Disclaimer: No, I still do not own any part of the Star Trek franchise.
Summary: One-shot. The events of the episode "Alice", as told by Naomi Wildman, several years after the fact.
A/N: This story is a bit, well, lame, at least in my opinion when I compare it to my other stories. Sorry about that. I was going through my old stories on my computer and found this one and figured, might as well post it, too. It was one of my earlier written stories, so that might be why.
"I guess I should have been able to feel the tension on the ship," Naomi Wildman said as she sat at the table and gestured for her guest to do the same. "I mean, there was always a low level of tension aboard Voyager. It seemed like every nebula held some hostile alien ready to open fire, or personnel were always clashing, or people were grumbling about Neelix's food. But whenever it involved a senior officer, well, that tension was different. Everyone counted on the senior officers to keep it together, to be strong in the face of any adversary, both on the ship and off. Admiral Janeway, Professors Chakotay and Tuvok, Commanders Paris, Torres, and Kim, the Doctor, even Seven of Nine and Neelix, to some degree—those were the rocks on the ship, the ones everyone depended on. Whenever something involved one of them, everything became tense, every department could feel the difference. It became all anybody could talk about in the mess hall and the corridors.
"There's not a doubt in my mind that that happened this time as well, even if I wasn't directly aware of it at the time. This time, it was the Chief Helmsman, Ensign Paris. He had convinced the captain to buy this shuttle, and was spending all of his time working on it, not sleeping, not spending time with his friends. He was acting strangely, which was making the rest of the senior staff, especially Lt. Torres and Ensign Kim, act differently as well. It must have affected just about every department of the ship.
"The first I became aware of it, though, was when I went into Sickbay for my lesson with the Doctor. He seemed tense, as tense as a hologram could seem. Lt. Torres was in there as well, on one of the biobeds. She had some sort of cortical stimulator on her forehead, and she also seemed tense, sitting straight up and focusing on one of the displays on the wall. She said something about getting into Tom's head, so I knew that something must be wrong with Tom, even though he wasn't in Sickbay.
"I knew that Tom and Lt. Torres were dating," Naomi continued with a slight frown. "At least, I think I knew. I remember asking my mother once why they seemed to be fighting all the time. She said that sometimes people who care about each other very much got worried about each other easily, and that made them fight about things. I asked if she ever fought with my dad like that, and she just laughed, and said nobody in the entire galaxy could fight like Ensign Paris and Lt. Torres, that they were in a category all their own.
"I could tell, when I burst into Sickbay and saw the Doctor and Lt. Torres, that I wouldn't be having my lesson that day, so I left before anyone could see me and went and found Neelix. He also seemed a bit distracted, but he was able to give me my lessons for the day. I finally asked him, near the end of the day, about what was going on in Sickbay. He told me that Tom was really sick, and that the Doctor and Lt. Torres were working really hard to help him get better again. He suggested that I make a 'get-well' card for Tom, and he replicated the paper and crayons that I would need.
"The next day, I was on my way to Sickbay for my lessons, carrying the card, because I figured if Tom was sick, he was going to be in Sickbay, and I could give him the card when I went in for school. Well, when I was outside the door, I saw Lt. Torres coming from the opposite direction. She was walking really quickly, like she was nervous or worried, and I remembered what my mother said about people who care about each other getting worried about each other, so I figured she was going to Sickbay to make sure Tom was okay.
"I was always a little bit afraid of Lt. Torres, mostly because I didn't spend as much time with her as I did with Tom or Neelix. She always seemed so busy, and she got really mad at people who bothered her when she was working. Well, even though I was afraid of her, I figured if anyone knew what was going on with Tom, it was her. So I called out to her in the corridor before she got to Sickbay. She seemed really surprised to hear someone say her name; I don't think she was even aware of her surroundings, she was that focused on getting to Sickbay.
"Well, she didn't yell at me, like I was scared she would do. In fact, she actually stopped walking, and bent down so we were at the same level. I asked if Tom was sick, and she said that he was, that he had been a little sick for a few weeks, but that it got really bad and he had to go to Sickbay. She asked if I was going in for my lessons with the Doctor, and when I told her I was, she said that the Doctor was really busy trying to help Tom get better, and that he should be available in a few hours, once Tom was released to go back to his quarters. She promised that she'd tell the Doc that I'd come in then, so he wouldn't get mad at me for being late. She started to get up to go into Sickbay, but I stopped her. I gave her the card, and told her that it was get-well card for Tom. She looked at it for a minute, and I thought that she was going to start crying, but then she smiled and said that he'd really appreciate it.
"I didn't see either of them for the next few days. I remember being in the mess hall with Neelix one morning and hearing someone say that it wasn't fair that the Chief Engineer got time off just because her boyfriend went crazy and almost got killed, but then a whole bunch of people started yelling at him and saying that if anything happened to him, wouldn't he want the person he loved there helping him? I think most of the protestors must have been engineers who were just enjoying the time off from their Chief. After all, if Tom had been sick for a few weeks like she said, things must have been really tense in Engineering.
"The next time I did see them, they came into the mess hall for breakfast together, holding hands. I don't know if I ever saw them holding hands before or after that day, even after they were married. For as long as I could remember, they had always been very reserved about their public displays of affection—sometimes a small kiss when they parted ways, or a brief touch when one was getting up from a meal in the mess hall. Usually when I saw them walking down the corridors together, she would have her arms crossed or at her sides, but never holding hands. They'd usually be talking and seemed happy together, but there wasn't any physical contact. Knowing what I know now, or maybe just because I'm such a hopeless romantic, it seems sweet, like they don't need the constant reassurance of touch to be reminded of their love for each other.
"Well, that morning, they were holding hands when they came in, and the mess hall got a little quieter, like people were talking about them and suddenly stopped. If they noticed, they didn't let on. They picked up their trays, and sat down at Ensign Kim's table. I remember watching them for a few minutes. They both seemed so relaxed, joking with each other and Ensign Kim, and when Lt. Torres got up to go to work in Engineering, she gave Tom one of those small kisses, turned in her tray, and left the mess hall. It was nothing dramatic, but I knew as I watched her walk away that everything was back to normal again."
Cadet Miral Paris raised her cup of raktajino to her lips, only to find it empty. She had gotten so involved in the story that she hadn't realized that she had drained her coffee. "I'm glad you came to find me during your leave, Naomi," she said as she placed her empty mug on the table. "I enjoy hearing these stories from Voyager. Sometimes, I wish I had gotten the chance to be there. Well, for more than two days."
Lt. Naomi Wildman smiled in return. She knew that telling the younger woman about all the times that they had been attacked, all the close calls they had, all the scary moments, wouldn't make up for all the heroic and humorous stories she had been told, so instead of pointing that out, she merely said, "It certainly was a wild ride."