by PJ in NH
Summary: In addition to an unusual engagement party, Tom and a crewmate are captured during an away mission. Problem: Tom feels just about as safe with the aliens as his crewmate. Question: Did Tom leave behind a son in the Alpha Quadrant?
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and its characters. I've only borrowed the characters to satisfy my own creative urges. Archiving is okay, just e-mail me. Please keep disclaimer and my name attached. Please allow the author 'poetic license' and forgive any reference to time line or medical terminology that is inaccurate. Note, I am assuming that Naomi is about 4 years old. Also, most of the measurements in this story are in feet, sorry for all the P/T's out their in metric land, please do not hesitate to convert.
Story takes place a little over five years after Voyager's entry into the Delta Quadrant and assumes that P&T have been engaged for a four-five months. The story can be considered a sequel to "And I Love You So, and "Deception" by the same author.
Special thanks to whomever runs the"Star Trek Voyager Encyclo- pedia" web page at www.geocities.com/Hollywood/9299/enc.html.
by PJ in NH (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chapter 1 - Sickbay
It had been a little over five years since they had entered the Delta Quadrant he mused, he never would have imagined that when their journey started that in a few days he would be attending his and B'Elanna's engagement party. During that time, to say his life had changed could be considered an understatement. He no longer thought of himself as an ex-convict or murderer, that had been a huge accomplishment, and B'Elanna and he were scheduled to be married in a few short weeks. Tom Paris a married man isn't that an oxymoron? he thought. And most of the crew, if they didn't like him or at least respect him, left him alone. Most, that is, but not all. There were still a few members of the crew whose opinions hadn't changed at all and didn't hesitate to speak their mind. A few who still thought that he shouldn't be at the helm, let alone a senior officer. Three of those crewmembers were now in Sickbay expecting to be healed after a bar fight in Sandrine's.
"Where's the Doctor, Paris?" Ken McAfee spat, his tall 6'6', 270- pound frame made the 6'3" pilot look small. His breath reeked of real alcohol as did the other two who stood beside him.
Ed Huggins, whose build rivaled McAfee's, joined in, "Yeah, we don' want some flunky patchin' us up, espushaly you!"
Paris had manned Sickbay all day and had treated more than the typical number of cases, everything ranging from a broken bone to one crewmate who had been knocked unconscious, and that was in addition to the the Bolian flu that was making the rounds again. It was now 2330 and he was exhausted, these three, he determined with their attitude, didn't deserve the luxury of a 'bedside manner.' "Well you know, if you three didn't keep getting in bar fights with each other, you wouldn't have to worry about *who* was patching you up," countered Paris as he reached for the dermal regenerator.
"Like you're one to talk," slurred Mack Evans, the third man who was considered the midget of the group at only 6'4" and 235 pounds.
The lieutenant crossed his arms over this chest and prepared to take a stance. "Well, it's like this," he explained, "the Doctor is on the planet and is not expected back until tomorrow. So you three have two choices, either wait until tomorrow or lower your standards and let me help you." He looked them up and down as if sizing them up. "I, myself, would suggest the second choice, you three are ugly enough as it is without..." CRACK, he received a fist to his mid-section, CRACK, and one to his jaw before he hit the floor. Got to keep my big mouth shut.
"How about a third option, we beat the shit out of you!" McAfee spat with a smirk on his face leaning threateningly over the pilot/nurse rubbing his left hand over his right fist, obviously pleased that they had decked him.
"I'll give you a fourth option -- the brig," said Chakotay as he entered the Sickbay and hit his commbadge. "Chakotay to Tuvok."
"Please have Ensign McAfee beamed to the brig. I'll come down later and press charges."
"Acknowledged," the Vulcan replied and proceeded to initiate the intership transporter beam out.
The Commander turned to address the other two, "Mr. Huggins and Mr. Riley, I suggest that after Mr. Paris treats you that you go straight to your cabins and sleep this off. I had better not remind you about the seriousness of this situation, or you will find yourselves in the brig as well.
Chakotay then reached down and helped Paris to his feet. "You don't think it was something I said" joked the bruised pilot clutching his stomach.
"Knowing you, I wouldn't be surprised," he said grimacing at the bruise already forming on the Lieutenant's face.
Paris, still holding the regenerator, proceeded to use it on a chastened Huggins and Riley. "Now be still Mack and you and Ed will be out of here in no time," Tom instructed while the two crewmen just sat there and glared at him. Paris was thankful that the Commander was still there. It took a few more minutes before both men were healed, ready to fight again another day. "There all done, and please, can you guys try and space these trips out a bit, you're in here almost as much as I am," his attempt at humor falling as flat as he expected. The two men just grumbled their thanks, due largely in part because Chakotay was still there, and left to return to their quarters.
Chakotay was sitting on one of the biobeds as Tom turned around to take care of the equipment.
"So Tom how did it start?"
Tom look up at the big Maquis noticing the look of concern on his face. "Well the three of them came in after one of their famous bar brawls, I swear I've never seen 'friends' fight so much. Anyway, apparently my sheepskin didn't meet their high standards," Paris explained as he rubbed his already swollen jaw.
"That's no excuse for what they did to you."
Tom nodded in agreement. "To tell you the truth, usually I can ignore them, but it's been a zoo in here today and I'm kind of tired."
"Are you telling me you've had a problem with them before?" asked the concerned Commander as he got up from the bed and reached for the regenerator and started to wave its beam over the pilot's jaw.
Shit, how did I let that slip, I really must be tired. Maybe I can ignore the question. "Gee Commander give me that it's not a phaser you know," he said as he grabbed the regenerator from the older man's grasp, "besides, I think this is going to require the osteogenic stimulator. That McAfee throws a mean right punch, I think he might have cracked the bone."
"Tom, don't change the subject," he admonished, fully aware of Paris' attempt to sidestep the issue. "Has this happened before?"
Tom looked at the Commander carefully and then refocused his attention on the floor, he noticed that the Commander was totally serious and would expect nothing less than the truth. He took a deep breath and exhaled, talking about this kind of thing, about how crewmen like those three felt about him, was something he always tried to avoid. "No, Chakotay, it wasn't the first time and to be honest it probably won't be the last. Those three gorillas have had it out for me ever since I got on board five years ago, especially McAfee, but lately, over the past six to eight months, he's changed."
"I don't know, like he's going out of his way to confront me, to provoke me," confessed the pilot.
"Why didn't you say anything before?"
Tom walked over to the mirror on the wall and began to use the osteogenic stimulator on his jaw. "I shouldn't have to remind you that if I reported everyone who had a problem with me when I first came on board, even you would be on that list."
It was Chakotay's turn to be rebuked. "You're right," the Commander admitted. "So much has happened since then, I've almost forgotten."
"It's over and done with, and actually, except for McAfee and a few others, for the past couple of years things have been fairly quiet. The fact is, Chakotay, I would appreciate it if you could get Ken out of the brig, I feel partially responsible. Maybe if I hadn't been so irritable, he never would thrown that punch. Besides, one thing I don't need, is for that goon to be any more pissed off with me than is he already is. One lesson I learned at the rehab colony was that it doesn't pay to tick people off that are bigger than you are, and this guy has also got friends almost as big as him."
"Well, that's true, those guys are huge. Their mothers must have fed them well growing up, but I'm afraid Ken's going to have to cool his heels in the brig for a couple of days before I'll let Tuvok release him. What he did was inexcusable, Tom, he's should be lucky it's for only two days, striking a superior officer back home would warrant a court martial. The other two are just lucky they didn't throw a punch as well." He also knew that the pilot/nurse had been lucky, for if he hadn't come through the door when he did, the other two would have been involved and Tom would have required more medical attention than a dermal regenerator or osteogenic stimulator could provide.
Tom could tell that it would be a waste of energy to try and convince him to release McAfee and attempted to change the subject. "By the way, Commander why *did* you come to Sickbay?"
"To tell you the truth, I came down because I've got a splitting headache, and now after dealing with those three it's even worse, can you help me?"
"Sure, why don't you sit back down and I'll get you something." Tom replaced the osteogenic stimulator back in its case and rubbed his jaw to determine that the pain was gone and went in search of an analgesic.
"So Tom, I understand that you've been going back to school?" the Commander asked with a knowing grin on his face.
How did he find out about that? "Who told you?" countered the Lieutenant as he paused in his search for the medicine.
"Well, actually I walked in on your program last week by accident. I thought that someone else was using Holodeck 2." He had expected to find Kathryn in there with Da Vinci and was surprised to find Paris in a classroom setting, obviously in the middle of some exam, complete with fellow students and an instructor who resembled the Doctor except for a full head of hair. "So what classes are you taking?"
"You mean the Captain didn't tell you?" asked Tom as he ordered a glass of water from the replicator.
"No," he answered, now more than just curious. "What's the problem, is it a secret?"
"It's not a secret really. It's just that when the Doctor was in the Alpha Quadrant and I was covering for him in sickbay, Harry suggested that I should learn more about medicine. Well, that was one way to put it. So, Harry and I developed the framework for a medical instructional program for the holodeck and the Doctor supplied the lessons."
"What a good idea, it'll be good to have someone to count on besides the Doctor."
"Hey, I have no intention of becoming a physician, just to supplement my former medical education. I thought that it would help me feel more confident in Sickbay.
Chakotay reached over a place his hand on Paris' shoulder and looked him right in the eye. "More confident in Sickbay, Tom, or are you afraid you may have to permanently replace him someday?"
The Commander had obviously hit the mark, as he had temporarily rendered the normally talkative Lieutenant speechless. Am I that transparent? Tom mused. Maybe it was time to confess. "I'd be lying if I told you that the thought never crossed my mind." Hell, it crossed his mind every time there was an emergency on board. "If something did ever happen to the Doctor and I was left with my current level of training..." he stopped shaking his head. "Damn, Chakotay,I don't even want to think about it."
"I believe I understand. So, Tom, how is it coming along?"
"Well, in the beginning I convinced myself I was doing it only because Harry thought I should. That guy has a knack of being able to talk me into doing things I wouldn't normally do. But, you know I now find myself actually enjoying the classes, even though it's lot of work," he admitted. "Right now the Doctor has me concentrating on toxins and viruses."
"You're not saying that you'd rather be a doctor than a pilot are you?" the Commander teased.
"Oh no, nothing like that, I'll always be a pilot first," he said as he handed the Commander a couple of capsules and the glass of water, which he immediately swallowed.
"Thanks "Doctor*. Well I think you're doing the right thing, it'll be good for you *and* Voyager. Maybe even a few others should also be taking those classes?"
"We are already ahead of you, in fact Samantha Wildman started taking some emergency medical classes about a month ago. I guess you could say she's my backup."
"I'm glad to hear that, Sam should do well. By the way, what are you going to do about your friend in the brig, he still needs medical treatment. Can you handle it yourself or do you want me to come down with you?"
"No thanks, that won't be necessary, besides I'm sure there is a security guard or two down there that can give me a hand. If not, I can always practice my bedside manner with a phaser in one hand and a regenerator in the other," he joked.
"You know, I think I'd like to see that," the Commander chuckled. "Ordering them to stop bleeding or else!"
Chapter 2 - The Brig
He had joked with Chakotay about not being worried about going down to the brig, but his insides were in knots as he stepped into the cell that contained McAfee, even though two of Tuvok's his best guards stood at the door.
So here he was, forced to tend to the care of an individual who, despite his best efforts to get along with, despised him. He had tried many things over the past five years and in particular the last two, to get McAfee and his friends to change their minds. He had joked with them, tried to get them to join him for a game of pool, and he had even directly confronted them in an attempt to find out what the problem was so he could make an attempt to correct it, but nothing had worked. They were still the same men as they had been those long years ago.
"It must gnaw at you Paris, knowing that you have to come down here and fix me up," taunted McAfee as he looked up to confront the pilot.
"I can think of several things I'd rather be doing," Tom admitted, "but this won't take long."
As he bent over the seated McAfee to repair the damage one of his own friends had done to his shoulder, McAfee said softly so only Paris could hear while the pilot/nurse waved the regenerator over the injured area. "This isn't over Paris, not at all."
"If this is about Caldik Prime or the Maquis situation..." trying again to get McAfee to open up.
"You don't even know, do you?" he interrupted. "Your kind are all alike."
"Look Ken, I don't want any trouble."
"It's too late for that Paris, it was too late when you came aboard Voyager, and it is way too late now."
"Is everything alright in there Lieutenant?" questioned the guard.
"Just fine, I'm almost done." He then lowered his voice to leave McAfee with a parting bit of advice as he gathered his medical equipment together. "Don't underestimate me Ken, being in prison taught me a few things. So if I were you, I'd think twice before threatening me." He hoped that he sounded a lot more confident that he felt.
Chapter 3 - Naomi and Fred
It had been one hell of an evening. He kept on playing the conversation in the brig over and over again in his mind. He knew that he had been in trouble more than once in the past, hell a lot more than once, but he couldn't remember a time when Ken McAfee was part of his past, good or bad. Of course, he mused, maybe it was someone that was a member of Ken's family or a friend. In the morning, he would access the ship's records and see if he could unearth something, but for now, he was just too damn tired.
He settled himself down for the night, still in his uniform, on one of the biobeds in order to be immediately available if there was an emergency to attend, as he had promised the doctor. He regretted that promise now as he struggled to get comfortable on the hard bed. Of course, if B'Elanna were here it would make all the difference. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep with visions of a certain half-Klingon occupying his dreams. He was sound asleep enjoying these dreams when the door to Sickbay slid open and closed.
The figure that entered, quietly looked around the Sickbay, and finally locating the pilot on the furthest biobed, walked up to him, bent down, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Wha...ah...I'm up...." he mumbled and flailed his arms almost falling off the bed as he blinked his blue eyes in an attempt to focus. "B'Elanna...B'Elanna? Wha...what are you doing here? You nearly scared the life out of me!"
She kissed him again, this time on the lips as she pulled him toward her, her arms encircled around him. "Good morning to you too. Actually, I just got up and thought that before I went to the mess hall that I'd check on my favorite flyboy."
He was tired, but not too tired to let that slip. "So, which flyboy is you not-so-favorite," he teased throwing in a mock pout.
"Tom, shut up," she giggled. She then wrapped her arms around him tighter and proceeded to thoroughly kiss him tangling their tongues together. With a nibble or two on his lips thrown in for good measure, she started to unfastened the front of his uniform. Her fingers itched to feel his chest hair.
"Bea...oh...you know what that does...oh..," he murmured as the Sickbay door slid open again and two people could be heard entering.
"Tom, are you up? Can you help me?" Samantha Wildman asked fretfully from the open doorway, her four-year-old daughter Naomi clutching her hand while in Naomi's other hand held a well-loved teddy bear.
"I...I'll be right there Sam," he responded as he refastened his uniform. "Sorry about that Bea," he whispered, "one of the pitfalls about being in medicine." He gave her a little kiss on the tip of her nose as he exited from the back of the Sickbay, and B'Elanna followed. "So Sam what's up?" he asked grabbing the medical tricorder laying on the nearby table.
"It's Naomi, she woke up early this morning running a fever and throwing up."
"She did?" Tom said concernedly as he crouched down to be at the child's level taking into account her pale face. "So tell Uncle Tommy, where does it hurt, angel?"
Uncle Tommy? B'Elanna thought. That's a new one.
"Here," she pouted pointing to her mid section. "my tum-tum hurts."
"And is Fred okay?" he asked pointing to her teddy bear.
"Uh, huh, but he wanted to come along to see if he could help," the little girl explained.
"I'm sure he's a big help. Let's see what the tricorder has to say, though it's probably that pesky Bolian flu."
"'Kay," she said looking at the man before her with a serious expression on her face.
He proceeded to scan the little girl. "Yep, another case of the flu."
"Oh no, and I was suppose to go down and help the Captain with plans for the engagement party before alpha shift starts, she's expecting me," moaned the little girl's mother.
"Why don't you go ahead Sam," Tom suggested as he tweaked the litle girl's nose which resulted in a giggle. "Naomi can stay with me. By the time you're done, she'll probably even be feeling a little better. Right munchkin?"
"You don't mind Naomi?" asked her mother.
"Nope," she said. Then the little girl crawled up into Tom's waiting arms and buried her head into his shoulder still holding onto her teddy bear. "Nope, wanna stay with Uncle Tommy, bye Mama!" she mumbled into his chest, seemingly more than content to stay in Sickbay with the pilot.
"Well, I guess I know when I'm not wanted," she grinned, relieved that her daughter was in good hands. "Thanks Tom, I promise I won't be long."
"Don't worry Sam, I'll stay and give *Uncle Tommy* a hand for a little while," offered B'Elanna. This was a new side of him she hadn't seen and it intrigued her. This man, she contemplated, will make a wonderful father, obviously much better than his own had been.
"Thanks again, Tom." Sam said and she kissed her little girl. "You be good for your Uncle Tommy and Auntie B'Elanna, I'll be back soon."
"*Auntie B'Elanna* you don't have to stay if you don't want to," Tom said as he settled Naomi down on one of the beds pulling a blanket over her and he went to get some anti-nausea medicine.
B'Elanna followed after him, thinking about the honorary title that had been recently bestowed. "It's okay, it's one of the perks about being *Chief* Engineer and I think I'd like to stay and see you in action," she teased. "By the way, you seem pretty comfortable with Naomi, can I ask why?"
"Well if you promise you won't tell anyone, I do have a reputation to uphold," he joked.
"No seriously Tom, I want to know, she seems so comfortable with you."
"Actually," he said lowering his voice and looking around the Sickbay for eavesdroppers, "I'm her regular Thursday night date, but don't tell my fiance, okay?"
"Really?" she sensed that he was serious underneath the grin.
"Really, Bea. I've been babysitting Naomi almost ever since she was born, in fact, it's something I look forward to. But if you tell anyone..."
"Your secret's safe with me, at least until we have little ones of our own. Deal?"
"Deal," he relented giving her a little peck on the lips.
"Uncle Tommy!" whined Naomi, "my tum-tum hurts again!"
"I m getting you something to make you feel better sweetie." Tom vowed as he grabbed the medicine, went out, and injected the little girl with an appropriate dosage. "There, you should feel better soon, I promise. Now, would you like a story or a poem before the medicine makes you fall asleep?"
"A song," said the sleepy little girl, "the teddy bear song please."
"You mean the one about the picnic in the woods?"
"Uh, huh, it's Fred's favorite," she confirmed already feeling sleepy from the injection but still clutching her teddy bear Fred. Tom started to sing softly. As she finally drifted off to sleep, he bestowed a kiss on her dimpled forehead and tucked her in.
B'Elanna had been leaning against the bulkhead wall watching the whole exchange with a little wistful grin on her face, imaging him tending to his own children, their own children. They certainly had a lot to look forward to.
Chapter 4 - Popcorn and Cotton Candy
The Captain and Chakotay had done a wonderful job with the engagement party. Everyone was having a wonderful time, particularly the future bride and groom.
"Chakotay, I've got to hand it to you, your program for this party is fantastic," Tom said enthusiastically.
"Thanks, Tom, I was hoping that you'd like the setting, though it did take a while to get it just right. Actually it was Samantha Wildman's idea at the last moment to add the popcorn and cotton candy vendors. We were hesitant at first, we weren't too sure if you two would like having your party set in an old earth amusement park, it's a little unorthodox.
"Are you kidding, this is great!" B'Elanna chimed in. "Everyone is having a blast! Did you see Harry and Seven on the rollercoaster? Her eyes were as big as saucers, I think she was actually scared!"
"And did you see Naomi," Tom joined in, "if she eats anymore cotton candy she's going to burst."
"She would have if it wasn't for the fact that it was time for bed," joined in Janeway with a grin on her face.
"Captain, this is one program you're going to have to save," said Tom.
"I agree," concurred Chakotay finishing up a bag of popcorn, "it seems to be a success all around. I'm glad you're enjoying yourselves."
"Tom," B'Elanna asked a gleam in her eye as she pulled on his arm, "do you want to go try the Tilt-a-Whirl again?"
"I don't know, I was thinking about the Tunnel-of-Love myself," he offered as he leaned over and gave her a quick love bite on her ear, just where she liked it.
"Well alright," she said with mocked reluctance, "but only if you bribe the operator to stall the ride half-way," she giggled pulling him along after her. Chakotay chuckled at her response and almost choked on the popcorn.
"What are you laughing at?" Janeway asked her first officer.
"Just the two lovebirds, their acting like two lovesick teenagers. I've never seen B'Elanna so carefree and happy."
"I know what you mean, those two have certainly changed over the years. They seem to be made for each other, but it took them a while to realize it."
Chakotay nodded in understanding, thinking about another couple closer to his heart. "You know Kathryn, if we hurry we could get in line for the ferris wheel, and I understand that the captain may possess enough influence to get the operator to pause the ride at the top. What do you think?" he asked with a knowing grin on his face.
"I think you know what I think," she asked pulling him along in the direction of the ferris wheel.
The party lasted to almost 0100 before Janeway and Chakotay wound it up by assembling all the guests in front of a now quiet merry- go-round.
"Everyone please gather round," requested the Captain as she stood up on a raised platform with Chakotay by her side. The party guests all assembled around the Captain, Commander and the guests of honor.
"We, the Commander and I, would like to thank all of you for coming tonight to celebrate Tom and B'Elanna's engagement. Unfortunately, tomorrow is another busy day on Voyager and we are going to have to call it a night," she rose her hand in the air in an attempt to quiet the collective groan, none louder than B'Elanna's and Tom's. "I know, I feel the same way, I had a wonderful time particularly at the top of that ferris wheel, but before we terminate this program, we just wanted to say how happy we are to see two people so much in love and planning to make their future together. I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say 'congratulations.' A round of applause emanated from the crowd.
"Tom, B'Elanna?" she said as she relinquished the platform, "I believe that you wanted to say something?"
"Thanks Captain, Chakotay," said Tom.
"Yes thank you this party was very special," echoed B'Elanna.
"Do you want to...?"
"No Tom, you go ahead and speak."
Someone yelled, "You better take her up on it, Paris, just wait until you get married, you won't get a word in edgewise!" Which caused everyone to laugh.
"Well you know you might be right," he teased as he put his arm around his future bride and drew her closer to him. "But, B'Elanna and I would just like to say how much we appreciate everyone coming to the party. It was certainly an evening we'll never forget. We hope the wedding reception will be this much fun...
Someone else yelled, "I bet the *wedding night* will be!"
"You had better watch it Warren," B'Elanna threatened with a smile on her face, " you're working my shift tomorrow and I know of some Jeffries tubes with your name on them." Everyone laughed.
"Come on Bea, don't be so touchy," Tom teased and looked up to make eye contact with the owner of the voice, "Warren, I'll take that bet, what are the odds?"
Shortly thereafter the two very tired, but very happy lovebirds left the holodeck to adjourn to B'Elanna's cabin. As they walked through the corridors of the ship they paused every so often for a little kiss, love bite, or hug, in an attempt to prolong the evening.
He watched them from a distance, not wanting to be seen. They seemed so happy together, he seemed so content, it wasn't fair. Paris didn't deserve to be happy not after what the scum had done to Rebecca. He was also sure B'Elanna didn't know about her. He'll pay, I'll make sure he pays, McAfee vowed.
Chapter 5 - Rebecca
B'Elanna grumpily got out of bed the next morning and stumbled into the bathroom. Tom had already left for the bridge, an hour before. After making her bed, taking a shower and changing into her uniform she headed for the mess hall for breakfast before finally reporting to work.
"Good morning, Lieutenant!" beamed Neelix as he handed her a cup of coffee.
"Morning," she replied trying to squelch a yawn. How could he be so cheery in the morning? He probably had even less sleep than she did last night. Well on second thought maybe not, Tom didn't really want to sleep when they got to her quarters, she mused a small smile forming on her lips.
"I just wanted to let you know, B'Elanna, that I had a wonderful time at your party!"
"I'm glad you did," she said still trying to completely wake up, "everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves."
"That they did, they're all talking about it this morning. I was only sorry that Kes wasn't here," his voiced lowered in obvious sorrow.
"Tom and I thought that same thing and I'd like to think that in whatever existence she is now in, that she was there with us last night" she said placing her hand on the Talaxian's arm.
He nodded his head in concurrence. "I think you're right." Time to change the subject he decided. "So what can I get you for breakfast?"
"Just coffee and toast please."
"Right away." Within a few minutes he handed her her breakfast
She picked up the tray and turned around to the seating area to find a place to sit down.
"Hey Maquis, join us over here," yelled Harry waving his arm from the other side of the room. B'Elanna waved back in acknowledgment and headed over to join him, tray in hand.
After breakfast, Harry accompanied B'Elanna on her way to engineering.
"You know Maquis, even Seven had a good time last night. I don't think I've ever seen her smile so much!" he said as they entered Engineering.
"She certainly seemed to be having fun," she agreed, "then again so did you."
"You're right. By the way the reason I came down to engineering was...a...well..." Harry stammered as his face reddened.
"I think you'll find her over on the other side of the warp core helping Vorek, Harry."
"Ah...thanks...I guess I'm pretty transparent," Harry blushed.
"No problem, Starfleet, I'm glad you're happy," she said trying to stifle another yawn. "Will you tell Carey that I'll be in my office if he needs anything?"
The Chief Engineer entered her office and sat down in front of her console and began to access her mail. Most were ordinary, routine messages of people requesting repairs, but one stood out from the rest.
All the reference line read was 'Paris.' When she accessed the body of the text, it was almost as short, all it said was 'Ask Paris about Rebecca.' Who's Rebecca? She couldn't remember an Rebecca on Voyager, sure their was an Roxanne and a couple of Rhondas, but no Rebecca. This she confirmed by double checking the ship's roster, she couldn't even find anyone with Rebecca as a middle name, let alone a first name.
When she went back to the message and checked to see who had sent it, she found out that it wasn't signed and had originated from a computer located outside of the mess hall which was virtually accessible to anyone. I guess the only way to find out who Rebecca is will be to ask Tom, she thought.
That evening as they ate their evening meal on a table in the back of the mess hall, B'Elanna told Tom about finding the message. "So Tom, who is Rebecca?"
"I don't know, who is she?"
"I'm serious Tom."
"So am I, I really don't know," he said as he looked up to see that they were being joined by the Delaney sisters.
Megan jumped right in to the conversation, always on the look out for juicy gossip. "So who are you talking about?" she asked bluntly.
"Nothing much, someone told B'Elanna that I know a Rebecca. I told her that I don't. That's all, no big mystery."
"That's not quite true Tommy," replied Jenny as she sat down next to B'Elanna.
Tom shook his head "No Jenny, I'm sure I would remember, you see I have a cousin named Rebecca, so I think I'd remember going out with anyone with the same name.
"But," she argued, "I don't think you knew her as Rebecca, at the time she went by R.C."
Tom nodded his head and paused as reality hit him right between the eyes, "Oh no, not R.C., wasn't she a ..."
"Yep, she was a 'wanna-bee,' interruped Meagan. "In fact, she was the wanna-bee of all wanna-bees, to which Jenny nodded in agreement as she rolled her eyes to the ceiling.
"I give up, what's a 'wanna-bee'?' B'Elanna asked, totally confused.
"Well, actually the full title would be a 'Paris Wanna-bee," explained Jenny.
"I still don't get it."
"'Paris Wanna-bees' pursued Tom in hopes of marriage so their last name would be 'Paris.' " explained Meg, "as in 'I wanna-be a Paris.' And let me tell you, R.C. wasn't the only one, she was only the most persistent."
"What about you and..." began B'Elanna before she stopped herself."
"You mean, were Meagan and I 'wanna-bees'? No. There was a difference between wanting to date the blue-eyed wonder because his last name was Paris and wanting to date him because his first name was Tom. Do you understand?"
B'Elanna nodded her head. "I think I do, you mean some girls wanted to date him hoping to marry him for all that came with being a Paris and the son of an Admiral, fame, money,..."
"..but others, like us, wanted to date Tom because he was Tom, we didn't care who his father was," Meagan finished.
"So, who is this Rebecca or R.C.?" the half-Klingon asked Meagan returning to the original query.
"Well, if I remember right, she was a spoiled stepdaughter of some Captain in Starfleet. I can't seem to recall which Captain, but anyway, she set her sights on Tom, and she was bound and determined to have him. She would follow him all around and even attempt to sabotage his dates. At the time, he and I were dating, it was just after he broke up with Linda**."
"Yeah, I don't think I could ever forget that," said Tom as he took a sip of his beverage, "why don't you tell the story Meg."
"Okay, well it started one night when Tom took me out to Murphy's, I think it was for dining and dancing." Tom nodded his head in agreement. "The evening started out great and we were having a good time, but every time I looked up there was R.C., and it wasn't just that night, almost every time we were together during the next few months you could count on R.C. not being far behind."
Tom added. "And she was always calling me, leaving me notes and messages that would make a sailor blush. I kept on hoping that she would tire of it, but if anything she just got more relentless. Finally, I had enough and one day while Meg and I were in the Academy cafeteria, I bluntly told R.C. in front of several people not to bother me any more, to stay away or I would be forced to call campus security. Apparently she was embarrassed by the number of people in the cafeteria that heard the exchange."
"Tom, aren't you forgetting something--you know the threat?" asked Meagan.
"That's right, as she walked away from us, she said something about me regretting it."
"I believe what she said was 'Tom Paris, you'll be sorry, I'll make your life a living hell, just you wait.' "
"You still remember that?"
"She scared the living daylights out of me, Tom, that girl was really off balance," she said making swirling motions with her finger beside her head just as Ken McAfee walked past them looking for a place to sit down to eat his meal, and he heard Tom agree with her.
"You're right, Rebecca was demented, she really needed some psychiatric help."
How dare you speak of Rebecca that way, especially after you knocked her up! Keep you cool, this isn't the time or place. You have to plan your strike at just the right time. He then found a table on the other side of the room, out of earshot of the Paris table, but he couldn't stop thinking about what he had overheard as he stabbed viciously at his leola root pie. His little kid sister, was back on earth according to the letter he received from the Hirogen communication array, raising Paris' brat. What had the letter said? 'He still owes me Ken, here I am raising his kid all alone even Mom and Dad kicked me out. It could have been so different, but he walked out on me just when I needed him.' He had been patient, but no more, this time, he determined, Paris was going to get what was coming to him.
"So she was 'stalking you,' isn't that the correct term?" asked B'Elanna as the conversation continued at her table.
"Yep, that's it alright, and that's exactly what you feel like, like you're the prey just waiting to be pounced on," said Tom.
"So what happened to R.C. after that? she asked.
"I really don't know, it wasn't long after that that I had to pack up and go to Arctic Camp after the Mofek incident**, and when I returned to the Academy for the next semester she was long gone.
"Do you know what happened to R.C.?" B'Elanna asked the Delaneys.
Jenny was the one to supply the answer. "I heard from a friend that she hooked up with Joshua Richards for a while. Not someone her family would approve of--not good enough for their little girl."
"You're kidding, she went from me to Josh?" asked Tom incredulously.
"What's the matter helmboy, Josh wasn't in your league?" prodded B'Elanna.
"No, it's not that, it was just that Josh was a bit rough around the edges," he explained.
"A bit rough is an understatement!" countered Meagan, "he was downright crude. Everyone thought that R.C. finally found someone of her caliber when she hooked up with him. I even heard that she had his baby."
"Yeah," replied her sister, "you can bet Mom and Pop really appreciated that."
Chapter 6 - Away Mission
Damn him, McAfee thought as he prepared to leave on an away mission the next morning. How dare he bad mouth Rebecca in front of the others. If they only knew what Paris had done, if they only knew that Rebecca was alone back on Earth with only a nine- year-old boy for company. He grumbled to himself all the way to the shuttlebay to join the rest of the away team.
The two teams assembled in the shuttlebay dressed in their tan two-piece work suits. They were scheduled to go down to a nearby planet to obtain raw material for the magna-replicators for creating spare parts for shuttlecraft, ship repairs, etc. Chakotay was to pilot the Chamberlain and Paris the Portsmouth***, with several cargo handlers along to perform the manual labor. One of these men was McAfee, chosen because of this strength. Chakotay purposely assigned him to his team, he didn't need any confrontations arising between him and Paris.
"Now everyone remember the purpose of this mission is to get what we need and get out of there as soon as possible, we have picked up signs of life, but if we are careful, we shouldn't have any problems. Any questions? No? Alright then, let's be on our way," instructed the Commander.
They departed Voyager soon after, and it wasn't long before they were preparing to land in a location that had been determined to contain a significant quantity of ore and other valuable material.
Chakotay addressed the assembled away team. "Okay, let's spread out, teams of two, we should meet back here in say three hours. And remember stay together, there are signs of alien life in the area. If you run into any, try to get away from them, and request immediate beam out."
The chosen pairs went off together with anti-grav equipment in hand. Each team was eager to be the one to come back with the most material, as the lucky duo was to be awarded with precious extra replicator rations.
McAfee had been teamed up with Mitchell and they were assigned an area to the northeast of the landing site. They walked for quite awhile occasionally phasering out some promising pieces of ore. Mitchell tried several times to strike up a conversation, but Ken wasn't responding, his mind was obviously on other things. Finally, Mitchell stopped trying and just concentrated on the job at hand.
After they had walked about an hour Ken figured that it was time to implement his plan. Now, I'll have got to do is get away from Mitchell, McAfee reasoned, and find Paris, and give him what he has deserves, finally.
After a half an hour, McAfee found his opportunity. "Ah Mitchell, I'll catch up with you in a minute," he said pointing to some nearby bushes.
"Sure go ahead, Ken, I'll just be over here checking out this rock slide."
That was easy, now Paris should be over to the north with Bennett. he thought as he sprinted toward Paris' location.
Paris and Max Bennett were trying their best to win the precious rations, but were having limited luck, apparently having been assigned to a barren location. "Well Max, looks like we'll be sampling Neelix's fine cuisine tonight, this place is nothing but a dust bowl," he commented as he looked around seeing nothing but some trees, bushes, and dirt.
"Maybe if we split up Tom, we could find something?" suggested Bennett.
"You know what the Commander said, he said to stay together," argued the pilot.
"I know, but tell you what, you stay here and check out that small cave over there in the side of the hill, and I'll just be up ahead over there," he said pointing to another hill about a half a kilometer away. "I'll still be in sight, if you need anything just holler. Okay?" Without affirmation Max quickly sprinted for the other hill.
"Max! Come back here!" Paris called after the young ensign, who after five years on Voyager, was still green, but it was too late. Well, I'll just take a quick look in the cave and then catch up with him.
McAfee's head shot up at the sound of Paris' voice and zeroed in on his location. This should be easier than he thought, the pilot was apparently all alone. That was the last thing he remembered before he was clubbed beside the head and he passed out.
A little while later having determined that the cave, like the rest of the area around him, was bereft of any ore, Tom started looking for his missing partner. "Damn it Max, where did you go?" grumbled Tom as he attempted to find the young ensign. Hearing a noise behind him he started to turn around, "Well Max it's about time..." Ooops, that ain't Max. Tom was confronted with four of the ugliest, largest aliens he had ever seen and they were each carrying some type of weapon that looked like some kind of primitive phaser rifle. They somewhat resembled the Hirogen. Maybe an offshoot of that race, Tom concluded. But while the Hirogen were tall at about 7 feet, these creatures must have been about seven and a half feet tall and broader across the shoulders, with a green tone to their skin.
Well how about an attempt at being friendly? he thought. "Hello, My name is Tom Paris, what's yours? Boy, did that sound lame, I've got to come up with better first-contact dialogue. He reached to activate his commbadge to request beam out, but before his hand could make contact, one of the aliens swung his weapon and it made contact with the side of the pilot's head causing him to black out.
At the agreed-upon time, all the teams started to drift towards the landing site. As they neared the shuttles, many could be heard arguing about who had acquired the most material.
"I'm telling you Matthews, we've got you beat hands down, just wait until it is weighed, you'll see I'm going to be eating well tonight," Wilson said as he rubbed in stomach in anticipation of a fine meal.
"In your dreams Wilson, in your dreams," Matthews countered.
After another fifteen minutes, all the away sub-teams except for two had returned. "Chakotay to Paris and McAfee," the Native American winced internally as he spoke both of their names together imaging what it might mean to have both of these particular teams missing.
"Bennett here Commander."
"Go ahead, Bennett."
"Paris and I got separated about a half an hour ago and I can't locate him sir."
"Mitchell here Commander."
"Um, Lt. McAfee is missing, he went off to ah... ah.."
"To do what? Mitchell, report!" shouted Chakotay clearly agitated.
"He went off to relieve himself a little over a thirty minutes ago and never returned, I've been searching for him ever since."
"Mitchell and Bennett report back to the shuttles." Could you ever have an away mission that went flawlessly? he pondered running his fingers through his dark hair in frustration before he punched his commbadge again. "Away Team to the Captain."
"Go ahead Commander," Janeway replied, "what's your status?"
"Captain, we have two members of the team missing, Paris and McAfee. Please initiate a scan of the area for them."
"Acknowledged. Mr. Kim?"
"I'm on it ma'am," Harry answered promptly his fingers flying over the control panel, after a few minutes he had his answer. "I've got them, they're about five kilometers away and moving to the north at a present speed of 30 kilometers per hour of the shuttles' present location."
"Can we beam them up?"
"Not now, during the last hour there has been an upsurge in ionic interference making transporting impossible, in fact it is becoming so severe it's not even advisable to even launch the shuttlecraft."
"Did you hear that Commander?" she asked.
"Yes, looks like we make the trip by foot. I'll leave two crewmen behind to guard the shuttles and to store the material we gathered and the rest of us will go looking for Paris and McAfee."
"Affirmative. Check in every thirty minutes. Janeway out."
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It was dusk when he finally awoke, face down on the ground, a trail blood dripping down his face from where he had been struck.
"It's about time you woke up from your beauty sleep," snarled McAfee.
"What?" said Paris still disorientated.
"Wake up Paris! Come on wake up before they get back."
Tom rolled over and sat up cradling his sore head in his hands, he finally looked around and noticed that they had placed him and McAfee in some type of enclosure. It was round, about fifteen feet across, with solid walls about a third of the way up with an open mesh enclosure above that.
"Where's everyone else Ken?"
"Probably back on Voyager, it's just you and me," he grumbled.
Great I've been stuck in this primitive prison with this goon. If the Hirogen look-a-likes don't rip my head off, he probably will. the pilot thought.
Tom gingerly rolled over on his back and reached up to activate the commbadge and noticed that it had been cracked. "Don't bother, Paris, I've already tried yours and mine, and they are in just about the same condition."
"The universal translators?"
"Barely functioning, it can only make out a few words here and there."
"Great, looks like we're stuck here until the crew finds us. Have you seen our alien friends?" Tom asked.
"Just when they threw us in here, other than that no, they probably think we're still sleeping, but if you listen you can hear them."
Tom cocked his throbbing head toward the noise. "Yeah you're right, sounds almost like they're, I don't know, partying?"
"I wouldn't know, that's your forte," he snarled, "you're the *party boy* aren't you."
"Come on Ken, cut the bullshit, if we are going to get out of here, we have to rely on each other." The alien sounds all of a sudden became louder and clearer. "Listen, it sounds as if they may be coming closer."
"You're right they are, I don't think I'm going to like this," McAfee admitted.
Half a dozen aliens approached the enclosure and opened the door, the translators only picked out a few words in amongst the aliens' laughter. "Move now...play...time...game!" Then Tom and Ken were forcibly dragged out to meet their fate. Three of the aliens grabbed Paris and the other three grabbed McAfee.
The two men were brought outside and thrown down into a wide depression in the ground and two of the aliens climbed down to have their turn at their 'game.' As the biggest alien approached Paris, the pilot assumed a guarded stance prepared for any move the alien made. But none of his usual defensive moves, even the unorthodox techniques he learned in prison, seemed to be effective against the alien. Each time he made contact with the alien, it felt as if he was impacting a titanium bulkhead. It wasn't long before he was on the ground, having sustained several punches and kicks to his abdomen, chest, and face.
As he lay there trying to catch his breath, he could hear the other two aliens assigned to him talking. "Turn....next...play." As he waited for the second one to take his turn playing the 'game,' he noticed McAfee was fairing almost as bad has he had. A couple of hours later both men were thrown back in their 'prison,' bloody, bruised, and unconscious.
This time Paris was the first to wake. He gingerly turned over holding his cracked ribs in one arm. He looked over and noticed that his cell mate had still not woken up. Noticing that McAfee was bleeding from a wound on his forehead, the pilot/nurse tore off half of his tattered pant leg and pressed it against the wound to try to stop the bleeding. The pressure against his forehead caused McAfee to stir.
"Ken be still, I'm trying to help you," Tom ordered.
"What are you doing?" mumbled McAfee. "Get your hands away from me! I'm warning you!
"Be quiet, I'm just trying to stop the bleeding."
"Why? For them to beat us up again?" he said as he roughly shoved the pilot away.
"Arggh!" Paris grimaced as he clutched his sore ribs. "If this is how you treat someone who is trying to help you, how to you treat..."
"My enemies? Just wait, I'm sure you'll find out," McAfee threatened.
Paris gently rolled over and sat down with his back to the wall of the enclosure for support. "We've got enough to worry about with those neanderthals, Ken, without us getting into a fight."
"Then what do we do now, *Lieutenant*?" he spat out the rank with venom in his voice.
Tom tried to ignore it, attempting to write it off to nerves. "All we can do is wait. I have been over the interior of this...ah...'prison' and I can't come up with a way to get out, not unless you're carrying a shovel or a laser cutter I don't know about," said Paris sarcastically.
"So are we just going to stare at each other until they come back to play their little games again?" he said motioning with his head towards the group of aliens.
"Well I suppose we could talk?" Some option, there was nothing like talking with someone who would just as soon shoot you. Well maybe it was a good time to clear something up. "You know Ken, there has been something troubling me ever since I found out it was you who gave that note to B'Elanna."
"How'd you find out?"
"So you're not denying it?"
"Let's just say I spent a long night pawing over a lot of records on the ship's computer and leave it at that. What I want to know is what do you think I did to or with R.C.?"
"Yeah, Rebecca, that's what she called herself at the Academy. So tell me Ken, what did I do?"
"You don't remember?" The question was met with silence. "Seems to me that getting someone pregnant and not standing by her would be something you wouldn't forget," he spat. The pilot stared at him in utter shock.
It took him a while to regain the use of his voice. "She told you I got her pregnant?" he asked in disbelief.
Ken nodded his head. "By the way, *Daddy*," he spat, "you have a boy, a boy who's never seen his father and Rebecca is living all alone trying to raise him on her own."
Over the years, he had developed a fairly thick skin, but he wasn't going to let that comment pass. "That boy may have never seen his father, Ken, but that's someone else's fault, I'm *not* his father."
"How dare you call Rebecca a liar!" the big man yelled as he got up, his anger blocking out any physical discomfort. He grabbed the pilot by the shoulders and painfully pulled him up and pinned him against the wall.
The sudden movement just about knocked the wind out of the smaller man. "Easy Ken," he gasped, "come on, relax!"
"Why should I? Just tell me why I shouldn't pound you into the ground now that I have the chance. If I happen to get rescued, I can always tell the Commander that it was the aliens who killed you, I'd have the perfect alibi," he threatened.
Paris was now desperately racking his brain trying to come up with a way to get the other man to calm down. "I'll tell you what, Ken, I'll tell you all I know. By the time I'm done, if you still want to beat my head in, I don't think I could stop you."
"I already know all I need to Paris, Rebecca told me, and what she didn't tell me before we left earth she told me in the letter I got through that Hirogen array," he insisted as he gave the pilot's shoulders another painful shove against the wall.
Well that explained the change in his attitude since then Paris rationalized. "For gods' sake," he gasped, "put me down, Ken, please, or our friends will only have you to play with next time." But McAfee still held on, his eyes blazing with fury and pent up rage. "Ken, you're one of the strongest men I know, but I don't think even you could fend off all those aliens by yourself."
McAfee realized the truth to his statement and released him. Tom fell painfully to his knees letting out a cry of agony. He leaned his back against the wall again, while holding his sore chest with both arms. He took him a few minutes, as he fought to catch his breath, before he continued his explanation.
"Ken, Rebecca told you a lot of things I'm sure," he interrupted looking at the other man through tired, half-closed eyes that expressed the pain he was feeling. "I don't suppose she told you she stalked me for almost three months while I was dating another girl at the Academy."
"No, but I don't see what difference that makes."
"Did she tell you that I had to threaten to call campus security before she stopped." He painfully took another breath. "Ask Meagan or Jenny Delaney, they'll tell you, it was Meagan I was dating at the time. Meagan told me that Rebecca started seeing Joshua Richards not too long after she stopped pursuing me. I would suggest to you that it's more likely that he's the father of the boy."
"She never mentioned a Joshua Richards, but why would she lie to me? I'm her brother," he said trying to defend his sister.
"Maybe it's something do to with the last thing she said to me. She threatened me, Ken, she said that she'd make my life a living hell. Well it looks like she succeeded," he said looking around at the enclosure and finally focusing on him. "Ken, I'm telling you the truth, I never even touched her. Hell, I never even shook her hand. I'm not the kind of person, no matter what you might of heard, to get a girl pregnant and not stand by her, I wouldn't do that. I'll admit, I'm no angel, but I've always made sure to protect myself so I couldn't become a father until I was ready."
"Why should I believe you?" he said becoming a little unsure.
"I don't know, I honestly don't know, other than for me to tell you I am telling the truth. By the way, when was this baby born?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Just answer me, Ken, please?"
"It was May 20th, old earth time, and he's nine years old now."
Tom thought for a while as he calculated the approximate date of conception. "Then, Ken, if you count back she would have had to conceive the baby the following year during the summer, depending on whether she carried the baby to full term or not," concluded the pilot.
"Yeah, so what."
"Well at that time of year Ken, I was freezing my butt off up in the Arctic, that's so what. If you don't believe me, when we get back to Voyager it's in the files. You can look it up for yourself."
The other man just looked at him in shock, finally realizing that it was his sister, his step-sister, that had been the dishonest one.
The gate to the enclosure then crashed open and the six aliens were standing there like before. The aliens were speaking and gesturing but this time they were making no sense at all, apparently the universal translators had finally stopped working.
As before, they were split up amongst the six, and as before they each alien took turns playing their 'game' by slugging and pounding them into unconsciousness.
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Chakotay and company were still trudging through the forest as the morning approached, getting closer all the time to the last known location of Paris and McAfee.
Another half an hour had passed, and it was time again to contact the captain. "Chakotay to Voyager."
"Go ahead Commander," answered Janeway.
"We are approaching the alien encampment. With any luck we should have Tom and Ken back soon, I assume they're..," he hated to ask, "still alive."
"According to Mr. Kim, he is still receiving two human life signs, but of course he can't determine from that as to what condition they are in."
"Any more news regarding the weather, Captain."
"Yes, it appears that the ionic interference is still quite active, negating any chance of beam out at this time. But, things have apparently stabilized enough to launch the shuttlecraft. In fact, I have ordered the two crewmen who have been guarding the craft to rendezvous with you at your location in a half an hour."
"Very good, I'll get back to you shortly," Chakotay out.
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The day was brightening, although clouded over, and looked like it was going to rain by the time McAfee awoke. He grimaced at the pain in his head until he rolled over and determined that the aches in his body were just as bad, if not worse. He looked around the enclosure for Paris and found him about three meters away lying on his stomach with his face turned away from him and he could hear him mumbling, apparently still asleep.
"Stop, don't, please stop ...not that, no...not again...ohhh.... stop..."
McAfee slowly made his way over to the pilot. "Paris, wake up, come on wake up, you're having a nightmare." He reached the sleeping man and gently shook his shoulder. "Wake up."
"Wha...what...oh....Ken?" the pilot asked as he turned his face towards the other man. McAfee could hardly recognize him, his right eye was swollen shut and the rest of his face was a mass of bruises, and scrapes many of which were still seeping blood.
"Tom, you were having a nightmare, though I can't imagine why in this lovely setting," he said as the wind began with stir up the dust on the enclosure's floor.
"Why don't you roll over so we can see the damage."
"Okay," Tom placed his hands underneath him and attempted to roll over, but only ended up dropping back down on the earth.
"Come on Paris, you can do better than that."
"I can't. Oh gods! Aargh!" A jolt of pain erupted from the middle of his back sending spasms all the way down to his toes and back again.
"Sure you can."
"I can't, you don't understand, I can't move my legs!"
Paralyzed? "How'd that happen?"
"I really don't remember, 'playtime' was just a blur, except for...wait a minute, now I remember. Ahhhh!" and another jolt of pain erupted causing Paris to gasp for air before he could continue. "I...I think it was the second alien, he threw me and I landed on something hard, maybe a rock. Ken, do me a favor and lift up the back of my shirt and tell me what you see."
McAfee gently lifted up what was left of the shirt and saw the problem. "Well, Paris, you have a large bruise, it's all black and blue and swollen, on your lower back. It doesn't look very good."
"And it" Damn, another wave of pain hit. Ken could see the muscles sharply contract as the pilot cried out, beads of sweat erupting on his forehead. "it doesn't feel good, not at all. I must have a spinal tumefaction, in other words my spinal chord is bruised and swollen. I can't move my legs, but I sure as hell can feel the pain. I suppose it's a good sign."
"How do you know all about that?" McAfee asked. How would a pilot know about, what did he call it, a spinal tuma-whatever?
"It's nothing, I've been doing some reading in my spare time, you know when I wasn't going around knocking up half the female population on Voyager." That comment was probably uncalled for, but in his present state he really didn't care.
McAfee chose to ignore the comment. "Hang in ther, Voyager will come for us soon."
"They had better, because I don't know about you, but I don't think I could survive another game with those guys." He paused in reflection before continuing again. "Ken?"
"What is it?"
"I know I'm not your favorite person, but can you do me a favor?"
"I guess so."
"If I don't make it out of here and you do...Aargh!" Oh shit, not again, he thought as the muscle's painfully contracted again.
"Take it easy," Ken admonished.
"No, listen, if I don't get out of here, tell B'Elanna that I love... oh, no! Damn!" His plea was cut short by another wave of agony worse than the last, which resulted in the pilot lapsing into a welcomed unconsciousness just as large raindrops began to fall heavily on them.
"I'll tell her," he promised, even though he knew that the Lieutenant couldn't hear him. He then slowly sat back resting his back against the wall keeping one eye on the pilot as the raindrops began to fall harder with each passing minute. Why he cared what happened to Paris he couldn't figure out. Maybe it was guilt for having hated him and accusing him of something that he had never done. With that thought in mind, he struggled over to the pilot and gently rolled him over, out of the growing mud puddle he had been laying in.
As he sat there in the mud contemplating the situation, he heard raised voices again from outside accompanied by what sounded like phaser fire. "Oh no, he thought not again, it's too soon." But, wait something was different--he could understand some of the words, he could recognize some of the voices. It was the away team, they had come to rescue them! "Tom, wake up, help is here! Come on Paris, we're going home!" The pilot groaned and opened is eyes slightly, looking up at McAfee and barely nodded his head in understanding before once again closing his eyes in search of oblivion.
The noise and commotion died down almost as suddenly as it began, and the door of the enclosure once again slammed open causing Ken to flinch, but this time familiar faces passed through the entryway.
"Ken, it's good to see you. How are you doing?" asked Mitchell with Chakotay just behind him.
"I hurt but I'll be okay, but Paris is worse, especially his back, he is in a lot of pain."
"We'll take care of you both, the shuttles should be landing shortly," said Chakotay as he heard the sounds of the Portsmouth and the Chamberlain as they approached. "Here they are now. Mitchell and Cunningham, bring back a couple of stretchers from the shuttles, I don't want to waste any time getting back to Voyager."
"Yes, sir!" they both responded and went to meet the two shuttlecraft.
"Chakotay to Voyager, please come in."
"This is the Captain, report."
"Captain, we have both McAfee and Paris, both have been injured, but Paris has apparently suffered some serious injury to his back. We'll signal for transport directly to Sickbay as soon as we are clear of the ionic interference. Please inform the Doctor to expect two patients."
"Very good. I look forward to your report when you return. Janeway out."
The men carefully placed the two stretchers in the Portsmouth,and shortly lifted off from the plant en route to the ship. Not long after they emerged from the ionic interference, and Chakotay was able to contact Voyager for transport.
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B'Elanna hurried to Sickbay to be there when Tom arrived. She had just entered the Sickbay when the glimmering of the transport beam faded and the two patients materialized. The Doctor went over to McAfee to place him on one of the biobeds. "Doctor, let me help you," offered the engineer.
He looked at her gratefully. "Thank you Lieutenant, let's get Ensign McAfee settled and then we'll move Lt. Paris."
"No," argued McAfee, "take care of Paris first, I'm okay for the time being and he needs your help more than I do. He said something down on the planet about some injury to his spine, something about swelling. All I do know is that when he was awake he couldn't move his legs but that he was in a lot of pain."
B'Elanna looked at the Doctor in shock.
"Come on, Lieutenant, help me get him on the bed. So I can determine the extent of his injuries. Then, I would appreciate it if you would contact Samantha Wildman, she sometimes helps out in Sickbay when Tom isn't available."
The half-Klingon helped the Doctor place Paris on the bed, both noticed that spasms were still coursing their way through his body. After he was settled and the medical arch was activated, B'Elanna contacted Sam Wildman. It wasn't long after before she came through the Sickbay doors.
"Hello, B'Elanna, what's going on?" Sam asked as she entered Sickbay and looked about "Oh, my God, its Tom!"
"And Ensign McAfee," finished B'Elanna.
The Doctor looked up from his patient and greeted the ensign. "Thank you for coming, Ensign Wildman, if you could see to Mr. McAfee I would appreciate it. Mr. Paris' injuries are going to keep me busy for a while."
The doors of the Sickbay slide open one more time, this time emitted the Captain. "So how are they Doctor?"
"Ensign McAfee will be fine, his injuries are mostly superficial, except for a bruised spleen and some cracked ribs. But Mr. Paris, in addition to similar injuries, also sustained a spinal injury. As far as I can tell, it is fully correctable but some surgery will be required," he explained.
Janeway noticing the look of concern on B'Elanna's face went over and placed her arm around her Chief Engineer. "B'Elanna, why don't you come up to the ready room and have some coffee with me and we will wait together until the Doctor is finished."
The Doctor spoke up. "I'll let you know when I am done. Now don't worry, he looks worse than he is."
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"B'Elanna," the pilot murmured as he awoke a day and a half later.
"I'm here Tom, you're going to be alright," she said as she brushed a stray lock of hair away from his forehead.
"For a minute down there I was worried, Bea. I thought I would never see you again," he said drowsily still under the influence of the sedative the EMH had administered earlier.
"You're safe now, the Doctor took care of all your injuries, even your spinal injury is almost healed."
"How's McAfee?" he asked.
"He's fine, he's even back to work," she responded. "He stops by every once in a while to see how you're doing."
"Really?" Things have certainly changed.
"You sound surprised?"
"I am I guess, did you know it was Ken who sent you that note?"
"Ken? What did he have to do with R.C.?" she asked, puzzled.
Tom related the story and the conversation he had had with McAfee down on the planet. When he was finished, all B'Elanna could do was shake her head in amazement.
"So it looks as if at least you two have called a truce," she commented.
"At the very least. But you know I almost don't blame him. Rebecca was playing him for a fool. She knew that because he loved her, she could manipulate him."
"I can almost feel sorry for him, Tom."
"By the way, how long do I have to stay here?" he asked.
"Tired of my company already Mr. Paris?" asked the Doctor as he approached his patient.
"Who me? I live just to see your smiling face Doc."
B'Elanna smiled. "Seems to me if he's complaining, he's feeling better already."
"That may well be, but I want to be sure that the spinal injury is healing properly, so I think he'll be here at least another twenty-four hours," the doctor replied, "but tonight, Ms. Torres, I think you had better sleep in your own bed."
"You've been here with me all this time?" asked the pilot in concern etched on his face.
The Doctor answered for her. "If she wasn't working, she was down here with you. I couldn't get her to leave."
"B'Elanna you shouldn't have, you should have looked after yourself, I would have been alright," he admonished.
"Well someone has to look after you, you don't do a very good job of looking after yourself."
"Have I told you lately that I love you?"
"Actually, no, for the past couple of days you haven't said anything at all," she teased as she leaned over to press her lips against his.
The Doctor in the background ran his tricorder over the two, and going back to his office muttered something about increased hormonal levels.
They finally pulled apart a short time later. "So Bea, how long have I been back?"
"Oh you got back about two days ago, the doctor operated on you and gave you a sedative so your muscles could relax while you were healing," she explained.
"So what day is it?"
"Why it's Thursday."
"Well I have this standing..."
"Don't worry about it Tom, I've got you covered."
"You're going to?"
"Yep, and if you're a good patient, we may stop by and pay you a visit. Okay?"
*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***
"Hi Sam, I hope I'm not too late," B'Elanna said when Samantha Wildman welcomed her into her cabin that evening.
"No, not at all. Naomi's been looking forward all day to your time together tonight," Sam said as she led B'Elanna further inside.
"Naomi," Sam called, "Auntie B'Elanna is here to babysit you tonight."
Auntie B'Elanna, that sounded pretty good.
"Oh boy!" The little girl squealed as she ran out from the sleeping area and hurried over to greet the half-Klingon. She had always been intrigued by the half-Klingon having something in common, unique foreheads.
B'Elanna, following Tom's example in Sickbay, knelt down to be at the girl's level and welcomed her into her arms for a hug. "So Naomi what are we going to do while Mom's at work tonight? Would you like to go visit Uncle Tommy in Sickbay?"
"I don't see why not, as long as we don't stay too long, he still needs his rest.
"Now be good for Auntie," Samantha admonished as she bent down you give her daughter a kiss.
"I will Mama. Love you."
Not long after, B'Elanna and the little girl, prepared to leave the cabin hand in hand to go to Sickbay when Naomi pulled on B'Elanna's hand and headed back to the sleeping area. "What's the matter Naomi?"
"Forgot somethin'," she said as she released B'Elanna's hand, jumped up on the bed and grabbed her teddy bear and a picture book.
They entered Sickbay not long after only to find that the Doctor was examining Tom one last time before the pilot settled down for the night. "Hello Doctor, how's your patient doing?" asked B'Elanna.
"Good evening Lieutenant. He's getting better all the time, I should be able to release him tomorrow morning," he then noticed that B'Elanna was not alone. "Oh and hello Miss Wildman have you come to visit?"
It was Naomi who responded. "Yes, Auntie B'Elanna said we could come and visit with Uncle Tommy, is that alright?"
"Of course, just don't stay too long 'Uncle Tommy' tends to get cranky if he doesn't get enough sleep." A remark which caused Paris to give the Doctor a look that said 'watch it.' "Why don't you two have a seat, there are chairs over there by his bed, and visit while I do some work in my office?"
"That sounds good, thanks Doc."
Tom was clearly glad to see the little girl. "So sweetie, come over here and give Uncle Tommy a hug, I've missed you." Naomi put the teddy bear down on the chair and went over and B'Elanna helped her by lifting her up so she could reach him and the little girl gave him a big hug.
"Uncle Tommy, are you feeling better?"
"Now that you're here I am. You two must be good for me," he said as he winked at his fianc . "So I understand that *Auntie* B'Elanna is babysitting you tonight?"
"So what do you two have planned?"
B'Elanna responded to the question. "Well after our visit with you, I thought that we would go to the holodeck, I have it reserved for an hour this evening. Naomi wants to show me the park that you programmed for her. Then after that, I guess we will go back to her cabin and get her ready for bed."
"Sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun tonight sweetie. You behave for Auntie B'Elanna, okay?"
"Kay. Uh, Uncle Tommy, I brought you something."
"You did, that's nice, where is it?"
Naomi jumped down off the bed and went back to her chair to retrieve the teddy bear and book and went back and crawled up on Tom's bed.
"I brought you Fred," she said solemnly as she thrust her worn teddy bear into Tom's hands. "Fred will make you better."
"Naomi, you didn't need to do that," he said as he took the bear.
"How about we consider it a loan, I'll bring Fred back to you as soon as the Doctor lets me out of Sickbay. Okay?"
"Kay. I also brought you a book, would you like a story?"
"Sure would, here sit beside me so I can see the pictures." Tom scooted over and made room for the little girl.
*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***
Ken McAfee entered the mess hall, still going over the conversation he had had the night before with the Delaneys. They had confirmed all that Tom had said down on the planet. He figured that it was time to make amends with the pilot. After Ken filled his tray with this breakfast, he went in search of a place to sit down. Mack Evans and Ed Huggins motioned from across the room for him to join them.
"So Ken "How's it going?" asked Mack, "We haven't had a chance to talk to you since you returned from that planet."
"Yeah," Ed joined in "I understand that Paris finally got what was coming to him."
Had he changed so much in just a few short days he pondered. He used to consider these guys his friends. Now when he looked at them, he could only see his former bitter self. "Paris didn't deserve what happened to him," he replied, his response shocked the other two. "No one deserved what happened to us down there, in particular him."
"But what about Rebecca?" Mack persisted, "What about her letter?"
"Let's just say that I got my facts screwed up, Paris didn't do anything, in fact as much as I hate to say it, it was all Rebecca's fault. She was playing me for a fool, even in the Delta Quadrant." If...when we get back I'm going to see that she gets some assistance to help straighten her life out. "I'm not sure if she warrants it, but her son does. He's innocent, he's the real victim."
"So you're saying that you don't hate Paris anymore," asked Ed incredulously, still not believing what he had been told.
"That's exactly what I'm saying, and if you two ever do anything to him, you'll have to answer to me. Understand," threatened McAfee.
"Yeah, we understand," responded the two in unison both still confused.
*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***
Later that morning as Tom prepared to leave Sickbay, Ken McAfee came by the check up on the pilot.
"Ah Lieutenant, I came by to see how you were doing."
Tom looked up, surprised to see Ken. "Oh hi, Ken, thanks for coming by, I understand that I wasn't too much company when you were here before."
"No problem. I just wanted to stop by now and tell you how much I regret what happened. I feel bad for accusing you of, you know..."
"Don't even say it, far as I'm concerned it's over and done with, I'm just sorry that Rebecca is having such a hard time, I know that it bothers you."
"It does, I love her in spite of what she did. That doesn't make sense, does it?"
"Of course it does, even though I never got along with my father or agreed with all he did, I somehow still love him. I still don't understand why. I guess in some ways you and I have a lot in common."
"In the past, I never would have thought so," Ken admitted.
"Tell you what, why don't you stop by Sandrine's tomorrow night and we can play a game or two of pool together."
"I'd like that, thanks."
"I'll look forward to it," Paris said sincerely.
The door to the Sickbay slide open and B'Elanna came through. "Ready to get out of here Tom?"
McAfee approached the engineer. "Lt. Torres?"
"Yes Ensign," replied the engineer warily.
"I'd just like to say I'm sorry I left that message on your terminal. I'm sorry if I upset you," Ken said, his gaze focused on his feet.
She almost had to laugh at this big man standing before her who looked like a schoolboy who had lost his homework. "It's okay Ken, it's been forgotten. I'm just glad you and Tom have straightened things out," she said.
"Me too. I think I may have found a friend," replied Ken looking at the pilot.
"Sounds good to me Ken, I can always use another friend, but do you think we could avoid the bar brawls?" Tom replied with a smile on his face.
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Thanks again to my daughter and hubbie for letting me indulge in this passion. I'm still mad my Labrador Retriever, last time it was my gloves he chewed up, and this time its a pair of socks!:)
** To find out about Linda and the "Mofek Incident" read "Deception" by yours truly.
*** The Chamberlain is named in honor of Col. Joshua Chamberlain who commanded the 20th Maine at the Battle of Gettysburg as well as being the former governor of the State of Maine, and the Portsmouth is named after the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.