Part 20

Tom gradually became aware of a figure in a Starfleet uniform moving around in his peripheral vision. He felt a little woozy, but it was already fading. Damn Tuvok and his nerve pinch.

The mental stream of profanity that had begun on his shuttle started up again. How badly he had wished never to see anyone wearing one of those again.

With his eyes in slits, he couldn't tell where he was. Back on Voyager, that was for sure. But not in the Brig, that was a surprise. And if he wasn't in the Brig, then maybe he wouldn't be on Voyager for much longer. The Starfleet uniform walked closer to him. From the position on his back, he couldn't see above the person's abdomen. He was completely still, eyes nearly shut. When the uniform was within arm's length, he struck.

Tom wrapped one hand around the person's throat, getting a fist full of their uniform with the other and forcefully yanking downwards. His grip on the person's throat was tight enough to cut off breathing, which would hopefully cause the person to pass out, allowing him to try and get off Voyager again. Or at least out of this room.

He completely surprised his guard, if that's who it was. The person lay heavily against him, to stunned to struggle, gasping and gagging for air against the pressure of his hand.

It was a woman-which Tom felt slightly guilty about-her hair was falling in his face. His tossed his head to clear her hair from his view.

He was holding Samantha Wildman by the neck.


Tom released her. She stumbled backward, coughing and gasping, face bright red. She lurched to her knees on the floor, where she stayed, taking deep ragged breaths.

Tom sat up, noticing for the first time that he was on a bio-bed in Sickbay. He looked around.

There was no EMH.

There were a few unconscious or sedated patients.

On the floor was Naomi's mother, who had he just tried to choke. Sam was breathing a little easily, wiping her watering eyes. Tom felt horrible. He climbed off the bio-bed and took a step towards her.

Sam flinched like she'd been struck when he approached. Tom stopped dead and backed up, raising his hands to show he wasn't going to hurt her. Hadn't meant to hurt her in the first place.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry." He wiped the guilty sweat off his forehead. "I didn't mean-I meant-I thought you were Tuvok or someone."

Which was a very weak excuse for trying to crush her windpipe.

"Are you okay?" he asked, staying where he was. "Should I activate the EMH? Is he fixed?"

Sam struggled to her feet, one hand rubbing her neck tenderly. She stayed, Tom noticed, the same distance from him.

"Fixed?" she asked, hoarsely.

"Yeah. From what Torres did to him."

A look of fury that appeared to have nothing to do with recently having been choked came across Sam's face.

"Torres," she snarled. "What she'd do?"

"I don't know. She cycled the power and when it came back on the Doc was gone and I couldn't get him back."

"This was during the mutiny," Sam clarified, her back to him as she headed towards a Sickbay console.

"Yeah. You and Naomi were on shore leave, right?"


Sam retrieved a medical tricorder from an equipment tray. She arched her neck and held the tricorder out in front of herself, running it up and down over her throat.

Guilt hit Tom again, but he kept his distance. He knew he wouldn't want someone who just been squeezing his throat to get particularly close to him.

Case and point: Lon Suder.

"I'm so sorry," Tom repeated earnestly. "Are you okay?"

Sam lowered the tricorder to examine its readings.

"Just a little tissue damage," she told him. "You scared me more than it hurt."

"I'm sorry," he said again. "I thought you were Tuvok. Or someone from Security."

Like he would have been able to get the drop on Tuvok, Tom chided himself.

"Tuvok said you resisted being taken into custody."

Tom snorted, his guilt over grabbing Sam's throat fading for his anger.

"Yeah, I resisted. Then he pinched me and I blacked out."

"And then you fell onto the butt of your phaser rifle and broke your collar bone," Sam added.

Tom touched his chest.

"I don't remember that," He said, thinking hard. "That's why I'm here and not in the Brig?"

"No," Sam said. "That's not the reason."

Part 21 | Index page