Part 21

There was another pair of hands touching Tom Paris. Not violent like Suder or Dalby. He couldn't open his eyes to see who it was. He found he still had the strength to wonder why the hell it took three Maquis to take care of him. What were they going to do now, throw him out an airlock?

Dear God, please don't let that happen.

He tried to open his eyes, but found his eyelashes were too heavy. He cracked one lid, just barely. He wasn't on the floor of the brig, anymore. The someone was holding him still-or was it down? There was a hand on his neck and another on his hip. Dalby and Suder were not within his eyesight.


He must have passed out, or been beamed to this new location.

Maybe he'd died.

He tried to keep the one eye open just a little longer, but he was so tired. Not too mention confused. There was a blurry face, belonging to that someone, right above him. He couldn't tell who it was. It looked male, if blurry figures could be assigned a gender.

Chakotay, the little voice whispered.


So Chakotay wanted to do the honors himself, huh?

Fine, just as long as Tom didn't have to live through it.

His eye slid shut again.

When he opened his eyes again, the world made a bit more sense.

He was on a bio-bed. The EMH was hovering around his feet.

It was an enormous relief to see him, and not Chakotay.

Hey, Doc.

He didn't know if that came out aloud or not.

Somehow the EMH appeared above him. Something pressed against his neck. He tried to jerk away, having had too many things touch his throat as of late.His reflexes were seriously lacking; the thought only occurred to him after the contents of the hypospray - the something - emptied, and his muscles didn't obey the command to move, anyway.

The Doc was talking, or at least his mouth was moving. Tom couldn't hear him very well, he tried listen harder.

"Mr. Paris, severe damage was done to your throat," the Doc was saying.

Yeah, it's called strangulation.

"You cannot speak. There is a medical instrument inside your throat, doing additional repairs to the delicate tissues I was unable to treat during surgery," he continued.

Surgery? I don't remember any surgery.

"You were in surgery for three hours," the Doc went on.

Even though Tom couldn't speak, the surprise must have been reflected on his face, judging by the reaction the EMH had.

Gee, I hope some of that time was spent on my face, my arm, and whatever Suder did when he put his knee on my rib cage.

The Doctor must have interpreted the surprise as worry, because he hastened to reassure him.

"Your voice and breathing capacities will be perfectly normal after the instrument is removed. Do not worry, Mr. Paris. You'll be complaining quite vocally within twenty-four hours."

Ooh, levity.

Tom wasn't amused. This wasn't fair. He'd decided on his own to keep quiet about the mutiny. He kept quiet about the mutiny, the Maquis didn't kill him for the whole poison debacle. That had been the deal, even if he hadn't clued the Maquis in on it. They tried to kill him. He should be able to run screaming to Tuvok now. Tom didn't care now if the mutiny turned into a bloody mess- it likely would be in the first place, a bloodier mess wouldn't change much.

This wasn't fair!

"I'm going to sedate you again," said the Doc.

He picked up another hypospray from nearby, bringing it towards Tom's neck.

"I have two other patients. Unfortunately, I can't make house calls, and I don't believe you'd be particularly happy to see either one of them."

The hypospray touched Tom's neck. It hissed, flooding exhaustion into Tom.

"Nearly as much damage was done to Mr. Suder as was done to you, Mr. Paris," was the last thing Tom heard.

He barely had enough consciousness left to be pleased with himself. Barely.

Tom slowly woke up again. He was still under the affects of sedation; he could definitely feel the sluggishness in his body and brain. Tom wondered how long it had been since the Doctor had awakened him. It felt like forever. The dim, empty sickbay told him nothing.

Tom was being touched.

He peeked through his clouded eyes at whoever it was. He had a moment of terror, wondering if it was one of the Maquis come to finish the job. He prayed that Janeway had had the sense to post security - none Maquis security - outside sickbay.

It wasn't a Maquis.

It was Janeway.


She was standing by his shoulders. It was no wonder he hadn't been able to recognize her; she didn't look like the Captain.

She didn't have that powerful, authoritative posture Janeway always used. Her shoulders were slumped; her spine held none of the rigidity he saw so much of. She was in uniform, but it was hardly crisp or even clean. Her hair was mussed; the Janeway bun was coming undone. And she was touching him.


This had to be some sort of delusion induced by the sedative.

Janeway doesn't slouch. Janeway keeps her uniform clean. Janeway's hair does not muss. And Janeway doesn't touch me. Not like that.

This delusion of Janeway continued to touch him. She was running her fingers lightly through his hair. Over and over again. She was talking, too. Very softly, and not to him. She didn't even know he was awake. Tom strained to hear her words.

Well, the voice of the delusion Janeway was exactly like the voice of the real Janeway.


But not at him.

That was a change.

"What the hell," she murmured.

"What the hell," louder and angrier.

He didn't know how long she'd been there, talking, but not to him. He tried to keep totally still, and not let on he was awake - somewhat, at least - and could hear every word. He didn't think she knew, but she'd stopped talking. Her face descended towards his.

"I'm sorry." She was so quiet he hardly heard the words.

And then she was gone.

He struggled against the sedative, trying to sort over her behavior, but without the curious distraction there just wasn't any chance of winning the battle for consciousness.

Part 22 | Index page