July 1998 - Current

Work in Progress

Sneak Peek

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Tom awoke with a start, the dream dragging him out of a deep sleep. He lay there for a long moment, trying to recapture the disturbing dream, but it was gone. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes, only then remembering that he was in Sickbay. He stretched, working some of the kinks out of his body, but when he started to sit up, the Doctor suddenly appeared at his bedside and pushed him back down.

As he ran a medscanner over Paris, the EMH asked, "How are you feeling, Mr. Paris?"

"I feel fine, Doc," Paris cheerfully lied. Truth was he felt like he needed a good long sleep. His whole body felt sore. Problem was he couldn't remember what had happened to cause the weariness nor the aching muscles.

"I seriously doubt you feel fine, Mr. Paris," retorted the EMH as he frowned over the medscanner readings. "Do you recall what happened?"

"You mean how I ended up here? No."

"What's the last thing you remember?"

Tom had to take a moment to think about that. For some reason, the memory wasn't clear. "Uh, Chakotay and I were trading with the Quizah." Tom's tone turned confused. "I don't remember coming back aboard the ship at all. What happened to me? Was I out long?"

"Approximately fifty-two days," replied the Doctor.

"Fifty-two . . ." Tom trailed off in confusion.

"What's the last thing you remember happening while on Quizah?"

Tom's expression clouded as he struggled to remember. When his eyes widened dramatically, the Doctor knew he was recalling something. "The Purification," Tom breathed.

"You remember the Purification?" asked the Doctor eagerly, still curious to know how it had been performed.

"What?" Tom's uncertainty was back. "Remember it? No. They wanted to perform it on me as punishment. Chakotay couldn't talk them out of it." Tom's alert eyes sought out the Doctor's. "Is that what happened to me? They performed the Purification? And I've been out of it for fifty-two days? What'd they do to me?" He fixed the Doctor with a worried gaze.

"I would not exactly say you were 'out of it' for the whole time, Lieutenant," replied the Doctor dryly. "You have no memory of the Purification itself?"

"No. The last thing I remember is being escorted to confinement by two guards."

"Selective amnesia," offered the Doctor. "Perhaps your way of coping with a traumatic event."

Impatient, Tom sat up. The Doctor didn't try to stop him this time. "What happened to me?" he asked again. "Why can't I remember the last fifty-two days?"

The Doctor, not sure where to begin in his explanation to Mr. Paris, was saved by his combadge.

"Doctor," came Janeway's voice over the comlink, "how is Mr. Paris?"

"Awake and alert, Captain. I see no lasting effects from the Purification or from our attempts at reversal, other than some memory loss on Mr. Paris' part. I'll be releasing him from Sickbay shortly but I'm recommending he not return to duty for at least two days."

"Is he aware of what's occurred in the past several weeks?" asked Janeway.

"No, Captain. At this time, he has no memory of that. Only time will tell if that is a permanent condition or not." Noting Paris' look of aggravation at being spoken about as if he weren't present, the Doctor quickly added, "I was hoping that you and Commander Chakotay would wish to fill him in on recent events."

"That might be best, Doctor," agreed Janeway. "Send him to my Ready Room when you're done with him. Janeway out." The Doctor busied himself running various scans on Paris and continuing to ignore the lieutenant's inquiring look that was growing more and more impatient by the second.

"Well?" Paris finally blurted.

"Well what?" replied the Doctor blandly.

"Are you going to tell me what's been going on or not?" Tom's voice was full of exasperation. "First you tell me I haven't been out of it but then you tell me that I left the Quizah homeworld fifty-two days ago and I have no memory of what happened in between."

The EMH finished his scans of Lieutenant Paris, relieved to confirm his initial findings that there was no lasting damage caused by the Purification or by their attempts to reverse it other than the memory loss. He stepped back to carefully consider his patient a moment. Paris was showing signs of impatience, exasperation and agitation. All normal reactions under the circumstances. "Lieutenant, the Quizah did perform the Purification on you. Once it was complete, you were turned over to Commander Chakotay, along with the star charts you had originally gone there to trade for. You were," the Doctor paused, "not quite yourself. The side effects of the Purification were unusual, to say the least. We have spent the past fifty-two days attempting to reverse the Purification. Your amnesia is not entirely unexpected. It is very possible that you may eventually remember some of the events of the past fifty-two days. It is also possible that you may never remember any of it. I believe Lieutenant Tuvok and Commander Chakotay may be of some help to you in attempting to recover your short-term memory loss."

Tuvok and Chakotay? What did they have to do with this? Tom's annoyance was growing by the minute, and he didn't like how the Doctor was sidestepping the issue of the actual side effects of the Purification. He opened his mouth to ask more questions but the Doctor beat him to it.

"It would be best if you waited for the Captain's explanation, Mr. Paris. I'll replicate you a fresh uniform and you can report to her Ready Room.

Twenty minutes later found Tom exiting Sickbay and heading for the nearest turbolift to take him to the Captain's Ready Room. He was in a state of confused irritation. No matter how much he had badgered, the Doctor had refused to tell him anything about the time of his memory loss.

To make matters even more aggravating, Kes had come to Sickbay just as Tom was exiting. She had given him a warm smile and hug, softly saying how wonderful it was to have him back again. Back? Tom didn't know he had left.

Stalking down the corridor toward the nearest turbolift, Tom encountered Jenny Delaney. A smile lit her face and she squealed loudly upon sighting him. Before Tom was aware of what was happening he was enveloped in her warm arms and crushed against those lovely breasts of hers.

"Oh, Tommy! It's so good to see you again!"

Tommy? Jenny had never called him Tommy before. In fact, he couldn't think of anyone on Voyager who had ever called him Tommy.

Jenny pulled back far enough to cup his face between her hands and peer at him. "It is you, isn't it? You're back? All grown up again?"

Tom pulled away, his confusion beginning to march toward outright anger. "Of course it's me!" he snapped. "Who else were you expecting?"

Her eyes widened. "Oh," she uttered in a small voice. If possible, her eyes widened even further. "You don't know, do you?"

Tom glared at her, not realizing just how much he resembled his father at that moment. "Why don't you tell me, Jenny? I'd love to hear all about it," he added sarcastically.

"Um, I think I'd better go. Don't want to be late reporting for duty." She leaned in to give him a quick peck on the cheek. "But you were adorable," she added mysteriously before she turned and left.

Tom, mouth dropped open, stared after her. What the hell? Shaking his head, he resumed course for the turbolift and ordered it to the Bridge. Every line in his body radiated frustrated tension.

Harry glanced up from his Ops station when the turbolift door slid open to admit someone onto the Bridge. He completely forgot about the scan he was running when he saw the lift's occupant was Tom Paris. Harry had stopped in Sickbay this morning before reporting for duty to check on his friend but Tom had still been sleeping. They'd all heard the reports that Tuvok and Chakotay had been successful in bringing Tom back and that Tommy was once more in the past but it was still difficult to believe until you saw a walking, talking Tom Paris, who, at this moment, was exhibiting  typical adult Tom Paris attitude.

Tom's eyes slid toward the Ops station. The pilot gave him a smile but it didn't linger long. Harry recognized the signs. Tom was upset but trying to hide it. He signaled his presence at Janeway's ready room and quickly disappeared inside, the door sliding shut behind him. Harry couldn't help wondering how much Tom remembered of what had happened in the past several weeks. Concerned for his friend, Harry turned his attention back to his station, focusing with difficulty on the tasks at hand.

Kathryn Janeway watched, first with amusement and then with growing concern, as her first officer paced the ready room. She could sense the agitation behind his normally imperturbable demeanor. The tension in the room grew until, unable to stand it any longer, Janeway spoke. "Chakotay. Sit down."

Startled out of his troubling thoughts, Chakotay paused in his pacing to glance in her direction.

She pointed to a chair in front of her desk. "Sit," she commanded.

Frowning, he did so and then proceeded to silently brood.

Hands loosely clasped together and resting on the desk before her, Kathryn leaned forward, worried eyes on her first officer. "Chakotay, what's wrong?"

His eyes met hers, silently acknowledging his edginess. Then a rueful smile managed to find its way to the surface. "Sorry. I'm nervous, I guess."

"Nervous?" Her eyes softened but her voice held amusement as she teased him. "Since when did Tom Paris make you nervous, Chakotay?"

"It's silly, I know," he admitted. "It's just . . ." He trailed off as he tried to formulate his thoughts. "I guess I'm having trouble reconciling the Tom Paris I thought I knew before the Quizah got their hands on him with Tommy. I think I had some huge misconceptions about him."

"Are you worried about how you'll react to Tom when he shows up here for his debriefing?"

"I'm worried that I don't know how to react to him. I'm still thinking of him as Tommy. I know he isn't Tommy any longer but he's not the Tom Paris I thought he was either." He fell silent.

"Chakotay," Kathryn's voice was gentle, "Tommy is still there; he's just buried under years of life. Maybe the little boy and the man we know aren't that far apart. Give him a chance." Her eyes lit in comprehension. "Give yourself a chance. Who knows? Maybe the two of you will end up actually liking each other."

A signal at the door to the Ready Room indicated that Lieutenant Paris had arrived. Giving her first officer one last look of support, Janeway called, "Enter."

Chakotay heard the door slide open behind him. He steeled himself for his first true look into the adult Tom Paris' eyes since coming to the Delta Quadrant. His view was no longer obscured by preconceived notions of who he believed Tom Paris to be rather than who he knew him to be. He had never really given Tom a chance.

What he hadn't told Kathryn was that it wasn't his reaction to Tom that he feared so much as Tom's reaction to him. If Tom had no memory of the past few weeks, he would still be viewing Chakotay the same as always and when Chakotay had taken a look at himself late last night through Tom Paris' eyes, he hadn't liked what he had seen.

He and the Captain stood at the same time and Chakotay slowly turned to face Tom -- all grown up.

Tom strode into the Captain's Ready Room still revved up over not getting any answers out of the Doctor. He wasn't feeling very in control of his life at the moment and every instinct in his body was screaming at him that he was missing something. Something that everyone else seemed to know already. The strange looks first from Kes, then Jenny, and then Harry had pushed his blood pressure higher and higher until he was practically quivering with frustration.

As soon as he stepped through the door of the Ready Room, he opened his mouth to speak what was on his mind. His eyes slid from the Captain, who was rising from the seat behind her desk to Commander Chakotay, who was turning to face him.

Chakotay's eyes seemed to bore into him. Tom found himself stopping in mid-stride, his mouth gaping open as the words that had been about to pour forth never found voice. Without even being aware of it, something in the calm dark gaze soothed him, took away his fears and told him everything was going to be all right.

Kathryn Janeway gazed thoughtfully at the man before her. He had come far in the past couple of years. She remembered that first meeting with him at the penal colony in Auckland. His attitude then had certainly rubbed the Starfleet captain in her the wrong way, but Kathryn Janeway the person recalled his irreverence with a fond smile. That irreverence had frequently, in the intervening years, added some spice to a sometimes otherwise routine existence on Voyager's bridge and Tom seemed to instinctively know when to use it and how far he dared push with it. She had watched him blossom into a fine Starfleet officer that she was proud to have serving under her.

He had made every attempt to fit in with both the Maquis and Starfleet personnel aboard the ship, even when his attempts were not always well received. She hadn't been aware how well he had integrated himself into the crew until the Purification incident with the Quizah. The vast majority of the crew had expressed concern over Tom's plight in one manner or another. The few who had ridiculed the occurrence had been far outnumbered by the many who were concerned. Janeway had been very surprised by the mothering and fathering instincts Tommy had brought out in many of her crew, but then he had been an absolutely adorable child that few could resist.

She frowned. So much had happened to him in his short life. Somewhere along the way he had lost sight of Tommy and erected walls around himself that had become more and more impenetrable with each passing year. She had seen some of those walls weaken since he had started to find his place on Voyager. She hoped this incident wouldn't cause them to come back up because she had a feeling it would be a lot harder the next time around to try to get over them.

Both Tom and Chakotay were gazing at her expectantly and Kathryn realized she had let her thoughts meander a bit too long. Becoming all business, she said, "All right, gentlemen, let's get this debriefing under way. Tom, the Doctor tells us that you remember nothing of the last few weeks. Your last memory is of being on Quizah?"

She watched Tom shrug and listened as he gave a brief recitation of what he remembered. "Chakotay and I had just concluded our negotiations for the star charts when there was a bit of a misunderstanding about local customs."

Janeway's eyes switched to Chakotay for a moment when the Commander shifted uncomfortably at Paris' understatement. The Quizah certainly hadn't taken the incident as lightly as Paris was painting. Her gaze returned to Tom as he continued.

"I was sentenced to undergo what the Quizah called Purification. Commander Chakotay tried to stop it but the Quizah wouldn't be talked out of it. Last thing I remember before waking up in Sickbay yesterday is the guards escorting me away to be prepared for the Purification."

Janeway caught Chakotay's eye as she contemplated how best to relate what the Purification had done to Tom. He was still looking uncomfortable and had yet to speak since Tom had entered the Ready Room.

Gaze still glued to Chakotay, Janeway said, "Tom, let me fill you in on what we've learned of Quizah Purification." She forced her attention back to Tom, needing to gauge his reactions to what she was saying. "The Purification is the Quizah's way of dealing with criminals. They believe that by reverting the offender back to his or her pure self that individual can be given a second chance to live his or her life without committing offensive acts against others."

"Pure self?" repeated a puzzled Tom. "What's that mean?"

"Think about it, Lieutenant," coaxed Janeway, trying to gently lead him into this revelation. "When are most beings at their most pure? When have they not offended? When have they not created any grievous errors against others yet?" Out of the corner of her eye, Janeway saw Chakotay lean forward to obtain a better view of Tom's expression.

Paris shrugged. "When you're a kid, I suppose . . . ." His voice trailed off as his eyes widened. His gaze darted from Janeway to Chakotay and back to Janeway again. "What are you saying exactly?"

Janeway was relieved when Chakotay spoke up. She had begun to fear he would spend the entire debriefing in silence.

"Lieutenant, the Quizah turned you over to me after they performed the Purification. You . . . weren't quite your normal self."

"That's what the Doctor said!" snapped out a frustrated Tom, forgetting he was addressing his commanding officers. "Will someone just tell me what the big secret is?"

Janeway could visibly see Chakotay gathering up his nerve for what was to come. Neither of them knew how Tom would react. "The Quizah reverted you back to your five-year-old self, Tom," continued Chakotay. "Their theory is that the Purification gives the offender a fresh start from which the offender can be taught to not offend against others. I tried going to Azwold again to plead your case and asked him to reverse the process but he acted like I was committing sacrilege with the suggestion. So, I had no choice but to bring you back to Voyager and hope the Doctor could find a way to reverse the Purification."

"Tom, we worked nonstop for all of those fifty-two days to find a way to reverse the Purification," offered Janeway. "We couldn't chance trying anything until we could be fairly certain it would cause you no permanent harm." She tried for a lighter tone to lessen the increasing tension in the room. "You were quite a handful. We all were kept busy trying to keep an eye on you."

She watched as Tom tried to absorb what they had told him. He was obviously having a difficult time wrapping his mind around the concept that he had spent nearly two months aboard Voyager as his five-year-old self. He started to speak several times, only to stutter to a stop each time. Finally, he managed to spit it out haltingly. "Let me get this straight. These past few weeks -- all the time I can't remember -- I was on Voyager, interacting with the crew, as a five-year-old?"

"A very cute five-year-old," Janeway teased. Her teasing had the desired effect. On both men. Tom's tension eased somewhat and Chakotay even managed a small smile. It was all Janeway could do to keep a straight face as Tom's face attained a rosy hue.

"Captain--" he weakly protested.

Taking pity on the lieutenant, Janeway sobered and quickly told him the rest. "Tom, the Doctor only wants us to fill you in on the essentials. He's hoping that some or all of your memories of the last few weeks will return on their own. I think it's important for you to know that you were well cared for. You had plenty of caregivers among the crew. Chakotay, however, took over the role of guardian during your -- during Tommy's visit."

Janeway watched Chakotay watching Tom trying to absorb the news. There was an interesting play of emotions floating over both men's faces. Finally, Tom sat back in his chair. He presented the picture of nonchalance but Janeway recognized it for what it was. This was Tom, walls in place, dealing with a vulnerable situation.

"Okay." Tom blew out his breath in a sigh of mixed emotions. "Okay, so Chakotay was my . . . guardian." Life flowed back into the blue eyes as Paris' mouth quirked upward. Shooting a glance at the man at his side, he quipped, "Should I call you Dad?"

Janeway saw an unexpected grin grace Chakotay's face and realized, with relief, that he also recognized Tom's need to retreat behind a show of glibness. Perhaps her first officer had learned more about Tom through Tommy than she realized.

"I don't think we need to go that far, Lieutenant," Chakotay shot back. Grin fading quickly, Chakotay continued softly. "I know I'm not the first one you would have chosen to take care of you under the circumstances but--"

"But he spoiled you rotten," interjected Janeway, smiling at the two uncomfortable men. "You were a rather precocious child, Tom. Did anyone ever tell you that?"

Paris shrugged, a smile lifting the corners of his mouth but a worried furrow remained between his eyebrows. Janeway eyed her two officers. This was costing both men. Chakotay seemed relaxed but she could read underlying anxiety in him. Tom, who was feigning a casual demeanor, was retreating. She needed to finish this quickly to give both men time to adjust to this -- to adjust to each other.

"We didn't make our first attempt at reversing the Purification until a few days ago," Janeway said, leading the conversation back to the more factual information rather than the emotional. "The first attempt wasn't entirely successful." She explained the semi-successful transporter experiment before quickly moving on to the rushed mind-meld that had followed, and Tuvok and Chakotay's subsequent success at bringing Tom back. Throughout her monologue, Tom remained quiet, listening intently.

Finished, Kathryn Janeway stared at the young man before her. He sat staring at the deck beneath his feet, offering no reactions. Chakotay was frowning again. The silence lengthened and tension filled the air around them once more. Sensing it was time to let Tom go off on his own to deal with this, Janeway brought the debriefing to a close.

"Tom, the Doctor recommends you not return to duty for at least two days. Why don't you use the time for some rest and relaxation? Give yourself some time to deal with all this," Janeway suggested. "I know it's rather overwhelming. If you feel the need to talk to someone--"

"Thank you, Captain." Tom's tone was polite but not encouraging.

Janeway stood, Chakotay and Paris following suit. "Very well, Lieutenant. You're dismissed. I look forward to having you back at the helm in a couple of days."

After the door had slid closed behind Paris, Janeway turned to Chakotay. "I thought that went rather well."

"Maybe." Chakotay's gaze was still locked on the door Tom had just exited through. He looked disturbed.


He turned to look at her and Janeway was pleasantly surprised to see concern in his eyes for the pilot. A depth of concern that had never been present before Tommy. "Experiencing a bit of empty-nest syndrome, Chakotay?" Her tone was lightly teasing but her gaze was full of understanding.

Chakotay gave her a brief smile and shrugged. "Maybe."

Janeway found herself suddenly reminded of Tom Paris with Chakotay's uncharacteristic nonchalant shrug. She wondered if he had picked that up from Tommy.

Smiling, she came out from behind the desk to warmly clasp Chakotay on the forearm. "Are you planning on making the lieutenant your personal reclamation project now?" she bantered, recalling all the times Chakotay had teased her about that very thing. As they walked toward the Ready Room door to resume their stations on the Bridge, Chakotay's reply took her by surprise.

"I just might, Captain."

She was still mulling over if he was serious or not when they stepped onto the Bridge.

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To Be Continued . . .

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