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
"Fifty-two . . ." Tom trailed off
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
Janeway was relieved when Chakotay
spoke up. She had begun to fear he would spend the entire debriefing in
"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
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
"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
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.
To Be Continued . . .