What Price for Friendship

It's been a while since I felt the need to do an episode coda.  Something just screamed at me about this one though.  So, spoilers to "Flesh and Blood" in this one.

None of it's mine, it all belongs to Paramount.  Just borrowing them for a little fun.


What Price for Friendship

by:  Tracy Sobieski

With silent precision, Tom Paris went about his normal duties in Sick-bay.  There was something comforting in the routine.  It was a stabling process.  Everything had to be done in the correct order and everything had to be done completely.  He could focus on each task then move to the next when it was done.  And today, that seemed to be the most important thing in his life.  Stability.

Yesterday he realized just how unstable life on Voyager really was.  How shaky their footing was.  How tenuous their relationships were.  Yesterday his whole world trembled at the base and threatened to topple.

The Doctor viewed his assistant surreptitiously, with a self-depreciating smirk.  How to broach the subject they so desperately needed to talk about weighed heavily on his mind.  

He'd hurt every single member of the crew by his helping the holograms.  He'd endangered them all.  His crew...his family.  But somehow, he knew he'd hurt Tom the most.

"You did a fine job of treating the wounded while I was gone, Mr. Paris," he began in a calm voice.  "I've reviewed the records, you acted accordingly in every case...I'm proud of you."

The pilot stiffened at the compliment, but didn't face the Doctor.  

"Just doing my job,"  Tom replied coldly, continuing to work.  He didn't want to discuss this, not now, when it was too close.  Tom just wanted to get the hell out of there and spend the rest of the night holding his wife, thanking all the gods he knew that she was still alive.

"Don't be so modest.  You did a remarkable job...."

"Look, Doc.  I don't want to do this, okay?  Not now,"  Tom told him harshly.  The anger in him was threatening to boil over.

"I understand you're upset with me, Mr. Paris...."

"Upset?"  Tom asked with deadly quiet.  "No, Doc.  I think I passed upset when you -kidnapped- my wife."

"I didn't do that!"

"No, but you gave them the shield frequencies so they could.  Endangering every man, woman and child on this ship."

"I had his word he wouldn't use them against Voyager...and he didn't."

"But you still shouldn't have taken the risk!  How many people -died- because of what you did?!"

"Too many," the Doc responded with sorrow.  "I was wrong.  I admit it.  I thought I was helping them build a new life."

"You know what, Doc?  I don't give a damn why you did it, and I sure as hell don't want to talk about it," Tom raised his voice slightly, he'd had enough.  "I'm finished here.  I'll be back tomorrow for my next shift."  

Tom made to leave Sick-bay, then paused at the opened doorway.  

"I want you to increase my lesson schedule.  I'll put in more hours studying and in the holodeck simulations.  I can handle double the pace we've been at."

This surprised the Doctor.  Tom never complained about his lesson schedule, but he never volunteered for more either.


"Well, if I'm going to be left in charge of Sick-bay on a regular basis, I want to be better trained.  I've already spoken to the Captain about this and she agrees with me.  It's become obvious you don't take your responsibilities to this ship and her crew seriously anymore.  Your personal desires seem to be of paramount interest to you.  One of us should be prepared for the next time this happens."

"It won't happen again, Mr. Paris.  I promise you."

"You know, Doc.  Two days ago, I would have taken your word as gold pressed latinum."  He paused with a grim smile.  "But then, two days ago, I considered you a trusted friend."