Unwanted Reception

Part One: Nadir

He had never wanted to make it home.

It was the best three years of his life, an apparition of the perfect life.

A taste of knowing what it was like to have friends.

And now it was over. His chimera shattered, replaced by the cruel reality that was his life.

Voyager had returned home.

The Maquis had been pardoned, himself allowed to hold onto his commission.

But he didn't care about that--because he knew the only reason he was still a lieutenant was his father, and he didn't want to obtain respect by standing in someone else's shadow.

Janeway was gone, off with Voyager and a mostly new crew though he knew Harry and Tuvok were still aboard. They'd gone off on a mission, off to save some world no doubt.

He had had the option of remaining on Voyager, as well, but it would have been too painful. He'd only be deluding himself. If he remained aboard he knew he would just pretend that nothing had changed.

Everything had changed.

All his friends were scattered, leaving him behind. He was stuck in some monotonous desk job in San Francisco while they made lives for themselves.

He was alone. Again he was alone. He ignored all the communiqu├ęs from his family he refused contact with his friends. He knew that the reason everything was slipping away--but that only made it worse.

What if he were to end it?

Unravel this reality just as quickly as his delusion aboard Voyager had been ripped from him.

It would be so easy.

And that's what Tom Paris always did, right?

Take the easy way out.