Title: Hello, Operator...
Contact: kelhapam@worldpath.net
Series: VOY
Rating: PG
Code: P, Owen, P/T
Part: 1/1 NEW
Date: 22 July 2000

Summary: What would you say in a 10-minute call from home?

Explanation: This story takes place at the beginning of Season
Seven.

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: Tracy
S. and P.J. Sutherland.

Email: kelhapam@worldpath.net

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

Hello, Operator...
7/00

Tom sat in front of his communications console in his darkened
cabin,...and he waited. The silence of his quarters was
deafening, mocking him and his vigil.

Voyager had received news that the communications link Reginald
Barclay established would be affording them a continual audio
link for an estimated twenty-six hours--due to an unprecedented
solar flare. Deducting the time that needed to be used
discussing ship's business and to transmit ship's logs, etc.,
this would allow each crew member approximately ten minutes to
talk to their family and friends.

Oh, joy. Nothing like a little heart-to-heart with dear ol' Dad
to look forward to, Tom thought. He just knew it would be his
father on the other end. It was this feeling he'd developed
through the years--a type of sixth-sense. It was a foreboding
feeling that began in his toes, and worked it way up ever so
slowly and completely until it enveloped his entire body leaving
him chilled.

So he sat, elbows on his thighs, hands clasped in front of him,
staring at the lights that flickered across his communication
console while he waited for his turn.

Of course, if he was like Harry he would be spending this time
fine-tuning a detailed list of topics. A list that his friend
had begun to compile shortly after Barclay's first transmission.
But Tom Paris wasn't Harry Kim, even though at times he'd like to
be. Tom lips curled up a bit remembering a few of the items that
his friend had put on the all-inclusive list, but deleted upon
Tom's recommendation. His parents didn't need to know that this
Harry Kim wasn't the same Harry Kim that had stepped on board
Voyager in the Alpha Quadrant. It was best for them if they
didn't know. It served no positive purpose. Then there was
Harry's mention of his romance with Tal. There were some things
that a mother just didn't need to know.

B'Elanna was also waiting for a 'phone call,' as Tom liked to
think of these little communiques. Not knowing if it would be
her father or her mother placing the call, Tom assumed that
B'Elanna was spending her time littering her cabin with all her
knickknacks. Two years ago he had the foresight to replace her
assorted trinkets and treasures with unbreakable duplicates. She
complained at the time that it just didn't give her the same
satisfaction of smashing something against the wall, but had to
conclude that it was a whole lot easier to clean up afterwards
and it saved a lot of replicator credits in the long run.

The notification alarm sounded, slicing mercilessly through the
silence. It made the pilot jump.

It rang twice, and a third time before Paris tapped the
connection button with a shaking finger to activate his console.

"T-Tom Paris, here," he stammered.

"It's good to hear your voice, son."

{Bingo, it was his father. His intuition was still intact.}

"Yeah. You too, it's been a long time." {A bit longer would have
been fine too.}

"Your sisters send their love. They are both off-planet. Moira
is practicing medicine on Bajor. Kathleen is married. She and
her husband have made their home on one of the Martian colonies."

{And Mom? What's Mom doing?} "Katie's married? To whom?"

Owen Paris laughed...actually laughed. Tom couldn't remember the
last time he had heard his father make that sound. It sounded
surprisingly good.

"His name is Fred Booker. Fine young man, he's a scientist
determined to make fantastic discoveries and a name for himself.
So far all he's done is to make your sister pregnant, and that's
fine by me. I'm going to be a grandfather in a couple of months!
What do you think of that?" The Admiral sounded very pleased.

{I don't know what to say....do I address the pregnancy, or the
fact that my brother-in-law's lack of immediate success doesn't
bother you?}

"I'm happy for Katie, please tell her I said congratulations.
How's Mom feel about being a grandmother?"

No reply came over the speaker.

Tom sighed. "Computer, analyze communication connection."

::::The communication connection is active::::

"I...I'm here, Tom." His father's voice sounded heavy. Each word
fell thick with emotion. "Sorry, I thought you knew. Didn't you
receive my transmission I sent through that Hirogen array over
two years ago?"

"I only received the very beginning. The rest of the message was
damaged." Why was it that he always had a feeling that the
original message had contained bad news of some sort? "Why?
What's wrong? Is it Mom?"

"I'm sorry, son." Owen cleared his throat. "Your mother, passed
away over four years ago. She was struck down with a case of an
accursed alien virus. The doctors tried everything. We called
in all the top specialists, but nothing worked."

Blue eyes stared at the communication console in disbelief. Tom
couldn't think of anything to say. He certainly hadn't expected
this. {This can't be true! But I know it is. As soon as he said
'I'm sorry' I knew.}

"I-I didn't know," Tom replied, his voice low and laden with
grief. Tears stung the pilot's eyes.

"I'm sorry," Owen repeated. The older man ached to hold his son
in his arms to comfort him. "You should know that she loved you
until the end. She never gave up hope that you were still
alive."

Tom forced down a lump that had settled in his throat, making it
difficult to speak. "I'd have given the universe to speak to
her, to see her again."

"I know. You two had a special bond. A bond that I often
envied."

{You did?}

"If it helps, the last words she said were of you." Tom could
hear his father take a deep breath before he continued. When the
Admiral spoke again his voice reflected his deep sadness and
profound loss. "She said: Find Tommy for me. When you do, tell
him I--I loved him always. Then your mother made me promise to
never give up trying to find you. I kept her promise. Never
once did I stop looking. When I heard that Reginald Barclay had
found a way to communicate with Voyager, I was skeptical at
first, but also hopeful. It sounded too good to be true. I was
elated when he succeeded." Owen paused before he continued. "I
can't tell you how much it means to me to hear you again."

{You don't have to tell me, I can hear it in your voice. Where
was this, Dad, when I was growing up? Why was it I always got
those short visits in between assignments from a father who never
seemed to be satisfied? But if there is anything this time in
the Delta Quadrant has taught me it is to appreciate anything
that you receive. After all I changed, why couldn't you?}

"I had so much to tell her...her and you both."

"I'm looking forward to hearing all about your time on Voyager,
Thomas. You must have experienced a lot of adventures."

"Yeah, I did. We've seen species and planets that no one has
ever seen before. But there's been other things, more important
things." A wistful smile spread over the pilot's face. "I
wanted to see the look on Mom's face when I told her that I'd
finally met the woman of my dreams. In fact..." Tom pried open a
small box that sat next to his communication console, it revealed
a golden ring that was adorned with a brilliant blue stone. "I'm
planning on proposing to her very soon."

"You sound sure that she'll accept."

"Yeah. We've been together about three years. I feel
that...what was it you used to say about Mom? That it was her
that made you whole?"

"Yeah."

"I finally know how you felt."

"Tell me about her, son. Is she part of Voyager's original
crew?"

"Actually, she's one of the Maquis members." Tom waited but
heard no derisive comment from his father.

"She's smart, witty, absolutely beautiful, and keeps me on my
toes." Tom laughed. Just thinking about B'Elanna made him feel
better.

"No easy task." Owen joined Tom in laughter. "What is my future
daughter-in-law's name?"

{He approves?}

Tom smiled. "Her name is B'Elanna Torres. She's Voyager's Chief
Engineer."

"The half-Klingon?"

{He's been doing his homework. Probably knows the Voyager's
current crew complement by heart.}

"Yes, Dad. She's half-Klingon."

{Damn. How would this play out? Would Dad change his mind
about having a half-Klingon for a daughter-in-law? Did he even
care what his Dad thought? Not really, but it would be so...}

"B'Elanna sounds like a delightful addition to the family, son.
I can't wait to meet her. Your sisters and I will welcome her
with open arms. Though I'm sure your sisters will have a lot of
stories to tell her about you."

*Groan.* "Not the one about the..."

"Nope, I'm calling dibs on telling B'Elanna about you skinny
dipping in the Academy reflecting pool when you were five. But
I'm sure they'll have plenty more tales to tell."

::::You have sixty seconds left to complete your conversation::::

"The ol' gal still sounds the same, even from the Delta
Quadrant!" Owen quipped.

"Yep, they always sound the same." {Calm and composed no matter
what.}

"Thomas, please tell B'Elanna that I look forward to meeting her
face to face."

"I will, Dad. Can you tell Reginald Barclay, the next time you
see him, that the crew of Voyager is forever in his debt. Some
of my friends and I have plans to take him to the real Sandrines,
when we get back. We all want to meet him."

"I will, son. It's a promise."

"Um, Dad...I'm really glad we talked."

::::Forty seconds remain::::

"Me too. I don't mind telling you that I was almost dreading
this conversation. It had been so long since we last spoke. I
didn't..."

"Don't, Dad. We can't change the past, we can only go ahead.
But I know what you mean, I wasn't looking forward to this
either. But things have changed. I've changed."

"So have I."

"I know."

{Even talking to you this short time, I can tell that you've
changed.}

:::::Twenty seconds remain::::

{Damn, the time's flown}

"I should warn you that I haven't always toed the line on
Voyager." For some reason, Tom felt that he needed to tell his
father, not only the good things that he'd experienced, but the
bad as well.

"I read about you flying, or diving, to the rescue for the Monean
people. It was in the ship's logs that Kathryn transmitted
during Barclay's initial contact," the Admiral explained.

{He already knows.}

"I got my rank back."

"I don't care. You did the right thing."

:::::Communication terminated.:::::


The End.

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