Open Book

Open Book
By Jessica Ferroni

This story is dedicated to JoAnna Walsvik. JoAnna!!> Something she wrote in one of her stories started
me thinking, and the result was this story. It connects
to her story in a very roundabout sort-of-way, though,
so trying to figure out how could be harzardous to your
health.

Yada, yada, disclaimers at the end, but we all know what
belongs to Paramount, etc., etc….
Read it, distribute it, archive it, (mail me comments!!)
but be nice with it or I’ll send my Paris-ite The Great Eugeni
after you…. =o

* * * * *

“Tom? Tom? Hello? Anybody home?” Harry Kim waved his
hand around in circles in front of his unresponsive
friend’s face. “Yo, Tom? What’s the matter, Neelix’s
Leola Root Delight finally kill you or something? Tom?”
“What? Oh, very funny, Harry. You’re a laugh riot.
Ha ha.”
“Seriously, Tom, what are you looking at?” Harry
tried to follow Tom’s gaze, but could see nothing that
might captivate his friend’s attention.
“Huh?”
Harry gave a deep, long-suffering sigh. “You. Looking.
What are you looking at?”
“I’m not looking at anything.”
Harry peered around the mess hall once more. “No, I
don’t see a Delaney in sight. What gives? You’re just
staring at nothing. It’s kind of creepy.”
Tom Paris shook off the last of the old ghosts that
still persisted in haunting him even though he had
everything he’d ever wanted here on Voyager; a part
of him prayed they’d stay in the Delta Quadrant so he
wouldn’t have to face those ghosts again.
It had been a long day, he thought. Too long to have a
heart-to-heart talk with Harry Kim. Some things you just
didn’t discuss with people, unless you wanted to depress
them, too. Huh. Maybe Chakotay ought to come down and have
a chat….Not that Tom would really wish any misery on
the commander, but in his opinion the haughty Maquis
could stand to be bumped down a couple of pegs.
Tom grinned evilly at the thought, startling Harry.
“Tom, don’t do that,”
“Sorry, Harry,” the lieutenant apologized, still
grinning. Harry absently thought Paris somewhat resembled
the Cheshire Cat from the stories his mother used to
read him when he was a child, then instantly knew whenever
he saw that grin on his friend’s face he would picture
the smiling Cat. “I was just thinking. And you know
that Megan and I aren’t together any more,” Tom added,
mildly annoyed.
A slightly wicked grin crossed Harry’s face. “I was
talking about Jenny.”
“Really?” Tom retorted. “I thought *you* were the one
she adored.”
“After the little mishap in Venice? And besides, everyone
knows Jenny thinks you’re the best thing since sliced
bread.”
“Sliced bread?”
“Sorry. An old expression of my grandmother’s. What
were you thinking about?”
Tom sighed. The ensign could be as stubborn as Tom
himself sometimes. “Nothing,” he replied firmly. “It’s
nothing.”
“Sure, Tom,” Harry replied, but Paris could tell Kim
was’t convinced.
“Look, Harry,” he said, resting a hand briefly on
the ensign’s shoulder, “sometimes I get depressed when
I think about what my life was like before Voyager, that’s
all. It’s nothing major.”
“Right,” Harry said, frowning. “Look, Tom, if you,” he
hesitated, “if you ever want to talk to someone, you know
I’m always here.”
Tom gave a genuine smile. “Thanks, Harry. I appreciate
the offer.”
Harry rose from his chair. “Hey, I have to get down
to Engineering. B’Elanna’s been having some trouble lately
with the converters.”
Tom grinned fractionally. “So you’re just going to waltz
in there and play the hero?”
Harry shrugged good-naturedly. “Any help I can offer.”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Tom retorted.
Harry paused. “And, Tom? I’m sorry about you and Megan.”
Tom nodded shortly. “Thanks.”
Harry headed out, passing Megan Delaney. She stopped
and exchanged a few words with the ensign before he left,
then she picked up a meal tray and walked over to Paris’
table. She waved at the chair Harry had just vacated.
“Hi. Mind if I sit down?”
Tom glanced up. “Not at all. But we don’t want people
to think we’re back together, do we?”
Megan laughed. “I’m not sure,” she joked.
There was silence, and mainly for the sake of conversation
Tom asked,
“How was your shift?” Stupid question, he berated
himself mentally.
Megan placed her tray on the table and sat down across
from the pilot. “Slow. But things usually are in Stellar
Cartography.”
Tom smiled a little. “I’ll bet.”
Megan brushed a lock of black hair behind her ear. “So….
you up to going to Sandrine’s tonight?”
Sapphire eyes met sea green, then sapphire looked away
abruptly.
“I don’t think so. I don’t really feel like it.”
Megan sighed and regarded him sternly. “Tom, ever since
we….`broke up’, you’ve been so somber and secluded. I
hate to see you like this; you’re usually so cheerful and
cocky,” she teased, but she knew it was a poor attempt.
Tom touched her arm. “Meg, it’s okay. You’re my friend.
Still. Always. The charade had to end. It’s time for you
to get on with your life.”
“Tom, you know I would do anything for you.” She wanted
to protect him so much. He was so vulnerable. “And I truly
enjoy being with you.”
“I enjoy being with you, too, Meg, but it’s time for
you to move on. Still, I think I’m crazy not to get down
on one knee and propose to you right now.” He grinned. “But,
of course, you’d turn me down — don’t say anything! I know
how you feel about Aaron Dalby. You two make quite a couple,
you know. And I think he feels the same way about you.”
She laughed quietly. “Tom Paris, you are incorrigible.”
He smiled. “I know.”
It was quiet for a moment, then Megan said slowly,
“I guess our `breaking up’ is all over the ship now,
isn’t it?”
“Yeah.”
Megan squeezed his hand. “You know, I know alot of people
who are thrilled about it.”
“Well, any guy would be lucky to have you as his wife,
Meg.”
Megan regarded him wryly. “It’s not me the `guys’ are
talking about.”
“Oh.”
*`Oh’? That’s all he can say is `Oh’?* “You know Jenny
thinks the world of you, Tom.”
He sighed. “I know, Meg — at least, that’s what I’ve
been hearing.”
“She wouldn’t be right for you,” Megan said softly.
“But I can think of someone who might be.”
Tom raised his eyebrows. “Really? Who?” he asked with
mild curiousity.
Megan grinned conspiratorally. “B’Elanna Torres.”
“What??! Meg, you have got to be crazy. She hates me.
She’d rather be with *Chakotay* than me.”
Megan shook her head. “Tom, I’ve known you for eight
years. We grew up together. We went to the Academy together.
Trust me.”
Tom smiled placatingly. “Sure, Meg, I trust you. But
you’re crazy.”
“We’ll see,” Megan said knowingly. “You think you know
everything that goes on aboard this ship. Well, let me tell
you something, Thomas Eugene Paris — ”
“Don’t call me by my middle name,” Tom pleaded.
” — you aren’t in Stellar Cartography all day with a
bunch of women — ”
“There are men in Stellar Cartography, too,” he pointed
out, but it was a moot point anyway.
” — who would rather pester me about what it’s like
being Tom Paris’ girlfriend than concentrate on their work.”
“Well, at least the men get *their* work done,”
“Tom, you know what I mean.”
“And who’s fault is that?”
“All yours.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah.”
“Yeah?”
“Tom, don’t start.”
Tom grinned. “Can’t think up a better comeback than that,
Meg?”
Megan sighed. Yep. He was back to his old self again. That,
at least, she should be grateful for.
“Lieutenant Paris to the bridge,”
It was Tom’s turn to sigh. “Listen, Meg, I’ve got to go.”
They both stood, but Tom paused on his way out.
“Meg? You’re one in a million, you know that? You’re gonna
make someone very happy.” He bit his lip. Being sentimental
was hard for him. He started to leave.
Megan laughed lightly at his discomfort. “Hey, Tom — ”
He turned. “Yeah, Meg?”
She smiled. “Anytime you need a friend, you know I’m here
for you.”
He returned the soft smile. “I know. Thanks, Meg.”

The End….
_____________________________________________________________________________
© Copyright January 1997 by Jessica Ferroni on all original story content.
Not meant to infringe on copyrights held by Paramount or any other copyright
holders of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. Please do not reproduce for anything other
than personal reading use (including fanzines) without written consent of
the author. Comments are welcome at evenstar17@hotmail.com.

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