He heard you."

Yes I heard him. I sat dumbfounded at the words the great Admiral Owen Paris said, and even more surprised how hard they hit me. The air I'd been holding for years I could finally let out of my lungs. Oh, how sweetly serene life could be when you let go.

I'm glad we got lost in the Delta quadrant, I really am. The distance allowed me to get closer to my dad and I'm thankful for that.

Now Voyager is back home, our journey over and soon I'll see my father's face for the first time in about 9 years. I'll admit I'm nervous, but can't wait, as the Admiral will meet my wife and child. Maybe, we'll put the past back where it belongs and start making up for lost time. Maybe, he'll see a different Tom Paris. A more mature Tom Paris. A happy Tom Paris.

I wonder how he's changed as I step into Captain Janeway's office. I wonder if he's still mad at me, as I let my inhibitions back in. I wonder if he forgives me as I do him. I wonder.

"Dad," I breathed before snapping back into attention, "Your pardon sir. Good day Admiral Paris."

Everything said next is lost forever with me, and I'll never remember who made the first move, but I'm glad one of us did. I unabashedly put my head on my father's shoulder to lost in the serenity to speak as he rubbed my back whispering, "My boy, I'm so glad your home."