Part 21

Sam decided that talking anymore was not in the best interest of her throat. It had been hoarse and scratchy after all that screaming she'd done. Now it just hurt.

Tom Paris was significantly stronger than he looked. Of all the people she had pegged to assault her, he hadn't even made the list. He wasn't a Maquis, though, nor was he female and half-Klingon. It was clear he hadn't meant to attack her personally, from the stricken look that had been on his face when he realized what he was doing. Well, not what he was doing but to who.

And then he had let go and practically shoved her away and apologized profusely, still looking stricken and guilty.

The guilt subsided for anger when she brought up Tuvok's name. He apparently only remembered being subdued by Tuvok, not falling chest first on to the butt of the phaser rifle and cracking his collar bone.

"That's why I'm here," he asked from somewhere behind her, "And not in the Brig?"

"No. That's not the reason."

Sam felt a tickle begin in her sore throat even before she finished speaking. She coughed to ease it out, but it only got worse. And coughing hurt. And yet she continued coughing, harder than before. At some point she dropped the tricorder and fell against the nearest console, coughing so forcefully that her shoulders shook.

Her eyes watered, blurring her vision. It cleared to reveal Tom's bewildered and alarmed face opposite hers.

Her voice sounded like a malfunctioning mechanical instrument, screeching and inordinately high, as in between the wracking coughs she directed Tom to find a regenerator.

Tom went scavenging for the regenerator, completely destroying Sickbay as he tossed instruments aside. Sam leaned against the console, concentrating on controlling her breathing around hacking and not on how badly her throat hurt. Tom came rushing back to her, regenerator in hand.

It was then that she realized she needed a deep tissue regenerator. Tom flung the normal regenerator he was holding aside and went hunting for the other kind.

She took the correct regenerator from him and angled it against her throat. She immediately felt the smooth relief against the itchy painful tissue. Tom sank to a seat on the bio-bed where the damage had been inflicted in the first place.

"I'm sorry," he muttered again.

Sam made a forgiving sound, but didn't speak.

"This is all the Pelorans' fault," he continued, angrily.

The Pelorans. Tuvok had mentioned them as the race that had returned Tom Paris and were in the process of returning the other escaped shuttles. She'd been so occupied with having no noticeable reaction to the news that she hadn't really understood it.

"In the long run, it's Janeway's. But she's done enough to ruin my life that there's enough blame to go around."

He scowled.

"Do you know if the Pelorans are bringing back the other shuttles?"

Sam nodded, moving the regenerator over an inch.

"Great," Tom said sarcastically. "And Janeway thinks she's going to punish them?"

Sam nodded again.

"She's not. It's going to happen again. And they might win this time," he looked straight at her.

"You and Naomi were lucky to know about the mutiny. For obvious reasons, I don't like Dalby much, but he arranged to get you and Naomi off the ship and for that he's not totally despicable." Sam felt her mouth drop open. Did anyone *not* know that she'd been aware of the mutiny? It had been an unspoken reality between herself and Ken, but suddenly Torres and in all likely hood all the Maquis and Tom Paris knew.

She cleared her throat. "I didn't know about what Chakotay had him and Suder try to do to you, I swear."

She hadn't been. But she couldn't say what she would have done had she known.

"I believe you. So believe me. When the Maquis are brought back, spend a lot of time hiding in your quarters. They're going to try again," Tom finished, deadly serious.

Sam nodded, nervously beginning another path with the regenerator. "Okay," she began. "Tuvok said that you aren't going to the Brig. I don't know why. You're going to be confined to quarters, but they've been modified while you were sleeping. I don't know how. The Brig might be full," she offered.

Tom considered this. "They think putting me in the Brig would get me killed."

Sam shrugged.

"Not that Janeway's ever been concerned about that in the past," he said dryly.

Sam winced, knowing it was true.

"Any chance that phaser rifle I fell on is anywhere around?"


"Too bad," he sighed. "You might want to get yourself one just in case."

The doors to Sickbay slid apart then, causing her to drop the regenerator and making Tom stiffen.

Tuvok, flanked by two other Security men, entered.

"Hi, Tuvok," greeted Tom in an obnoxiously sweet voice.

Tuvok spared him a glance, turning to Sam.

"Is the treatment complete, Ensign?"

"Yes, sir," she answered trying to keep the fear Tom had just instilled out of her reply.

Tuvok was looking at her neck.

Of course. The deep tissue regenerator worked on what it was named for-deep tissue. Any bruised or marks or handprints would still be visible on her throat. And of course Tuvok would notice.

"Ensign, what happened to your neck?"

"One of the sedated patients woke up disoriented," she said smoothly. "Grabbed me and made a little mess."

She indicated the strewn instruments Tom had created while looking for the right regenerator.

Tuvok quirked an eyebrow.

"I'm fine," she said.

"May I recommend you restrain this patient?"

"Already done, Sir," she lied.

Tuvok nodded.

"Mr. Paris, you will accompany us." Tom slid of the bio-bed.

"With pleasure," he said insolently.

The two guards moved to either side of him.

"Bye," Tom called as he was escorted out the door. "Say hi to Naomi for me."

Part 22 | Index page