THE PARIS TEMPER
SUMMARY: B'Elanna Torres reflects on the darker side of her husband's nature. From Torres' POV. Told from late Season 7. Spoilers include "The Cloud", "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Author, Author".
FEEDBACK: - Be my guest. But please, be kind.
DISCLAIMER: B'Elanna Torres, Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom and the usual Trek Powers to Be.
"THE PARIS TEMPER"
For as long as I can remember, many people have made a big deal about my temper. The famous, or maybe I should say infamous B'Elanna Torres temper. Naturally, many have attributed my volatile nature to my Klingon genes. Including myself. But a recent event and a deep look at some very close to me has given me doubts. Can one really attribute bad temper to one's ethnic background or species? Or is it simply a matter of individual personality?
The recent incident I had referred was a near death experience in Grethor. The Klingon version of Hell, otherwise known as the Barge of the Dead. About twenty months ago, I nearly died, while returning from an Away mission to collect the ship's multi-spatial probe. During that period, I encountered my mother, Miral, in Grethor. Seeing her again reminded me of the numerous lectures she used to give me. Including one about my temper. In fact, one of Mother's favor subjects used to be about me learning to control my temper.
Now, I am quite aware that I had inherited my temper from Mother. She could be just as volatile as me. I remembered quite well all those quarrels she had with my father, John Torres. But as she grew older, Mother learned to exercise more control over her temper. Yet, not completely. Not when she had to raise a volatile and resentful daughter.
Other races - and I am just as guilty - have failed to realize that Klingons tend to frown upon displays of bad temper. My mother's people admired aggressiveness, cunning, and bravery of all kinds. A bad temper, they believed, had no place in battle. Nor did the lack of common sense. Mother used to point out my cousin R'Geyer as the perfect example of a Klingon warrior. He was brave, cunning, and very aggressive. And he possessed a great deal of common sense. Cousin R'Geyer, I might also add, always maintained a tight control of his temper. He once offered to teach me methods to control my own temper. Being resentful of Klingon customs of any kind and fearing I would be subjected to some archaic Klingon ceremony, I rejected his offer. Now, I wish I had accepted. Perhaps I would have been spared years of trouble and heartache.
My memories of Grethor and Mother's relations were not my only reminders that a bad temper was more than just a Klingon phenomenon. Other races could be just as volatile - Bajorans, Betazoids, Cardassians, the Hirogen, Kazons, Bolians, Talaxians and the Malon, just to name a few. Voyager's former nemesis, Seska, had possessed a temper just as volatile as mine. And she was a Cardassian. Tabor, a Bajoran, could also be rather volatile. Underneath that jovial obsequiousness, Neelix can be extremely bad-tempered. Do Vulcans possess a volatile nature, underneath their emotionless masks? Six years ago, I would have said no. Now, I am not so sure. I recalled Vorik's behavior on Sakaris IV - when he was in the throes of pon farr. I still shiver just thinking about it. And Tuvok once admitted that Vulcans without any control of their emotions can be more volatile and dangerous than many other races. Including Klingons. Perhaps I have spent so many years resenting my own temper and blaming it on my Klingon heritage that I had failed to see it in others.
And what about Humans? Too busy wallowing in self-disgust at my Klingon side, I failed to notice that other humans could be just as temperamental. I can honestly say that my father, Juan Torres, was not temperamental. In fact, one could easily label him as a mild-mannered man. Perhaps too mild-mannered for my mother. I could almost say the same about my mentor and Voyager's First Officer, Chakotay. Almost. Despite his mild exterior, Chakotay has one hell of a temper. He can usually keep it under control, but there are a few who are capable of making him lose control. People like Tuvok (whom Chakotay once resented for being a spy in his Maquis cell), our former Borg drone, Seven-of-Nine; Seska; and at times, even Captain Janeway. But the one person who possesses a special talent for getting under Chakotay's skin is my very own love bug, my husband Tom. Aside from Chakotay, there was Harry Kim. My first friend aboard Voyager, Harry has a bad habit of losing control whenever something went wrong. Something that usually fell under his responsibility. I can still remember how he had lost his cool when we were trapped inside Sick Bay with that smart bomb.
There is also the Doctor, our "beloved" Emergency Medical Hologram. I cannot even count the number of times he has lost his temper. Come to think of it, the Doctor has even experienced a nervous breakdown. Twice. And over the same person. Both Harry and Ensign Ani Jetal were seriously wounded during an Away mission a few years ago. After the Doctor saved Harry and failed to save Ensign Jetal, he became volatile. We thought his programming had malfunctioned and erased the memory. When that memory came back to haunt him a year-and-a-half later, we finally realized that he had suffered a mental breakdown and treated him as a person . . . and not a computer program. Even Seven, our former-Borg-turned-Ice-Princess, has a temper. I had been there when she struck an arms dealer, whom she suspected had violated her body for nanoprobes. And Kahless only knows how many quarrels she had engaged with both the Captain and Chakotay.
Finally, there is Captain Janeway. Kathryn Janeway, our fearless leader, here in the Delta Quadrant. I must say that she controls her temper a hell of a lot better than I ever did. And her temper can be monstrous. Trust me, I know. I have seen it up close and personal. Experienced it. I have seen it when those aliens used the crew as guinea pigs for their medical experiments. Well, Starfleet and Ayala had. But I did personally witnessed the Janeway temper in action against myself, Chakotay, the Nyrians, Seven-of-Nine, Tom, Harry, Tuvok, Captain Ransom of the Equinox and countless other crewmen and hostile aliens. Let me put it this way - Kathryn Janeway's temper can be a force of nature that would scare a Klingon warrior shitless. Only my mother's temper is equal.
There is one other person whose temper seemed to be equal to the Captain's. Namely my husband of eight months, Tom Paris. Do not laugh! Upon meeting Tom for the first time, a person can be struck by a few things about him. One, he is a very good-looking man, with brilliant blue eyes and a flashing smile. Tom is witty - although some of his jokes can be rather lame. And he also seemed to possess a very easy-going and even temper. That person would be right about Tom. Except for one thing - underneath the flashing smile, the easy-going manner and even temper lurks a volatile personality.
Like Captain Janeway, Tom can usually maintain great control over his temper. In fact, I'm afraid there are times when he may have succeeded too well. Meaning, Tom has this tendency to repress his emotions. To the point of putting the Vulcans to shame. As I have stated before, Vulcans do have emotions. But years of repressing their feelings have developed a side-effect for them. Every seven years of their adult life, Vulcans . . . or maybe I should say their men . . . well, to be honest, I'm not really sure. Anyway, every seven years, Vulcans suffer from this chemical imbalance in their brain and develop this emotional urge to mate. In other words, they go into heat. And when this happens, look out! I know what I'm talking about. I have seen it and experienced it - via a mind meld - first hand, thanks to one of my engineers, Ensign Vorik.
What does this have to do with Tom? Like the Vulcans, Tom has his own side effects from years of suppressing his emotions. One side effect is his sense of humor. First of all, he uses jokes to hide his true feelings. And when he does, his jokes tend to be rather caustic and almost cruel. Okay, he can be cruel. Kahless knows how many times I have been a victim of his wit during that first year in the Delta Quandrant, when we could barely stand one another. I can recall one incident in which I had made a nasty comment about one character in his Sandrine's holoprogram. His name was Gaunt Gary, some pool hustler who made a pass at me when Tom first created the program. I called both him and Tom a pig. Apparently, my insult must have hit its target. For a while that damn Gaunt Gary would materialize and proposition me every time I walked into one of the Holodecks. Harry had to beg Tom to call off the joke after three weeks. Tom's main victims have usually been Chakotay, Seska, Ensign Pat Murphy, Ken Dalby and a few others on his official shit list. Mind you, Tuvok gets on his nerves every once in a while. But I have a deep suspicion that those two like each other more than either of them care to admit.
However, Tom's biting humor is nothing in compare to other dark facets of his personality. For one, Tom can be unforgiving. Very unforgiving. Take his father, for example. Tom blamed Admiral Owen Paris for pressuring him into joining Starfleet – a career he never wanted. And he has yet to forgive the Admiral for ostracizing him from the family, following the whole Caldik Prime incident. When Lieutenant Barclay from the Alpha Quadrant, Harry and Seven were finally able to establish visual communication with Starfleet, via the MIDAS Array, the crew had the opportunity to speak directly with other family members or friends. Tom convinced me to talk to my father for the first time in nearly twenty years. But when the opportunity came for him to talk with his family, Tom decided to hand over his allotted time slot to Harry. He called himself giving Harry the opportunity to speak with his parents. But I knew better. Tom simply wanted to avoid speaking with his father.
There are times that I wonder if he had ever forgiven Chakotay's . . . holier-than-thou attitude toward Tom during the time the latter had spent in my old mentor's Maquis cell. You see, Chakotay had immediately spotted Tom as a mercenary who had joined the Maquis for profit. Granted, he had been right, but Chakotay treated Tom as such and continued to do so during our first months in the Delta Quadrant. Judging from Tom's willingness to needle Chakotay whenever the opportunity presented itself and his relish for pretending to be a malcontent during the time when Tuvok was trying to sniff out Seska's spy, I suspect that he had enjoyed expressing hostility at the First Officer. A small part of me wondered if Tuvok had enjoyed it, as well.
But when it comes to sheer vindictiveness, no one - and I mean no one - beats Thomas Eugene Paris. Tom can be a sweet, fun and all-around great guy. But for the sake of your own sanity, do not piss him off! There is nothing he would like better than getting even for any slight. In the worst possible way. I could bring up countless examples of Tom's vindictive streak. But two incidents certainly come to mind.
The first centered on my old nemesis, Seven-of-Nine. About two years ago, the Doctor had encouraged Seven to study more about romance. And that Borg bi . . . I mean Seven . . . had decided to study my relationship with Tom. She must have spent nearly a month observing us before she opened her big mouth and exposed the nature of our more intimate relationship. In front of several crewmen in the Mess Hall. (Pauses) Okay. I am now calm. After all, it happened two years ago. And Seven and I have managed to bury the ax between us. Somewhat. Needless to say that Seven's revelation had upset me very much. And as it turned out, I was not the only one who became upset.
I later learned that Tom had stumbled across the Doctor giving Seven another lesson in the art of courtship. Apparently, Tom manipulated the Doctor into making a bet that Seven's lesson will end in disaster at the first social function. Which is exactly what happened at a diplomatic function that Chakotay held for a visiting Kadi representative named Tomin. When Tom realized that he was in danger of losing his bet, inadvertently revealed it in front of Seven. She became pissed off that the Doctor would make a bet over her. And when a drunken Ambassador Tomin made a pass at her . . . well, Tom ended up winning his bet and humiliating Seven. However, he realized that he had hurt more than he originally planned and regretted his action. I did not.
Tom's penchant for vengeful payback expressed itself in the worst way possible over the Doctor's new holonovel, "Photons Be Free". The Doctor, bless his holographic heart, composed a novel about a "holographic medical officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Vortex". This particular doctor was treated as a virtual slave by a crew comprised by some very unpleasant characters. Even worse, the Vortex crew bore a slight resemblance to many of Voyager's crew. Among Vortex's crew was a rude, human Chief Engineer named Lieutenant Torrey; and the Medical Assistant, Lieutenant Marseilles (hmmm, another French city), who bore a strong physical resemblance to Tom - but with a moustache. And Lieutenant Marseilles happened to be something of a ladies' man, despite being married to Lieutenant Torrey. Aside from the Doctor, the only crewman portrayed with any sympathy was Seven-of-Nine. Her character turned out to be Three-of-Eight, who was sympathetic to the Doctor's character. I admit to being slightly annoyed by the Doctor's hint that he found me rude. But Tom . . . wow! "Photons Be Free" really upset him. And when someone crosses the line with Tom Paris, he strikes back. Hard.
It did not take Tom very long to get even with the Doctor's characterization of him. Being a very clever holoprogrammer, he managed to access the Doctor's program and . . . altered the novel. One, Tom made himself the novel's narrator and protagonist. He also altered the starship's name, calling it the U.S.S. Voyeur. The Doctor became this egotistical and obnoxious character who was more concerned with his extracurricular activities, and possessed a bad comb-over. Then Tom took a swipe at the Doctor's infatuation with Seven by altering her Three-of-Eight character into Two-of-Three, a brainless and submissive former Borg whom the Doctor constantly seduced and gave Klingon aphrodisiacs and neck rubs. Not only did Tom take a swipe at the Doctor's character, he used the changes to let the latter know how he felt at the Doctor's take on his own character.
Kahless knows that I love Tom. He is a wonderful man who is capable of understanding me in a way that no one else has. He is charming, fun, intelligent and very creative. But like all other beings, he has his dark side. He can be sarcastic, unforgiving, vindictive and sometimes cruel. And during the past four years we have been together, I had to deal with this darker side of his nature, just as much as he has to deal with mine. But if there is one thing I have learned during my years with Tom - and with Voyager's other crew members - is that each and every one of us is not one thing or the other. We are all an interesting combination of many traits that we have to learn to balance. I am just learning how to maintain that balance. And I think I can say that Tom is learning, as well.