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Story Notes:
Discussions on abuse Tom suffered as a child from his father.
Title: No Easy Answers
Author: Ronda Sexton
Rating: T (PG13)
Summary: AU look at 30 Days.

Tom sat nervously on his cot in the brig. He tried to slow his breathing as he thought of spending the next 30 days confined in this tiny room. Unlike the two times he had spent in solitary confinement in Aukland, there would be no recreation breaks that Federation Penal colonies were required to give. Those one hour breaks during the two four day terms he had served in solitary had help to ease his claustraphobia. He didn't know if he could take thirty days in the tiny brig cell and still be sane.......

He looked up as the forcefield deactivated and the Doctor stepped inside.

"Hey, Doc, what's up?" he asked.

"I have to give you a check up. As I will once a week until you are out of the brig, Tom," replied the Doctor softly.

He began scanning Tom, watching the readings carefully. "Hmm, your blood pressure seems to be slightly elavated, but considering the confrontation with the Captain, that is not to be unexpected. I will see you in a week."

The guard deactivated the forcefield and the Doctor strode out. He was concerned that Tom seemed to be very stressed. Much more so than would be expected. Time would tell......

Ayala watched in concern as Tom Paris beat the air with his hands, evidently caught up in the throes of a vivid nightmare.

"Daddy, I'm sorry, please let me out." Tom cried as his hands seemed to beat against something as he lie prone on his back. "Daddy, I will study. Please, I'm scared! Let me out!" Tom let out a terrified scream and sat bolt upright on the cot. He was breathing heavily and Ayala thought for a few minutes that he might have to summon the Doctor.

"You okay, Paris?" he asked softly. Orders were no non-essential conversation with the prisoner, but he needed to know.

Tom nodded shakily and walked to the semi-hidden cubicle to relieve himself and splash some cold water on his face. It had been a long time since he had that particular nightmare. He forced the horrible memory back down and returned to his cot.

Ayala logged the incident. He hoped that it was going to be an isolated occurance, but if it wasn't, it would documented.

Tom buried his face in his pillow. He was tired and wanted to sleep, but he also had no desire to relive that nightmarish experience again. Eventually exhuastion won out and he dozed off.

Ayala watched him carefully for signs of restlessness........

During the Gama shift, Ayala witnessed Tom appearantly going through the same nightmare two more times. He logged each incident and sent the report to Lt. Tuvok.

Tuvok read the report carefully. Tom's first night in the brig had been less than pleasant. He had to wonder if the event Tom was reliving had been real or just from the stress of the brig. He knew Admiral Paris had been very hard on his son, even more so after he had been rescued from the Cardassians. The Doctor's initial health assessment had shown a slightly elavated blood pressure and a significant elevation of Tom's stress levels.

Every night it was the same. Ayala had to watch helplessly as Tom suffered through more nightmarish episodes. He was now having them almost hourly. It had been a hellish week. Ayala had enjoyed Gama shift before this. He logged each nightmare and sent the end of shift report to Tuvok. The Doctor would examine Tom on Alpha shift. Perhaps there was some sort of medication the Doctor could give him. Ayala didn't think Tom could take much more. He was deathly pale and the dark circles under his eyes made him look as if he had been beaten. Something had to give.

Tom pushed the leola root around on his plate. He had gotten it for most of his meals. Basic nutritutional foods were what he was allowed. He longed for some pizza or tomato soup.....anything but this cursed root. Deactivation of the force field made him look up. The Doctor stepped inside.

"Good morning, Mr. Paris," he said quietly. Tom's appearance concerned him greatly. He had read the reports that the security officers had submitted on each shift in regards to the prisoner's condition. He saw that they had not exegerated. Tom looked as if he had been seriously ill instead of having spent a week in the brig. He began scanning him. He had lost 2 kilos and his blood pressure was up much higher than it had been when he had first been tossed into the brig. Stress levels read much higher as well.

"Tom, I am going to give you some medication to lower your blood pressure. It's too high." A soft hiss indicated that the Doctor had given him a shot. Tom shrugged. Deciding that perhaps his assistant might open up a bit, the Doctor asked, "Tom, reports indicate that you are having nightmares throughout the night. Can you tell me what you're dreaming about?"

Tom shrugged and said nothing. Talking about it would accomplish nothing.....except to reveal things best kept secret. He did not want the Doctor or anyone else prying into his childhood.

"Tom, I can't help you if you don't talk to me." The Doctor waited a few minutes, however Tom continued to stare into space as if he had not heard him. "I'll order an anti-anxiety drug for you take at night. One of the medics will bring it by each night." Tom continued to sit on the cot and stare into space, seeming not to care one way or the other.

The Doctor signaled the guard who deactivated the forcefield. He proceeded to take the turbolift to the bridge. He walked purposefully over to the Captain and the Commander. "I need to speak with both of you in private," he said softly. They rose quickly.

"B'Elanna, you have the bridge," ordered Janeway as the trio walked to her Ready Room.

After they had seated themselves, the Doctor began his report. "Mr. Paris has lost 2 kilos. His blood pressure is significantly elavated. I adminstered Lisinopril to lower it."

"Did he tell you about the nightmares?" asked Chakotay.

"He would not answer any of my inquires about them. He just stared off into space as if I were not there. I've ordered an anti-anxiety drug to be given at night to see if that helps."

"I know Admiral Paris was hard on Tom, but I can't believe that he would shut Tom up in anything," mused Janeway. "But then, he changed so much after the Cardassian incident. What are your recommendations, Doctor?"

"If the medications don't improve his condition, I would say that confining him to his quarters for the remainder of his sentence may be a viable option."

Janeway aimlessly picked up a PADD. "How long will it be before we know if the medications will work?"

"I would like to give them a week. If they don't work, then my recommendations stand," replied the Doctor with a firmness that surprised Janeway.

"Very well, is that all, Doctor?"

He nodded.


The Doctor walked out, and Janeway turned to Chakotay.

"What do you think, Chakotay? I never expected anything like this to happen with Tom." She looked at him helplessly

"We know he has a lot of demons from his past that he won't discuss. I don't even know how much he's opened up to B'Elanna. I do have to agree with the Doctor though. We can't keep him in the brig if he doesn't improve."

"I know," she answered with a sigh. There were certainly no easy answers.

Back in the brig, Tom contemplated what the doctor had said. He was not certain that the anti-anxiety drugs would help. He remembered what happened when they gave them to him in Aukland. They had not worked then, and he doubted that now would be any different. The deactiavation of the force field stirred him from his musings.

Looking up, he saw Neelix there with his lunch. Laying a hand on Tom's shoulder, Neelix handed him the tray with an apologetic look that told Tom his meal was again going to be leola root. Giving him a gentle squeeze on the shoulder, he left the brig. He saw his concern mirrored in the eyes of Ensign Domberwicky.

Neelix was disturbed by Tom's appearance. He knew from the grapevine that after examining Tom earlier today, that the Doctor had gone straight to the bridge to speak with the Captain. He had thought that surely the Captain would have some sort of compassion and release Tom. He had heard whisperings that the Captain had been overly harsh with Tom in her punishment of him. Others had disobeyed direct orders with lesser consequences. The consenus had been that the Captain's "personal reclamation project" had embarrassed her and now had to suffer for it. Whatever the reason, Tom's condition frightened Neelix. He considered Tom his friend and did not wish to lose him.

Later, towards the end of the Beta shift, Samantha Wildman came to the brig to administer the anti-anxiety drug to Tom. Lt. Stiles deactivated the force field and she entered quietly. Tom was sitting on the edge of his bunk, staring off into space.

"Tom," she began softly. "I'm here to give you some medicine."

He looked up as she walked towards him. She scanned him and noted that his blood pressue was still very high. After making a quick adjustment on the hypospray to include more Lisinopril as well, Samantha placed it against his neck and gave him the prescribed medications.

"Tom, your blood pressure was still high, so I gave you medication for that as well. The minphredadrine should help you feel a less stressed out." With an encouraging pat on the shoulder, she left the cell feeling that she was fighting a losing battle. She had never seen Tom looking this bad. He had been in many scrapes and life threatening situtations, but this time the condition he was in was so senseless. Anger boiled up, and she really resented the fact that the Captain was being so unfair.

Chakotay was sitting in his quarters sipping hot tea and considering what should be done about Tom Paris. He agreed with the majority of the crew that the Captain's discipline had been much too harsh. Though, due to his position, he could not let the crew know he agreed with them. He was trying to find some way to approach the Captain about it. His door buzzer sounded jolting him out of his thoughts. "Come," he called.

The door slid open and B'Elanna walked in. Chakotay stood up. "B'Elanna, have a seat." He had been expecting that she would come to talk to him.

B'Elanna sat down. "Chakotay, I know why the doctor talked to you and the Captain. What's wrong with Tom? Ayala only tells me Tom has been having some nightmares. I know there has to be more to it than that, otherwise, the Doctor would have just submitted a report. He won't tell me a thing." Her sharp angry tone did not surprise Chakotay.

"You know the Doctor can't discuss Tom's condition with you. Patient confidentality is there for a purpose," answered Chakotay calmly. "I can't tell you very much. The Doctor is treating Tom, and if he doesn't improve, he is recommending that Tom spend the rest of his sentence confined to his quarters."

"Sentence," spat B'Elanna. "You and I both know that the Captian was way too heavy-handed in his punishment. I don't think you'll find a single person on this ship that agrees with her. Tom has saved this ship and all of countless times!" B'Elanna trembled with pent up rage.

"She is the Captain, and sometimes her decisions are not going to be popular with the crew. She did what she thought was right," answered Chakotay.

"Do you think it was fair, Chakotay?" asked B'Elanna.

"You're putting me in a difficult situtation, B'Elanna," replied Chakotay uncomfortably.

"I'll take that as a yes," she spat back. "So why aren't you trying to help?"

"It's not that simple. I will promise you this: If the treatments the doctor is giving Tom don't improve his condition, then the Doctor and I WILL force the issue with the Captain."

He picked up the hot tea pot. "Here, have a cup of the Chamoile tea. It will calm you down a bit."

She picked up a cup and let him pour some tea into it for her. She added some honey and they both sat in silence sipping their tea, each lost in their thoughts about the situtation with Tom.

Ayala watched as Tom stirred restlessly on the narrow cot. Suddenly, Tom got up and sat down on the floor. It took a few moments for Ayala to realize Tom was sleepwalking. He appeared to be playing with something. Judging by the movements, it was a ship of some sort. Suddenly Tom looked up and seemed to be frozen with fear.

"I....I.....I was just taking a break, Daddy. I'll go back to studying," Tom's voice quivered with terror.

There was a pause as if someone was answering him.

"No, Daddy, Please! I'll study!" The panic in Tom's voice alarmed Ayala.

Suddenly, Tom bolted up as if he had been yanked to his feet. Resisting all the way, he went to the direction of the bed. He tumbled down on the bed. After a few seconds, he began beating the air screaming. "Let me out, Daddy, please! I'm scared of the dark! I'm scared, I'm scared! It's so dark and crowded in here. Please let me out!" Tom began screaming. Usually by now he had awakened.

Ayala could take no more. He quickly summoned the Doctor and Commander Chakotay. He did not trust Janeway on this one.

"Ayala to Commander Chakotay, report to the brig immediately. It's an emergency!"

B'Elanna gasped and they both hit the deck running. It seemed like forever to B'Elanna before they got to the brig. The Doctor arrived at the same time they did.

"How long has this been going on?" asked the Doctor and the forcefield deactivated?

"Not long, when I saw he wasn't waking up at the point he usually does, I called for help immediately," answered Ayala.

Chakotay held on to B'Elanna as the Doctor hurried to Tom's side. He could not wake him up. His blood pressure was at an alarming level. The Doctor slapped his com badge. "Transport Mr. Paris and myself directly to sickbay," he snapped.

As they disappeared in a shimmer, B'Elanna broke free from Chakotay and ran out of the brig, heading for sickbay. Chakotay followed her, calling the Captain as he ran to keep up.

When they rushed into sickbay, the doctor was still working over Tom. Captain Janeway was standing near the bio-bed. He was laying quiet and still on the bio-bed. B'Elanna raced over to his side. She was relieved to see that he was breathing normally and seemed to be resting peacefully.

"What happened?" she demanded.

"I gave him a strong sedative, then put the Neruo-sleep stimulator on him. It will cause him to sleep deeply, but it also blocks dreaming. It can't be used long-term. It is meant to help patients who are dealing with trauma rest without nightmares. It is not meant for more than 3 days at the most. I have also adminstered stronger medications to lower his blood pressure. At the level it was at when I examined him in the brig, he could have easily had a stroke."

B'Elanna picked up Tom's hand and held it between her own. He was so pale. Dark circles under his eyes bore mute testimony to his lack of sleep. She clung tightly to him, willing him to be well.

"I thougth the minphredadrine was supposed to help with his anxiety caused by the clasutrophobia," said Janeway looking at the Doctor.

"I had hoped it would. In Mr. Paris' case, it seems to have prevented him from being able to wake up from his nightmare. I need to see Mr. Ayala's report on what transpired as soon as possible. As of right now, Mr. Paris is not going back to the brig. I am keeping him here under observation." His looked dared the Captain to challenge him.

Captain Janeway could not hide the fear and concern for Tom from her face. "Agreed," she said softly. Guilt gnawed at her. Had she not made her decison in anger, and given the matter some thought.........The thought of Tom being in danger of a stroke of too much to imagine. "Keep me posted of Ens.....Mr. Paris' progress." She turned and walked out of sickbay.

B'Elanna glared at the departing Captain. It was her fault that Tom was here. There was no way in Gre'tho that she was leaving his side short of a warp core breach.

"B'Elanna," began the Doctor gently. "Using the Neruo-sleep stimulator will keep Tom asleep until I remove it. He is out of danger at the moment, and I will be here with him the entire time. There is no need for you to stay. You need your rest as well."

She glared firecely at him. "I am not leaving." Her expression challenged the Doctor or Chakotay to try to remove her.

"Doctor, I think we should let her stay," he said calmly.

The doctor saw beyond the anger and found true fear for Tom's well-being in her eyes. "Very well," he answered. I will have a chair brought in for you."

"Thank you, Chakotay, thank you doctor," she whispered as she held Tom's hand to her chest.

All though the night, B'Elanna maintained a vigil at Tom's side. She was terrified of losing him. The comment that the Doctor had made about his blood pressure having had been high enough to cause a stroke alarmed her. The Doctor kept a close watch on Tom through the night. The Neruo-sleep stimulator was highly reliable, but the good Doctor refused to take any chances. As long as the device did not fail, Tom would sleep peacefully through the night. His vital signs were remaining stable as well.

Around 0700, the Captain and Chakotay returned to sickbay. They walked over to where Tom lie sleeping on the bio-bed. B'Elanna's head was resting on the edge of the bed, Tom's hand still clasped between her own. The Doctor joined them, signaling them to remain silent. He checked the monitors and indicated that they should follow him. They walked to his office. Ordering the door to close, he began his report.

"When I was summoned to sick bay last night, Mr. Paris was in the midst of a nightmare from which I was unable to rouse him. His blood pressure was 200/110, which put him in danger of having a stroke. He was also in tacycardia. I immediately ordered both of us beamed to sickbay. I proceeded to treat him by administering drugs to lower his blood pressure and slow his heart rate. I then adminstered a strong sedative to calm him and stop the nightmare. Afterwards, I attached the Neruo-sleep stimulator to allow him to rest peacefully without dreams and nightmares for the remainder of the night. I am using my authority as Voyager's Chief Medical Officer to prevent him from being returned to the brig."

Janeway nodded. "He won't be returning to the brig. I will follow your recommendation that the remainder of his thirty days be served in his quarters."

"He will be in sickbay under my supervision until I deem he is well enough to go anywhere," said the Doctor firmly.

"Of course," replied Janeway. "The days he spends here will also count as time served, but he won't be allowed visitors." She glanced back at her engineer who was still sleeping."

"That is acceptable, though perhaps unduly harsh," said the Doctor rather coldly.

"When do you plan to wake Tom up?" asked Chakotay trying to steer them into more neutral terrority.

"We can do that now," began the Doctor. "I have also placed Tom on a restricted diet. The medications he was and will be given as needed along with the problems with his blood pressure require a rigid diet. I have authorized replicator rations for him so that appropiate foods for his condition can be served to him."

"He was being given basic nutritutional requirements," said Janeway in a challenging tone.

"They are basic for a 'healthy person.' Tom is far from the healthy individual he was at the beginning of his thirty day sentence. I have noted the orders in my log. If you choose to disregard those orders, I will log a formal protest." The Doctor affected his most serious and severe expression to press his point home.

"I did not say I was going to over rule your orders," answered the Captain quietly. Everyone seemed to be angry with her over Tom. Even Chakotay had been rather distant.

"Let's go, so I can wake my patient and examine him more thoroughly," said the Doctor rising to his feet.

They left the office and returned to the bio-bed where Tom was sleeping.

"Commander, if you would rouse Lt. Torres," said the Doctor. "Once she is awake, I can remove the Neruo-sleep stimulator and wake Mr. Paris." He simply refused to use Tom's new rank. He did not care what anyone said, he was not going to use Ensign, for that would imply his support for the Captain's punishments.

"You will wait to rouse Ensign Paris until after Lt. Torres has left sickbay. He is after all still under solitary confinement. Being here in sickbay has not changed that," said Janeway coldly.

"I would suggest we let her stay," said the Doctor firmly. "Waking up in sickbay when his last memory was being in the brig can adversely affect his health. He may be frightened and confused. That can cause a spike in his blood pressure again. Lt. Torres' presense may help to calm him."

Chakotay looked at the Captain. "I agree with the Doctor. Tom's health is the most important issue at the moment. If he thinks B'Elanna's presense will help to calm Tom, who are we to argue."

"Very well," Janeway relented. "She may stay until we are sure that Tom will be okay. Then she must leave."

Chakotay wondered if the Captain knew just how hard it would be to get B'Elanna away from Tom's side. He took her shoulder and gently shook her. "Hey, B'Elanna," he said softly. "Wake up, it's morning and the Doctor is going to take the Neruo-sleep stimulator off of Tom and wake him up."

B'Elanna snapped awake with a suddenness that surprised both the Captain and Chakotay who quickly stepped back just in case.

"How's Tom? Is he okay?" she blurted out in alarm.

"He is fine, Lt. Torres," answered the Doctor reassuringly. "I wanted you awake when I rouse him. I felt your presense might soothe him. He will undoubtedly be confused when he wakes up in sickbay. His last memory from the previous night is being in the brig. In fact, it may be best if you are the one to awaken him. Your voice is one he will recognize and associate with comfort."

B'Elanna nodded. "Just let me know when you're ready for me to wake him up."

"I'm going to remove the Neruo-sleep stimulator and check to make certain his vital signs remain stable. I will then instruct you to rouse him," answered the Doctor.

He reached down and removed the device. Tom grimanced slightly, then relaxed. The Doctor carefully watched the monitor panel over Tom's head for a full minute. "All right, B'Elanna, please wake Tom up."

B'Elanna let go of Tom's hand and gently stroked his forehead. "Hey, hotshot," she said softly as she stroked his forehead and cheeks. "Time to wake up."

Tom began to stir. He blinked a few times then stared up at B'Elanna in confusion. What are you doing in the br......" He looked around and realized he was no longer in the brig. He was in sickbay.

"You gave us quite a scare last night, Tom," said B'Elanna as she bent down to kiss him. To hell with what Janeway would say or do.......Tom needed her unconditional support.

"B'Elanna, wait, I need to see what Tom remembers from last night," the Doctor said softly.

Tom looked at the Doctor. "Well....." he thought hard. "I know Samantha came in at the end of the Beta shift and gave me some medicine. Then I fell asleep. I had 'that dream' again. Having the dream is the last thing I remember."

"Before I begin to review my findings with you, do you object to Lt. Torres hearing them. The Captain and Commander Chakotay have already heard them. As your commanding officers, they are privy to such information. However due to privacy laws, I must have your consent to review your medical information with others present," said the Doctor, who was reasonably certain what Tom's answer would be.

"Doc, anything medical that pertains to me.....B'Elanna will always be allowed to know. I am going on record with that right now." He turned and smiled weakly at B'Elanna. She lifted his hand she held in hers and kissed it.

"Very well, when I was summoned to the brig last night, your blood pressure was dangerously high.....to the point that you could have easily had a stroke. You were in tacyacardia. I was unable to rouse you. I called for an emergency beam out to sickbay. Once in sickbay, I was able to stablize you. I then put the Neruo-sleep stimulator on you so that you could have peaceful sleep without dreams. As you know from your studies with me, that device can only be used on a very limited basis. I am going to examine you this morning to acertain no permanent damage was done by the high blood pressure."

"Just how high was it, Doc?" asked Tom.

"It was 200/110," replied the Doctor. "You are most fortunate that Lt. Ayala acted so quickly. I have also put you on a restricted diet. All of your food will be replicated and should also help control your blood pressure along with the medications as needed."

Tom grinned, "I guess that means no more leola root for now."

"Most assuredly, no more leola root. While it meets basic nutritutional requirements, it is high in sodium, therefore off limits," answered the Doctor with a smile. He had circumvented more of Janeway's punishment and it gave him great satisfaction.

"I knew that the anti-anxiety drugs were probably a waste of time and effort," stated Tom quietly. They didn't work in Aukland, so why would they work now?"

Janeway stared at Tom, "Why didn't you tell the Doctor about that?"

Tom shrugged and looked away.

"Now is not the time or place to discuss the anti-anxiety drugs," the Doctor said firmly. "Such a discussion can only agitate my patient." He looked up and saw Neelix bearing a tray with Tom's breakfast. When he had informed Neelix of the dietary changes for Tom. Neelix had requested that he still be able to bring the replicated meals to Tom. He had assured the Doctor that he would not alter the foods at all. He wanted Tom to be well, and by taking care of his meals, he could do his part.

"Ah, here is Mr. Neelix with Tom's meal. Now, the rest of you need to clear out of sickbay. After Tom has eaten, I am going to examine him thoroughly. I will inform you of the results when I am done," said the Doctor.

B'Elanna bent down and gently kissed Tom. "You get well, do you hear me?" she said affectionately. She hoped she would be able to visit Tom in sickbay, but somehow, she doubted that Janeway would permit it.

They walked out quietly. Chakotay turned to B'Elanna. "I know you were in sickbay all night with Tom. If you want to take the day off to rest, I'll take care of it."

"No, Chakotay, I'll do better keeping busy in Engineering. That way I won't have time to worry about Tom," she answered honestly.

Janeway walked on in a brooding silence. Chakotay looked at her for a moment. "Well, none of us has had breakfast yet. Why don't we brave the messhall and see what fare Neelix has to offer today?"

Janeway shook her head. "I have a lot of work to do. I'll see you later on the bridge." She walked off quickly leaving B'Elanna and Chakotay staring.

"She's taking this hard," murmured Chakotay.

"Well, it's her fault," snapped B'Elanna.

"Wait, just a second, she did not force Tom to disobey orders," answered Chakotay.

"Well, when she heard from the Doctor how badly Tom was doing she should have done something," insisted B'Elanna.

"We'll get no where playing the blame game. Tom is in good hands in sickbay. No one knew this would happen. Even the Doctor thought medicine would help him. Should Tom have informed the Doctor that anti-anxiety drugs had been tried with him unsuccessfully........yes, but then drugs change all the time......and Tom was not thinking clearly anyway," said Chakotay.

B'Elanna nodded. "Let's get some breakfast. I'm starving."

In the mess hall, B'Elanna and Chakotay quickly made their selections from the fare that Neelix was serving. Surprisingly, he had some apetizing dishes this morning. Taking their trays, they settled in a corner of the mess hall and began eating.

As they ate, Crewman Dalby stopped by their table. "Is Tom okay? I heard there were problems last night."

"He's in sickbay, the Doctor was able to get him stablized," replied B'Elanna.

"Good, lots of us have been worried about him. He should have never been put in the brig in the first place," grumbled Dalby. "Well, I'm glad to know he's doing better." Dalby walked away.

Other crew members stopped by to inquire about Tom. Most of them echoed Dalby's sentiments that Tom should have never been put in the brig in the first place.

"Seems most of the crew agrees with me," mused B'Elanna. "I don't think I can take not seeing him for as long as he has left.

"I wouldn't count on it, B'Elanna. She is still really angry with Tom," replied Chakotay softly.

"I know, but she's letting her anger cloud her judgement," retorted B'Elanna.

"Well, if we don't hurry, she'll be mad at us too for being late to our duty stations," Chakotay reminded her.

They put their trays away and left the mess hall to report to their posts.........

Meanwhile, down in Sickbay, Tom was eating his breakfast. The food was much better than he had been getting while in the brig thanks to the Doctor's orders. Blueberry pancakes, bacon, orange juice, and milk. He had hoped for some coffee, but the Doctor explained that until he completed his examination that he did not want any stimulants in Tom's system that could interfere with the test results. Seeing B'Elanna for the few minutes that he had this morning had been wonderful. Feeling her soft lips against his had been the best medicine for his aching soul. He knew with the attitude the Captain had displayed this morning that he would not be seeing B'Elanna again any time soon.

"Well, Mr. Paris, it would seem your appetite has improved," said the Doctor as he surveyed the empty dishes. "In about an hour, I'll be doing a series of tests on you. The one that you may find the most difficult will be the stress test. I want to make certain you have sustained no cardiological damage."

"I appreciate your help, Doc. Say, are there any texts I can study while I'm here? I don't want to get too stir crazy," said Tom.

"I will bring you some material to study on the condition that you don't overtire yourself. The past several days have put an undue strain on your body's systems," said the Doctor seriously.

"I won't, Doc," Tom assured him.

"Very well, I shall bring you some texts on emergency medicine," said the Doctor.

On the bridge everyone was quiet. Voyager was in a relatively safe region of space. They were on course for the Alpha Quadrant. Janeway sat brooding in her command chair. The situtation with Tom Paris gnawed at her soul. What if he had ended up having a stroke last night..............she forced the idea from her mind. It was Tom's fault he was in the brig. He disobeyed direct orders and nearly started a war in the process. She turned as the turbolift doors slid open.

B'Elanna strode purposefully to the Engineering station on the bridge. She knew the Doctor would be filing his report soon. If she were on the bridge, perhaps the Doctor would include her in the briefing. Everything down in engineering was in perfect order. She could monitor things just as well from the station on the bridge as she could in enginnering. Joe Carey had encouraged her to go as well. They were all eager to hear how Tom's test results came out. Starfleet and Maquis alike were all concerned over the latest developments with Tom, and very angry with the Captain over it.

"Problems in engineering, B'Elanna?" asked Janeway.

"No, all things are running at optimal efficency," answered B'Elanna as she relieved the crewman at the Bridge Engineering station.

"Very well, carry on," said Janeway.

Chakotay glanced over at B'Elanna as she proceeded to run a systems check from her bridge station. He knew her well enough to read the anxiety coursing through her. If Tom had sustained any permanent damage.........well, he hoped he and the Doctor would be able to restrain her. At first, he had not be certain that her relationship with Tom was a good thing. However, the more he watched them, the more he realized just how much they belonged together. Tom had certainly grown beyond the mercenary pilot he had been when he joined the Maquis. Chakotay thought of all the times Tom had put his life on the line to save others. The young man had more commendations than anyone else on the ship. With a record like that, the punishments meted out by Janeway seemed overly harsh and way out of line.

B'Elanna finished up her systems check and sat at her station monitoring engineering systems. Her heart ached to be with Tom. Though, she knew that during the exam the Doctor would not permit her to be with him regardless. She knew that Janeway was probably not going to let her see Tom again until the full thirty days were served. His punishements were so unfair. Why, Tom had saved various crew members and the ship countless times. He was Voyager's most decorated officer as far as commendations went. If it were not for Tom's bravery and loyalty, the crew would still be stranded on that planet in the Hannan system. Evidently, loyalty and bravery meant nothing to Janeway.

The turbolift doors opened and the Doctor stepped onto the bridge. B'Elanna watched him as he walked over to the Command team. "I have the results of my examination of Mr. Paris. If we can adjourn to your ready room, I will review them with you." He glanced over at B'Elanna. "I would also like Lt. Torres to join us as well."

Janeway nodded her assent, and the four officers walked to the Ready Room. The Doctor reassuringly squeezed B'Elanna's shoulder as he followed her into the room. She glanced back at him and was reasonably certain from his expression that Tom was going to be okay.

"Well, Doctor," began Janeway after everyone was seated. "What are the results of Ensign Paris' tests?" There was a slight iciness to her tone.

"Mr. Paris continues to be in stable condition. I ran a number of tests. He sustained no permanent damage from extreme spike in his blood pressure. There was also no damage from the tacycardia."

"Then, is there any medical need for him to be in sickbay?" asked Janeway cooly.

"I wish to keep him overnight for observation so that if complications ensue during the night, he can be quickly attended to. Observing during a nightmare episode may help me find a better treatment for him," stated the Doctor.

"Very well," answered Janeway. "However, I will be posting a security officer, and he will not be allowed any visitors."

B'Elanna frowned, she was quite pleased Tom had suffered no ill effects from the previous nights medical emergency, however, she was not pleased that the Captain was continuing to treat him like a criminal. Under the table, she felt a nudge from Chakotay warning her not to protest. She glanced quickly at him, conveying her assent.

"Is it really necessary to have a security officer cluttering up my sickbay?" challenged the Doctor.

"Yes it is, dimissed." snapped Janeway.

The Doctor rose and left the Ready Room without another word. Janeway turned her attention to Chakotay and B'Elanna. "Both of you may return to your stations."

Nodding, they got out and left the Ready Room. Janeway watched them as they departed. With a sigh, she picked up a PADD to review of one many reports that were awaiting her approval. The Navigation report was not as concise as it usually was. Frowning, she highlighted areas that she wanted changed and set it aside for Baytart to correct. The next report she picked up was from Security. Tuvok's report was concise and to the point as usual. The incident with Tom last night was the final item in the report. She could feel Tuvok's reproach as she read the details. No one seemed to understand why she was doing this. Signing off on Tuvok's report, she picked up the next report and began reading.

Out on the bridge, B'Elanna gave Harry a thumbs up to let him know that Tom was fine. He nodded his thanks and turned his attention back to his console. He had been concerned when he had heard about Tom's emergency beam out to sickbay. He had thought surely given the circumstances the Captain would end Tom's sentence. Though the angry expression on the Doctor's face suggested otherwise.

B'Elanna idly scanned the readouts on her console. Too bad she had done the Doctor's weekly diagnostic two days ago. It would give her a chance to at least see Tom, even if she could not go over to his bed and talk to him. She did not know how she would endure twenty-two more days of no contact with Tom. At least the Doctor had gotten him out of the brig and into his own quarters. That much alone would lessen Tom's claustrophobia. She was surprised to feel a timid tap on her shoulder. It was the crewman relieveing her for lunch. Harry's relief was at his station as well. They both briefed their relief, and headed to the turbolift.

They got their trays and sat at a quiet table in the corner of the mess hall. There were not many people here yet, so they were somewhat isolated from the rest of the crew.

"So, what did the Doctor say about Tom?" asked Harry.

"That he had no permanent damage from his blood pressure spike or the tacycardia. He's keeping him in sickbay. He wants to observe Tom during a nightmare episode to see if he can think of anything that can help," replied B'Elanna in a soft whisper.

Harry leaned closer. "Do you think there is any chance of the Captain changing her mind about the thirty days?"

B'Elanna snorted. "That's not going to happen. She's even posting a security officer in sickbay to watch Tom. Like Tom is a danger to anyone." Her eyes blazed with fury. "This is the most unjust, unfair thing the Captain has ever done. Other folks, myself included have made major blunders, and were not disciplined this severely."

"Uh, what have you done that you consider a major blunder?" asked Harry puzzled.

"The time we aquired the spatial trajector from the Sikarians," B'Elanna reminded him.

"Oh yeah, Tuvok and Carey were involved too. You were ready to take the fall for it, but then Tuvok stepped up and admitted he was also involved," recalled Harry.

"The fact is, we disobeyed direct orders, our actions could have caused conflict with the Sikarians, and the only thing that she did was read us the riot act," snapped B'Elanna. "There have been other times that people have royally screwed up and got the same, or at the most a reprimand in their record...........for all the good that will do since we're on a seventy year trip."

The sound of someone clearing their throat made them look up. Chakotay was standing at their table with a tray.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked impassively.

B'Elanna and Harry both blushed. "Sit down, Commander," answered Harry nervously.

Chakotay sat down with his tray. "I just checked with the Doctor. Tom is resting and studying medical texts. His stress levels aren't anywhere near the point they were at in the brig. He still wants to keep him overnight and watch the monitors firsthand during the nightmare episodes."

"Has the Doctor been able to get him to open up about his nightmares?" asked Harry in a concerned voice.

"Not yet," answered Chakotay. He turned to B'Elanna. "I know you two spend most of your off duty time together. How often does he have nightmares?"

"Not as often as he did when we first started spending time together." B'Elanna looked around and saw that the mess hall was getting fuller. She did not want to add fuel to the rumor mill by continuing the discussion in the increasingly crowded mess hall. "Can we finish this discussion later in your office, Chakotay?" she asked softly.

Chakotay nodded, "I agree. We need to respect Tom's right to privacy. Let's meet in my office at 1700 hours. You too, Harry."

"Was the Captain's mood any better when you left for lunch, Chakotay?" asked Harry. Lately, the Captain had been increasingly snappish and irritable.

"I would suggest getting back from your lunches a little early," answered Chakotay ruefully. He was loyal to the Captain, but he also did not want B'Elanna or Harry to be on the receiving end of the Captain's wrath for tardiness.

"Thanks for the warning." B'Elanna picked up her tray. "I'm done, and I'll be heading back." She certainly did not want to give the Captain any reason to be angry with her. If she had any hope of getting to see Tom during the remainder of his sentence, she had to toe the line.

"Wait a second, I'm through," said Harry. "I'll go with you."

Chakotay watched the two officers depart. He knew both were deeply concerned over their friend. If only Tom would open up to someone about the troubling dreams. He was glad that Tom was under the Doctor's care and out of the brig. He certainly did not deserve to suffer the way he had for his first week in the brig. He knew that the Captain was aware of Tom's suffering. Tuvok's daily security reports that both of them received detailed the incidents in that occurred in the brig each night. Sighing, he turned his attention to his meal, so that he would not be late getting back to the bridge either.

Back on the bridge, B'Elanna and Harry resumed their stations. There was tension in the air, and the relief crew scurried to the turbolift, clearly relieved to be off the bridge. B'Elanna and Harry exchanged a look both realizing that it was going to be a long shift.

"Lt. Torres, Ensign Kim, I would like you to run full diagnostics of your stations," she said sternly.

"Aye, Captain," they replied. Their stations were operating well within normal limits and diagnostics were not really necessary. However, the Captain's tone left them in no mood to disagree. It would keep them busy for the rest of the shift. B'Elanna glaced over at the Conn Station. Culhane seemed to be struggling with protocols for the full diagnostic he was running. She hoped he would overcome the problems soon. With the mood the Captain seemed to be in, anyone who was perceived as not doing his or her job properly was liable to be on the receiving end of the her formidable wrath.

About an hour later, Janeway got up and began going from station to station to check on the progress of the diagnostics being done. She stood at the engineering station watching B'Elanna work. "Very good, job, Lieutenant, you are further along than I would have expected you to be. Carry on." She strolled on over to Ops where Harry was working ferverishly, hoping that Janeway would not be displeased with his slower than usual pace. "What seems to be the problem, Ensign? You should be much further along than you are."

"I found a few problems with the board, Captain. It took extra time to adjust areas to bring them up to standard," answered Harry nervously. He indicated the areas as he spoke.

"I see," began Janeway. "Do you know why these malfunctions occurred?"

"Not yet, but I am working on tracing it back," replied Harry.

"Let me know when you find out, Ensign," said Janeway as she moved down to the helm.

She looked at the screen and frowned. "Ensign Culhane, why aren't further along with you diagnostic? You've been working longer than anyone?"

"I'm sorry, Captain. I haven't done this very often. Usually, Lieuten.........Mr. Paris does it," he said.

"Have you or have you not been trained in running a FULL DIAGNOSTIC, Ensign?" she snapped.

"Yes, Captain," replied the young man meekly.

"I expect you to rise to the ocassion, Ensign. You will not leave your station until the procedure is completed correctly. You will also make the corrections I have noted in your daily report. For the past eight days all of the helm daily reports have had errors. You and the rest of the helmsmen need to do it correctly the first time," Her eyes flashed fire.

"Yes, Captain," he answered, squirming uncomfortably.

The Captain returned to her seat and sat down. Chakotay looked at her. She looked as if she were ready to explode. Never had he ever seen her come down on anyone on the bridge like that. It had always been done privately in the Ready Room.

Sighing, the Captain turned to Chakotay. I'm going to get some lunch, you have the bridge." She got up and walked to the Turbolift without as much as a glance at anyone else.

The tone and mood of the bridge improved greatly after the Captain's departure. Chakotay got up and walked down to the helm. He looked at the readouts that Culhane was struggling with. The young man looked up nervously at Chakotay, wondering if he were going to be reprimanded yet again. Flying was easy enough for him, but no one knew the quirks of this station like Tom Paris did.

"Ensign, I think if you call up the file, TPDM, you'll it helpful," whispered Chakotay.

"TPDM?" Ensign Culhane gave Chakotay a very puzzled look.

"Tom Paris' Diagnostic Manual," replied Chakotay with a chuckle. He put that together to remind him of all the quirks of this station."

Ensign Culhane groaned, "Oh, I remember him mentioning that to me now. I wished I had remembered that before......." He trailed off, not wanting to say anything that might land him in more trouble with the Captain.

"Carry on, Ensign," said Chakotay as he walked back to his seat.

The young man's began working diligently, following the protocols set up by Tom Paris. By all rights, Tom should have been here to do this himself. The Captain had been very unfair with Tom. That was not just his opinion, the pilots who were under Tom's jurisdiction all thought so as well. Hearing that no one's helm reports were up to par was discouraging. The other pilots would no doubt be on the receiving end of Janeway's wrath as well. She had been hard to deal with every since she had demoted Tom and placed him in the brig.

Chakotay glanced around at the various crew members working at their stations. Everyone seemed a lot calmer with the Captain off the bridge. It was going to be a very long twenty-two days if her mood stayed like this the entire time Tom was confined.

Down in sickbay, Tom laid his PADD aside as he saw Neelix approach him with his lunch tray. The security officer nodded to Neelix and moved so that he could place the tray on the overbed table.

"Enjoy your lunch, Tom," said Neelix. Knowing that any and all unnecessry chatter was forbidden, Neelix gave Tom an encouraging look and left.

Tom lifted the covers off the dishes and found Tomato Soup, salad, a roll, and what looked like applesauce. He picked up a spoon and tasted the soup. He was pleasantly surprised that the replicator had finally gotten the soup to taste right. He recalled the soup he had tried his first day on Voyager. This was a 100% improvement.

Ensign Lang watched as Tom ate his lunch. She had already eaten. In her opinion, assigning a security detail to watch over Tom in sickbay was ridiculous. Tom was not a dangerous criminal, he was a Starfleet officer. Yes, he had made a mistake, however, as Gilbert and Sullivan had put it so long ago, "let the punishment fit the crime." Others had pull outrageous stunts with much less censure. The only reason she enforced the Captain's orders of no unnecessary conversation was she had no choice in the matter.

About an hour later, Neelix came to retrieve Tom's tray. He noted with satisfaction that Tom had eaten everything. He still looked as if he had been through a long illness, but at least he was eating. Since he was not allowed to speak with Tom, he simply gave him a thumbs up and was rewarded with a bright smile in return. Taking the tray, he quickly left sickbay to finish the after lunch clean up and get ready for supper.

Tom was bored. He had studied medical texts all morning. That was the only diversion that he was being allowed. He was sleepy, but he was not sure he wanted to take a nap. He did not want to have the nightmares again.

The Doctor walked over to check on his patient. Though he could be irritating at times, Tom was glad to have a chance to talk to someone.

"How are you feeling, Tom?" he asked.

"A little bored, I read the medical texts this morning, but I thought I'd give it a rest for while," he answered.

The Doctor looked at the panel over Tom's biobed. "Your blood pressure seems to be stable for the moment," he noted with satisfaction in his voice. He looked back at Tom. "You appear to be sleepy, perhaps a nap would be in order."

An apprehensive expression clouded Tom's face. Sleep meant nightmares.

The Doctor put his hand on Tom's shoulder. "I know your nightmares are troubling, I will be monitoring you. Perhaps I can come up with a solution for them that will help. I know the previous attempt did not work, however I have not been defeated yet."

"Okay, Doc," relented Tom. "I'll try to take a nap."

"Good," answered the Doctor. "Perhaps the change in environment would help keep the dreams at bay."

He left, and Tom settled down for a nap, hoping that his sleep would be peaceful.

Back on the bridge, everyone was working quietly when the Captain stepped off the turbolift. She stood there for a few moments surveying the activity, then proceeded to her seat.

"The diagnostics are preceeding as ordered, Captain," reported Chakotay.

She nodded, "Good, while we are in a relatively calm area of space, I wanted everything checked out. We never know when things can become turbulent out here."

"That's a given," agreed Chakotay. He looked around at the officers working on their various tasks. The moment the Captain had returned, he sensed that they were more tense. He wished there was a way to improve things, but only the Captain could change her current attitude. There were no easy answers to the problem.

An uneasy silence settled over the bridge. The only sounds were those from the consoles as they were put through various tests. After about an hour, the Captain got up and strolled around checking on progress.

As she observed B'Elanna's work, she noted that the Engineer was nearly done. "You've been very industrious this afternoon, B'Elanna." The Captain moved on to Harry's Ops station. "Mr. Kim, did you manage to track down the source of the problems?"

"Yes, Captain, it was from when we were attacked by Species 6339. They were minor issues that would only show up in a complete diagnostic. From now on, after any attack, I plan to run a full diagnostic."

"An excellent idea, Ensign," commented Janeway. She continued on to the helm. "Ensign Culhane, I see you are finally making progress on your diagnostic."

"Yes, Capatin, I called up Mr. Paris' notes on it, and they have been very helpful," answered Ensign Culhane.

Janeway bristled a little at the mention of Tom's name. "Very well, carry on." She returned to her chair and sat down. The cold reception she had been getting from everyone was getting old. Tom disobeyed orders and was disciplined. The rest of the crew would just have to get over it.

Tom was stirring restlessly. Ensign Lang called for the Doctor, reasonably sure a nightmare episode was about to start. He came immediately. He had medication pre-loaded into a hypospray to use if necessary. Tom was becoming more agitated.

"Daddy, please don't put me in there," he suddenly cried out. He began crying and screaming, "Let me out, please let me out."

Alarms began sounding, and the Doctor immediately woke Tom up. Tom sat up shaking. The Doctor quickly administered medication to lower his blood pressure and control his heart rate.

"Tom, you need to lie down," he said softly guiding the young man's body back down on the biobed.

"I should have known that I wouldn't get any peaceful sleep," muttered Tom.

"It might help if you would open up about your dreams," said the Doctor. "Anything you tell me would be held strictly confidental."

Tom shook his head. "I just can't talk about them, Doc. You don't understand. No one does."

The Doctor sighed. "I am trying a new medication. I think that it will keep your blood pressure and heart rate in check in spite of the stress the nightmares put on your body. If not, I'll keep you here till I find one that does."

Tom frowned. "I'll never finish my days if I have to stay here."

"Yes, you will," replied the Doctor. "The Captain stated the time you spend here in sickbay will count as time served too."

Tom rubbed his face, relieved to know that sickbay days were not going to be counted against him. Now if there were somethng that would stop the nightmares. When he spent the night with B'Elanna, he seldom had nightmares. He hated being alone.

Up on the Bridge, it was finally shift change. Chakotay watched as the officers coming on duty were briefed by the ones going off. The Captain had left the bridge as soon as Lieutenant Rollins came on. He was taking the command this shift. Chakotay had briefed him for the Captain. He stood up and walked to the turbolift and was joined by Harry and B'Elanna.

"Let's head directly to my office to finish our discussion," he whispered.

They both nodded and quietly got on the turbolift. They rode in silence. When the doors slid open, they walked to Chakotay's office and sat down.

"Okay, B'Elanna, what can you tell me about Tom's nightmares," inquired Chakotay, who had decided there was no sense in wasting time on pleasantries.

"Well, at first he had them two or three times a week," began B'Elanna. "Then, they seemed to taper off. Maybe once or twice a month, unless he got stressed out over something. Then he had them more often."

"But he never tells you about them?" asked Harry.

"No," she said resignedly. "I know a lot of times I hear him calling out his dad's name. He and his dad didn't get along very well."

"I had Admiral Paris for a few classes at the academy," began Chakotay. "His classes washed out a lot of cadets. He was very demanding. I never saw him interacting with Tom, so I only know the rumors."

"Chakotay," ventured B'Elanna. "Do you think maybe....." She stopped and seemed to be considering very carefully how to phrase what she wanted to say.

"Do I think what?" he prompted her.

"Well, I was thinking, he might open up to his animal guide.......if you could teach him how to reach his animal guide. I don't think he'd try to kill his," said B'Elanna with a chuckle.

"It would only work if he was open to it," said Chakotay.

"I think he would be, sir." began Harry. "That might be the one........ uh thing he would open up to about his dreams. I think the reason he doesn't want to talk to us is that the Admiral was abusive."

"I am certain that he was," said B'Elanna. "Tom did tell me that his dad was gentle and patient, until he was taken prisoner by the Cardassians. When he was finally rescued, he was a very different man. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome changed the Admiral a lot according to Tom."

"Hmmm, I was aware of the Admiral being taken by the Cardassians, but I was not aware he had been diagnosed with PTSS," said Chakotay.

"He wasn't offically, it was something Tom learned from his studies with the Doctor. He commented that he could understand his dad a little better after he had studied that particular text," explained B'Elanna.

"Well, I will check with the Doctor, and if he approves, I can approach Tom about learning about his animal guide," said Chakotay. "Harry do you have anything to add?"

"Not that I can think of, sir," he replied.

"Good, I'm going down to sickbay to talk to the Doctor and see how Tom is faring," said Chakotay.

A longing expression crossed B'Elanna's face. She wished she could see Tom. "I don't suppose I could go too?"

"Sorry, B'Elanna, but that would be up to the Captain," answered Chakotay regretfully.

When Chakotay walked into sickbay, Tom was eating his supper. The security officer was sitting reading something from a PADD. He stood up when he saw his superior officer.

"As you were Ensign Molina," said Chakotay with a wave. He walked over to the Doctor's office.

"Doctor, I came by for a report on Tom Paris, and to discuss an idea that might help him deal with his nightmares," said Chakotay.

"I'd be interested in hearing that idea myself."

Chakotay turned and saw the Captain standing behind him. "Hello, Captain."

"If both of you will have a seat, I'll brief you on Mr. Paris' condition," said the Doctor.

The sat down and the Doctor began.
"Tom was napping and had another nightmare episode. I was able to rouse him. His blood pressure and heart rate were significantly elevated. I administerd new medications which I hope will keep that from happening again. If he has nightmare episodes tonight, we will know if the new medications worked. He has yet to open up to anyone about his nightmares."

"Lieutenant Torres, Ensign Kim, and I were talking, and B'Elanna suggested that perhaps if Tom were open to learning about his animal guide that he might open up to it about the dreams," said Chakotay.

"That may be an option that will work," commented Captain Janeway. "He definitely needs to talk about them."

"I would suggest we wait until we are certain his medical condition is stable before he makes an attempt. I am very aware of animal guides. However, before he uses an Akoonah, I think we need for him to be medically stable," stated the Doctor.

"That is reasonable," said the Captain. "When you deem he is ready, I would like for the Commander to raise the issue with him. I'll make that exception to his solitary confinement, only because it is a health related issue."

"If the new medications work, I will be ready to release Mr. Paris from sickbay tomorrrow. I assume you still intend to allow him to serve the remainder of his sentence in his quarters," said the Doctor.

"I will follow your recommendations, Doctor. I have no desire to see Ensign Paris suffer any more than you do," said the Captain defensively.

The Doctor nodded, "I realize that Captain, now if the two of you will excuse me, I have a patient to attend to." He rose and walked out of his office.

Chakotay looked at the Captain. He could see the pain in her eyes. He knew that she truly believed she was right in her discipline, but now realized just how much it had hurt her to have to do it.

"Let's go see what Neelix is serving in the mess hall," he suggested quietly.

She nodded, stood up, and walked out of the Doctor's office.

B'Elanna and Harry were eating supper. She could tell Harry was out of sorts and wondered what was troubling him.

"Hey, Starfleet, what's wrong?" she asked.

Harry looked around and saw that the tables near them were empty. "The Captain forced me to fire. She had intended for me to fire on Tom at first. I could have killed one of my best friends."

She nodded, "That had to be really hard on you, Harry."

She noticed Harry's eyes dart to the door. The Captain and Chakotay entered the mess hall. Harry picked up his empty plate. "I'll see you later, B'Elanna." He was gone before she could reply. She put her plate in the recycler and headed for her quarters.

Chakotay watched as the two younger officers left the mess hall. They were both hurting and there wasn't a lot he could do about it. He got a plate of hot food and sat down with the Captain.

"Well," she began. "It looks and smells edible. Time for the acid test." She put a bite of the casserole in her mouth and chewed. After she swallowed, she grinned at Chakotay. "It's edible. Neelix's cooking is getting better here lately."

Chakotay skepticly took a bite. It was pretty good, he decided. "It's taken him some time, but I agree, he has improved."

"I'm glad the diagnostics are over with," said Janeway as she set down her coffee cup. "I wanted everything checked out. You never know what might happen from one day to the next out here. Without Starfleet to back us up, we are way too vunerable."

"I know," said Chakotay. "We seem to run into more than our share of trouble. We're lucky to have such a well trained crew."

"Yes, we are," agreed the Captain.

Meanwhile, B'Elanna sat in her quarters. Everywhere she looked there were reminders of Tom. She spotted his robe still draped over a chair from the last night they had spent together. She walked over, picked it up, and held it to her cheek inhaling his scent which lingered on the dark blue robe she had given him. Laying it down, she quickly shed her uniform and put the robe on. It gave her a small measure of comfort. Somehow, she had to convince the Captain to let her see Tom.

Harry sat in his dimly lit quarters. His clarinet lay beside him. He had been unable to find the usual comfort and pleasure his music always brought him. The Captain's order to fire on the Detla Flyer echoed relentlessly through his head. Had the Captain not changed her order and had him fire at the torpedo Tom launched, he would have surely killed his best friend. They all owed Tom their lives so many times over. How could the Captain have been so cold hearted?

Captain Janeway sat brooding on the observation deck. At this late hour, she was the only one here. Tom was one of her best officers. How had he managed to make such a poor judgement call. She knew most of the crew thought her discipline had been overly harsh. They just did not understand. Out here, she had to be hard on everyone. That was the only way they would survive and make it home some day.

Tom lay quietly in the bio bed. He dreaded going to sleep. Sleep would only bring the nightmares. No one could ever know the things he dreamed about were very real. After his father had been rescued from the Cardassians, he was never the same. Tom knew enough from his studies with the Doctor that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome had caused most of the changes in his dad. The six years before that had been wonderful. His dad had been a doting father, so proud of his only son. He hated the Cardassians for what they had done to his father. He turned over on his side and punched the pillow a few times.

"You okay, Tom?" asked Ayala.

"Yeah, thanks for checking though. I guess I'm going to try to sleep.......at least till the nightmares start," he answered ruefully. He closed his eyes and willed himself to relax.

Chakotay sat in his quarters. On his vision quest, the wolf had agreed that he should teach Tom to contact his animal guide. She told him that Tom would be receptive. So, as soon as the Doctor gave him the okay, he would work with Tom. Perhaps, Tom would find some measure of peace.

Tom was stirring restlessly on the bed. The Doctor and Ensign Ayala stood watching, knowing that it was another nightmare. So far, his blood pressure and heart rate were staying within normal limits.

"No, please, daddy, don't!" cried Tom. "I'll be good. Please don't put me in the chest again."

The Doctor and Ayala exchanged troubled looks. Ayala had already been told, as had all the security officers that anything Tom said during his dreams was to be considered confidental. It would be put into reports, but it would not be discussed with others.

"Please let me out, daddy. Please!! I'm sorry, I'll be a good boy," he begged.

The Doctor gently shook Tom to wake him up. He sat up breathing hard, but not feeling as badly as he had from previous episodes.

"Well, Tom, it would seem the new medicines have your blood pressure and heart rate under control. When I release you to your quarters tomorrow, I'll put a cardiac monitor on you to be on the safe side. More than likely when your days of confinement are over, we will be able to discontinue the medication." The Doctor looked very pleased.

"Thanks, Doc," said Tom, "For everything. I know it's because of you that I don't have to go back to the brig. It won't be nearly as bad in my quarters as it was there."

"You're welcome, Tom. Now try to go back to sleep," said the Doctor.

He laid back down and pulled the covers back over himself. Hopefully, he would not have any more dreams.

The next morning, the Captain and Chakotay went to sickbay to get a status report on Tom. They walked into sickbay and saw that he was still sleeping.

"Ah, Captain, Commander, I've been waiting for you. If you'll step into my office, I will now update you on Mr. Paris' condition."

They went into his office and sat down. The Doctor picked up two PADDs and handed it to each of them. "As you can see, Mr. Paris had two episodes of nightmares last night. However, the new medications have his heart rate and blood pressure under control. I will be allowing him to return to his quarters today. He will be wearing a cardiac monitor to alert me to any changes. I plan to examine him again after he eats breakfast. Provided there are no changes, he will be able to be confined in his quarters."

"Contact me when you're ready to release him. The security officer on duty will then escort him to his quarters and be posted outside his door," said the Captain.

The Doctor looked at Chakotay. "Commander, if his condition remains stable for the next forty-eight hours, you may proceed with introducing Mr. Paris to his animal guide if he wishes to try it. I would like to be present to monitor the process."

"If that is what you think is in Tom's best interest, I have no problems with it," replied Chakotay.

The Doctor rose to his feet. "Thank you for time, I must now see to my patient." He followed them out of his office and went to Tom's bedside as they left sickbay. Tom was awake and had watched his commanding officers leave sickbay.

"Tom," began the Doctor, "After you eat your breakfast, I want to exam you one more time. Then, provided nothing changes, I will inform the Captain, and you will be escorted to your quarters."

"That works for me, Doc. I am feeling a lot better than I did. Say, I've sort of lost track of days, how many more days do I have left?" asked Tom.

"You have twenty-one days left. If you start having severe problems again, you will of course be transfered from your quarters back to sickbay," replied the Doctor. "I will be checking on you more often due to health issues."

Tom nodded, "Best to be on the safe side." He smiled, knowing that he would have a frequent visitor, even if it was the Doctor. Tom had noticed the Doctor had been treating much kinder than usual.

After a finishing his breakfast, the Doctor examined Tom one more time. "Well, Tom," he began. "You're in much better shape than when you came in a few days ago. I am attaching a cardiac montior to alert me to any changes. As soon as I contact the Captain, Ensign Lang will escort you to your quarters." He walked over to his office to contact the Captain.

"Thanks, Doc," said Tom. He was a little apprehensive at the thought of spending 21 days in his quarters. However, it was better than a tiny cell in the brig. He knew Doc would be by to check on him every few days, and that more than likely Neelix would be by with his meals. So it would not be too bad.

The Doctor came back from his office. "Ensign Lang, if you would escort Mr. Paris to his quarters now." He turned to Tom. "The Captain and Commander Chakotay will be waiting there for you. I believe the Captain will explain what you will and won't be allowed."

Tom got up off the bed and stood to his feet. He slid his feet into the slippers that were at his bedside. He looked at Ensign Lang with a teasing grin. "Forward, onward, outward, and sideways."

She laughed, and gestured for him to follow her. Even after all he had been through, she was glad that Tom had been able to maintain his sense of humor. The orders for Tom to be escorted were so pointless. Tom would have gone directly to his quarters without anyone taking him. The Captain was going way overboard.

When they got to his quarters, the Captain and the Commander were waiting for them. They followed him into his quarters as Ensign Lang took her position outside his door. Inside, they all sat down.

"Now, Tom," began Janeway. "You will serve the remaining twenty-one days here in your quarters. At the Doctor's request, Mr. Neelix will continue to bring your meals so that your diet may be better regulated."

Tom forced himself not to smile. Atta boy, Doc, he thought. Company three times a day. That would help make the next twenty-one days a little easier.

"You will not be allowed to access your computer during that time. However, you will be allowed PADDs with medical texts assigned by the Doctor," continued Janeway. "When your days are served, you will resume your duties as Chief Helmsman." She glanced at Chakotay. "Do you have anything to add, Commander?"

"Tom, I would encourage you to use these days to try to resolve whatever issues cause you to have nightmares. I had difficulties with my father as well. It took a lot of soul searching, but I made my peace with it," advised Chakotay.

"I'll consider that, Chakotay," replied Tom.

"That's all for now, Ensign Paris," said Captain Janeway. She stood, and Chakotay followed suit. Without another word, she walked out the door with Chakotay following her.

Tom walked around his quarters. They were just as he had left them. Spying B'Elanna's gown on the floor by his bed, he picked up it. Lifting it to his face, he inhaled her scent. It was a comforting aroma. He laid it on his bed, and walked over to the window and watched the as stars zipped by. He could tell by the view from his window and the vibrations under his feet that the ship was traveling at warp 8. He missed piloting the ship. Twenty-one days to go, just twenty-one days.

In the mess hall, Chakotay sat alone at a table eating lunch. He was reading a PADD.

"Mind if I join you?" asked B'Elanna.

He smiled and pointed to an empty chair. "Have a seat. How are things in engineering?"

"Fine," she said as she took a seat. "Has Tom been moved to his quarters?"

Chakotay nodded, "Yes, the Doctor released him from sickbay this morning. He seemed to be okay when we left him. He's got twenty one days left on his sentence."

"I know," replied B'Elanna.

They were interupted by Neelix as he paused with a tray ladened with covered dishes. "I'm on my way to take Tom his tray. If anyone needs me, I'll be back soon."

"Too bad, I can't hide under one of those dishes," joked B'Elanna.

"I'll tell him that if I get a chance," said Neelix in an understanding tone.

Chakotay raised an eyebrow. "I'll pretend I didn't hear that." The twinkle in his eyes belied his serious tone.

"Well, I'd better hurry, I don't want his food to get cold," said Neelix as he walked towards the door.

When he got to the door, Ensign Lang activated it and let Neelix in while remaining at her post. He walked over to the table and sat the tray down. Tom walked over to see what he had for lunch.

"Tom, B'Elanna wished she were small enough to hide under one of your dishes," whipsered Neelix conspiratorialy.

"I wouldn't mind having B'Elanna for lunch," quipped Tom.

"Well, I'd better be going. It's lunch time and I don't want to leave the mess hall unattended for too long," said Neelix as he walked to the door. It slid open and he left quietly.

Tom sat down and began removing covers from his food. He smiled as he surveyed each item. Grilled chicken breast, steamed rice, salad, fruit cocktail, and a multi-grain roll. The Doctor's dietary restrictions beat the Captain's "basic nutritutional" restrictions. He began eating his meal.

Back in the mess hall, B'Elanna was now sitting alone. Chakotay had finished his lunch and returned to duty. Neelix stopped by her table.

"I relayed your message to Tom," he whispered. "His answer was, 'I wouldn't mind having B'Elanna for lunch.'"

B'Elanna grinned, aware of the double meaning in those words. Sexual innduendo generally escaped Neelix, but not her. "Thanks, Neelix," she said. Rising to her feet, she took her empty dishes to the recycler and left for enginnering.

Right before Tom went to bed, the Doctor came by to check on him and administer his medications.

"You're heart rate and blood pressure appear to be remaining stable. Thus far, I have not found anything that will prevent the nightmares. I think it's something you'll have to work through," explained the Doctor. "The cardiac montior will alert me if you should have problems during the night. Perhaps if you focus on positive memories at bedtime it will influence your dreams."

"At this point, Doc, I'm open to anything that will help," admitted Tom.

The Doctor was pleased by this statement. Perhaps Tom would be open to trying an animal guide as Chakotay had mentioned. "A medic will be by in the morning to give you the next dose of medication. Remember, happy thoughts," admonished the Doctor.

Tom got into bed and pulled B'Elanna's gown to his chest. If he could not have her with him, the gown would serve as a tangible link to her. He dozed off to sleep, thinking of B'Elanna and how much he loved her.

Hours later, Tom awoke.........the nightmare had come in spite of his 'happy thoughts' while going to sleep. He had been able to wake up quickly. At least he did not feel as badly as he had prior to the Doctor's treatment for his heart rate and blood pressure problems. Gathering B'Elanna's gown close once more, he went back to sleep, again trying to focus on happier thoughts.

Two days had passed, and the Doctor went to give an updated report on Tom's conditon to the Captain and Chakotay. They were in her Ready Room.

"Mr. Paris has not had any more episodes with his heart rate or blood pressure. My combination of medications has accomplished that. He is still having the nightmares, though since being moved to his quarters, he is only having them once a night. His stress and anxiety levels are also significantly lower," stated the Doctor.

"He only has 19 days to go," said Janeway. "I'm glad he is not reacting as badly as he was."

The Doctor turned to Chakotay. "Commander, if Tom is willing, you may now work with him on finding his animal guide. I feel comfortable with him using the Akoonah now that his mental and physical health have improved."

"I'll discuss it with him today," replied Chakotay. "If he is open to it, I'll set up a time to get him started."

"I hope it helps him," remarked Captain Janeway. "He needs someone or something to discuss those dreams with."

"His dreams seem to be centered on being shut up in something by his father. In sickbay, he cried out, 'Please don't put me in the chest again.'" said the Doctor.

Janeway paled as she recalled the large ornate cedar chest in the Paris house. "Owen wouldn't have," she gasped.

"Wouldn't have what?" asked Chakotay and the Doctor simutaneously.

"There was a large cedar chest in the Paris' living room. I saw it when I was a guest," she answered.

"Well, if the dreams are repressed memories from his childhood, that may well have happened," said Chakotay. "B'Elanna told me that Tom said his dad was a doting father till he was taken prisoner by the Cardassians. Once he was rescued, his dad was like a different person. Based on his studies with the Doctor, Tom thought his dad suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome."

"So, Mr. Paris has learned to apply his studies," said the Doctor.

"That could be one reason Tom doesn't discuss the nightmares. He feels his father was not entirely to blame and .........doesn't want others to judge him too harshly," reasoned Captain Janeway.

"Well, whatever the reason may be, he does need to have a way to process that pain, and if he is willing, using an animal guide may help him," replied the Doctor.

"I'll take it up with him today," said Chakotay.

"Just remember, Commander, I need to be present when he attempts to contact his animal guide so that I may monitor his vital signs," the Doctor reminded Chakotaty.

"I will, Doctor," he answered.

"Is there anything else, gentlemen?" asked Janeway.

They both shook their heads.

"Very well, dismissed," she said thoughtfully.

As they left, she sat comtemplating their discussion. She knew that she had been hard on Tom, but he was far too impulsive and needed consequences that would make an impression on him. She could only hope that he and the others would eventually understand.

Chakotay stood at the door to Tom's quarters. Ensign Lang pressed the chime to let Tom know someone was about to enter. He looked at the door wondering who it was. The Doctor had already been there, it was not lunch time--so it wasn't Neelix. He wondered who it could possibly be. The door slid open, and Chakotay walked in. He rose to his feet and lay the PADD he had been studying aside.

"Commander," he said politely. He had automatically assumed an "at attention" stance. Years of training and growing up in the Paris household had instilled that in him.

"At ease, Tom," said Chakotay softly. He studied Tom for a few seconds. The young man definitely looked better than he had a few days prior. "I would like to talk with you," he continued.

Tom nodded and indicated the chair across from the one he had been sitting in. They both sat down. Tom wondered what brought Chakotay here. He was after all still under solitary confinement, even if he was now in his quarters and not in the brig.

"Tom, B'Elanna had a suggestion to help you deal with your nightmares," began Chakotay.

"She did," replied Tom, wondering if Chakotay who at times served as an ad hoc ship's counselor was going to try to get him to open it.

"Yes, she suggested that you might be willing to try the Native American custom of talking to an animal guide. I introduced her to hers......." he chuckled at the memory. "She assures me that you are not likely to try to kill yours like she did hers."

Tom laughed, that sounded like something B'Elanna would do. He also knew that Chakotay had introduced the Captain to her animal guide as well. An animal guide might be a way to deal with his childhood traumas and not have to drag his father's name through mud. "I think I would be interested, Chakotay," admitted Tom.

"I can come back with my medicine bundle later on. How does 1500 hours sound?" asked Chakotay.

"By some stroke of luck, I seem to be unoccupied at that time," said Tom with a twinkle in his eye.

Chakotay smiled, it was good to see that in spite of everything, Tom had not lost his sense of humor. "Well, then I'll see you at 1500, Tom. The Doctor will be with us. He merely wants to be able to monitor you while you use the Akoonah for the first time." He stood and walked to the door.

"See you then, Chakotay," said Tom.

He signaled Ensign Lang, and she opened the door for him. He was glad that Tom was willing to try. If this was successful, it be very benefical to him. He headed to Enginneering to pick up the report from B'Elanna that he would need for his working lunch with the Captain.

When B'Elanna saw him walk into engineering, she headed to her office to get the PADD with the report. He followed her inside.

"How's Tom," she asked, knowing that he had brought up her suggestion of finding his animal guide.

"He looks much better than he did a few days ago. We discussed animal guides, and he is willing to try," answered Chakotay.

"That's good," replied B'Elanna. "He needs to deal with whatever happened to him."

"Well, I have to get to my meeting with the Captain," said Chakotay. "I'll see you later."

"Yeah, later, let me know how things go with Tom," she said quietly.

Chakotay headed to the bridge. Working lunches in the Ready Room weren't altogether bad. They always replicated their lunches, which meant avoiding some of Neelix's more unappetizing dishes.

Once they were settled with their lunches, the Captain and Chakotay began reviewing reports. Suddenly, the Captain banged a PADD down.

"Something wrong?" asked Chakotay.

"I am tired of the errors in the helm reports," she snapped. "You'd think these officers had never written a report in their lives."

Chakotay picked up the PADD and read over the highlighted areas. The errors were minor, not really affecting the information presented. "I'll speak to them," he said. "I'll review the 'proper format' for the reports."

"Good, because if I have to speak to them one more time, I may have to make them walk the plank," she said with a chuckle.

She put down the last PADD they had to review. "Well, that wraps up these reports. Next order of business.....How did Tom respond to the suggestion of trying an animal guide?"

"He was very receptive. I am going back at 1500 hours to get him started. The Doctor has been notified as he requested and will be present as well," said Chakotay.

"That's good. Those dreams need to be addressed. How did he seem otherwise?" she asked.

"He looks much better than he did when he was beamed into sickbay. He's still a little stressed, but not like he was in the brig," answered Chakotay.

"I would never have put him in the brig like that had I known about his claustrophobia. How could something like that not be in his records?" asked Janeway.

"He probably kept it well hidden. We both have had contact with the Admiral. He would not have tolerated any perceived weakness," answered Chakotay. Taking a deep breath, he decided to broach the subject of Tom's sentence. "I was wondering........"

"Yes," said the Captain.

"So many others on this crew have royally screwed up, myself included, but no one has ever been disciplined as severely as Tom. Why were you so hard on him?" asked Chakotay.

The Captain picked up her coffee cup and took a big sip. "Chakotay, I know everyone thinks I was hard on Tom. I had to satisify the Moneans, things could have gotten very messy otherwise. Also, while Tom's behavior is generally expemplary, he is implusive...very implusive. Yes, he has saved the ship and this crew many times over, but that doesn't change facts. We barely avoided a conflict with the Moneans. They would have been well within their rights to demand we turn Tom over to them. Also, when we get back home, Starfleet can't say that Tom wasn't properly dealt with and try to lock him back up."

"I see," said Chakotay softly. He still didn't agree that the punishment fit the crime, but it was nice to know her reasoning. "Hopefully, Tom will think before acting next time."

"I hope so," answered Janeway. "It hurt me to have to discipline him. He has come such a long way from the flippant young man I first encountered in Aukland."

"He's certainly not the same man who I recruited for the Maquis," commented Chakotay as he recalled those days.

"Well, I think we've wrapped up everything we needed to do during our 'working lunch,'" said Janeway in a rather distracted tone.

Chakotay understood that the Captain needed some time alone to settle her thoughts about Tom. He rose to his feet. "I'll take the bridge now so Tuvok can have lunch."

She nodded and he left quietly. Walking over to the window, she gazed at the stars and planets as they flew by. They were alone here in the Delta Quadrant. No help or back up or back up from Starfleet. She had sole responsiblity for everything and everyone. It was not an easy job. There were just no easy answers.

Chakotay and the Doctor arrived at Tom's quarters at 1500 hours. Ensign Lang pressed the chime to let Tom know that the Doctor and Commander were about to enter his quarters. Tom stood nervously as they entered. This was a major step he was undertaking.

"Tom," began Chakotay noticing his nervousness. "Are you ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," said Tom. "I appreciate you taking the time to help me."

Chakotay walked to the middle of the room. "Let's sit here on the floor." He sat down and Tom joined him.

"I'll sit here in the chair and monitor Mr. Paris. I'll be as unobtrusive as possible," said the Doctor.

Chakotay sat his medicine bundle down on the floor between them. "This is my medicine bundle. You'll have to eventually assemble your own as well." He unwrapped it and began pulling things out. "I have a blackbird's wing, a rock from the river, and an Akoonah. My ancestors used psychoactive herbs to aid in their vision quests. Now we use a more modern method.....the Akoonah."

"How do you decide what to put in the medicine bundle?" asked Tom.

"You choose things that have speical meaning for you. I chose a blackbird's wing because one of my ancestors flew a Lockheed SR-71 Type A. It was a long-range, advanced, strategice reconnaissance aircraft. It was unoffically known as the blackbird. The blackbird's wing honors him. I bear his name."

"I've seen pictures of those," said Tom with a touch of awe in his voice.

Chakotay picked up the rock. "This rock came from a river on my homeworld," he said in a quiet and solemn tone.

He sat the rock back down with reverence. "You will have to select items that have meaning for you," he explained. He picked up the Akoonah. I will replicate an Akoonah for you if you find you wish to continue after today. For now, you may use mine."

"Thank you," whispered Tom.

He sat the Akoonah back down. "Place your hand on the Akoonah and concentrate on the Blackbird wing," instructed Chakotay.

Tom did as he was told with no hesistation. His nervousness had been alleviated by Chakotay's calm manner and patient explanations.

"A-koo-chee-moya. We are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers. We are far from the bones of our people. But perhaps there is one powerful being who will embrace this man and give him the answers he seeks. Close your eyes, Tom. Breathe to fuel the light in your belly, and let it expand until the light is everywhere. Now, leave these quarters and this ship, and go to a place where you were the most content and peaceful. You can see all around this place. You hear the sounds of this place."

Tom saw the wild, untamed grasslands of Africa, where his father had taken the family on a vacation when he was five. "I recognize this place," said Tom in wonder.

"Don't discuss with me what you see, Tom. It will offend your animal guide. While you look around, you will find other life that shares this place with you. Your animal guide will be the first animal that you see," instructed Chakotay in a soft voice. "That is the animal you will speak to. Have you spotted an animal?"

"Yes," answered Tom. He looked at the majestic Bengal Tiger that was standing before him. It was a beautiful creature."

"Speak to it, Tom. It will help you find your answers," prompted Chakotay.

Chakotay turned to look at the Doctor, who nodded his head to let him know that Tom was doing fine.

The Tiger looked at Tom. "Ah, my little one, I have long awaited my chance to meet you. You have walked a long and difficult path. You have friends who are concerned about you."

"They all wonder about my dreams," began Tom. "I can't tell them."

"Perhaps you can tell me," rumbled the Tiger.

"My dad.......at first he was a very doting father. I was his only son. I had three older sisters, but I was the only boy......" Tom sat in the grass and the Tiger laid down on her stomach.

"Go on, little one," she said.

"He was proud when I was able to fly shuttles and handle hard simulations......but then....." Tom hesistated.

"Then," what prompted the Tiger.

"The damn Cardassians took him prisoner," said Tom angrily. "They tortured him.....by the time he was rescued, he had been hurt really bad."

"Trauma can affect people in many different ways," said the Tiger.

"He was never the same. He became very hard and demanding. He......he.........he locked me in a cedar chest whenever I was not meeting his expectations.....till I got too big for that. Then he shut me up in a closet. He was strong.......and could overpower me. Mom never knew. He only did it when she wasn't home. I hated him for the way he treated me. Then, when I admitted I had lied about Caldick Prime.......he told me I was no longer his son......that I was no longer welcome in 'his' house.........I left and ended up with the Maquis. They needed pilots and I needed someone to pay my bar tabs. I was caught on my first mission. At least I kept them from finding the others. My dad's reaction was even worse then.......He, he spit in my face and told me I was the most useless excuse for a human he ever saw........and that if he ever saw me again, it would be too soon."

Tears rolled down Tom's cheeks as he recounted his painful past. "When I started studying medicine with the Doctor here in the Delta Quadrant, I learned a lot about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It didn't take long to realize that was what happened to my Dad. It helped me to see that the things he did were because of that, so they weren't really his fault. The trauma the Cardassians caused him changed him totally. The others would not understand."

"They might understand more than you think they would, little one," said the Tiger softly. "Now, it is time for you to end this vision quest and return to your friends. You will see me again if you choose. I can help you, if you are willing."

"I'm willing," whispered Tom. In a few seconds the grassland disappeared. He opened his eyes and found himself in his quarters. The Doctor and Chakotay were watching him carefully.

"Are you okay, Tom?" asked Chakotay.

"Yes," whispered Tom. "Thanks, Chakotay, I think I may have started on the path to my anwers."

"Your vital signs remained stabe throughout the quest, Tom," said the Doctor. "Since you found it helpful, I would suggest you continue with them."

"I will," answered Tom.

"We'll go now, Tom and let you think over what happened. I'll bring you an Akoonah. You need to think of meaningful things to include in your medicine bundle," said Chakotay.

"I will," replied Tom.

The Doctor and Chakotay got up and quietly exited the quartes, leaving Tom to his thoughts.

"Commander," began the Doctor. "I would like to speak to you in my office."
Chakotay nodded, and they walked to the turbolift. Neither man spoke until they were seated in the Doctor's office.

"Mr. Paris seemed to have no physical difficulties during his vision quest," said the Doctor. "However, I would prefer that you supervise his vision quests for now, to be on the safe side."

"That's probably a good idea. Sometimes the quests can be rather intense depending on what happens," answered Chakotay. "I think if Tom sticks with it, he'll find the practice quite beneficial."

"Physically, he appears to have improved a great deal. His blood pressure is within normal limits. His heart rate is also within normal limits. I will be adjusting his evening medications if nothing changes," said the Doctor.

"Well, his quarters are much bigger than a brig cell," began Chakotay. "He has more room to move around, and he's in very familiar surroundings. That has to help."

"It does," replied the Doctor. "I think he will be able to complete the remainder of his punishment without the problems we saw in the brig."

"That's what I think too," replied Chakotay. "And, if consulting his animal guide works out for him too, I think that will help him deal with the demons from his past.”

"Which is where quite a few of Mr. Paris' problems lie,"answered the Doctor softly.

"Well, Doctor, if there is nothing else, I need to report to the bridge," Chakotay said as he rose to his feet.

When he walked onto the bridge, Tuvok looked up. "Commander Chakotay, the Captain would like to see you in her Ready Room.”

"Thanks, Tuvok,"he replied as he walked over to the Ready Room door and pressed the announcer chime.

The doors slid open and he walked in. "Chakotay," began the Captain as the door slid shut, "have a seat."

He sat down and waited to see what the Captain wanted.

"How did Tom's encounter with his animal guide go?"she asked.

"I think it went well," he replied. "Tom seemed very calm and introspective afterwards. He wants to continue with them. The Doctor said that he observed no physical problems during the quest."

"I'm glad he's found a way to address his problems," the Captain said softly.

"The Doctor wants me to supervise Tom's vision quests for the time being. Just to make sure he has no adverse affects. I'll be replicating him an Akoonah. I also told him that he needs to assemble his own medicine bundle," explained Chakotay.

"It's probably a good idea for him to be supervised at first. That way if something were to happen, you would be there to help him,"she said quietly.

"Tom handled the first vision quest very well, but as he deals with more difficult issues, the vision quests can get more intense," admitted Chakotay.

"It might be best if you warn him ahead of time that they can become intense," advised Captain Janeway.

"I will," Chakotay assured her. "I plan on taking his Akoonah to him tomorrow. We'll talk more about vision quests then. I want Tom to get as much benefit from the vision quests as possible.”

"I appreciate you helping him, Chakotay. More than you'll ever know. Tom has so much potential. I hate to see him waste any of it.” She picked up a PADD and smiled. "I know his helm reports are almost always perfect. Too bad that has not rubbed off on the others," she said ruefully.

Chakotay laughed. "Just don't make any of our pilots walk the plank," he kidded her. "We need all of them."

She laughed and it was like music to Chakotay's ears. It had been a long time since he heard her really laugh. "Don't worry, I won't. I may give them my 'death glare,' but I won't make the walk the plank.”

"Do you need anything else, Captain?" he asked.

"Not right now, Chakotay," she said with a smile.

He smiled back, "Then I'll go back to the bridge." He walked out of the Ready Room and took his seat at the command console. The remainder of the shift passed quietly.

Chakotay sat in his quarters sipping a cup of hot tea. He planned to contact his animal guide before going to bed. He hoped the wolf would have more words of wisdom for him. He was jarred from his contemplation by his door chime. "Come," he called, and the door slid open to admit B'Elanna. He had expected she would be by to see how Tom was doing. "Come on in, B'Elanna," he said.

She walked in and sat in a chair. "Did everything go okay with Tom?" she asked.

"Things went fine, B'Elanna. I think using an animal guide will help Tom a lot. He did well for his first time," he said.

He handed her a cup of hot tea. "I know this is hard on you too. You just have to hang in there, and more importantly, be there for Tom when he is released. He's going to need you," Chakotay said softly.

"I know," she said. "It's so frustrating. I really want to see him. I'm going to ask the Captain tomorrow if I can visit him."

"I wouldn't count on it, B'Elanna. Right now the only people he has any contact with are the Doctor, Neelix, security officers and myself. I am only being allowed to see him to facilitate his vision quests," explained Chakotay.

"Ah, the Doctor must have ordered that." Understanding gleamed in her eyes. "The Doctor has it set up so that Tom gets visitors. He's grown a lot since he was activated."

"Yes, he has," replied Chakotay. "He may be irritating at times, but he really does care for this crew."

"I'm still going to ask the Captain to let me see Tom. Nothing tried, nothing gained," said B'Elanna.

"Just don't get your hopes up," said Chakotay. "She is not likely to yield an inch on this."

"I know," replied B'Elanna with a sigh. "But I have to try."

They sat in silence for a while. Finally, B'Elanna put down her empty tea cup. "Thanks for the tea and for the ear," she said with a small smile.

"Anytime, B'Elanna," he said.

She walked out of his quarters and back down to her own. It was going to be another long and lonely night.
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