The Paris Journals: Impediments, vol. IV

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From: crime@bu.edu (mary self)
Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative
Subject: VOY: Impediments
Date: 24 Feb 1996 18:46:31 GMT
Organization: Boston University
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DISCLAIMERS: The original characters belong to Paramount, but the character
of Caitlin Matthews and the story are mine.

WARNING: This story contains mature subject matter, so if you are easily
offended, BEWARE.

NOTE: This story does contain references to other Paris/Matthews stories I’ve
written, namely `Incubation’ and `Two Ships’. I’ve tried to keep the
references as incidental as possible. However, I have reposted `Two
Ships’ for those who may have missed it the first time.

Impediments
Part 1

By Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

THE PARIS JOURNALS, vol. IV

My name is Tom Paris. Otherwise known as pig extraordinaire to all
except my closest friends; to them, I’m just a pig. At least, I was. A while
ago, I met someone, a very special someone, and as a result, I’ve tried my best
to change. Okay, I’ll admit it; sometimes I can still be a selfish ass, but I
am trying. Honest.
Cait is, how shall I put it, my equal in every sense of the word, and
our history together has been very chequered. When we first met on board, we
didn’t get along. Go figure. I didn’t trust her because she was Maquis, and
frankly, even with Chakotay’s implied protection, it took me a while to stop
looking over my shoulder for any of my `forgiving’ ex-comrades. For that same
reason, she didn’t trust me. She was Maquis all the way. They were her
family, and as an ex post facto informant, I ranked only a little below Seska
on her distrust scale.
However, circumstances forced us into a closer working relationship,
and well, things just went from there. We hit a rough patch or two but worked
through them. I had never felt this way about any woman. At once, I found
myself both challenged and a little intimidated; a sort of healthy
competitiveness existed between us. I was even seriously considering marriage
and kids. Probably not the smartest move on a lone starship that was
constantly under the threat of attack, but one I made nevertheless.
And then, I blew it. So what’s new, huh? I got mad, didn’t think,
got drunk, and blew it. Technically, I didn’t cheat on her; she knows this.
Yet, appearances at the time indicated otherwise, and I can’t say I blame her
for ending our relationship then and there.
Somehow, though, we’ve managed to stay friends. She’s helped me on
more than one occasion to clean-up my act, and when she’s been in trouble, I’ve
done my best to help her. Once or twice, we’ve even ended up back in bed with,
of course, both of us swearing it was a mistake the next day. However, partly
as a result of these encounters I’ve continued to hold out hope that maybe
one day we might get back together, because, you know, time is a funny thing.
One minute, your life isn’t worth a grain of sand; the next, you’re the
richest, luckiest man alive. Only twice in my recent past have I felt
like the latter. The first was when I slid behind Voyager’s helm. The other
was when I was with Cait. Yeah, she’s that special, believe me.
When she became one of four women on board pregnant with alien
entities, I volunteered to become her `coach’ and a substitute father for the
kid. It was a pretty amazing experience, bringing us a lot closer than we had
been allowing ourselves to be, and I must admit being called daddy
was incredible. I could freely show the kid love, and he accepted it without
hesitation, responding openly with growing affection for me. Cait named him
Rowan Thomas Matthews; Rowan after her father and Thomas after yours truly.
He was a good kid, well-behaved, intelligent, and just a little mischievous.
He was the kind of kid I always hoped Cait and I would have, but he wasn’t
ours, and when the time came, we had to let him go. It was extremely difficult
for both of us, providing one more reason to seek each other out for comfort
and companionship, which was ultimately why we were at Sandrine’s this
particular evening. . .

I drew back the cue. *That’s it, Thomas. Nice ‘n steady, just the way
you’ve been going with Cait. Nope, not yet. Now.* I hit the cue ball right
on target. It shot down the table, bounced off the far bumper and tapped the
8-ball into the side pocket. Perfect.
“Yes!” Harry hissed under his breath.
I straightened up, grinning. “I believe that’s one dinner of my
choice, Matthews.”
A disbelieving smile lingered on her lips. “It was worth it to see
that shot. You’ve been practicing, Paris.”
“Not at all. Just feeling lucky.” Actually, I had been feeling lucky
for some time now. My grandmother always told me that once a woman gives
birth, she never looks at life the same way again, and I hoped that held
true here, even though Rowan had been with us for only two weeks.
Patiently, I had persisted. Nothing Cait would’ve noticed, mind you.
A little touch here. A friendly hug there. If she seemed uncomfortable, I
backed off a ways and then tried again later. Over the past few weeks, I had
managed to work up to the point where I could escort her to her quarters with
my arm around her shoulders; buddy-like, sure, but my arm was there all the
same. The last two times I did this, her arm had been around my waist. I
figured tonight, if the timing was right, I’d try to kiss her. Nothing too
fired-up and passionate. Simply a quick, more-than-friends brush of the lips.
I felt like an eleven year-old working up the nerve to kiss his first
girlfriend.
“Another game?” B’Elanna ventured. “Double or nothing?”
Cait shook her head. “Not me. I know better than to wager against a
hot-streak when my gut says no, and right now, it’s flashing a capital N-O for
all it’s worth.”
I raised my arms in a good-natured shrug. “What can I say? Sometimes
the ol’ Paris luck isn’t all bad.”
“And when you’re hot, you’re hot, right?” Her green eyes danced
flirtatiously at yours truly.
“Scorching,” I fired back, my best grin stretched from ear to ear.
Cait laughed lightly and winking at Torres, picked up her drink.
“C’mon, B’Elanna. I think we can let them win this one. We still have a track
record they will never match.”
Harry stepped around the table and embraced his lady-love from behind.
“I’ll even make it worth your while,” he teased, kissing her cheek.
The half-Klingon craned her head around. “Is that a promise?”
“Absolutely.”
“Then hold him to it, and let us get the hell out of here.” Cait
looked over at me. “Agreed?”
I nodded. “Computer, end program. C’mon, Matthews, let’s leave the
holodeck to the lovebirds.”
“Right behind you, Paris.”
Outside the holodeck, I draped my arm casually across her shoulders,
feeling her arm reciprocally encircle my waist. So far, so good. Her quarters
were only a few doors down and around the bend.
I leaned against the wall as she keyed open the door. *Yeah, Thomas,
go for it.* “Oh, one thing, Cait.”
“What?”
“This.” I grasped her chin firmly, holding her head in place, as I
lightly pressed my lips to hers. They were moist and soft, easily yielding to
weight of my mouth. I was willing to bet I could carry the kiss further, but
with a great deal of self-control, I reined in the hormones and pulled away.
“Good night, Cait.” Without another word, I stepped around the corner and
headed for my own room.
She didn’t follow me; she didn’t even call me back, which was good. It
probably meant she was too stunned. Now, I only had to wait about nine hours
to see how she reacted at breakfast.
On the whole, I was quite proud of myself, showing a good deal more
patience and restraint over the past few weeks than I had believed was
possible. To be honest, though, right then I didn’t feel like sleeping. I
felt like celebrating both from happiness and relief. I paused at the door to
my quarters. “Computer, is holodeck three still in use?”
“Affirmative.”
“What program?”
“Personal program, Kim two. Privacy locks are engaged.”
A sly smile spread across my face; evidently, Harry and B’Elanna had
taken my offhand remark seriously. I keyed open my door and threw myself on
the bed, grinning like a fool up at the ceiling. I wanted to tell someone.
I wanted to run jumping and screaming through the ship. I wanted to dance,
shoot off fireworks, you name it. Yessiree, lady luck was definitely favouring
this Lieutenant. I only prayed she would continue to do so.

Too anxious to linger in bed, I was the first of our foursome to arrive
at breakfast the next morning and commandeered our usual table. Harry joined
me about two minutes later.
“So you took my advice last night, huh?” I teased.
“What?”
“The holodeck, tiger.”
He turned about six shades of red. “How did you know?”
“I was going to run Sandrine’s some more, but found that it was
unavailable, shall we say?”
“Why? I thought you had called it quits for the night.”
I grinned slyly. “I had my own reason to celebrate.” Leaning across
the table, I related in a hushed tone what had happened between Cait
and myself.
“Paris,” he reproached, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling. “When are
you going to learn? How did she respond?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t seen her yet. It’s a long shot, sure, but
nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
He wagged his fork at me. “You know something, Paris? You are either
a masochist or an incurable romantic. I can’t decide which.”
“Maybe I’m both.” Suppressing a smile, I bent over my food. “Shh.
Here they come.”
The two women walked up with their trays. Cait hardly looked at me.
*Damn!* Maybe my lucky streak had ended. I sat there quietly pondering my
options, when a boot, running suggestively up the back of my right leg, nearly
made me spill my coffee.
“A little jumpy today, Paris?” Cait noted calmly as I wiped my hand.
“Luck not holding out?”
I regarded her silently, unable to tell if she was seriously flirting
or just toying with me from anger. “You might be in a better position to tell
that than I am.”
“Me?”
“Yeah. Didn’t you tell me once your grandmother read palms or
something?” I gazed deeply into her eyes. *Nope, still can’t tell. Damn!*
“Scrying, right, but she also used to say that the future is almost
always cloudy because it’s not meant for all to see.”
“Hmph.” I grunted. Cloudy, indeed. You could interpret that a
million ways, including one or two I didn’t like.
The boot stroked my leg again, but she kept right on talking as if
nothing was happening. I jerked my leg away, carefully monitoring her
expression. For a brief instant, the green eyes fell to the tray before her.
Perhaps the future wasn’t so cloudy after all. I moved my foot behind her leg,
wedging it between her two feet. The expression brightened ever so slightly,
and she raised her leg, placing it over mine. *Yes!!*
“All senior officers report to the briefing room,” the Captain
commanded over the comm system. *Damn.*
Kim and Torres bounded to their feet and headed for the door. I rose
more slowly. “Hate to leave you alone, Cait, but duty calls.”
“I know, but it’s not the first meal I’ve finished alone, and it
certainly won’t be the last. Besides, there’s always lunch and dinner.”
My heart did a triple flip. “Absolutely,” I responded
enthusiastically. *Whoa, Thomas. Take it slow, remember?* With a slightly
roguish grin, I left the mess.
The other two officers were waiting for me at the lift. “So, did you
get your answer, Paris?” Harry snickered.
“Yeah. I think I did. Bridge.” I called as the doors closed.
“What answer? What are you two talking about?” B’Elanna demanded.
“Does this have anything to do with you and Caitlin playing footsie under
the table?”
My jaw dropped as Harry collapsed against the side of the car laughing.
“You knew?” I sputtered. “How?”
She chuckled. “Your expression when you almost spilled your coffee
gave it all away. Something had to be happening under the table because the
conversation above the table didn’t merit such surprise. Don’t worry. Your
secret is safe. We won’t even let on to Caitlin that we know, right, Harry?”
My best friend straightened up, wiping his eyes. “Yeah, right. I tell
you, Tom, I don’t know which was better. Your expression at the table or here
in the lift. They were both pretty priceless.” He started laughing again at
the thought.
“Very funny.” I tried to scowl, but couldn’t. I was on cloud nine, as
they used to say, and offhand, I couldn’t think of anything that would bring
me down.

The meeting informed us that at 1100 hours, Harry, Chakotay and myself
would board a shuttle for a nearby class-M planet. As usual, Voyager found
herself in need of a few supplies and the Langarians had agreed to provide them
to us. Captain Janeway had decided we would take a shuttle in instead of
Voyager because the planet was still in the midst of a civil war, and she
didn’t want to place the ship at risk.
*So much for lunch.* I thought bitterly as the meeting broke up.
Fate, with its usual twisted sense of humor, just couldn’t resist throwing one
more impediment in my way. Two weeks before or two weeks after today would
have been one thing, but today of all days. *Well, look at it this way,
Thomas. You’ll be back by dinner, and sometimes the best things in life are
worth waiting for.* My mouth twisted in a wry grin. I had come this far,
after all; I could wait a little longer.

I piloted the shuttle down without incident, landing her at 1135 hours.
The government representatives that met us were cagey, but friendly enough
considering the circumstances. For our own safety, however, our movements
were restricted; the government felt we might make tempting targets to the
rebel forces.
The supplies were assembled and loaded by 1500 hours, to my great
relief. I wasn’t sure what tonight held in store for Cait and myself, but
according to Harry, eagerness was written all over my face. So, when a
government minister invited us join him for an early dinner, I nearly screamed
in frustration. Protocol practically mandated that we accept, and we did,
escorted to three separate, well-appointed suites to refresh ourselves.
Our guards cautioned me against opening my door to any strangers, as I
was shown to my room. Nodding my understanding, I locked the door behind me.
The accomodations weren’t bad; in fact, they were rather good. A window looked
down into a walled garden. In the near distance, I could see a large dark
building surrounded by an equally impressive wall. A prison, it had to be.
Funny, how once you’ve been in one, you can always spot them.
Turning from the window, I threw myself on the bed. I had time to kill
and nothing whatsoever to do, except dwell upon what, and more importantly, who
I was missing on Voyager. As I lay there, wallowing in self-pity, the door
chimed. I lifted my head. “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Paris.”
“Harry?” I got up and crossed over to the door. “Yeah, Harry, what
is it?”
Forgetting the guards’ earlier warning, I opened the door. Two masked
figures stood in front of me. Before I could respond, a stun ray of some sort
hit me and everything went black.
When I came to, my arms were bound together above my head and my
shoulders ached. A spotlight illuminated my naked body, which hung suspended
about fifty centimeters off the floor. A metal bar approximately half a meter
in length separated and secured my feet.
I wasn’t under any illusions as to what was going to happen; I just
wanted to know why. Why me? Were Harry and Chakotay captured, too? Were they
all right? What did these rebels want?
The door in front of me slid open. Two masked figures in dark clothes
entered. One of them carried a humming metal rod. *Sh*t!*
“What do you want? Why have you done this? Where are the others?”
The taller figure spoke. “My dear Lieutenant, I’m afraid you do not
understand your part in this little scene. You do not ask the questions;
we do. You are here only to provide us with answers.”
“Answers to what? Why- Auugh!” Pain, worse than anything I’ve ever
experienced, seized my groin where the rod touched the skin.
“Ah-ah-ah,” the taller figure scolded. “No questions, only answers.
Now, I wish to know the weapons and defensive capabilities of that amazing ship
you pilot.”
*Okay, what did they teach you at the Academy, Thomas?* “My name is
Lt. Tom Paris; I- AAugh!” My entire body spasmed. I could hardly catch my
breath, the pain was so intense.
“You may as well drop the pretense of resistance, Lieutenant, and give
us the information we want. It will save you a lot of pain and me a lot of
time. Now, we will begin with defense. What is the type and strength of
Voyager’s shields?”
“My name is- AAUGH!”

I have no idea how long they questioned me. By the time they finally
lowered me to the ground, I was in so much agony I could hardly see, much less
stand. So, they left me in a crumpled heap on the cell’s cold floor. I
started shivering, and my uniform was thrown in, landing close by. Slowly
reaching out with one hand, I grasped it and brought it to my chest, clinging
to it as though my survival depended upon it.
After a few minutes, I rolled onto my side. I didn’t want to look, but
I had to. Red, bleeding streaks of varying lengths crisscrossed my thighs,
genitals and stomach. Fresh tears welled up in my eyes. *Oh gods, help me.
It hurts so much.*
Eventually, two more masked figures came in. They picked me up and
threw me on a metal ledge, which was to serve as a bed. After cleaning me up
a little, they put my jumpsuit on me, handling me so roughly, that I almost
blacked out from the pain. Then, before they left, one of them ripped open my
sleeve and pressed some device against the inside of my arm. I felt a little
sting, but that was all.
Tentatively, I raised myself into a sitting position and gasped. It
wasn’t any better. No matter whether I sat up or lay down, I was in agony.
In a minute or two though, the pain seemed to ease; perhaps they had given me
a painkiller so I’d be ready for their second round of questioning.
I giggled, letting my head slip into my hands. *Good going, Thomas.
You survived round one. Many didn’t think you’d get that far.* I giggled
again. No, something wasn’t right. I was starting to feel giddy. I raised
my head and stared down at my hands.
*Wow. All the lines. Like valleys running across my palms. And the
swirls on my fingertips. Each one. Different. That one goes that way, and
that one-*
“THOMAS PARIS!”
I leapt from the ledge and crouched down beside it, staring wild-eyed
into the darkness. Round two had begun.

Impediments
Part 2

By Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

FIRST OFFICER’S PERSONAL LOG

Lt. Paris has been kidnapped, according to our hosts, by the rebel
forces, who would stop at nothing to embarrass the government and obtain
valuable information. Ensign Kim and I have sat on our hands for the past two
days watching the government forces round up group after group of rebel
sympathizers, herding them into a massive compound called the Corrections
Center for questioning. After the first day, all the Langarians had to show
for it was Paris’ commbadge. Proof enough, the minister of internal security
declared, of the rebels’ participation.
But as time has drug on, I have become less than certain about the
government’s ability or willingness to find our missing crewmember. When I
voiced my concern over the lack of success, the minister suggested that Voyager
might be granted permission to land and aid in the search if Capt. Janeway
so wished.
“I told him no, Captain.” I reported later, speaking over a secured
channel on the shuttle. I didn’t trust the government enough to use an open
channel anymore.
“Quite right, Commander. But is there still no progress?”
“None. And I can’t say I approve too much of their methods.”
“Are you suggesting that the government is using Tom’s disappearance
for their own benefit?”
“That’s exactly what I am suggesting, Captain, and I am not too fond of
this Corrections Center I see people going into either. It all smacks just a
little too much of the Cardassians to me.”
“So noted, but we are not here to judge what is and what is not the
right government for these people. All that matters now is locating Lt. Paris
and the three of you departing with all possible speed. Is that understood?”
A smile of comprehension spread over my features. What she had not
said was almost as important as what she had said. “Yes, Captain. Understood.
Chakotay out.”
Sometime during the night, I awoke to find a bright light shining in my
face. “Listen and listen well. There will not be time to repeat this. We do
not have your missing crewman; we do not want him.”
“Who does?”
“We suggest you try one of the lower level detention cells in the
Corrections Center. Our sources tell us that he is there, but not for much
longer. He has proven uncooperative and may be terminated within the next few
days. We advise you break him out and depart. The quicker you leave, the
sooner the government loses its excuse for its crackdown. Here. You will find
all the information you need in this.” A small device landed on the bed beside
me.
“Destroy it after you memorized the specifications contained within.
If the government discovers it, you, the Ensign, and the Lieutenant are as good
as dead.” The light was shut off and footsteps moved away toward the door. It
opened onto a darkened corridor, but I could tell by the footfall and very
faint shadows that only one person had been present.
I activated the small processor and immediately began transferring all
the data I could to my tricorder. What I couldn’t, I memorized. By the first
light of dawn, the job had been completed, and I took my phaser and destroyed
the alien device. There were still a few hours before breakfast, and I felt it
wise to get what sleep I could. It didn’t look like I was going to be getting
too much tonight.
The day passed as the others had with no success locating Paris, and as
usual, we accepted our hosts’ profound apologies before turning in. At 2415,
however, I got up and dressed soundlessly in the dark, grabbing my phaser and
tricorder as I left the room. I stole across the hall to Kim’s room.
Purposefully, I had not mentioned any of my plan to the Ensign earlier. Harry
is an intelligent, disciplined officer, but he is still very green when it
comes to covert maneuvers. We had exchanged lock codes several days ago for
safety, so without difficulty, I opened the door and slipped in. Stealing over
to the bed, I placed one hand over Kim’s mouth before waking him.
“Shh. Don’t turn on the light, but get dressed quickly and grab your
phaser and tricorder.”
He nodded his understanding and abiding by my orders. When he was
done, we crept silently out of the building. Only then, did he venture to
speak.
“What exactly are we doing, Commander?”
“Well, since we couldn’t locate Paris the Star Fleet way, I thought we
should try the Maquis way. I have been fortunate enough to receive some very
unusual information which confirms a suspicion I’ve had all along. Whoa!” I
flattened Kim and myself against an alley wall, as a two-man government patrol
passed by on the street. “Okay. Come on.”
“What information?”
“The complete plans of that.” I pointed to the large wall looming
before us.
“The Corrections Center? We’re going to break into that?”
I nodded. “According to my informant, that is where Tom is being held,
and not in some out of the way rebel stronghold. Think about it, Ensign.
Paris’ disappearance has benefitted the government, not the rebels. The crack-
down, which should have been foreseen as an immediate result, has harmed them.
Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, no conditions for his release have
been made. No, the rebels say Paris is in there, and I’ll wager a kilo of
latinum, they’re right.”
“And what if it’s a trap? What if you’ve been fed this information
intentionally?” Kim’s a cautious officer, always covering his bases.
“That’s a chance we’ll have to take. Every day that Paris is gone, it
becomes more and more unlikely that we will find him alive. Now, come on.”
We stole along the wall until we reached a side service entrance.
Keying in the access code provided, Kim and I slipped quietly in. The place
was a maze of corridors, but the plans in my tricorder yielded unerring
directions. Twice, guards almost stumbled upon us. However, the spirits were
with us, and we made our way to the lower level detention area undetected.
The guard made rounds once every hour, leaving the computer station
vacant for only about seven minutes at that time. Our arrival almost coincided
with one tour, and we waited in a shadowed recess for the guard to leave. When
he finally did so, we crept across to the station and Kim accessed the prisoner
list. “They don’t list them by name, so I’m accessing only the files of those
prisoners brought in on the date he vanished. Come on. Come on.” His fingers
tapped nervously against the console. “Got it. Eleven were brought in, but
only four are still here, and one is a woman. So that just leaves three.”
I shook my head. “Wrong, that just leaves one. Access the file on the
female prisoner. See. No record of subversive activity, and she was brought
in late in the afternoon only an hour before we discovered Paris missing.
We’ll check that cell first.”
The sound of footsteps warned us of the guards approach. We slipped
back into our recess and waited for him to take his seat. His back was toward
us. We ducked low under his line of sight and slipped down the corridor.
As we hurried down the hallway, Kim looked around. “One thing puzzles
me, Commander. Why isn’t there more than one guard present?”
“Mr. Kim, if this place is what I suspect it to be. These prisoners
aren’t in any condition to riot or attempt a break-out. The only threat of a
massive escape comes from outside. Here we are. Number 119, and the tricorder
is reading one human, male. Okay, now let’s see about this lock.”
Kim stooped down. “Here, let me. Tom has showed me a few tricks he
learned about locks in prison. I might have better luck.”
“Be my guest.”
Within a few seconds, the Ensign straightened up. “I think I’ve got
it.”
He pressed the release, and the door slid open, revealing a cell in
total darkness, except for a lone shaft of light. Beneath the beam lay a
crumpled form. With a small cry, Kim advanced and fell to his knees beside it.
Paris lay in fetal position, his hands wedged tightly between his legs.
Streaks of blood and grime crisscrossed his face, and his uniform was filthy
and torn in several places, especially along the arms.
“Tom?” Hesitantly, Kim’s hand reached out to touch his friend’s
shoulder.
Slowly, the eyelids parted, revealing cloudy, unfocused blue eyes.
A barely audible croak emerged from between his dry, cracked lips. “Harry?”
Paris stared straight ahead as if he were addressing some unseen image. “Naw,
not Harry.” Without warning, his body spasmed, throwing him onto his back.
“My gods, Commander. Look at this.” Kim pointed to a series of tiny
red welts dotting Paris’ arm. “What the hell is it?”
I frowned and turned over the Lieutenant’s other exposed arm. The same
welts were present there as well. “Damn!”
“What? What’s wrong with him.”
“Go guard the door!” I whipped our my tricorder. “Good Gods.”
Flipping the device closed, I hoisted the young man into a seated position.
“Is it clear?”
“Yes sir.”
“Then, get over here and help me. We’ve got to get him back to Voyager
and quickly.”
The Ensign ran over and slipped one of Paris’ arms over his shoulders.
“What’s wrong with him? Will he be all right?”
“I don’t know. They’ve been pumping him full of some narcotic, much
like addicts did hundreds of years ago on Earth. The veins in his arms have
almost collapsed from the frequent injections. Right now, he’s in a partial
stupor, but how he’ll react when he comes out is beyond me. Here, I’ve got
him; you keep us covered.”
We made our way out of the complex as rapidly as possible via
maintainance tunnels. They ran underneath the building and connected with
other tunnels running beneath the city. One went right below the docking
facility where our shuttle was waiting.
Once on board, I lay Paris on the bench and ran a more thorough scan
on him while Kim prepared the ship for departure. What the tricorder told me
only increased my concern. Suppressed autonomic responses, irregular heart and
brain activity, and extensive physical damage to the area between his waist and
thighs. All of this, and he hadn’t broken. I placed a hand on his brow
uttering a small prayer for help; he stirred and muttered something
incoherent. I hoped he would make it to Voyager, but I wasn’t sure he would.
“Beginning ascent now, Commander.” the Ensign reported. “We should
break the upper atmosphere in twenty seconds. And we are being hailed by
the Langarians.”
“Ignore them.” I ordered. “Shuttlecraft to Voyager.”
“Tuvok here. Go ahead, Commander.”
“We’ve got Paris, Mr. Tuvok, but he is in bad shape. It seems that the
Langarians have been keeping him heavily drugged with some narcotic, as well as
using other methods of persuasion. Have the Doctor and Kes stand by for
emergency transport as soon as we are within range.”
“Understood. Tuvok out.”
I turned back to the pale, sunken face. He needed so much help, and
there was nothing I could do. Suddenly, Paris’ body bucked wildly, his mouth
opening in a futile attempt to cough up vomit. *DAMN!* Immediately, I pulled
him into an upright position, holding him there by the shoulders.
“What?” Kim spun around. “What’s happening?”
“How long to Voyager?”
“We’ll be in range in under five minutes. What’s happening to him?”
The Ensign’s eyes were wide with fear.
“He’s nauseated, and I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t choke.”
Almost in response, the Lieutenant hiccuped, spewing a small stream of
whitish vomit onto the shuttle floor. Kim grimaced and swung back to the
controls.
“C’mon, Tom. Get it all out.” I muttered, more vomit spattering
noisily onto the carpet. “That’s it. Hang in there, and that’s an order.”
“Shuttlecraft, this is Voyager.” Tuvok hailed. “We have established
a lock on you.”
“Good,” I replied, hoisting the young man to his feet. “Beam
Mr. Paris and myself directly to sickbay. Energize.”
As soon as we materialized, I lay Paris on the floor. Immediately, his
body curled up, shaking uncontrollably. While the Doctor and Kes knelt over
him, Captain Janeway and Lts. Tuvok and Matthews entered. I moved to intercept
Caitlin, attempting to block her view.
“C’mon, Matthews. You don’t need to see this. Let’s let the Doctor
treat him.”
“Chakotay, please. Please, he’s my-” Her eyes caught sight of her
friend.
Paris remained in a fetal position, his body convulsing. “S-stop.
N-no m-more. P-please.” His pleas were hardly a whisper.
“2 ccs of isoprolanoline,” the Doctor barked. “And prepare a neo-
dextraline solution. He’s dehydrated on top of everything else.” He
administered the requested hypospray and the spasms eased. “All right, let’s
get him onto a bed.”
Tuvok and I lifted the deathly pale form off the ground and placed it
gently on one of the biobeds. The Captain stepped over to where Caitlin stood,
wrapping her arm around the younger woman.
“Come on, Lieutenant. The Doctor will let us now as soon as there is
a change. There isn’t much we can do.”
Matthews body quivered slightly. She has seen a lot during her time
with the Maquis and Voyager, but when it’s someone close to you, it’s always a
different story. “No, Captain. I’d prefer to stay here if I could, at least
for the time being. I know better than to get in the way.”
Janeway grimaced compassionately. “All right, I understand. Doctor,
notify me the instant there is a change in his condition. Commander, Tuvok,
my ready room.”
I paused briefly beside Caitlin as I left, my gaze sweeping from her
to Tom and back again. Giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, I nodded
encouragingly. “Call me” was all I said. She’s very tough, but years of
serving beside her have allowed me to glimpse how much she bleeds beneath
the stony silence.

Impediments
Part 3

by Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

THE PARIS JOURNALS, vol. IV

I felt awful. Weak, shivery and more than a little nauseous, but the
pain was somehow gone. I could see a bright light through my eyelids and hear
the faint hum of what sounded like warp engines. Nah, it had to be another
drug-induced delusion. Any moment, the voice would thunder down at me again.
Oh gods, I felt horrible.
“Tom? Tom, can you hear me?”
It wasn’t the voice I expected. Hesitantly, my eyes opened, and I
tried desperately to focus on the face peering down at me. “Cait, I-”
“Shh. Don’t try to talk.” Her hand gently stroked my forehead.
*Oh gods, please let it be her.*
“He’s awake, Doctor.”
Like lightening, the Doctor was on the opposite side of the bed
scanning me. “How do you feel, Lieutenant?”
“J-jumpy. I c-can’t c-calm down.” The trembling was growing worse.
Suddenly, a sharp, burning pain stabbed me in the gut and took my breath away.
Gasping, I tried to roll onto my side.
Putting down the tricorder, the hologram quickly administered a
hypospray. “You are going to be experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal over
the next few days. This should ease you through the worst of the symptoms,
but you will still feel, on the occasion, pain, nausea, disorientation, and
acute nervous agitation. Withing the week, however, your body should have
returned to its normal, pre-narcotic state.”
I closed my eyes, nodding weakly. The sharp pain and shivering had
already begun to ease. “What about-?” Turning towards him, I swallowed hard.
“What about my other injuries?”
“They have been attended to. I was able to repair most of the nerve
and tissue damage, so I do not believe that your procreative functions will be
impaired. However, there is some scarring that I do not have the ability to
prevent. Some of the dermal tissue was simply too badly damaged.”
“Oh,” was all I could think to reply. Asking questions and focusing on
the answers seemed to take a lot more energy than I had at the moment.
Besides, I didn’t want to know how hideous I now was. I’d be able to see for
myself soon enough. I closed my eyes again, slowly dozing off.
Almost immediately, malevolent masked faces peered down at me. “Time
for another dose, Lieutenant. You are being most uncooperative. If you would
only-” Gloved hands reached out toward me.
“No! Please! No!” Cait and the Doc both jumped as I bolted up in bed
and then crashed back down, curling into a small ball. “No-no-more-please.
No-please. Stop.”
Cait cupped my face in her hands. “Tom! Tom, listen to me. You’re
safe now. You’re on Voyager. You’re only having a flashback.” She gently
turned my frightened face to her. “Tom, you’re safe.”
The Doctor administered another hypospray. The muscles in my body
tentatively relaxed and my eyelids drooped shut. I wanted so much to believe
her.

I woke up several hours, perhaps even days, later. I couldn’t be sure.
My internal clock was as screwed up as the rest of me. In the cell, you
couldn’t tell whether it was day or night, and frankly, I had other things on
my mind, like surviving the next round of questioning.
I didn’t feel quite as bad as I had earlier, but terrible is still
terrible, no matter how you quantify it. Raising my head a little, I could
make out a petite blond figure across the room.
“Kes.” My voice was little more than a hoarse croak.
She spun around and walked over, picking up a tricorder and hypospray
on the way. “How do you feel, Tom?”
“Like hell.” It hurt to talk. “Could I have some water?”.
“Of course. First, let me give you your medicine.” I heard the gentle
hiss of the hypospray before she stepped away. In two seconds, she was back,
lifting my head to a glass.
Taking three large sips, I sighed gratefully. “Thanks. I really
needed that.”
“Anytime.” She placed the glass on a nearby cart. “I’ll leave it here
in case you want more. Now, let’s see how you are doing.”
“Horrible. I can tell you that without a tricorder.”
“Actually, you’re much improved. Your system has been slowly purging
itself of the drug. The Doctor now believes that you’re over the worst part of
the withdrawal.”
“The worst?” Suddenly, I realized restraints held me securely to the
bed. Out of reflex, I shifted underneath them, testing their strength.
“Here.” Smiling, Kes released them. “You’re not a threat to your
safety right now. We hesitated to use them in light of what you had been
through, but the Doctor was afraid you might injure yourself.”
“Injure myself?”
“Yes. The drug they gave you had powerful after effects. You
experienced both delusional and convulsive fits. At one point, it was all
Caitlin, the Doctor, and I could do to restrain you. Do you remember any
of it?”
I shook my head. “Everything’s so cloudy. Cait was here? I seem to
remember seeing her, but I thought it was just another illusion. Oh, and the
Doctor saying something about-” I broke off. “Kes, have you seen them?”
She squeezed my shoulder and nodded.
Concern overrode any embarrassment I might have felt. “How-how bad?”
“Considering your condition when you came in, you’re quite lucky.
Honestly, Tom, they aren’t bad, and reproductive-wise, you’re fine.”
“I don’t care about that. How ugly are they? What do they look like?”
I shoved off the blanket and tried to sit up.
“Tom, please, lie down. You aren’t well enough; you need rest.”
“Shut up,” I growled, raising up on my elbow. One thing I could
remember vividly was seeing the wounds grow progressively worse each time the
rod was brought out. Just how mutilated had I been left?
“All right. All right. Let me adjust the bed.” She raised me into a
sitting position. “There.”
“Turn around,” I snapped. “It’s bad enough you’ve seen me already.”
After she complied, I hesitantly undid the waistband of the pajamas.
There they were. My breath caught in my throat.
“Ohh, Gods.” Refastening the pajamas, I shut my eyes and rolled away
from Kes.
“Tom?” Her hand touched my shoulder.
“Don’t touch me!” I drew my knees up to my chest, pulling the blanket
protectively over me. “Don’t touch me! Don’t look at me! Leave me alone!”
“You know we can’t do that, Tom. It’ll take time, but gradually you’ll
learn to accept them just as-”
“Accept them? I don’t want to accept them! Just, please leave me
alone.” Tears poured down my face. I couldn’t stop them. My life was over.
I heard the hiss of a hypospray, and my eyelids grew heavy. “We’ll
talk later, Tom.” I heard Kes say somewhere in the distance.

When I came to, Chakotay was at my bedside. “Did you come to gawk at
me, too?” I whispered harshly.
“No.”
“Then why are you here?”
“It was thought a male presence might have a less unsettling effect
when you woke, especially if you wanted to talk.”
“Talk?” I snorted. “What is there to talk about? I’m scarred for
life, Chakotay, in the worst possible place. All because some band of rebels
wanted information on Voyager.”
Shaking his head, he hopped up on the vacant bio-bed beside me. “It
wasn’t the rebels, Tom; it was the government. Their purpose of kidnapping one
of us was twofold. First, it served as an excuse for cracking down on rebel
sympathizers, and second, it was a way of gaining information on Voyager with
the idea of ultimately capturing her. According to the rebels who gave us the
Center’s plans, you gave the government very little useful information, which,
considering the extent of you injuries, is amazing. We’re all extremely proud
of you, Lieutenant.”
I grimaced. “Can’t say I feel the same way right now, Commander.”
“That’s understandable. I don’t expect you to, but I wanted you to
know how we felt, anyway. The Captain is entering another commendation into
your record; at this rate, you’ll have more medals than your father when we
get home.”
I closed my eyes. “My father. He’ll never believe his `son’ could
merit them.”
“At which point, you drop your pants and show him you’ve got the scars
to prove it. Whether you want them or not, they’re with you; so you might as
well use them to your advantage. Besides, think of his expression.”
He did have a point. I would enjoy seeing my father eat his words,
even at my emasculated expense. I chuckled mirthlessly. “Thanks, Chakotay.
I needed that.”
He smirked for a brief moment, then sobered. “Tom, I’m not going to
lie to you. You have a long, difficult path ahead, but we want you back at
conn. To that end, I’m offering my services as an unofficial counselor.
Personally, I know what it’s like to be imprisoned and tortured, thanks to both
the Cardassians and the Kazons. Luckily, I had my guide to help me through,
but even then, it has not been easy. You’re going to have to face your fears
and anger; you’re going to have to learn to trust others again; and most
importantly, you’re going to have to accept yourself for who you now are. It’s
not a road you can travel by yourself, Paris.”
My jaw tightened. “I’m not talking to some spirit guide, and as far as
your pity goes-”
“It’s not pity, Lieutenant, and I won’t introduce you to your guide
unless you ask me. We don’t have a counselor on board, and you are going to
need one. Now, if you don’t want it to be me for personal reasons, fine.
But you need someone you can talk to. I just thought since I had been through
similar experiences, it might make it easier. Besides, I still owe you,
poocuh, and I don’t intend to make the rest of this journey with that debt
hanging over my head.”
I looked over at him. Most of the bad-blood between us had dissipated
due to time and circumstances, but pride-wise, I still didn’t like it, not that
I had all that much pride left. “I guess I don’t have a choice, then, do I?”
“Not really, no. Especially, if you ever want to pilot Voyager again.”
“Pilot Voyager. Yeah, right. Okay, Dr. Freud, I’m all yours. Analyze
my dreams, but one word about wanting to kill my father, and the session is
over. I may resent the old bastard, but I don’t want to kill him.”
Chakotay chuckled. “What about sleeping with your mother?”
“Oh, very funny. That’s it. Session’s over.” I sat up angrily. I
wasn’t in the mood for mind games; I was screwed up enough as it was.
“At ease, Lieutenant. I was only testing the waters to see how much
fight you had left.”
“And did I come up to your expectations?” I sneered.
“Surpassed them. Kes is right; you are much stronger than you let on.
I’m already willing to bet you’ll be back at conn.” He smiled gently. “But
you’re right. That is enough for right now, unless you want to talk
some more.”
“Not at this time,” I growled.
“Fine. I brought you a few items from your room, including some PADDs
Caitlin said might help you pass the time. Speaking of the Lieutenant, she
wants to visit you. Would you mind if she stopped by?”
*Cait! Oh gods, why? We had just-* I shut my eyes tightly, trying to
squeeze out the memory of our last breakfast together.
“I’ll take that as a no.”
“Not now, Chakotay. I can’t. I don’t want to hurt her, but I can’t.”
I raised up on one elbow, pleading with her, as much as with the man in front
of me.
“It’s all right, Paris. She’ll understand. These things take time.
Don’t worry.” Firm hands pushed me back down.
“And the scars. I don’t want her-”
“I won’t mention them. Why don’t you rest a little?”
I nodded. “Yes sir.” *Oh gods, why? We had just started-* I closed
my eyes. It wasn’t fair. What was left for me now? Even conn didn’t provide
the answer to that question any more. A basket-case like me didn’t deserve
the position and sure as hell didn’t deserve Cait.
Sitting up, I looked around sickbay. I was alone. The cabinet
containing most of the potent drugs sat only a few meters away across the room.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood up. My knees buckled
immediately, forcing me to cling to the bed for support. I was weak, but I
was determined. I’d get to that cabinet if I had to crawl. Never thought I’d
use my biochem studies this way, though.
Slowly, I shuffled my way across the room. The cabinet, of course, was
locked, but hey, that’s what prison is for. In less than a second, I had it
open. *Let’s see. Ditrictacine. Yeah, that should do the job.*
Carefully, I measured it into a vial. Too little, and I might not
succeed. Too much, and my body would promptly reject it, and I had had enough
pain lately. *There, that should be enough.* I slipped the vial into a
hypospray and raised it to my neck. *Okay, Thomas. On the count of three.
One . . . Two . . .*
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
I spun around, the spray clattering to the floor. The Doctor stood
behind me.
“Besides, I believe it is customary to leave a note for your loved
ones.”
“Wha-? How? I didn’t activate you.”
“Indeed you did, when you broke into the cabinet. Soon after the
destruction of the Caretaker, I became concerned that a crew member might try
something foolish like this, so I programmed a silent alarm on the cabinet lock
to initiate my program whenever it was tampered with.” He stepped forward,
picking up the hypospray. “Hmmm. Quite a lethal dose, Lieutenant. You would
have succeeded, but only after a few very agonizing moments.”
I shook my head in disbelief. “I thought I had the proportion right.”
I muttered as much to myself as to the hologram.
“Not quite. Now, if you would-”
I slid slowly down the wall onto the floor. Wrapping my arms around my
knees, I began to slowly rock back and forth. “Can’t even kill yourself right.
Pretty stupid, Thomas.” Tears clouded my field of vision. “Stupid, worthless
piece of meat. No good. Useless.”
“Oh dear,” the Doctor sighed, tapping his commbadge. “Doctor to Kes.
Could you come to sickbay right away. I need your help.”
“On my way.”
“Lieutenant.” He crouched beside me. “Let’s get you back to bed, shall
we?”
I could hardly see him. “Just leave me alone, Doc. I don’t want your
help. I don’t deserve it. Just let me be.” I choked down a sob.
“I can’t do that, Mr. Paris. I have a reponsibility to uphold.”
“F*ck you! And f*ck your responsibility! Why didn’t you let me die?
I’m f*cking useless. So just leave me the f*ck alone!” My head sank down onto
my chest.
The doors to sickbay slid open as Kes entered. The Doctor rose to his
feet. “He tried to take his own life,” he whispered. “Luckily, my alarm
allowed me to prevent it; however, I though perhaps you might be better at
handling his current emotional condition.”
“I understand.” She knelt beside me, placing one hand on my knee.
“Tom?”
I raised my head. “So, he sent for you. Told you what I screwed up
doing this time. Stupid, huh? Pretty f*cking stupid. Just shows how useless
I am.”
“Tom, you are not useless. Right now, you are hurt and confused, but
you are not useless.” Her free hand stroked my cheek. “You need to give
yourself time to heal, physically and emotionally. You can’t give up on
yourself and your life so easily.”
“Why not? What the hell do I have to live for?”
“Well, let’s start with your field commission. You once told me flying
Voyager was a dream come true; surely that hasn’t changed?”
“Oh, yeah?” I snorted. “Who would let a basket-case like me near the
helm? Even if the Captain said yes, I wouldn’t accept.”
“All right. What about your godson? You promised to teach him how
to pilot a shuttle by his first birthday. Valaxis has been looking forward
to it.”
“Kes, anyone on board, including you, can teach him how to do that.
He doesn’t need me.”
“Well, what about Caitlin? Are you going to turn you back on what the
two of you could have?”
“Cait? Ahh, Cait, Cait, Cait.” I sniggered sardonically. “Why the
hell do you think I want to kill myself? I’ve lost it all, Kes. With one
swipe of Fate’s arm, I lost it all. Cait, conn, everything. There’s nothing
left for me; my life is meaningless now. Meaningless, worthless, useless.”
Fresh tears began to course down my face.
“Oh, Tom.” Kes cradled my head in her arms. “You are so mistaken.
We need you deparately. The ship, the crew, your friends. You’ve go to
believe that. If you would only give yourself a little time, you would see
that.” She wiped my face with a soft cloth. “Shh. It’ll be all right.
Time heals. You’ll see.”
I gazed up at her blurry image. “I don’t think I can wait, Kes. I’m
so tired of failing; I don’t have the strength to try anymore.”
“Nonsense. You do. I can feel it in you. It’s faint, but it will
grow if you allow it to. Now, let’s get you back to bed.” She smiled
supportively. “Time and rest will help you to see things in a different
light.”
I nodded weakly, and she and the Doctor helped me to my feet. As she
settled me back in the bed, I started feeling nauseous. “Could I have some
water, please?”
“Of course.” Kes poured out a fresh glass and held it out to me. My
hand shook so bad I almost spilt it.
“Tom, are you feeling agitated or nauseous?”
I nodded, taking a sip. “Just a little I-AH!” A sharp pain pierced
my gut, the glass tumbling to the floor as I doubled over. “Ohh gods, make it
stop. Please, make it stop.”
“There.” She pulled a hypospray back from my neck. “The pain should
cease shortly.”
In a second or two, my muscles relaxed. I took a deep breath and lay
down. “Thanks, Kes.”
“Don’t mention it.” She tucked the blanket around me. “I know you
don’t feel much like it now, but in a little while, would you care for some
broth? You do need to start eating again.”
“Maybe later. Kes, I’m so sorry. I was so rude to you earlier, and
now, I’ve-” Her image began to swim once again.
“Shh. It’s all right. You didn’t ask for this to happen to you. What
is important is getting you to take care of yourself and making sure you don’t
give up again. You’re the best pilot we have; we need you.”
“Yeah, sure you do,” I muttered despondently.
“We do. What do I have to do to convince you? Get the Captain
in here?”
“Maybe,” I retorted.
“Very well. I’ll talk to her personally. For now, though, I believe
you could do with some rest.” She dimmed the lights around the bed.
I gazed wearily at the ceiling. She was right. I was completely
drained. Rolling on my side, I gradually drifted off.

Impediments
Part 4

By Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

THE PARIS JOURNALS, vol. IV

A couple of hours later, I opened my eyes. The Captain stood by the
bed. “How are you doing, Tom?”
Still drowsy, I smirked. “I don’t think I really need to answer that
question, do I?”
She smiled compassionately. “Probably not. Tom, have I ever lied
to you?”
“No, Captain.” I swallowed hard. I owed her so much. I’d tried to
repay her the best way I could, but somehow, it never felt like it was enough.
“Then, if I tell you I need you back at conn, you’ll believe me.”
“Captain, I don’t think I can come back.”
She shook her head. “You can and you will, Lieutenant. Tom, ever
since we met, you’ve surprised me, showing more courage and strength than I
initially gave you credit for. You have saved Voyager on more than one
occasion, this last time almost at the cost of your own life. Star Fleet
never prepared us for some of the things we’ve encountered on this journey,
and we’ve all found ourselves at one time or another pushed beyond our limits.
But we’ve nevertheless hung together as a crew, each member vital to our
collective survival. This ship, this crew needs you, Tom. You’re the best
pilot we have. I can’t afford to lose you or your experience. Do you
understand what I’m saying?”
I silently returned her determined gaze. She knew what had happened.
Didn’t *she* understand that I was tired of seeing my hopes and dreams swept
away? I had rebuilt my life from a pile of imprisoned dust, and once more it
had been destroyed. I didn’t want to go through all that sh*t again and
watch it disintegrate a third time. I was too tired and too hurt; it was as
simple as that.
Shutting my eyes, I took a deep breath. “Captain, you’ve never lied
to me, and I won’t lie to you. I can’t promise I’ll be back at conn. I’m not
even sure I should be there; I’m not the same person I was. Please, Captain,
don’t make me promise something I might not be able to deliver. I don’t want
to let you down.”
“Lieutenant.” She squeezed my hand gently. “The only way you can let
me down is to give up on yourself. Promise me you won’t do that.”
*Thomas, you owe her.* “I’ll try not to, Captain. Honest.”
I wouldn’t cry, not in front of her, not this time.
“Good. I know you won’t. In the meantime, I want you to cooperate with
the Doctor and Kes, and to talk to Commander Chakotay or whomever, if you
prefer someone else.”
“No, I guess he’ll do.”
“Fine. I’ll come by as time permits, but don’t let my absence fool
you. I’ll be monitoring the Doctor’s progress reports daily.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I grinned slightly and gave her hand a tiny squeeze.
She smiled down at me once more before turning away. “Remember what
I said, Lieutenant. Kes, he’s all yours.”
“Thank you, Captain. I’m sure we won’t be having anymore trouble with
him.” Cool as a cucumber, Kes strolled up to the bedside. “You heard the
Captain. Now, how about a little soup?”

A noise in the darkened sickbay woke me. Sitting up, I looked
around. “Doc? Kes?” Hesitantly, I lay back down; maybe I had
imagined it. Nope. There it was again, definitely not my imagination.
“Who’s there? Computer, activate emergency medical holographic
program.’
No response.
“Compter, locate Kes. Computer, locate Capt. Janeway.”
Nothing.
Cautiously, I threw my legs over the side of the bed and stood
up. Even the warp engines were silent. I tiptoed over to the door and
stepped out into the corridor. No one was around. What the hell was
going on? I walked a little ways down the hall. “Computer, is anyone
on board?”
Silence.
Something was decidedly wrong. There was a weapons locker down
the corridor on my left, and making quick work of the lock, I armed
myself with a phaser. At least, it made me feel a little less
vulnerable; the hospital greens I had on sure didn’t.
I heard another sound down the hall. Shutting the locker door,
I crept silently along until I reached the bend. *One . . . Two . . .
Three!* I swung around and found myself pointing a phaser down an
empty passage.
Okay, that was it. I wasn’t about to start chasing phantoms
through the ship. I needed to get to the bridge; find out what was
happening. Crossing over to a turbolift, I waited for the doors to
open. When they did, two Langarian guards stood in front of me.
Before I could fire, they hit me with a stun setting.
When I opened my eyes, I was strapped naked to a biobed in
sickbay. A masked figure stepped forward out of the shadows. “You
have been most uncooperative, Lieutenant, and now you must pay.”
I saw the rod touch my penis and convulsed under the searing
pain. “AAUGH! No! Please! Help me! Somebody help me!”

“Tom! Tom! Wake up!” Small hands shook my shoulders. “You’re all
right!”
I opened my eyes and leapt from the bed, backing slowly away from Kes
and the Doctor.
“Tom, you’re all right. You had a nightmare, that’s all. You’re
safe.” Her voice was calm and re-assuring.
I stared at them for a minute before sinking to the ground. My whole
body was trembling form fear; I couldn’t stop it. I drew my knees under my
chin and began to rock slowly back and forth.
Kes knelt beside me, hugging my head to her chest. “It’s all right,
Tom. Everything’s going to be all right.”
“Oh gods, Kes. They were here, on Voyager. They brought me in here
and-” I couldn’t bring myself to finish.
“It was a nightmare, Tom. That’s all. You’ll probably have quite a
few after what you’ve been through, but that’s healthy. Your mind is beginning
to confront and deal with what’s happened on a subconscious level; it’s up to
you to continue it on the conscious level.” She smiled supportively. “Now,
let’s get you back to bed.”
Since I still felt a little shaky, I allowed her to help me to my feet.
When we had settled me back in the bed, she raised it into a seated position.
“It’s 0815. How about a little breakfast, maybe some toast and juice.”
She tried hard to sound upbeat.
“Yeah, whatever.” After my most recent experience, I wasn’t really in
the mood to eat.
Well, three glasses of juice and, I’m ashamed to say it, six pieces of
toast later, I finally sat back in relative contentment. Kes shot me a knowing
glance as she picked up the tray. “Finished?”
“Yes, and you needn’t be so smug. That is, after all, the first solid
food I’ve had in a while.”
“I know. I’m just glad you ate. You seemed so disinterested when I
set it before you, that I was afraid you’d only pick at it.”
“To be honest, that’s all I felt like doing, but once I bit in, it
tasted so good I couldn’t stop myself.” I smiled sheepishly.
Her pretty blue eyes lit up. “Good! You’ll be back on your feet in
no time. Now, can I get you something else?”
Emboldened by the food, I reached for one of the PADDs Chakotay had
brought. “Nah, I think I’ll just read a little.”
“Fine. I’ll be right over here if you need something.”
About an hour later, I had another bout of the shakes. They weren’t as
bad as before, and the Doc administered my usual dose of withdrawal medication.
He thinks my system should be recovered by tomorrow evening. I hope he’s
right; it would be a relief to have one less problem to face.
Chakotay stopped by at 1045 hours for our first `session’. I wasn’t
exactly sure what to expect, and I was real hesitant about discussing what
precisely I could remember. He didn’t push me, though. He began by telling me
of his experiences and those of other people he knew. How they coped or didn’t
cope, in some cases. Basically, he tried to let me know that I wasn’t alone,
and that whenever I was ready to talk, he would be there.
Our one-sided discussion ended around 1200 hours when Kes brought in my
lunch, two PBJs and a tall glass of milk. Her son, my godson, Valaxis had used
his own replicator rations to make them for me. He had even wanted to deliver
them himself, but she had convinced him otherwise.
The sandwiches were great, bringing a huge smile to my face as always.
Afterwards, I read a little and napped. I guess I was slowly getting better;
I was becoming bored.

The next day passed with only a brief period of trembling, but there
was no pain, no nausea, only agitation. The Doc let me ride it out without any
medication. It wasn’t much fun, but in the end, I felt like I had accomplished
something. By dinnertime, I even felt relatively normal, polishing off my
supper without hesitation before turning in. I hoped I would be able to leave
sickbay soon. I was really getting sick of seeing the Doc, and I think he felt
the same way about me.

A hand on my shoulder woke me the following morning. “Good morning,
sleepyhead. How was your night?” Cait’s cheerful voice tried to cajole me
into a good mood.
“Not too bad, apart from one or two nightmares.”
“You look better. Chakotay said you might not mind me visiting,
especially if I brought good news.”
“Like what?” I frowned, in spite of what `my therapist’ thought, her
presence set me on edge. I didn’t want her seeing me like this. It was bad
enough she had seen me when I was brought on board.
Her green eyes twinkled mischievously. “Oooh, like, how would you like
to get out of here? The Doctor told the Captain you might be able to return to
your quarters now that the withdrawal symptoms have eased.”
Brightening, I sat up quickly. “Great. Hand me my robe, will ya?
Thanks. Computer, activate the emergency medical holographic program. Hey,
Doc. I’m ready to get out of here.”
“Hmm. We’ll just have to see if you are indeed, ready.” He frowned
at the bed’s readings. “According to this report, you were quite restless
last night. Elevated heart rate, increased brain activity. . .”
“Yeah, well, I had a few nightmares.”
“I see.” The hologram paused in thought. “Do you intend to continue
your couselling with Commander Chakotay?”
“Oh, yeah, sure.” My eyes darted around nervously, avoiding Cait.
*Here I am, darling, your ever-loving basket-case. Sure, Thomas, just what
every woman wants.*
“Well, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t leave. However, if the
dreams worsen or if any of the other symptoms return, contact me immediately.
Is that clear, Lieutenant?”
“Crystal, Doc. Thanks.” I hopped off the bed. “Let’s go, Cait.”
As soon as we stepped outside into the corridor, though, I almost
turned around. My room was only one deck down, but I had forgotten about the
stares of the other crew members, each one probably wondering where the
scars were.
Cait noticed my hesitation and placed a concerned hand on my arm.
“Tom, are you up to this? I mean, if one more day in sickbay would help-”
“Nah.” I shook my head. “Sickbay can’t help me with this. I’ve got
to do this myself.”
“Do what?”
“Face the crew. Walk these corridors. I can’t spend my life in sick-
bay or in my quarters for that matter.” I trudged off toward the lift.
Cait matched my stride. “Tom, the crew is behind you one hundred
percent. Many couldn’t have survived what you did, much less without breaking.
You have no reason to fear them.”
“I don’t actually fear them, Cait. I’m just embarrassed. I feel like
every time I see someone the same thought will immediately come to their mind.
`Poor Tom Paris, scarred for life.’ I don’t want to be pitied, dammit.”
“I don’t think the crew is the problem, Tom. The scars are, and you’re
going to have to deal with them.” She observed as we entered the lift. “Deck
6. They aren’t that bad, honestly. Considering what you went through they
could have been a lot worse.”
My jaw dropped. “You-you’ve seen them?”
She nodded. “Who do you think helped clean you up when you first came
on board? I have done triage work in the past after all.”
“I can’t believe you saw them,” I whispered, shrinking back.
“Tom.” She took my hand in hers. “You look fine. In a few years, one
or two of them will have faded almost completely away. As far as the main one,
I think-”
“Shut up!” I jerked my hand away. “Just shut up! I don’t want to
talk about it!” The lift doors opened, allowing me to bolt out.
“Tom!” Cait chased after me, catching up at my door. “I’m sorry.
I didn’t mean to upset you. I thought-”
I keyed open the door and hauled her roughly inside, shutting it behind
us. “Computer, lights. What did you think, Matthews? Did you think I’d like
to discuss my mutilated anatomy with my ex-lover? Perhaps I should drop my
pajamas right now so you can show me exactly which scars you were referring to?
Would you like that? Hmmm?”
“Tom, listen to me. I wasn’t trying to upset you. I was trying to
help. You’ve got to talk about this to someone.”
“I do. With Chakotay, but you aren’t he, are you? Now, would you
please leave? I’d like to shower and put on some clothes other than pajamas.
Or perhaps you’d like to stay and watch?” I sneered. I felt so betrayed;
I hadn’t wanted her to see them. Not now. Not ever.
Cait opened her mouth to retort, but promptly shut it. Her eyes
dropped to the floor. “I’m only trying to be your friend, Tom. I’m sorry I
upset you. I’ll leave now.” Before I could stop her, she darted out of the
room.
What the hell was I doing? She didn’t deserve any of what I had just
said. But how could anyone understand what I was going through? How could
they understand how butchered I felt? How every time I went to the bathroom,
took a shower, got dressed, or, oh gods, made love, I would be reminded of what
I had gone through. How helpless I had been. How powerless.
“Ahh, damn.” Sighing deeply, I pulled a shirt, some trousers, and a
pair of briefs out of a drawer and turned toward the bathroom. I froze.
I didn’t want to see myself; I didn’t want to touch myself. I considered
briefly showering in the dark, but it wouldn’t make a difference. I still knew
where they were. I could still see them in my mind, feel the pain and
humiliation each one represented.
“What the hell am I going to do?” Slowly, I sank to the floor, tucking
my knees under my chin. I just sat there staring at the door. Minutes passed,
maybe even an hour. *Face it, Thomas. You are a basket-case.*
I gave myself a little shake. “No. Just don’t look at them. Just
hop in and out. Piece of cake.” *Yeah, sure, piece of cake.*
Standing, I quickly stripped off and strode into the bathroom. *In and
out before you lose your courage, Thomas.* Once I was in the room, though,
some sick perversion beckoned me over to the mirror. I shut my eyes. Maybe it
had all been a bad dream. Maybe there weren’t any scars. Cautiously, I
opened my eyes.
“DAMN!” My fist smashed against the mirror. “Why? Why me?”
Eight of them altogether. Two on my left thigh, three on my right, two
on my stomach and one running the length of my penis. I stared at them, their
reflections burning into my mind. And Cait had seen them. My stomach lurched.
I leaned over the basin and threw up. *Oh gods, why couldn’t they have killed
me?*
Somehow I managed to drag myself into the shower and got dressed. But
I didn’t go anywhere. I simply locked my door and curled up on my bed and
cried. *Just like home.* I thought as I finally drifted off into an
exhausted sleep.

Impediments
Part 5

By Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

THE PARIS JOURNALS, vol. IV

I didn’t hear the chime at first. It must have been on its third
chorus before I finally became conscious enough to know what it was. I leapt
up quietly, flattening myself against the wall by the door. They weren’t going
to catch me off-guard this time. “Who’s there?”
“It’s Chakotay. Paris, are you okay?”
“Yeah.” I let out a long sigh of relief and pressed the door release.
“What can I do for you, Commander?”
“Are you sure you’re all right, Lieutenant? You don’t look that way
to me. Have you had a recurrence of withdrawal?”
I shook my head. “No, I was only sleeping. You woke me, that’s all.”
“Mmm.” He gazed at me uncertainly, like he didn’t fully buy my story.
“I stopped by because it’s time for our daily meeting. Now, we can start today
with something simple or perhaps something a little more complicated, such as
why you’ve been crying.”
My mouth fell open. “How did you know?”
“Does it really matter? The important thing is you have been, which
is good. I’d rather see you express the emotions, than bottle them up. So,
why don’t we go catch an early lunch and just talk? Hmm?”
“Um, yeah. Okay.” I ran a hand through my hair. Geez, it was messed
up. “Wait a minute, will ya, Chakotay?”
I ducked into the bathroom. I looked like hell. My eyes were red and
my hair shot out in about seven different directions. No wonder he had guessed
that I had been crying. I tamed my hair and splashed some water on my face.
“You said lunch,” I called out. “What time is it?”
“1130 hours.”
“Oh.” I came out of the bath patting my face dry. “Look, Chakotay.
There’s something you should know. I, um, kinda blew up at Cait when she
brought me here. I said some things I shouldn’t have.”
The Commander nodded. “Caitlin already told me what happened. She
doesn’t blame you; if anything, she feels guilty for upsetting you.” He
clapped me on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, Paris; forgive and forget.
Now, let’s go get some food, all right?”
“Yes sir,” I replied as upbeat as I could. Inwardly, however, I
cringed at the thought of going to the mess. The stares. The whispers.
*C’mon, Thomas, you used to be tough. Yeah, sure, until now.*
But I made it through lunch and even shot some pool by myself on the
holodeck in the afternoon. At dinner, I again sat with Chakotay so we could
talk and because I didn’t fell comfortable sitting with anyone else, an idea
which struck me as hilariously funny. Him. Of all people.
Almost immediately after dinner, I turned in. I was pretty exhausted.
My first day out of sickbay had been draining, in spite of how boring the
afternoon was. I set the alarm for 0700. In sickbay, I had been sleeping
pretty much whenever I wanted to, but now that I was out, it seemed best to get
back into my old routine. Maybe if I felt up to it, I’d even join my friends
at breakfast. Apart from my blow-up with Cait, they had really been good about
keeping their distance, and according to Chakotay, they were waiting for me to
give the all-clear signal. Besides, I owed Cait an apology.
Settling in between the sheets, I stretched and yawned. If I had any
nightmares, perhaps they would at least do me the courtesy of coming early
so I could get a decent night’s sleep.

. . . The dark figure stepped forward, lifting the rod.
“You have been most un-cooperative, Lieutenant.”
“No! Please! Oh gods, somebody help me!”

Strong hands grabbed my wrists, pulling me up and giving me a little
shake. “C’mon, Paris! Wake up! You’re safe. No one’s going to get you.
You’re all right.”
My eyes opened onto Chakotay’s concerned face. Involuntarily, I fell
forward into his arms, shaking in terror.
“Shh. It’s okay, Lieutenant. It was only a dream.” He held my
trembling body, barely rocking it as though I was a child. “Shh. You’re safe
now, Paris. It’s okay.”
After a few seconds, I raised my head. Gradually gathering my wits, I
pulled away. “What are you doing here?”
“I was passing by and heard you scream. So I-”
“So you came charging to my rescue like any good knight in shining
armour.” I finished with a lopsided grin, desperately trying to hide my
embarrassment over the preceding moments.
He chuckled. “Well, sort of. None of my ancestors wore armour,
however, that’s more your family history.”
“Okay, how about streaking across the plains on a palamino?”
“Closer, but still not quite right. Try charging through the dense
growth of a Central American forest.”
I cocked my head thoughtfully to one side. “Nope, don’t see it.
‘Fraid you’ll have to settle for the palamino.”
“Whatever. The important thing is you. Are you okay?” The dark eyes
studied me intently.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m okay. Just still a bit edgy, you know, from the
nightmare.”
“Understandable. Do you want to talk about it.”
“No. No point. It was the same as before; the guards, the dark
figure, etc. Honestly, I’m fine. All I really want is a good night’s sleep.”
“Then, how about I sit here and tell you a story or two. That’s what
my grandmother use to do for me when I had nightmares as a child.”
“That’s me,” I shot back flippantly. “A little kid.”
He frowned. “I didn’t mean it that way, Paris.”
“It’s okay, Commander. I guess I wouldn’t mind hearing a good story.
At this point, I’ll try almost anything to get some sleep.”
Chakotay smiled gently. “All right, then, get comfortable and close
your eyes. A long time ago, before the two-legged roamed the land, the animals
lived very different lives from the ones they do today. They could speak to
one another, and predator and prey lived side-by-side in harmony. One fine
spring day, Old Beaver emerged from his dam. He had been stuck in there all
winter with his wife and their five children . . .” The Commander’s low voice
faded slowly away as I drifted off.

“Oh gods. Yes.” I closed my eyes.
A warm, moist tongue flicked along the underside of my jaw, and
I let out a low moan of delight. The same tongue licked its way up
to teasingly circle the outer edge of my ear.
My hands roamed all over the soft, decidedly female body which
lay on top of me. “Tom,” Cait whispered, quivering beneath my touch.
“Please make love to me.”
The whisper, the warm breath, the promise of sexual
fulfillment; it was all too much. “Ohhh gods, Cait.” I murmured,
opening my eyes to a malevolent shrouded head.

“Wha-?” I shot up in bed, trembling like a leaf, an erection still
very much present between my legs. “Oh gods. Oh gods.” I mumbled rocking
back and forth. “What the hell is going on?”
“Paris?” Chakotay sat up on the sofa. “Are you all right?” He
quickly crossed the room and perched on the edge of my bed. “Was it the same
dream again?”
I shrank back. “Wha-what are you still doing here?”
“After you dropped off to sleep, I thought I’d wait around to make sure
you were okay, and I, ah, sort of fell asleep on the job.” He flashed me an
embarrassed grin. “However, that’s inconsequential. How are you doing?”
A brown hand reached out toward my quivering body.
“Don’t touch me!” I screeched, retreating further away.
The Commander’s jaw dropped momentarily. “All right, Tom, all right.
I won’t touch you. Just tell me what the dream was about. Don’t keep it
to yourself.”
“I-I can’t do that.”
“Okay, we’ll take this one step at a time.”
My chin thrust out defiantly. “No, we won’t, because I won’t tell you
and you will not coax it out of me. Now, please leave me alone. I appreciate
you staying here, but all I want is to be left alone.”
Chakotay eyed me curiously. “Okay, Paris. Have it your way. When you
want to talk, you know where to find me.” He rose and made his way to the door
pausing for one last puzzled glance before exiting.
I sat there for a moment, gazing into space. *Why? Why did it have to
be her? I love her.* Groaning, I stretched out on my back and stared at the
ceiling. I could almost feel her weight pressing down upon me, hear the
whispered request. *`Tom. . .please make love to me.’* The effect was the
same. I raised my head and glared down at the stiff organ beneath the folds
of my pajamas.
*Oh gods.* My hand slipped down and grasped the head, gradually
beginning its familiar, jerking rhythm. Under my fingers, I felt the long scar
and grimaced. In some ways, I wished the wounds had been worse, permanently
removing my body’s ability for its current reaction.

The alarm went off at 0700, and I hauled myself slowly out of the bed.
*Come on, Thomas. Have to get back into the routine.*
The hot water felt good as I sagged against the wall in the shower. No
doubt about it; the first thing I had to do was apologize to Chakotay.
It wasn’t his fault I had the dream, and yet, I had kicked him out of
my quarters. *Not good, Thomas. Not good.*
Twenty minutes later, showered, shaved and dressed in a uniform, I
entered the mess and made straight for Chakotay’s table. “May I sit down?”
The Commander glanced up in surprise. “Of course. What’s with the
uniform?”
“I realize it may be a little soon, but I wanted to talk to the Captain
about resuming some duties. Sitting around all day is starting to drive me
crazy, and I figured I was unhinged enough as it is.” I flashed him a half-
hearted grin. “However, I wanted to talk to you first, to apologize for how
I behaved.” I lowered my voice. “My dreams simply took a bizarre turn last
night that I wasn’t prepared for, and I just wanted to say I was sorry for
throwing you out. You’ve been very supportive these past couple of days. I
had no right to lash out.”
“You don’t have to apologize, Paris. I actually expected such an
outburt days ago, and when it didn’t come, I let my guard down. So you took
me by surprise, too.” He smiled. “Tom, you’ve held up remarkably well to have
gone through what you did. You are entitled to the occasional outburst.”
I wagged my head. “I’m not so sure about that. It seems like I go
fetal pretty much like clock work.’
Chakotay regarded my silently. “You demand a lot from yourself, you
know; in this case, maybe too much.”
“Reflex action. Sorry. My father was never happy with anything less
than perfection from his golden offspring. Of course, most of the time, I
failed to deliver.”
“Fathers,” he snorted. “Remind me to tell you sometime about mine.
Paris, I would be a lot more worried if you didn’t `go fetal’, as you call it.
You’re expressing emotions that need to be released. If you kept them bottled
up, you might be fine for a while and then one day POW!” He snapped his
fingers. “You’d break like a dry twig, and neither I, nor the Captain wants to
see that happen.”
He paused and swept his eyes around the room. “We can’t afford
to lose any more crewmembers, Tom, but as for returning to duty, I’m not sure
either the Doctor or the Captain will allow it just yet.” He cocked his head
to one side and studied me. “However, against my better judgement, I’ll weigh
in with the opinion that some light duty might be beneficial.”
“Thanks, Commander. I’d really appreciate that. I’m going stir-crazy
otherwise.” The enthusiastic grin froze on my face; I had to get out of
there.
He looked at me curiously before glancing over his shoulder. Cait had
just walked in, and I’m sure he put two and two together. “Ahem. Is there
anything else I can do for you, Lieutenant?”
“No sir. I think that’s all. I’d better go see the Captain now and
catch my breakfast later.” I rose quickly and hurried out of the mess. On the
heels of last night, I couldn’t face Cait. Although, sooner or later, I knew
I would have to.

“But doesn’t it anger you?” I sat forward on the sofa gazing intently
at Chakotay. It was my third night out of sickbay, and we had returned to my
quarters after dinner for another `session’. “Doesn’t what Seska did bother
you? I mean, legally, it was genetic rape.”
“Hell, yes, it bothers me, Paris. Somewhere out there is a child with
half of my genetic code that I will probably never know.” He leaned back. “I
also didn’t appreciate the gleefully public way she informed me. But what
really concerns me is that the child is growing up in a society he doesn’t
belong to; he’s growing up totally ignorant of a part of himself, my part.”
The Indian grimaced. “Like many career officers, I never gave much
consideration to children. I always thought if I met someone, fine; if I
didn’t, there was always my career. Then, my father died fighting the
Cardassians, and I suddenly realized how important my tribe and heritage were
to me and how sorry I was I had never told him that.
“You see, he never wanted me to join Star Fleet. He thought I was
turning my back on him and on our people. He called me a contrary and refused
to give me his blessing. But he also said I would come home one day. I just
never dreamed that when I did there would be so little left.” Chakotay let out
a long sigh. “So, each year on the anniversary of his death, I’ve tried to
contact his spirit to tell him that I now understand what he attempted to teach
me as a child.”
“Any luck?” I smirked.
“No,” he smiled dejectedly. “But as a result of what happened, family
and children are no longer something I dismiss lightly and to have Seska use
a child of mine as a pawn disturbs me greatly. Which is, of course, why she
did it in the first place.” The Commander shook his head. “Enough about me
however. What about you? It wasn’t all that long ago rumors were flying
about the ship that you and Caitlin were thinking of starting a family.”
I took a deep breath. “Partially correct. I was the one pushing for
marriage and kids; she was the one resisting. Strange, huh?” I chuckled
mirthlessly. “And then, we broke up; well, you now that little story.
I didn’t give up, though. I figured that maybe with time and luck, we might
have another chance, and after Rowan, I was convinced of it. But I guess none
of that matters now, does it?”
“Why?”
“Why? Why do you think? For gods’ sake, Chakotay, I can barely look
at the scars, much less, touch them myself. Do you think I’m going to ask
someone else to?”
“Tom, you can’t let the scars put you happiness on hold. Don’t push
yourself, but eventually, you are going to have to make that leap of faith.
If you don’t, bitterness and anger will consume you.” He paused for a moment
in thought. “Or is there more to it than that? The dream you had the other
night perhaps?”
“Your guide tell you that?” I flashed back sarcastically; I didn’t
want to discuss that dream with him. Hell, I didn’t even want to think
about it.
“No, you did. In the mess the next morning and right then. Whenever
you try to be callous, I know I’m close to the mark. Caitlin showed up in your
nightmare, didn’t she?”
*No use, Thomas. The cat’s out of the bag.* My gaze dropped to the
floor. “Sort of, but it was a different dream. In it, I had my eyes closed,
but I could hear and, um, feel her. And yet, when my eyes opened, all
I saw was the shrouded figure.” I glanced back up at the Commander. “I can’t
understand it. Why would I equate her with him?”
“Perhaps because you feel threatened by her, as well.”
I wagged my head vigorously. “No, that can’t be it. Why would I?
She wouldn’t hurt me like that. I know she wouldn’t.”
“Then, why did you react to her the way you did the other day? It’s
not the scars, Paris; it’s what they represent. A time when you were powerless
to prevent what was happening to you. A time when almost all of your defenses
were stripped away and you were vulnerable. If you could, you would even hide
the scars from yourself. And the one person on this ship you wanted to appear
strong for has seen how fragile you can be. Whether friend or foe, when a
weakness is exposed, the psyche perceived it as a threat.”
My eyes narrowed slightly. “Is that what you said to Cait when she
told you how angry I got?”
“I said nothing of the kind. I merely suggested that she continue to
give you some breathing room. That when you were ready, you’d let her back in.
And then, I reminded her of how unapproachable she can still be. It got my
point across.”
Momentarily absorbed, I sat back. “She’s had a rough life, Chakotay.
She doesn’t even have one family member waiting for her back home. I do at
least have that, in spite of the fact we aren’t exactly on speaking terms.”
“Mmm-hmm. To be blunt, Paris, you would be only one more in a long
series of people that she’s lost. I believe in some ways she may need you more
than you realize, even if it’s just as a friend.”
We sat silently for a few seconds before I yawned out loud. “Well, as
usual, Chakotay, you’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’m not being
flippant. You really have helped me over these past few days. Honest. I’m
not sure I would have made it this far without you.”
“I’m glad I can help.” He rose to his feet, grinning. “Frankly, I was
a little nervous myself about how you might approach these `sessions’ of ours,
but I have been very pleased with the results.”
“Yeah, me too. I guess my life means a little bit more to me than I
first thought.”
Nodding in agreement, he moved toward the door. “Good night,
Lieutenant. Breakfast tomorrow?”
“0730, Commander?”
Nodding once again, he left. I stared up at the ceiling. Yeah, he
had given me a lot to think about.

It still took me two more days before I felt comfortable with the idea
of sitting with my friends, especially Cait. In the meantime, though,
Captain Janeway granted me relief duties on the bridge. Basically, I took
Bathart’s place whenever she needed a break. Everyone, including me, was a
little anxious when I first sat back down at conn, but I didn’t freak out, and
the ship experienced no major catastrophes, luckily.
By the end of my shift on the third day, I took a deep breath and
followed Harry into the lift as he came off duty. He flashed me a hesitant
smile but didn’t say anything.
I grinned back before allowing my gaze to drop momentarily to the
floor. “So, ah, how have you been doing?”
“Not too bad. Yourself?” He instantly turned pink, afraid he’d asked
the wrong question.
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh, I’ve been worse. Listen, I want to
thank you guys for keeping your distance; up ’til lately, I haven’t exactly
been the best company.”
“Sure. We wanted to visit you in sickbay, but the Commander
discouraged it. He said you needed time to get your bearings, that when you
were ready, you’d let us know.”
“Well, then, I guess I’m letting you know now. I can’t say I’m as
good company as I used to be, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to join the
three of you for dinner.”
He snickered. “Paris, when were you ever good company?”
“Ooh, I don’t know. When I got you ripped on your last birthday, I
seem to recall you putting your arm around me and swearing it was the best
party you had ever had.”
“And the worst hangover I’d ever experienced the next day.” He stared
at me for a while, tongue-tied. I thought for a minute he might cry. Instead,
he swallowed hard and clapped me on the shoulder. “It’s good to have you back,
old man. The ship just isn’t the same without you.”
“It’s good to be back, Harry.” I felt a lump rise in my own throat.
“I owe you one.”
He shook his head and grinned. “Nah, we’re even. Remember, you gave
up your life getting me back into the time stream.”
I stroked my chin thoughfully. “I had forgotten about that. I guess
we are even.”
His smile broadened, as the lift doors opened. “1900 hours in the
mess. Don’t be late,” he joked as I stepped out.
“I won’t.” *Well now, Thomas. That wasn’t so hard was it?*

Dinner, on the other hand, was a little bit tougher with both B’Elanna
and Cait being quieter than usual. I half-expected it from B’Elanna, but not
Cait. Perhaps she was afraid she might upset me again. Whatever the reason,
it made me more determined than ever to apologize for my behavior the day I
left sickbay. Chakotay said she understood, but it still bothered me that I
had yelled at her like that. As far as the dream went, well, she wasn’t the
enemy, and whatever irrational fear had placed her on the same level as my
torturers had to be faced and proven wrong.
So, after spending an hour or so in my quarters trying to come up with
the right words, I finally pressed the chime to Cait’s room. No answer. I
pressed it again.
“Come in.”
I stepped in and looked around. Nothing. “Cait?”
“I’m in the bathroom. Is that you, Paris?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Look, if you’re busy, I can come back later.”
“No, no. I’ll be right out. I just need to dry off.”
I sniffed the air. Mint, lemon, and if I wasn’t mistaken, a little
thyme. “Taking one of your baths?”
“Mmm-hmm.”
The past tore at my heart as I recalled how much she used to love her
baths when we were together. Because of Voyager’s limited resources, she only
took them on special occasions or if she was really stressed. Most of the
time, I drew them for her; she used to say I got the temperature just right.
Sometimes, I even joined her. Playing with bubbles or splashing each other,
we almost always ended up cuddling and making love. Groaning silently, I
plopped down on her sofa and tried to push aside the painful memories.
In a few minutes, Cait emerged from the bathroom, her skin aglow. She
had on a familiar dark green silk gown and matching robe. She always did look
good in it, and tonight was no exception. She sat down about half a meter
away from me on the sofa, tucking her feet underneath her.
“And just what can I do for you, Lieutenant?”
Ah, the response I would’ve given that loaded question a few weeks ago.
Instead, I took a deep breath. “I wanted to apologize to you for the way I’ve
acted. I know you’ll say it’s forgiveable considering what happened to me, but
I want to apologize anyway. Cait, I’m sorry I yelled at you, and I’m sorry
I’ve been avoiding you.”
A warm smile lit up her face. “Apology accepted.”
“Good. Well, I’ll be off.” I jumped a bit too eagerly to my feet.
“Before you go, could you answer me one thing?”
Sighing heavily, I sat back down. “I’ll try.”
“Why have you been avoiding me? I get the feeling my seeing the scars
was only part of the reason.”
My eyes dropped to the floor. “I don’t know if I can explain it. Over
the past two weeks, I’ve been so angry and afraid; there’s a part of me that
only wanted to curl up in a corner and hide. You’ve got to understand, nothing
had prepared me for this experience. I’ve never felt so helpless, so violated
in my life, and every night, my nightmares bring all those feelings roaring
back. Sometimes it takes every ounce of strength I have to pull myself out of
bed and face a new day.”
“Tom,” Cait leaned over and placed a sympathetic hand on my arm. “I
know how you feel. I felt the same way once, too, many years ago.”
My hand closed over hers, giving it a squeeze. Yeah, she knew.
I could remember when she first told me about the rape. In many ways, she
probably understood my feelings better than Chakotay, and yet, here she sat so
strong, so unwilling to be defeated, while I cowered in tears in my room.
My mouth tightened in shame, and my arm stiffened.
“I’m sorry.” She drew back, making me feel worse.
I shook my head. “You have no reason to be. You haven’t done
anything. It’s my fault.”
“I don’t understand.” Confusion was etched across her face.
“You are so strong, Cait. Sometimes, I feel very weak when I’m around
you, like you don’t even deserve me as a friend.”
“Tom, that’s not true, and you know it.” Her eyes filled with a
mixture of concern and pity.
“Don’t look at me like that. I don’t want your pity. You’re the kind
of person my father always wanted as a son. Instead, he got me.”
Her hand touched my cheek, and I jerked away as if her flesh burned.
She lowered her eyes and her hand dropped into her lap.
“Do you really think I’m so strong?” she whispered. “I hide my
weaknesses, Tom, tuck them away so no one can ever know them or use them. You
are just the opposite. You hide your strength, even from yourself. You’ve
endured so much, and yet, you have survived as a guarded, but caring human
being. I couldn’t do that.
“When I came on Voyager, I had become a very hard and bitter
individual. I was angry; I wouldn’t let people get close to me, and I made
very few friends, even among the Maquis. Voyager, and especially you, changed
all that.” She glanced up with tears in her eyes. “Tom, in spite of all that
has happened between us, you have made me happy. You’ve reminded me how
wonderful it can be to love someone and have that love returned.”
Her voice waivered off. She reached up and touched my cheek again.
This time I didn’t pull away. “You got under my skin, Thomas Eugene Paris.”
I grinned ruefully. “I’ve been told I’m pretty good at that.”
Cait giggled as two tears ran down each cheek. Quickly, she brushed
them away. “See, I’m not so tough. In fact, I’m pretty weak when it comes
to you. You are my closest friend, Tom. I care about you a great deal.”
I stared at her. It had come to this; she all but admitted she loved
me, now, when I wouldn’t touch her. My heart pounded in my chest. *Cait, why
did you wait?* Shutting my eyes, I leaned forward and covered my face with
my hands.
Her arm wrapped around my shoulders. “Tom? Tom, please don’t cry.
I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m so sorry. Please-”
I sat back, wiping my eyes. “Cait, it’s okay. Just another one of
life’s twisted ironies. Ohh, gods,” I moaned, gazing up at the ceiling.
Suddenly, she stradled my lap. Taking my face in her hands, she began
kissing me slowly, gently coaxing from me the response I wanted so desperately
to give, and yet, not give. Her tongue traced the outline of my mouth with
a practiced tenderness until I consented, tentatively parting my lips. We
kissed deeply, our passion increasing as we hungrily explored each other’s
mouth.
Unfastening my jumpsuit, she raised the shirt underneath, her fingers
lightly stroking the hair on my chest. Blood thundered in my ears; my pulse
raced, easily outdistancing any coherent line of thought. Oh gods, I wanted
her, but I was scared. It was all happening so fast. I couldn’t go through
with it. “No, Cait.”
“Tom, please make love to me,” she begged softly in my ear.
I almost gave in, but her choice of words brought the nightmare back
in full force. “No, Cait. Please.”
“Why not?” Her breath tickled my cheek. “Don’t you still find me
attractive?”
“Attractive?” Oh gods, if she only knew. Grabbing her wrists, I held
her at bay. “Cait, please. Stop.”
“Tom-”
“Cait, please.” Then, a horrible thought struck me. “Have you been
speaking to Chakotay?”
“About what?”
I threw her off my lap onto the sofa. “You have, haven’t you? Was
this little scene your idea or his?” Standing up, I hastily tucked in my
shirt and refastened my jumpsuit.
“What are you talking about? Tom, if I pushed you too far, I’m sorry.
If you don’t want to, we don’t have to. I just thought-”
“You just thought what? A little therapy the Commander doesn’t provide
would be in order?” I leaned over her menacingly. “Just who was it you had
to fantasize about while you administered your treatment?”
Her mouth fell open, the green eyes widening with fear. “Tom, please.
I didn’t mean to upset you, and I wasn’t acting or fantasizing. I wouldn’t do
that to you.”
Oh, really?” I sneered, straightening up. “Then, I apologize for
misjudging you so. Sorry, Doc, but this patient is walking out of here,
right now.”
I practically dashed for the door and didn’t stop running until I
reached my own room. Throwing myself on the bed, I stared up at the ceiling.
How could she? How could he? I had trusted both of them.
“Ohh, gods.” I had wanted her so much, for so long; I had almost . . .
Shutting my eyes, I squeezed out a tear of anger and frustration. And what if
I had, what would things have been like in the morning? So long, Mr. Paris,
you’re cured? Or would she have tried to put a good face on it and actually
stayed with me a few weeks? *Oh well, it doesn’t matter now, does it, Thomas?*

Impediments
Part 6

By Carly Hunter
copyright 1996

THE PARIS JOURNALS, vol. IV

The door chime woke me the next morning. *SH*T!* I bolted out of bed
in a panic. *Easy, Thomas. You’re on Voyager, remember.* Stumbling to the
door, I pressed the release.
“Commander,” I mumbled, collapsing on the couch.
He gazed at me with concern. “Paris, are you all right? If necessary,
I’ll arrange for you to have the day off.”
“No, I’m okay. I just woke up, that’s all. A shower, a little
breakfast, and I’ll be fine.”
“Unh-hunh.” He didn’t sound convinced. “Caitlin came to see me early
this morning.’
*DAMN!*
“She was quite worried about you. Afraid she had upset you too much.
She was also afraid you thought I was involved.”
I frowned at him. “Weren’t you?”
“No, Paris, whatever you say to me in confidence remains that way.
I would not divulge it to anyone, including Caitlin. If I did, I would lose
her trust, as well. Besides, seduction is the last thing I would have
recommended. When you’re ready, you’re ready. I firmly believe pushing things
at this stage would do you more harm than good.”
“Great. Just what I needed to hear. I guess I owe her another
apology, then.” My head bowed in self-recrimination.
He shook his head. “No, I don’t believe that’s necessary, either. It
would only make you both feel worse. Just put the incident behind you and
move on. The less said the better. She cares about you a great deal, Tom.
Don’t hold this misstep against her.”
I grinned ruefully. “I wish I could, Chakotay, but I can’t. She’s
forgiven me time and time again. I should be able to forgive her once, right?”
“I hope so, Paris, for both of your sakes.” He patted my shoulder.
“By the way, Lieutenant, if you still insist on reporting for duty, you’d
better get a move on. You’ve only got twenty minutes.”
“Damn!” I leapt to my feet. “Excuse me, Commander.” I dashed into
the bathroom. *Twenty minutes! Damn!*

Two weeks went by, and I resumed my full duties at conn. The night-
mares were beginning to ease, but maybe I was simply getting used to them. I
continued my little sessions with Chakotay, and I still ate with my friends.
However, there was a noticeable amount of tension between Cait and myself.
Sure, we joked and talked, but with Harry and B’Elanna, not between ourselves
like we used to do. To be honest, we hardly said two words to each other
beyond the normal daily pleasantries. For good or bad, a wall separated
us, now, and neither of us seemed to know quite how to breach it.
I wasn’t even sure I wanted it breached. Sure, I still loved her;
only now, I found it difficult to admit it openly. In spite of what she said,
I felt unworthy of her affection; she deserved someone better, someone
unscarred physically and emotionally. I tried to explain it to Chakotay, but
he only shook his head.
*`That’s a normal reaction, Paris. You’ll look at things differently
if you give yourself time and don’t set that attitude in stone. Allow yourself
to heal gradually. It will take a while, but it will happen if you let it.’
Yeah, time. I’ve got all the time in the world now, Commander. My life is
once again going nowhere fast.*
By the end of the fourth week, a deserted class-M planet had been
discovered, and Cait, Chakotay, and Neelix beamed down to see what they could
find food and resource-wise. It turned out to be a waste of time. Still, the
survey took a while, and she and the Commander didn’t get back on board until
after dinner, Neelix having beamed back earlier to prepare the crew’s supper.
I, on the other hand, had the luxury of grabbing an early repasse that
day, in order to spend some time after dinner on the holodeck working on my
truck. I hadn’t touched her in weeks and possessed the overwhelming desire to
feel motor oil and grease on my hands.
I estimate I had been working on it for about thirty minutes when I
heard the holodeck doors open. Sliding out from beneath the truck, I found
Cait standing above me.
“Hi.”
“Hello, yourself. Is there something in particular I can help you
with?” I stared up at her, feeling a wave of anxiety wash over me.
“No, um, but I was thinking maybe I could lend you a hand. You know,
pass you a phaserwelder or a laser clamp or something.”
I chuckled. “I’m only using twentieth century tools, kiddo. Why do
you think it’s taking me so long? Try a wrench or a blow torch.”
“Yeah, whatever. Can I help?”
“Not really, but thanks for the offer.” I started to slide back under.
“Oh.”
The disappointment in her voice was unmistakeable. *Thomas, you
idiot. * I slid back out. “Well, on second thought, maybe you can. But
first, you’ll need a pair of coveralls. Computer, one pair of grey coveralls,
women’s medium.”
“Large,” Cait corrected. “I like the freedom of movement.”
“Ok, large.”
She slipped them on as soon as they materialized on the rack. They
were quite baggy, concealing her trim figure, except for small hints here
and there.
Standing up, I stared at her. The short hair, the coveralls.
Somewhere. She looked so familiar. Then, it hit me. Nah, it couldn’t be.
“Cait, were you ever at Starbase two-nine-zero?”
“Sure. Lots of times. Why?”
“Frequent any bars there?”
“Yeah. Muldoon’s. It was owned by an ex-freighter captain, a friend
of my father’s. But how did you know?”
I started to laugh. It was all so silly; Fate and its twisted sense
of humor. “One night, years ago, you helped an ensign, down to his last twenty
credits, win a game of pool and then, you bought him a drink.”
The green eyes twinkled mischievously. “I’ve bought lots of men
drinks, Paris.”
“I know, but try to remember. This cocky s.o.b. was playing a
Tellarite and had to make a nearly impossible shot to retain his uniform. You
gave him a silent hint on his set-up, and he won. Afterwards, just before you
left, you slid him a credit for an ale.”
Cait paused thoughtfully. “That sounds vaguely familiar. Gods, the
last time I was at Muldoon’s was about six months before my dad was captured.
There was a Fleet ship at the station, Nebula class, I think.”
“The Exeter.” I nodded, watching her eyes widen. “I was that ensign,
Cait. Ever since you cut you hair, I’ve been trying to figure out who you
reminded me of, but it wasn’t until you put the coveralls on that everything
fell into place. I can recall wondering what you would look like with long
hair.” My gaze fell briefly to the ground. “I can, ah, also recall wondering
what you would be like in bed.”
She glanced away nervously. “I guess you found out the answers to both
of those questions.”
“Yeah, I guess I did. I was right about both, too.” I chuckled
sadly, fingering the short layers. “I wish you would grow it out again.”
Self-consciously, Cait touched her hair. “Maybe I will. I have been
thinking about it.”
“Good. I’m glad. I can think of several male crewmembers you’ll have
to fight off when you do.”
“Including you?” One eyebrow raised hopefully.
I shook my head in genuine regret. “I wish I could, Cait. Really
I do, but I can’t. I’m sorry. I’ll be your friend, but nothing more.”
Nodding, she extended her hand. “I understand. Friends?”
“Always and forever,” I pledged, shaking the hand firmly.

The next evening, Cait showed up for dinner with her newly accelerated
hair in a ponytail. She looked lovely.

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