Kathryn watched as he shrunk, and shrunk, and shrunk, and.

Blonde hair disappearing, deft hands clenching, grin getting smaller.

Blue eyes a thin veil over the scared depths.

Oh sure, Tom knew what was going on. He knew the culture and tradition of this place before they landed. She made sure Tom Paris knew every little detail, she even considered an exam, before she let him within light years of the planet. But that hadn't been enough. What WOULD have been enough?

It was like Chakotay always said: if trouble and Tom Paris were within range of each other, they would form an alliance. There was nothing anybody could possibly do.

She felt an urge to laugh. Was this funny? From a Captain's point of view- no. From Tom's- definitely not, although he had tried to make a joke about it, but what was new? From her point of view? Hmm.

Tom Paris. Convicted of a juvenile crime (surprise, surprise). 'For an adult committing a juvenile offence there's only one punishment!' The Prime had cried.

Paris was to be reverted back to the status of a newborn, completely oblivious to the world around him. He would grow at the rate of a year a week, regaining his own memories for the next year at the end of every week. Of course each week would feel like a year to Tom. This would carry on happening every week until Tom reached his original age.

A wicked grin. Kathryn thought it was funny, to hell with Janeway. Maybe she should adopt the policy. Of course Janeway would object. But, then, Janeway objected to nearly everything Kathryn wanted to do. Stupid split personality. Hey, wasn't that some sort of disorder? She shrugged. There was one thing she and Janeway both agreed on: no time for sickbay.

She was handed Tom. A small blue eyed bundle. He was now a tiny child wrapped up in a purple blanket. She held him fondly, looking down at Tom being quiet and watching her intently. Seriously, was this Paris being good?! They had switched the baby. Neat trick.

But those unmistakable eyes, with mischief in their depths. Oh Gods, a juvenile Tom Paris running around her ship? There weren't protocols against throwing a child in the brig, right? If there were she'd damn well erase them from her book.

She let her finger stroke Tom's cheek gently, her love of children taking over. Tom's eyes lit up, a smile crossed his face and he gurgled happily. That sunny smile was definitely Tom's but his memory had clearly been wiped; Tom was no longer moping in his unfamiliar black mood. Tom swatted at her hands playfully and his smile grew even more- a perfect replicate of the older Tom's sunny grin- and Janeway was caught up in a scary déjà vu.

She breathed, and allowed Janeway to apologize sweetly to the Prime and get them transported back to Voyager's sick bay.

***

For all I knew, he could be dead.

That was actually quite likely.

Baby Tom Paris living in Sick bay with the Doctor? Does the Doctor have homicidal subroutines?

I hadn't seen Paris since he was brought back aboard Voyager, before that I'd visited him on the planet, claustrophobic in that cell. Kathryn cursing at him much more than a Captain really should as she rehearsed her sincere profuse apology to the Prime. Gods I love being right.

Did I NOT tell her?

"Captain, Paris WILL cause trouble. You know they have a very strict society. Paris can't keep out of trouble in the most easygoing of places."

"I can't deny him shore leave because he MIGHT cause trouble. If would be a different story if you had any basis for your request."

"How does a psyche evaluation from his Commanding officer sound?"

"Biased."

"Captain."

"Chakotay, I'll take responsibility for disciplining him if he screws up okay?"

I didn't think it was a very effective way of punishing him either, at first. I didn't understand how reverting Tom back to the physical form of his mental age would reprimand him for his actions. I also thought it was tough on the crew too. Not only on the Doctor having to look after him, but virtually the whole of deck five was deserted for the first three weeks because of the screaming coming from Sick bay. Apparently Tom had been a very vocal child.

Things settled down when Tom reached three, almost four, years old. According to various crewmembers and Kathryn (who'd become almost clinically obsessed with visiting Tom), the toddler had mastered crawling and was now wobbling around on his feet, driving the Doctor crazy. I guess I did kind of have some sympathy for the young Tom, growing up in a Sick bay could NOT be much fun. But it WAS incredibly nice not having the endless complaints about the Lieutenant's behavior. Endless reports, endless talks with Tom, endless talks with the Captain about Tom, endless organizing brig supervision, yep it was usually endless. And now I had some free time. Precious, rare, free time!

Let's see.

Dinner in the Mess Hall, maybe a drink in Sandrine's, then home, early night, meditating, reading. Yes. Real reading. Not reports, not crew evaluations, a novel. Perfect.

Ow!

I immediately stopped and glanced down to see what alien species had crashed into my leg, or what disease had been bestowed upon me threatening paralysis. Well, there was no alien and I could still feel both my legs.

I saw a dazed blonde-headed three-year-old sitting on the floor at my feet. I watched the toddler look up and was immediately hit by those intense, mischievous, inquisitive blue eyes. No doubt, it was Paris. The spiky hair was tousled and Tom was breathing heavily, obviously been running before he crashed into me. I looked down at the small Paris, "Where are you off to in such a hurry?"

***

Tom looked up at the giant, his brain processing the question. So many words, spoken so fast, but he could cope. He found an answer, sure it was dressed in his usual frustrated half-sentence, components missing style, but it was an answer, "Wanna see stars." He said in a high-pitched voice Chakotay was unused to hearing. Most physical things were actually different about Tom. The sparkle in Tom's eyes was different; still as bright and mischievous, but without the angst ridden dull spot.

Tom watched the giant crouch down to bring them both eye-to-eye, "I'm sure the Doctor didn't let you out on your own did he?"

Damn it. Tom was sure he looked like one of the giants. He'd managed to run past quite a few of them without being noticed. But this one had caught him out. He shook his head slowly in response.

Chakotay looked at Tom, the kid was so curious. His eyes continually darted around, stirring at the slightest noise or movement. Spirits, he'd been looking forward to that book. "How about I take you back to sick bay."

Tom immediately shook his head violently, "No."

"Let me finish." Chakotay warned softly, and Tom stopped his head shaking and focused on the giant, "How about I take you back to Sick bay to make sure the Doctor knows you're alright, then I'll take you to see the stars. That okay?"

Tom looked at Chakotay, slowly processing. He thought he understood, but he needed to make sure, "See Doc, then stars?"

"That's right. Come on."

Tom allowed himself to be scooped up into the giant's arms and grinned- all he'd needed was height to make him look like one of the giants.