Put Together My Broken
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
Star Trek: Voyager
Tom Paris/William Telfer, Tom Paris & B'Elanna Torres
Tom Paris, William Telfer, B'Elanna Torres, The Doctor (Star Trek), Kathryn Janeway, Harry Kim, Seven of Nine, Tal Celes, Eugene Paris
Additional Tags:
Amnesia, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Emotional Hurt/Comfort
Part 1 of Chemistry (Eugene Paris)
Published: 2023-07-23 Completed: 2023-08-06 Words: 18,292 Chapters: 9/9

Put Together My Broken


When Tom Paris is injured on an away mission, causing him to lose his memories and giving him ongoing amnesia, no one's sure what to do. Least of all B'Elanna, who finds herself trying to manage both her work and a Tom who can't remember anything from day to day.

Help comes in the most unexpected form: Crewman William "Billy" Telfer. While no one understands quite why, Billy and Tom form a bond that seems to help Tom with his memory, and through his recovery.

What happens when The Doctor manages to find a cure for Tom's condition?

Takes place in the latter half of Season 7. Contains mild spoilers for that season.


This fic is an alternate timeline fic, starting in canon Season 7 approximately between Author, Author and Friendship One, diverging from there, and running all the way through Endgame. Basically: B'Elanna and Tom are married and B'Elanna is pregnant, and that's pretty much all the backstory you need to know.

This fic is a result of my brain doing its usual late-night brain things. Apologies to Tom and B'Elanna.

Fic and chapter titles from Me by Kelly Clarkson, because apparently my thing is titling my fics using song lyrics.


Shut Out


A voice cuts through the darkness, and the man can feel himself frown. The darkness is comfortable. The voice isn't, despite its gentleness. He doesn't like the voice.

"Rise and shine, Mr. Paris."

A different voice that time, less gentle, more demanding. He likes this voice even less.

He can feel a hand rest on his shoulder, gentle but insistent. He figures they won't leave him alone until they've gotten what they want. Maybe if he cooperates, they'll let him return to the darkness.

He opens his eyes, slowly, squinting at the brightness of the light suddenly invading his senses. As his eyes adjust, a woman comes into focus, dressed in gold and black, her face hovering over him, her brow furrowed in..., not furrowed. Her forehead is ridged. But her expression is still full of worry.

"Tom," she says, and he realizes it was the first voice he'd heard. She sounds a little more relieved this time, and her lips threaten to twitch upward in a smile.

"Where am I?" He isn't sure where the question comes from, but it feels like an appropriate question.

"Sickbay," the second voice from earlier says, and the man turns his head to see another man hovering over him, running some small device over his face. He's attired in teal and black. "You were shot by an unknown weapon during your away mission."

"Report," says another voice, more authoritative, accompanied by a swishing sound. The man looks up to see another woman striding toward them, this one wearing red and black.

He appreciates the color differences.

"Mr. Paris has regained consciousness," says Teal. "My scans indicate massive synaptic damage, but he is otherwise physically unharmed. I'm still trying to understand the nature of the damage."

"How the hell did this happen, Captain?!" Gold yells at Red. "It was a salvage operation!"

"It was an ambush, according to Seven," Red says, standing next to the man now and looking at him with worry. "How are you feeling, Tom?"

"I..." The man isn't actually sure how to respond, and picks the first thing that comes to mind. "I'm okay?"

That seems to be the right answer, because the two women nod in approval. Teal, however, frowns.

"Can you understand what we're saying to you?"

"Yes?" The man isn't quite sure how he's supposed to be answering, but the question makes sense enough.

"Can you move the fingers on your right hand?"

The man does so. That request too, makes sense.

"Repeat after me: She sells seashells by the seashore."

"Um. She sells seashells by the seashore?" He doesn't understand any of the words, but repeating the sounds back is simple enough.

There's a nod of approval. "Basic motor and cognitive functions seem to be intact. Can you walk?"

This request he doesn't understand. "Walk...?"

This was clearly not the right answer, because everyone frowns.

"Do you know who any of us are?" Red asks.

"You..." His eyes dart between the three, all of who look increasingly concerned with each passing second. He searches desperately for an answer that will meet with approval. "You're Red. She's Gold. He's..."

"Do you know your name?" Red asks, interrupting.

The man gets the sense that this is supposed to be an easier question, by the way she's looking at him, but he can't find the answer to this, either. "Um..."

"I think we have a problem, Doctor."

The next few hours are full of words he doesn't understand and lots of lights that Teal passes over him. He doesn't remember anything else.

At least, he doesn't remember anything else other than his name -- Tom Paris. That had taken a few attempts after significant repetition from Red, whose name he doesn't seem to know.

"I'll need more time to analyze these results," Teal says. "B'Elanna, I suggest you take him back to your quarters. Perhaps a more immediately familiar setting will help jog Mr. Paris' memory."

"That's me," Tom says, and he feels proud when his statement gets a smile from Red.

"Let me know if anything else changes. The best we can hope for is that the weapon's effects are temporary and his memory will return tomorrow."

"And if it doesn't?" Gold doesn't seem to like that statement very much.

"I'll have further results for you tomorrow."

"Let me know if you need anything, B'Elanna," Red says, gently patting Tom's arm before she walks out of the room.

"Let's go," Gold says, helping him to his feet and taking his arm. "We'll get you a sonic shower, and then we can watch one of your shows on the television."

Tom doesn't understand any of the words, but he lets himself be led anyway. He wants to make her happy.

"Do you still remember your name?" she asks as they walk together.

"Tom Paris," he says, proud of himself. She nods in approval.

"And my name?"


She seems to be expecting that one. "B'Elanna. I'm B'Elanna."

"B'Elanna," he repeats. "B'Elanna."

He tells himself to remember that name.

The man opens his eyes to a robotic voice saying words he doesn't understand.

"The time is 0600 hours."

A figure stirs next to him, lying with him on a large flat surface covered with some sort of fabric. "Mmm just another 5 minutes."

The man doesn't move. He isn't sure where he is. He isn't sure what he's supposed to be doing.

The figure next to him turns, looking over at him and smiling before seeming to recall something. "Tom?"

The man isn't sure what that word means, but she seems to be talking to him. "Yes?"

She's smiling again. "I had the stupidest dream last night. You were on an away mission and got shot with some weapon that gave you... what did the doctor say? Some form of amnesia."

The man nods along. He doesn't understand any of the words, but she doesn't seem to be asking him anything.

Then the woman frowns. "Tom. Do you know where you are?"

He searches for a way to answer her question, but comes up blank. "Um..."

Her frown deepens. "Do you know who I am?"

She seems upset, but he isn't sure how to answer her question. "No...?"

Before he knows what's happening, she's standing, grabbing his hand and pulling him to his feet as well.

"We're going to go see The Doctor."

"Hm." A man dressed in teal and black runs some sort of light over the man's forehead. "Do you remember your name?"

The question seems to be directed toward the man, and he searches for a way to answer it. "Um."

"Do you remember me?"

"No." The man is sure he's never met Teal before.

"Do you remember her?"

"I saw her this morning," the man says, proud that he's able to answer this question, at least. Still, it doesn't seem to be the right answer, because the woman frowns.

"Doctor," she says, staring at Teal. "What the hell?!"

Teal seems to ignore her question. "Do you remember anything from yesterday?"

"Yesterday?" This doesn't seem to be correct response either.

Teal puts down the item he's holding and moves toward something on the wall. "Please lie down on the biobed."

The man isn't sure exactly what's being requested of him, so he's relieved when Teal grabs his shoulders and pushes him down flat on the surface.

The man closes his eyes. He wants to stop disappointing everyone.

"Let me get this straight. Your scans show what?!" The woman is agitated. The man doesn't like when the woman is agitated.

"Mr. Paris' neurons, particularly in the areas of the brain that control memory and identity, are stunted. They seem to have difficulty forming connections, and will also subsequently sever those connections. I've never seen anything like it." The man recognizes Teal's voice, even though he can't see him.

"And that's making him forget everything?"

"Based on the scans I took just now and the ones immediately after he regained consciousness yesterday, he has forgotten everything from yesterday, and is having trouble remembering even the events from this morning."

"What about your analysis? You said you'd have more information for us today."

"That was the results of my analysis, Lieutenant."

"What can we do about it?!"

"I'll need more time to devise a treatment plan. In the meantime, it may be up to you. Remind him of who he is, and who you are. He doesn't seem bothered by his current condition, so I see no reason that he should remain in sickbay. Take him to familiar places. Maybe the holodeck."

The woman reappears next to the man and grabs his arm. "C'mon, Tom."

The man follows her direction as best he can, allowing her to pull him to his feet. "Thank you."

"Your name is Tom Paris. My name is B'Elanna Torres."

"Tom Paris," he repeats. This seems important to the woman. "B'Elanna Torres."

"Let's go get some breakfast."


Chapter Notes

One problem I often have when writing is deciding where to break chapters. It didn't feel right to leave off the first day's posts without actually having Tom and Billy meet, but cramming all of that into a single chapter also felt like it give us a huge first chapter that was not commensurate with reasonable breakpoints for future chapters.

So you get two chapters today.

Future updates... as I feel like it? At least weekly, and probably more often.

"And this is Harry Kim," B'Elanna says.

"Harry Kim," Tom repeats, watching as Harry holds out his hand. He isn't sure how to respond, so he copies the motion, and is surprised when Harry grasps his hand and shakes it firmly.

"It's nice to meet you, Tom," Harry says, his smile falling as he releases Tom's hand and turns to B'Elanna. "For the fifth day in a row. Doc hasn't made any progress?"

"He doesn't even remember Neelix's food from yesterday," B'Elanna says, and it's apparently funny to Harry, because Harry's lips twitch upward.

"Ouch. Now that's something that's hard to forget."

"Do you want to show him around for a while? I'm at my wits end, and there's a plasma conduit that I've been meaning to..."

"I'd be happy to," says the man dressed in gold and black -- just like B'Elanna -- standing next to them. "C'mon Tom. Let's go run Captain Proton."

"Captain Proton," Tom repeats. He isn't sure whether that phrase is important or not. "Thank you."

Gold smiles and motions for Tom to follow him. Tom looks back at B'Elanna, who pushes him in Gold's direction.

Tom follows Gold down the hallway.

"And this is Harry Kim," B'Elanna says.

"Harry Kim," Tom repeats as he looks over the man, dressed in gold and black, standing in front of them. "Harry Kim."

"Looks like the treatment didn't work," Harry says to B'Elanna.

She rolls her eyes. "You think? I thought I was already sick of doing this last week. If it's not helping, what's the point of..."

"I can take him off your hands again today," Harry says, smiling at Tom. "Hi. I'm Harry Kim."

"Hi," Tom responds. He likes that smile, at least. B'Elanna hadn't smiled at him.

"Do you remember Captain Proton?"

Harry doesn't seem like he'd be upset by a straightforward answer, at least, so Tom shakes his head.

Harry nods. "I assumed not. We can spend the day saving..."

Before Tom knows what's happening, a firm object runs into him and he finds himself on the ground.

"Oof!" The object -- a man, dressed in teal and black -- says, immediately getting to his feet and holding his hand out toward Tom. "I'm sorry! I was late, and I wasn't..."

"Watch where you're going!" B'Elanna snaps, grabbing Tom and pulling him to his feet.

"Sorry! I'm sorry, Lieutenant!"

That seems to be directed at Tom, so he nods, despite feeling a little dazed. He feels like he can't look away from the man. "It's... okay."

"Lieutenant," Teal says again, nodding toward B'Elanna. "Ensign," he says, nodding toward a man standing next to them, dressed in gold and black.

Tom watches Teal continue down the hallway. He can't help but feel like he needs to follow the man, but he's sure B'Elanna wouldn't want him to. "Who was that?"

"Huh?" B'Elanna follows his gaze. "Oh. Billy Telfer. That p'takh..."

"Billy Telfer..." Tom repeats, unsure why the name feels important to him.

"Let's go to the holodeck," Gold says, and Tom looks back at B'Elanna.

"Go with Harry," she says, and Tom assumes that must be Gold's name.

"Harry," Tom repeats.

"That's right," Harry says, looking a little exasperated, but still smiling at him. "This way."

Tom follows Harry.

"Um," the man says as he opens his eyes and his blurry vision settles on a woman on the other side of the room. "Hello?"

"Oh. You're awake," the woman says, moving toward him and nodding. She's dressed in a dull purple. "Your name is Tom Paris. I'm your wife, B'Elanna Torres. Do you remember me?"

She seems irritable, and the man -- Tom, he supposes -- wants to reassure her, but he searches his mind for her name and comes up blank. "No. But your name is B'Elanna Torres."

She just nods again, seemingly expecting that response. "You were attacked by a weapon that caused you to lose your memory. We have this conversation every morning. Is there anything you can remember, today?"

Tom wants to tell her 'no' again, but forces himself to think. He remembers waking up. He remembers seeing her. He remembers her telling him his name, and her name. He remembers...

"Billy Telfer."

Her eyes narrow, and he'd think she was upset if she didn't also look so shocked. "What?!"

"I... I'm sorry!" Tom doesn't like that he's already managed to upset her. "Your name is B'Elanna Torres! My name is To..."

"Get dressed," she says, throwing some pieces of fabric at him. "We're going to go see The Doctor."

"What do you remember about Crewman Telfer, other than his name?" a man dressed in teal and black -- Tom supposes this must be The Doctor -- asks as he runs some device over Tom's head.

"Um. He has dark hair. He is wearing teal and black. He is this tall." Tom puts his hand in what feels like approximately the right height. "We ran into each other. In the... corridor?" He looks at B'Elanna for confirmation of the word, who just nods.

"Remarkable," The Doctor says. "You say this happened yesterday? I don't understand how, but Mr. Paris seems to have retained his first memory since the incident, and with remarkable detail."

"But Telfer?!" B'Elanna says, frustration in her voice. "I've spent every damn night with him. Oriented him every morning like you told me to. Nothing. He doesn't remember me."

"Is there anything in Mr. Paris' past with Mr. Telfer that would cause him to stick in his mind?"

"I'm sure they've talked before," B'Elanna says. "It's a small ship. But they didn't really know each other before that. Did you?"

She seems to realize too late that Tom wouldn't know the answer to that, but Tom shakes his head anyway. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I know Billy Telfer."

The Doctor slaps a small badge on his chest. "Doctor to Crewman Telfer."

"Telfer here," comes a response a few seconds later, seemingly from nowhere and everywhere at once. Tom recognizes the voice.

"Please report to sickbay," The Doctor says.

"You want me to come to sickbay?" Billy asks, seemingly incredulous. "I don't have a physical scheduled for another..."

"Report to sickbay immediately, crewman," The Doctor says, exasperated. "Doctor out."

"I know that voice," Tom says, regretting volunteering the information when B'Elanna looks frustrated again. "That's... Billy."

The Doctor nods, and guides Tom into a different position. "Lie down, Mr. Paris. I'd like to do a more detailed scan of your brain."

Tom complies, even though he doesn't understand what The Doctor means.

A few minutes later, Billy walks through the door, and stops -- seemingly worried -- when he spots Tom lying on a bed.

"It was an accident, Doctor!" he says. "I ran into him in the hallway yesterday, and we tumbled. I didn't mean to injure him!"

"Relax, crewman," The Doctor says, hitting some buttons on a screen next to the bed. "Mr. Paris isn't injured. I simply have some questions for you."

Billy nods, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. "What can I... answer for you?"

"How do you and Mr. Paris know each other?"

"Know each other?" Billy seems confused by the question. "We know each others' names. We've probably talked a few times in the mess hall. But our paths never really cross. He's on the bridge, and I'm down in astrometrics, or in..."

"He remembers you," B'Elanna interrupts, accusation in her voice. "Why?"

Billy just looks even more confused. "Why wouldn't he... remember me?" Then realization suddenly sets in. "Oh! I heard that Lieutenant Paris had lost his memory. It was just a rumor, but... I don't know! I don't know why he would remember me!"

"He remembered your name this morning," The Doctor says, hitting another button on the screen. "Described your physical appearance. Recognized your voice on the comm. You're the first memory he's been able to retain the next day, after falling asleep."

"I... I don't know why he would," Billy says, looking confused again. "I... I'm honored, I guess, but I don't know why..."

"Doctor?" B'Elanna interrupts again. "Anything?"

"I'll need to further analyze these scans," The Doctor says, motioning for Tom to sit up. "In the meantime, if Mr. Telfer is able to help jog Mr. Paris' memory, I'd suggest we take advantage of that. Crewman, you and Lieutenant Torres will lead Mr. Paris around the ship today."

"But I'm on shift right now," Billy says. "Seven of Nine is expecting me to complete a scan of..."

"I'll let the Captain and Seven know," The Doctor says. "You have a new assignment for the day. I suggest you start with something familiar, like The Delta Flyer."

"We've tried that before," B'Elanna says, nevertheless helping Tom off the bed. "But fine. C'mon, Telfer."


"Do you know who this is?"

"Um." Tom stares at the other man -- wearing teal and black -- standing in front of them. The woman -- wearing gold and black -- seems irritated.

Then again, she had been irritated earlier this morning, too. As soon as Tom had woken up, she had told him his name and yelled some words into the air -- she hadn't been wearing gold and black, then -- and a different voice had responded, and Tom had found himself rushed out to...

Tom had recognized the voice. It belonged to Teal. Tom recognizes Teal.

"Billy Telfer."

"That's right," Gold says, pushing Tom in Billy's direction. "He's your problem now."

"But I..." Billy starts to object, before seemingly thinking better of it. "Right. Um. Hi, Tom."

"Hi," Tom says. "What are we doing today, Billy?"

"Um. Do you remember what we did yesterday?"

Tom isn't sure he understands 'yesterday', but he tries to think anyway. He doesn't want to disappoint Billy.

"We saw the Delta Flyer."

"Remarkable," Gold mutters. "Take him to The Doctor, Telfer. Then you can try and reacquaint him with more things."

"Right. Um. This way, Tom."

Tom is glad to follow Billy Telfer.

"What do you remember about the Delta Flyer, Mr. Paris?" asks another man -- also dressed in teal and black -- asks as he runs some light over the man's head.

"Um." The man looks over at Billy, who seems to be waiting for him to respond, so the man supposes the question was addressed at him. "We saw it. And we... went inside it?"

"Can you describe the Delta Flyer for me?"

Billy smiles at him, and the man likes the feeling he gets from it. "Um. It's an object. It's taller than I am. Billy hit a button and the side of it opened, and we..."

"Do you know what a shuttlecraft is?" Teal asks.

"Shuttlecraft," the man repeats. "Shuttlecraft." He looks over at Billy, who looks slightly worried now. "I..."

"Mr. Telfer, did you not cover specifics of the Delta Flyer? Starting with the fact that it is a shuttlecraft?"

"I did!" Billy objects.

"He did!" the man says, wanting to defend Billy, even though he isn't sure what they're talking about.

"Mm," Teal says, removing his hand and setting an object in his hand down on a surface. "Selective memory, it seems. Names and general descriptions of objects, but none of the details."

"Is that... bad?" Billy asks.

"It's still progress," Teal says, turning to the man. "Do you remember your name?"

The man shakes his head, and Teal looks at Billy with an exasperated look.

"Your name is Tom Paris," Billy says.

"Tom Paris," Tom repeats.

"I can't explain it, but Mr. Paris seems to be retaining aspects of the information that you give him. He's made more progress in a day than in the past three weeks. How do you feel about continuing the process again today? And if you continue making progress in this manner, tomorrow as well."

"I... want to help, Doctor," Billy says. "If I can." Then he looks uncomfortable. "Um. Are you sure B'Elanna wouldn't... mind?"

Teal rolls his eyes. "Trust me, Crewman. Lieutenant Torres would be overjoyed to have you dealing with him in her place."

"I want to help," Billy says again, more confidently this time. "In any way that I can."

Teal nods. "I'll make arrangements with the Captain and Seven. In the meantime, I suggest you reacquaint Mr. Paris with some more the ship's alluring sights."

"My name is Tom Paris," Tom repeats, and the woman in purple standing in front of him nods.

"Right." She looks over at the door, irritated. "Where's Billy? He's supposed to have been..."

A pleasant, but brief, noise fills the air, and the woman shakes her head, walking to the door and opening it.

Tom recognizes the man who walks through. "Billy Telfer."

"Sorry I'm late," Billy says. "Celes wanted me to check a sensor analysis she was working on, and I lost track of time, and I..."

"You know, this wouldn't be a problem if you two were just staying in the same cabin," the woman says, walking to the other side of the room and grabbing a piece of fabric.

"If we... what?" Billy seems to understand the statement about as well as Tom does.

"You've been assigned to help Tom with his memory, right? I'm not making any progress with him, myself. You two should get a cabin together. Then you can help orient him every morning, too."

"Um." Billy doesn't seem to know how to respond to that. "I... I could do that. But is that... okay? With you?"

"I'll ask the Captain to reassign the two of you," the woman says, walking toward a doorway. "Now take him, already. I need a shower and my shift starts in 10 minutes."

"Right," Billy says, turning toward Tom. "Um. Your name is Tom Paris. I'm Billy. We're going to get something to eat, and then I guess we'll try out Sandrine's."

"Okay," Tom says, even though he doesn't really understand what Billy's talking about.

Billy pauses for a second. "Sorry. Um. Get up. Follow me. Let's go get something to eat."

Tom does so.

"What do you remember today?"

Tom sits on the edge of Billy's bed, staring into his eyes in the way that is familiar now. This is their morning ritual these days, and Tom has come to find it comforting.

At least, from what he can remember of it.

"My name is Tom Paris," Tom says. He always starts there because he remembers that Billy had worried the first few times when he'd woken up and couldn't remember who he was.

He always remembered Billy, though.

"And?" Billy prompts, smiling in a way that, too, is familiar.

"Your name is William Telfer. Everyone calls you Billy. Your best friend is Tal Celes. She is Bajoran. I lose most of my memories every night, except for ones related to you. We do this every morning."

"Indeed we do." Billy seems especially pleased by that part.

"We are on the Starship Voyager, which is stranded in the Delta Flyer."

"Delta Quadrant," Billy corrects, gently. He knows that Tom doesn't understand what all these words necessarily mean, even though Tom can remember them. "Do you remember B'Elanna?"

Tom frowns. "I know the name. She is B'Elanna Torres. I do not know who B'Elanna Torres is." He pauses, feeling like he's letting Billy down. "I'm sorry. Is she important?"

Billy chuckles, even as he looks a little pained. "Kinda, yeah. Do you remember what we did yesterday?"

Even though Tom isn't sure he understands exactly what 'yesterday' is, he remembers sitting with Billy and Celes in some dark room, watching some projected image on a screen and chewing on something fluffy but that left bits of... something between his teeth.

"We watched a movie in the holodeck with Celes," he says, even though he isn't sure he understands what the words 'movie' or 'holodeck' mean. He supposes the projected image had been the 'movie', at least.

Billy smiles, fully this time, and Tom feels like he's overwhelmed by it. "We did. You remembered."

Tom really likes that smile.

Hold Me

The discovery that physical touch helps Tom remember is entirely an accident.

He and Billy are in a recreation of the Delta Flyer on the holodeck, as per The Doctor's recommendation, with Billy trying to teach Tom how to fly again.

"I'm still just about the worst person to teach you this," Billy mutters, eyes darting rapidly over a console scrolling some text that Tom can't make out. "The old Tom would probably be horrified by my instructions. Maybe we should've started in a regular shuttlec... Sorry, it's the other lever. Computer, restart program."

The view outside the ship briefly shimmers, and they appear to be sitting right-side up in the shuttlebay again. Tom grabs the lever next to the one he'd been using. "Other lever."

"Take her out, Tom," Billy says, smiling at him.

Tom expects a repeat of the previous few attempts, when he'd either failed to take off or promptly crashed into a wall. But somehow, miraculously, he manages, and they soon find themselves staring off into space, Voyager floating behind them.

"You did it!" Billy says, his hand resting on Tom's forearm and squeezing, before he immediately looks apologetic and pulls away, as if burned. "Sorry."

"For what?" Tom asks, his mind fixating for some reason on the way Billy's hand had felt on his arm.

"I just got... excited."

Tom lets the subject drop. "I'm glad you're excited. I'm sorry I won't remember any of this tomorrow. Except that we had some flying lessons."

Billy nods, looking sad, his gaze settling on Tom for a moment before he blushes and turns back to his console. "Should we try landing in the shuttlebay?"

"Okay," Tom says, grabbing the controls again.

"...and we piloted the Delta Flyer," Tom starts the next morning. They had started to exclude things that Tom remembered previously reciting in their morning rituals, instead jumping directly to memories that he considered 'new'. It had been Billy's suggestion, and Tom had eagerly agreed because agreement would make Billy happy, and Tom likes when Billy is happy.

"That's right," Billy says, rewarding Tom with a smile. Billy always smiles when Tom tells him about new memories, and Tom likes when Billy smiles.

He thinks he remembers something else, too. "I remember how to pilot the Delta Flyer."

"You what?!" Billy says, legitimately surprised.

Tom isn't sure whether the surprise is a good thing. He decides to hedge. "I don't remember exactly what the Delta Flyer is. But I know how to pilot it."

"Then let's do it again!"

Billy grabs his arm and pulls him to his feet, dragging him toward the door, and Tom is more than happy to be pulled along.

He likes that Billy isn't pulling his hand away, this time.

"Hmm," The Doctor says, passing some hand-held light over Tom's head again. "I don't have an explanation for you, but it would seem that Mr. Paris has retained the training you gave him yesterday."

"Of course he did! He launched the shuttle, circled a moon, and landed it again without me having to tell him anything!" Billy's practically giddy with excitement, and Tom likes the idea that it's because of him.

"It's possible that he is reacting to familiar environments, or that he is starting to access aspects of his suppressed memories," The Doctor says. "Do you remember doing anything differently?"

"Billy touched my arm," Tom says, unsure why he's even mentioning it, but feeling like it's important somehow. Billy turns red next to him and looks away.

"Positive reinforcement," The Doctor says, passing the light over him again.

"I... didn't mean to," Billy mutters.

"If you feel like that action made a difference, Mr. Paris, I would recommend the two of you continue with it, at least while Mr. Telfer is continuing to train you."

"You... want me to touch his arm?!"

"A touch on the arm, a pat on the back, a squeeze on the shoulder. Whatever the two of you are comfortable with." The Doctor folds up the device in his other hand and sets it down. "I would recommend breakfast followed by another familiar activity today. Perhaps one of Mr. Paris' charming holodeck programs."

Billy nods and heads for the door, and Tom follows close behind.

He doesn't understand why Billy won't look him in the eyes.

"Do you like this program?" Tom asks. He isn't sure he really likes the monochromatic environment surrounding them. In the large category of things he wasn't used to, this one was particularly off-putting, for some reason.

Maybe because, even though he remembered many more names now thanks to Billy, he still had a tendency to think of people by their clothing colors. It was bad enough that there usually only three.

"Computer, freeze program," Billy says, and the metallic individual -- 'robot'? -- stops moving toward them. "Not really. I'm actually not sure what the goal of this program is. I could try and call Ensign Kim for some help."

"We should do something you like," Tom says, smiling at Billy, who returns it before suddenly looking away.

"The Doctor recommended this program," Billy objects.

Tom nods, even though he doesn't remember that part. "But you don't like it. I want to do something you enjoy. With you."

Billy blushes, for some reason. "I'm supposed to be helping you remember... things. From your life."

"My life is on this ship. That's what you said. Do you do things on this ship?"

"I do," Billy says.

"Then you can help me remember the ship," Tom says. "By doing something that you want to do. With me."

Billy nods, even though he still won't look at Tom, and actually seems to be turning redder. "I... guess that makes sense. What, um... what did you have in mind?" He seems to catch himself. "Sorry. That's a stupid question. Um..."

"What do you do?" Tom asks, wanting to offer a suggestion but having no idea where to start. He remembers a conversation with Celes about a 'job', and wonders if that's a good suggestion. "For your job."

"A lot of scanning," Billy says, looking a little more confident now. "I help chart systems and analyze the life forms we find there. I think it's calming, looking out into space like that, even if it's through sensors and screens. I used to worry every time I found something new about how it would get onto the ship and infect everyone, but now I find it exciting to..." He suddenly stops talking. "Sorry. I'm sure you don't want to hear all of that."

"I don't mind," Tom says, smiling at Billy in a way he hopes is reassuring. "And that sounds interesting. Let's go scan space."

"Computer, end program," Billy says, and Tom watches as the environment dissolves away and the two of them, thankfully, return to full color. "Yeah. We can... we can do that."

An Army To Pull Me Up

Tom wakes up one day to flashing red lights and a blaring alarm. He's immediately worried he'd done something wrong until Billy orders the lights on, and Tom can see that he isn't concerned by the lights or the alarm.

If Billy isn't concerned, Tom isn't concerned either.

"What are the red lights?" he asks, watching as Billy grabs pieces of clothing off the back of a chair. The lights had worried him more than the sound.

"Red Alert," Billy says, before he stops and looks at Tom. "Sorry. Um. The ship that we're on is in a critical situation, and crew members are supposed to report to their stations."

"We are crew members?" Tom asks, and Billy seems to think about that one.

"We are but... I'm not sure if we're on duty in the usual sense, and I'm actually sure where I'm assigned at the moment. I'm sure you're not supposed to report to the bridge..."

"The bridge?"

Billy shakes his head and holds out his hand, and Tom takes it. It's become their method recently when Billy needs to lead Tom somewhere, and Tom finds he really likes holding BIlly's hand.

"Let's report to astrometrics. That was the last place I was stationed."

Billy guides the two of them down long corridors and through a strange small circular room that makes the surroundings change until they walk through a door into a room featuring a large screen. A woman in a burgundy outfit stands at a console in front of the screen.

She glances over at the two of them when they enter before turning back to the console. "This is not your station, crewman."

"Sorry," Billy says. "I wasn't sure if we were assigned somewhere. We'll get out of your hair."

"What's going on?" Tom asks before immediately regretting the question. Billy seemed eager to leave, and Tom wasn't making it easy for Billy to leave.

"The Captain is engaging a Katath ship," Burgundy responds, and even though Tom doesn't understand what she means, Billy seems surprised by the statement.

"She's doing what?!"

The room is rocked by tremors, and Tom automatically grabs onto Billy to steady himself. It's unintentional, but he likes it. He really likes holding on to Billy, and Billy never seems to mind.

Burgundy steadies herself with one hand against the console before turning back to them, looking annoyed. "If you're not going to leave, make yourself useful!"

"Yes, ma'am! Sorry!" Billy practically runs to a screen on one side of the room.

Unsure what else to do, Tom follows, setting himself up against the wall just in time as the room shakes again.

"The Katath are the species that attacked you," Billy says, and it takes Tom a second to realize Billy is speaking to him.

"The attack that made me lose my memory." Tom hopes he's connecting the correct facts together.

Billy smiles at him, quickly, before returning his gaze to a console, and Tom loves the feeling he gets from it. "Right. There's only one ship, and I don't think it would dare attack Voyager on its own, so I don't know why..."

"The Captain is attempting to procure a copy of the weapon," Burgundy says, despite not turning toward the two of them. "This attack was planned, and we are..."

"Seven!" A female voice that Tom doesn't recognize echoes from nowhere and everywhere, interrupting Burgundy. "Initiate transport!"

"Energizing," Burgundy says, tapping something on her console. "Commander Chakotay is aboard."

"Long range sensors are detecting two warp signatures," Billy says, and Tom isn't sure whether the comment is meant for him. "I'm trying to isol..."

Burgundy slaps her hand against her chest. "Commander! We will have company soon."

"Bastards," says a different voice, this one male, along with some sharp electrical noises that Tom doesn't understand. "I gotta hand it to you, Seven. This Borg personal shield thing was..."


"Just gonna... Got it!"

"Initiating transport." She slaps her chest again. "Captain, the Commander has returned."

"Thanks, Seven," the first voice replies. "Good work. Janeway out."

Burgundy nods before turning toward Tom and Billy. "Your assistance was useful, Crewman. I was able to focus my attention on modulating the Commander's shields."

"Oh," Billy says. "I'm... glad I could help."

Burgundy nods and shifts her gaze to Tom. "Lieutenant."

"Um." Tom wonders if he's supposed to know her name. "Hi."

She raises an eyebrow at his response before turning back to her console. The red lights in the room stop flashing, and Billy holds out his hand, which Tom gladly takes.

"Maybe we can still get some sleep," Billy says. "If this means what I think it means, The Doctor is probably going to have some news for you soon."

Tom doesn't understand what Billy means, but he doesn't feel like he has to understand. Billy seems pleased by the statement, so Tom likes the statement, too.

He follows Billy back into the corridor.

"We have a theory," B'Elanna says, although Tom thinks she doesn't look too happy about it.

"What is it?" Billy asks next to him. Tom thinks Billy doesn't look too happy either.

He doesn't ask why everyone seems unhappy. He thinks it wouldn't be a pleasant topic of conversation.

"I was correct," The Doctor says, picking up an object from where it's sitting on a complicated-looking table. "Mostly."

"The weapon blocks the ability for its target to form long-term memories, in addition to erasing existing memories," B'Elanna says. "As far as the doctor can tell, the effect is permanent. He's been looking for a cure, but..."

"But he hasn't had any luck so far," Billy says, completing the sentence for her.

The Doctor nods, and Tom thinks that news bothers her and Billy more than it bothers him. He remembers talking to B'Elanna and how upset she had seemed when he didn't immediately know her name. He wonders if B'Elanna had been expecting a cure.

He's thankful that Billy is always so patient with him.

B'Elanna shakes her head. "As for the 'mostly' part, the weapon seems to make a very specific exception."

"Seven has told us that the Katath enslave individuals from other species," The Doctor says. "Although The Borg have never assimilated any of that species. Apparently they consider them to be unworthy of assimilation."

Billy looks over at Tom, and Tom reaches for Billy's hand. He remembers that holding Billy's hand seems to comfort him.

Billy doesn't take his hand.

"The theory is that the weapon is tuned, somehow, to its owner," B'Elanna continues. "When someone is shot, they are essentially programmed to only remember things about their captor, and can be trained to perform specific tasks by their captor. The captive will retain those skills, and can independently perform the task afterward."

"It is, of course, imprecise and imperfect," The Doctor says. "Which would explain why you can only remember bits of knowledge relevant to Mr. Telfer. But the Katath only need their victims to be able to remember and follow basic commands. No doubt this functionality is useful in controlling their captives so they don't question the situation or their condition, as well as making them useful."

"That's horrible!" Billy interjects, and Tom grabs Billy's hand. He wants to calm Billy down.

B'Elanna glares at Billy, and Tom doesn't understand why.

"It would also seem to induce a natural affinity for their captor," The Doctor continues. "This would also seem desirable if the goal is susceptibility to suggestion, for training or for control. This would also explain why you felt a draw toward Mr. Telfer, Mr. Paris."

"Wait. Does that mean I'm... taking advantage of Tom's situation? Somehow?"

Billy seems even more worried now, and Tom releases his hand, putting a hand around Billy's side and pulling him against him, instead. He feels a need to comfort the man, for some reason, and he'd found that this, too, seemed to work.

"I'm sorry," B'Elanna says, suddenly turning away from them. "I have to... go. Back to engineering."

Tom watches her go, staring at her figure until the door slides shut behind it, feeling responsible somehow, even if he doesn't know exactly why.

"You are not taking advantage of him, Mr. Telfer," The Doctor says, after a bit of silence. "And I will continue working on a treatment, Mr. Paris. But I think we need to accept the possibility that there is nothing that can be done."

"Wait," Billy says, sliding away from Tom's arm, and Tom knows he had done something wrong, this time. "That doesn't explain why he's remembering things related to me. Or why he remembers things that I explain to him. It's not my weapon, and I didn't shoot him."

"It is likely that you have some resemblance to Mr. Paris' assailant, and the weapon's effects therefore transferred to you," The Doctor says. "Not physical resemblance, of course, but something about your voice or your general appearance. We haven't been able to tell exactly how the weapon makes that determination."

Tom nods, even though Billy seems to take a particular dislike to the explanation. He's found that agreeing with people tended to make them happy. "What does this mean?" That question, too, is usually a safe one.

"If there is no cure, Mr. Paris, the best I can recommend is that you continue as you have been. You and Mr. Telfer clearly get along. As long as he does not feel like you are causing him undue burden..."

"Never," Billy objects, seemingly automatically, before looking concerned again.

The Doctor nods at that. "Then I would recommend that you continue working together. He'll make an officer of you, yet, Mr. Paris."

I Got Me

Tom doesn't know why it surprises everyone that he's assigned to astrometrics, but he supposes it has something to do with his 'old life'.

Billy had told him that Tom had an old life, but had seemed saddened by the thought somehow, and Tom didn't like it when Billy was sad, so he hadn't asked what Billy meant.

But astrometrics was Billy's specialty, and Billy had taught him how to read sensor scans. Tom still isn't sure what it means, and he's really just recognizing patterns and saying words he doesn't understand, but everyone seems to think it's useful, and he likes feeling like he's being useful.

It takes him a few days to remember Seven's name, but he likes that she gives short answers when he asks questions. And, on the rare occasions that he's there without Billy, he likes when he does something that seems to make her happy.

Billy likes it when Seven is happy, so Tom likes making Seven happy, too.

"Mr. Paris," she starts one day, and he looks up from his console where he's analyzing another scan with Billy standing next to him, a hand reassuringly on his shoulder.

He likes it when Billy puts a hand on his shoulder. Billy doesn't do it as often, anymore. And Billy often seems uncomfortable when Tom tries to hold his hand now.


"Are you are Mr. Telfer dating?"

Tom frowns at that, mostly because Billy makes a choked squeaking noise and seems to jump backward away from him. "'Dating'?"

"Romantically involved," Seven says, as if that clarifies the question.

"I don't know what that..." Tom starts, looking over at Billy, worried about him now. ""

"No!" Billy yells, louder than Tom thinks is necessary, and Seven raises an eyebrow at that. "He... I... we're not..."

Tom still doesn't understand, but Billy seems to dislike the question, and it's putting Tom on edge too. "We're not," he says, just to agree with Billy.

Seven doesn't seem to react to either statement. "I have observed that you two often engage in physical affection. Just now, Mr. Telfer was resting his hand on your..."

"It... it helps him. Remember. I... I'm supposed to be... helping," Billy stammers. "We're not... I'm not..."

Seven nods, seemingly satisfied, and turning back to her own console. "That would explain why you are more efficient when the two of you are scheduled together," she says. "Would you object if I request you continue to be scheduled together in the future?"

The question seems directed to Tom. "I like working with Billy," he says, turning to Billy, who seems to be trying to make himself as small as possible against the wall, his cheeks bright red.

"No. That... that's... fine," Billy manages, staring at the floor.

"You were helping me with this," Tom offers, turning back to the screen, hoping that Billy would return, and Billy would put his hand on Tom's shoulder again.

It does seem to work, because after a short while, Billy's back next to him. But Billy's hand doesn't return, and Tom doesn't like that Billy's hand doesn't return.

"I hope you don't remember this tomorrow," Billy mutters, and Tom feels like he shouldn't ask what Billy means.

"Absolutely not!" Billy says, jumping to his feet, more animated than Tom thinks he's ever seen him.

"Sit down," Kathryn snaps at him, her expression softening as she turns back to B'Elanna. "B'Elanna. I don't think Tom is in a position to make this decision, at the moment. It's up to you."

Tom looks over at B'Elanna, who seems to be deep in thought. "Sorry. You're saying that you can repair the damage, but you're not sure exactly what effect that will have on his memory?"

"That is correct," The Doctor says.

"But the risk!" Billy objects, shutting up when Kathryn glares at him again.

" not insignificant," The Doctor says. "The brain is the most complicated part of the human body, and I still don't entirely understand how the weapon has altered its structure. It could kill him."

"But it could also bring him back?" B'Elanna asks. "Who he was?"

"It could bring him back," The Doctor says. "If we fix the damage, it's possible his memories could come back. It's also possible that he never recovers them, or that nothing changes with his condition."

B'Elanna nods, then looks over at Tom with a half smile. Tom doesn't think he remembers B'Elanna smiling at him before.

He thinks he'd like the smile if not for the fact that Billy seemed unhappy. He doesn't like it when Billy's unhappy. He doesn't like the idea that B'Elanna is happy when Billy isn't.

"Do it," she says.


Tom opens his eyes, blinking against the harsh sickbay lights. Even though The Doctor had lowered them for the operation, the remaining ones still assault his senses.

He feels different. But in a good way. Like he finally understands everything that had happened to him.

"B'Elanna," he says, looking at the woman standing over him. He still recognizes her, and he takes that as a good sign for the operation, at least.

"Tom!" She says, grabbing him and pulling him into a hug. He returns it, even though he thinks he might have falsely gotten her hopes up.

The Doctor passes the scanner over him and nods. "What do you remember, Mr. Paris?"

"Everything," Tom says, before realizing it probably wasn't a very precise -- and in fact an arguably misleading -- answer. "Sorry. I mean, I have my memories from before the operation, but..."

B'Elanna seems to stiffen, and releases him. "But you don't remember me?"

Tom searches for a diplomatic answer, but fails. "I know you're B'Elanna Torres, and I can remember you from the past few months. But nothing from my old life. It... it sounds like you're expecting me to?"

B'Elanna looks hurt, and Tom thinks he should have found a better way to phrase his words.

"Do you remember me?" Billy asks, cautiously moving toward the bed.

"I do," Tom says, smiling at him, even as The Doctor looks exasperated. "Billy. You've been helping me over the past few months. I've been working in astrometrics with you."

Billy doesn't return the smile, and Tom wonders if he should have phrased things differently here, as well.

The Doctor folds up the tricorder he's holding. "Well, you seem to be in good health, and there doesn't appear to be any further damage. I'd call that as much of a success as we're going to get."

"But he doesn't have his memories," B'Elanna says, anger and accusation in her voice.

"B'Elanna..." Tom starts, reaching out for her, wanting to reassure her, but she pushes him away.

"I said it was possible that his old memories were permanently lost, Lieutenant," The Doctor says. "However, the operation may have restored his ability to form new long-term memories, as well as removed Mr. Telfer's inexplicable influence over him."

"'Influence'," B'Elanna spits. "Is that what you call it?"

"My patient needs to rest," The Doctor says, firmly, seemingly putting an end to the conversation. "My recommendation is that Mr. Paris spend the night by himself, here in sickbay, so we can find out tomorrow morning whether there's been any further progress."

"Fine," B'Elanna says, storming out of the room without another word. Tom watches her go, feeling guilty again.

"I'm sorry I upset her..." he starts, but The Doctor shakes his head.

"Rest, Mr. Paris."

"I'll... see you tomorrow," Billy says, and Tom thinks it's almost a question.

"Tomorrow," he responds, smiling at Billy again, and this time Billy does smile back.

It feels like a promise.

It'd been obvious the next morning that the operation had fixed Tom's ongoing amnesia, at least, and a mental fog that he hadn't realized was there had been lifted. Tom felt like he could think properly again, even though he couldn't remember what his thoughts were like before he'd been shot. He no longer felt a need to separate out people by uniform color, nor to be excessively compliant and deferential. He thinks he truly understands words and conversations, now.

What had really changed, however, was the fact that remembering things was much easier -- almost automatic, now, rather than something Tom explicitly had to work at. B'Elanna had seemed relieved when Tom had recounted the previous day's events to her in sickbay the next morning, without Billy's presence.

Tom had missed Billy's presence. Even though the inherent draw he'd felt to listen to Billy -- and to impress Billy -- was gone, he'd still felt an affinity for the man that he told himself was just a remnant of their time together.

But as the days went on, it had also become obvious that the other desired outcome had not occurred. Tom's old memories hadn't come back, and the gaps he had in the months after the attack remained. The Doctor had told him this was unlikely to change, and there was no further neural reconstruction he could perform.

It hadn't really bothered Tom -- he hadn't known any other life or any other time -- so he'd readily agreed when The Doctor had suggested that he move back in with B'Elanna, to start to rebuild his old life with her. It felt like the expected thing to do.

What he hadn't expected was how much it would bother Billy.

"Is this what you really want, Tom?"

Tom pauses, shirt in his hand, halfway between the dresser and his pack. "What?"

Billy shakes his head, sitting back down on his own bed. "Sorry. Forget it. It's not my place to... interfere."

Tom sets the shirt down and sits next to Billy, setting a hand on his shoulder. Billy flinches, and Tom starts to pull away, but Billy sets his hand on Tom's and holds it there.

Tom thinks he needs the contact as much as Billy seems to. Billy hadn't touched him -- much less held his hand -- since the operation.

"Hey. You're not interfering," Tom reassures. "I always appreciate your opinion. What did you mean by that?"

Billy sighs, and seems to think a long time before responding. "You don't remember anything about your life with B'Elanna. But you're still going back to her. Is that what you want?"

"She's my wife, Billy," Tom says, still remembering how B'Elanna's reactions around Billy over the past few months suddenly made sense to him after she and The Doctor had explained everything. That fact that his head was clearer now probably helped. "My pregnant wife," he adds, although he isn't sure for who's benefit.

Billy nods. "Right. And that's why I... that's why it's not my place."

"We have to rebuild our lives together," Tom says, this time parroting B'Elanna's words from when they'd had a conversation about the future.

Billy nods again. "Right," he says, even as Tom thinks he looks like he still wants to object.

"Billy," Tom says, needing to be honest. "I don't know what I want. I don't even really know who I am, because as far as I'm concerned, I didn't exist until a few months ago. But she's hurting, and it's because of me. I like spending time with you. I appreciate everything you've done for me. But I have a responsibility to her."

"A responsibility," Billy repeats, the words sounding bitter on his tongue.

Tom nods, not sure what else to do. "I need to try. I owe her that much, at least."

Billy nods, and seems to consider for a bit before leaning against Tom, and Tom lets his hand move around Billy's back, to his side.

Tom tries not to think about how comfortable it feels.

Let Go Of The Pain

Chapter Notes

"You really are a different person, aren't you?" Harry asks one day as the two of them share a meal in the mess hall.

Tom nods and spears another piece of food. "It's like I suddenly grew up. My mind's clearer now. I feel like I'm really understanding concepts instead of just retaining information. Seven has started giving me actual work to do. I've been studying up on..."

"I don't mean just since the operation," Harry says. "I mean... old Tom. You haven't complained about the food once today, or any day, for example."

Tom looks down at his plate. "Why would I? It tastes fine."

Harry shakes his head, looking a combination of disappointed and amused. "If we ever get back to Earth, I'm taking you to this little restaurant by the Academy in San Francisco. They have the most amazing seafood there. You'll wonder how you ever called Neelix's slop 'food'. It puts even the replicated dishes to shame."

"I guess I just don't know anything else, but maybe you're right."

"And flying!" Harry continues. "You don't seem interested in flying anymore."

Tom shrugs. "Flying is stressful. Why would I want to put myself at the head of any sort of ship and control it? What if something goes wrong?"

He thinks back to when Billy had shown him how to fly the Delta Flyer, and how happy Billy had been when he'd succeeded. He'd been happy because Billy had been happy, but he hadn't been particularly interested in the flying itself, even now.

He really misses Billy.

"That's exactly what I mean. You couldn't get enough of being at the helm. You even..." Harry seems to notice the change in mood. "Hey. What's wrong?"

"I just... miss Billy, I guess."

"You still haven't seen him?" Harry seems less concerned by this than Tom thinks he maybe should be.

Tom shakes his head. "Not since I moved back in with B'Elanna."

"I think he's just giving the two of you some space. B'Elanna was a bit jealous of how close you'd gotten, and you know how she gets when..." He stops himself. "Sorry. I guess you don't know. She just gets protective."

"Billy was just being a good friend," Tom says. He knows all of this, and doesn't need Harry to remind him of it. "She has nothing to worry about."

Harry nods. "I know. But you know Billy. He's respectful."

"He is."

Harry grabs his napkin and puts his utensils down on his plate. "Well, I have to get going. My shift starts in a few minutes. The bridge hasn't been the same without you, Tom."

Tom isn't really sure what to say to that. "I don't remember the bridge, but I don't think there's a job there I could really do, anyway. You could always come down and see me in astrometrics sometime."

Harry smiles, standing and grabbing his plate. "Maybe I will. Want to get lunch again tomorrow?"

"Sure," Tom says. He doesn't mind lunch with Harry, necessarily, but it doesn't feel the same as meals with Billy and Celes.

As he watches Harry leave, he wonders if he should track down Celes, even if just to pass a message on to Billy.

Tom still isn't really sure what he wants, but he's pretty sure it isn't this.

His 'home life', so to speak, feels forced. Over the next few weeks, he and B'Elanna settle into a bit of a pattern, and he tries his hardest to be the doting, caring husband that she seems to need, but it always feels like he's an impostor trying to fill a role that's been carved out for him. That he isn't sure he actively wants, much less knows how to do.

Her short temper doesn't help either. She always apologizes afterward, blaming the pain of the pregnancy or her hormones or stress from her job, but Tom can tell that it's mostly the situation with him, and the fact that he isn't living up to her expectations of who he is -- or, at least, who he was.

He knows her that well by now, at least.

His work life isn't much better. The day after he'd moved back in with B'Elanna, he'd shown up to his shift in astrometrics to find that Billy wasn't there. Seven had told him that Billy had asked to be rescheduled in her usual matter-of-fact way, and Tom had been more than a little disappointed that he wasn't going to be seeing Billy that day.

But he hadn't seen Billy the next day either, nor the next, and when it becomes clear that Billy had explicitly changed his schedule so he never aligns with Tom's shifts, and they never run into each other in the mess hall besides, he almost thinks that Billy is avoiding him.

His suspicions are confirmed when he randomly runs into Billy in the hallway, and after a quick exchange of greetings, Billy makes an excuse and practically sprints away.

Tom thinks he understands why -- B'Elanna -- and tries to move on from their friendship despite the hole in his heart. But one day, as he walks into the mess hall with B'Elanna and spots Celes sitting by herself at a table, he decides he can't do this anymore.

"Hey," he starts, and Celes' expression seems to briefly sour as she looks up at him.

"Hey," she says, significantly less friendly than usual, confirming to him that she knows what's happening with Billy.

"Why is Billy avoiding me?" he asks, cutting to the chase. He doesn't want to keep B'Elanna waiting.

Celes regards him for a moment. "Why don't you ask him?" she says, finally.

"I would, if he wasn't avoiding me," Tom says, glancing over at B'Elanna, who looks impatient now, sitting at a table.

"Right," Celes says, apologetic this time, seemingly thinking again.

"I have to go," Tom says, when it looks like an answer isn't coming, and because he knows B'Elanna is already disapproving of this conversation. "Just... tell him I really miss him. Please?"

Celes seems to soften at that, and for a moment, Tom swears she's going to say something. But she just nods and waves him away, and Tom walks to the counter to grab some food for himself and B'Elanna.

"This isn't working."

Tom looks over at B'Elanna, next to him on the couch. She's staring off into space instead of watching the show on the TV -- one of his favorite westerns, she'd told him, even though he couldn't remember it. The shows she said he liked all seemed to blend into each other, and he isn't sure what, exactly, his old self enjoyed about these programs. But he felt the need to try for her sake, anyway.

He appreciates that she isn't curled up against him tonight, at least. B'Elanna curling up next to him always reminded him of his last conversation with Billy, and how much he misses having Billy in his life.

And reminds him of how terrible he always feels about it afterward because dammit B'Elanna is his wife and he shouldn't be thinking of someone else when they're having quiet time together.

"We can watch something else," he offers, pushing those thoughts out of his head. "Anything you want."

"Huh?" She looks over at him, confused for a moment, before realization sets in. "Oh. No. Not the stupid show, Tom. This. Us."

Tom swallows the lump suddenly in his throat. Her words aren't a surprise, necessarily, but he still feels like a failure at them.

"What do I need to do?" he asks. "I can get us some popcorn for this show. We can go run that Captain Proton program. I can..."

She shakes her head. "No, Tom. This..." she trails off, lost for words for a bit.

"I'm trying," Tom says, feeling like he's on the verge of tears now. "I promise, B'Elanna. I'm trying."

"I know you are," she says, her voice full of reassurance this time. "But... is this what you want? You and me, like this. Is this really what you want?"

Billy had asked him a very similar question only a few weeks ago, even though it feels like much longer. Tom hadn't known the answer then. He does know the answer now.

He squeezes his eyes shut, not willing to see her face when he disappoints her again. "No," he forces himself to say. "It's not."

There's silence for a bit, and Tom doesn't dare move, but then B'Elanna sighs. "It's not what I want either," she says.

"B'Elanna," Tom says, opening his eyes and reaching for her, needing to apologize.

"Don't," she says, pulling away from him, and curling up on the other end of the couch. "Please don't. We've been trying. Both of us. But this isn't working, Tom."

"I know," he whispers, afraid to agree with her. He wonders if he's afraid of what agreeing would mean. He has no idea what he'd do without her, even if only because he'd told himself he had to make this work. He's come to realize over the past few weeks that he actually knows very little about how the world -- even the smaller one within this ship -- works, and what his role in all of it is, and that frightens him. B'Elanna was safe. B'Elanna was expected.

B'Elanna needed to be a replacement for the sense of belonging and security that Billy had given him.

B'Elanna doesn't say anything for a while, and Tom sits motionless as the TV drones on in the background. He isn't sure what else to say.

"My husband died that day," she says, finally, her voice wavering. "He was shot on an away mission, and The Doctor did everything he could, but he died."


She looks over at him now, and her eyes are wet. "You're not that man. We've been pretending that you are, and trying to make you fit his role on this ship and in my life. But he's gone. He's gone, and he's not coming back."

"B'Elanna," Tom says again, and he is crying now.

She just shakes her head, standing from the couch. "I... I'm sorry. I can't be here right now."

Tom wants to stop her, to apologize, to tell her that he can be that man, that he will be, that she just needs to give him more time.

Instead he watches her grab a few items from a table before leaving.

"I'm sorry about you and B'Elanna," Harry says, slipping into the seat across from Tom in the mess hall. "Are you doing okay?"

"News travels fast," Tom says, spearing another chunk of meat on his fork, ignoring the question. He doesn't like the reminder that his entire life seems to have fallen apart in a day, and wishes that he at least had Billy to talk to. Or at least Celes.

Or that he was comfortable enough to talk to Harry about it. His friendship with Harry was another thing he hadn't really been able to get back from his old life, despite his efforts.

"Small ship," Harry says, as if that explains everything. "Are you okay?"

"It's my fault," Tom says, instead of directly answering the question. He isn't sure he knows the answer, anyway.

"Tom!" Harry says, sternly. "It is not your fault. You can't change what happened to you."

"I could've tried harder," Tom says, popping the meat into his mouth and chewing slowly, using it as an excuse to stop engaging in the conversation.

Harry opens his mouth to object, but is interrupted by the comm.

"Telfer to Paris."

Tom suddenly feels like he can't chew fast enough, and swallows the chunk whole, consequences be damned. "Paris here."

"Please report to my quarters," Billy says. "If... if you want to."

"On my way," Tom says, dropping his fork and napkin on the table. "Sorry, Harry. We'll continue this conversation later."

"But I..."

"Later. I promise," Tom says, and then he's out the door.

Tom waits impatiently outside the door to their quarters -- Billy's quarters, he corrects himself, because Tom had moved out weeks ago -- and hits the door chime again. He's starting to wonder if Billy had also moved rooms in the past few weeks.

He's just about to ask the computer to locate Billy when the doors slide open. Celes stands on the other side, looking sternly at something -- or someone -- in the room.

"I won't back out," Billy's voice says. "I promise."

Celes nods, patting Tom's shoulder as she passes him. "He's missed you too," she whispers before she's gone, and Tom can feel his heart skip a beat.

He walks into the room slowly. Billy's sitting on his bed, staring at the floor, and Tom resists the urge to sit next to him.

He sits on what used to be his bed, instead. It feels safer. He waits for Billy to start. That, too, feels safer.

"The Captain let me keep the room," Billy starts, and Tom obliges the topic of conversation, even though he's pretty sure it's not what Billy had been wanting to say.

"I'm glad," Tom says. "I remember you weren't looking forward to moving back to the bunks."

"The space is nice, but the bunks always had someone around," Billy says. "It's lonely here now. I thought I should see if Celes would want to move in, but she isn't..."

Billy stops talking, and Tom thinks he knows what Billy had almost said. He wonders if he should tell Billy he'd missed him too, but reminds himself that Celes would've already passed along his message.

He really needs to thank Celes.

They sit in silence for a bit, and Tom tells himself to be patient. He doesn't want to scare Billy away again. He doesn't think he could stand another few weeks of Billy avoiding him.

"Do you remember that conversation in astrometrics?" Billy asks, finally, still staring at the floor.

"You're going to have to be more specific," Tom says. He remembers many conversations in astrometrics, but mostly remembers how lonely his shifts have felt ever since Billy stopped working with him.

"When Seven asked us if... if we were dating."

Tom frowns. He doesn't remember, and wonders what would have caused her to ask such a thing. "This was before the operation, I'm assuming? Why would she think that?"

"Bad place to start," Billy says, cringing. "I thought for sure you'd remember. I was... mortified."

"Because I was involved with B'Elanna at the time?" Tom can't remember too many specifics from that time, especially where B'Elanna was concerned, but he does remember -- and understands, in retrospect -- why B'Elanna had always been short with Billy, and why Billy had always seemed on edge around her.

"Yes! No! I... don't know!" Billy seems to be unsure what to say now, and Tom decides to risk it, his need to reassure the man overwhelming his desire to give Billy space for the conversation. He moves so he's sitting next to Billy on his bed, cautiously setting a hand on his back. Billy doesn't object, instead letting out a small breath that Tom's pretty sure is a good sign.

"If I'm being honest, I don't really know what it means to date," Tom says, figuring it was a good way to help the conversation along. "B'Elanna and I said we'd start dating each other again, to ease back into our relationship, but I was never really sure what I was supposed to do, or what 'dating' entailed."

"I was mortified because I... I wanted to be dating you," Billy says, quietly, as if he's afraid to say the words.

Tom lets the admission sit for a while, not sure how to respond, and hoping Billy would continue. But after he doesn't, Tom figures he has to prompt him again. "People date people they're romantically interested in, right?"

Billy buries his face in his hands. "Yes. I'm making such a mess of this conversation."

"You... were interested in me romantically?" It doesn't feel like it should be surprising, but it still seems like a huge question, somehow.

"Yes," Billy says again, face still firmly in his hands, and for some reason, Tom feels a flutter in his chest at the confirmation. "I... shouldn't have been. It wasn't right for me to be. It wasn't fair to you."

"Because of B'Elanna?" Tom asks.

"Yes! No! Not just because of her." Billy takes a deep breath. "At first, I just wanted to help you. It was... exciting to be needed for a job that no one else could do, you know? Lots of people read sensors, or analyze sensor readings, or biological samples. No one else could help Tom Paris regain his memories."

"It was nice to have you helping me," Tom reassures, pulling Billy closer against him.

Billy lets himself be pulled, sighing again in the way that Tom takes as pleasant. "And even though you were losing most of your new memories every day, you were still... incredible. Kind. Curious. Thoughtful. It felt like we connected, somehow, even though neither of us knew why. I... shouldn't have, but I... developed feelings for you."

"I'm glad you didn't grow sick of answering the same questions every day," Tom says, trying to bring some levity to the situation.

Billy doesn't seem to hear him, lost in his own thoughts. "But then The Doctor and B'Elanna got the weapon, and studied it, and I... it was like Stockholm Syndrome, you know? You were only sticking around me because you had to. You were under its influence. It wasn't right for me to... use that fact. I thought that maybe you were only spending time with me because you were... programmed to."

Tom thinks over what he can remember from that time. He does remember the conversation about the weapon, and he remembers how Billy had seemed a little more distant than usual afterward, even though he hadn't really understood it at the time.

He also remembers how disappointed he had been by that, and wonders what Billy meant by 'Stockholm Syndrome'.

He remembers mornings with Billy, and how excited they'd both been every time Tom retained a new skill or memory. He remembers Billy introducing him to crewmembers, always with a smile, even though he's sure Billy had done the same introductions a dozen times before. He remembers how much he'd liked Billy's smile -- likes Billy's smile.

He remembers the first time Billy had put his hand on him, when he was piloting the Delta Flyer. He remembers how worried Billy had been about him before the operation.

He remembers how much he'd missed Billy -- and still misses Billy -- even after the fog had lifted and he felt like he was thinking clearly again. He remembers how much it had hurt when it felt like Billy was avoiding him, even if he'd understood why.

He remembers all of this until something clicks inside of him, and everything starts to make sense. He knows what he wants, now.

"I'm not programmed to do anything now," Tom says, instead of all the other things he wants to say. "I haven't been under its influence for a while. You never were. Are you still interested in me?"

Billy turns his head slightly, and Tom can just make out one eye, staring up at him. It feels like an eternity before Billy answers him.


"You asked me if B'Elanna was what I wanted," Tom says. Even though it's not exactly what Billy had asked, he thinks it still gets the point across. "I didn't know the answer at the time. Now I do. She isn't. Not anymore."

"Oh." Billy's eye is still peering up at him, and Tom thinks he sees a glint of something there. Hope?

"I think you also meant to ask me if what I wanted was you. Or, at least, the life I'd grown accustomed to with you. I didn't know the answer to that question then, either."

He waits for Billy to say something, maybe to refute his claim. But Billy doesn't speak, or move.

"I can't remember everything that happened, Billy, but I remember how you were always there for me. You never pressured me. Every decision I made was mine, even before the operation, but especially afterward. Regardless of why we grew close, we did grow close. That wasn't a lie. It was real. It's still real. The way I feel about you hasn't changed."

That statement seems to help. "I'm... glad," Billy says.

"I chose to go back to B'Elanna because I felt it was my duty to do so," Tom continues. "I thought that duty was what I wanted."

"And now?"

Tom takes a deep breath, trying to force the next part out. "And now, I know that what I want is you, William Telfer. I miss waking up in this room with you. I miss working with you. I miss your smile. I miss your laugh. I miss your touch. I miss you next to me like this. I don't really know what love is, or what romance is, but from what I've been told, I'm pretty damn sure I want it. With you."

Billy starts shaking, and Tom wraps both arms around him, pulling him against his chest. They'd never done this before -- been this close before -- but Tom can't help but feel that this was right in a way that he hadn't felt with B'Elanna, ever.

At least that he could remember.

Billy looks up at Tom, meeting his eyes. Tom thinks he sees fire there. It scares him. It excites him.

He wants to see more of it.

"I want to kiss you, Tom Paris," Billy whispers.

"I want that too," Tom responds, anticipation filling his chest in a way it never had with B'Elanna.

And Billy does.

Chapter End Notes

Two chapters left, but don't worry! There's no more drama coming.

Next time, we wrap up some loose threads, and that'll be followed by a short epilogue.

Pick These Pieces Up

Tom walks through the doors of the holodeck with Billy and finds himself in a room that looks like it should be on Voyager, but that he doesn't recognize.

"Is this a room on the ship?" he asks, and Billy seems a little surprised before nodding.

"This is the transporter room. Sorry, I... forgot that you wouldn't remember it. The old you would've been here a lot more often than I ever am."

The room looks fairly nondescript, with the exception of a large platform along one side, and Tom can't guess its function. "Is this the surprise?"

"Oh." Billy blushes slightly. "No. Um. The transporter is a matter-energy conversion device that, well... transports you somewhere. It's a way of travelling, basically, that's faster than taking a shuttle."

"Ah." Tom can appreciate that. "I'm glad the surprise isn't that I have to fly us somewhere."

Billy laughs. "No. I know how you feel about flying." He reaches out for Tom's hand, and Tom readily takes it. "Actually, um... it's kind of... silly why we're here."

Tom squeezes Billy's hand, trying to be reassuring. "Nothing about you is silly. Unless you're trying to be."

Billy smiles. "Uh. It's silly because the holodeck could just start the program with us at our destination, but I... I like starting with the transporter. It has biofilters that remove known pathogens, which... this is just a simulation so that isn't real anyway, but I still find the thought comforting. And I also... it's rare that I go anywhere off the ship, so I like starting here." He stops and thinks for a second. "Actually, never leaving the ship used to suit me just fine. But something happened a while back that... sorry. I'm wasting our holodeck time. Are you ready?"

Tom nods, and lets Billy guide him onto the large platform. The view shimmers and he finds himself in a different place.

He looks around the space. They're in a decently sized room, but the walls seem to be made out of large, circular pieces of wood. Matching pieces of furniture, including a couch and a few tables and chairs, are scattered around, and there's a comfortable-looking blanket on the couch. A window on the wall gives him a view of what seems to be trees covered in a white substance, while smaller bits of white float around in the air.

"We're at my grandpa's cabin," Billy says, grabbing a mug from one of the tables and handing it to Tom before grabbing another for himself. "It's... I spent a lot of time here growing up."

Tom takes a sip from the mug. The liquid is creamy and sweet and soothingly warm, and tastes like something familiar. "Chocolate?"

Billy nods, taking a sip from his own mug. "Hot cocoa."

"This is a nice surprise," Tom says, referring to the cocoa, but realizing that the sentiment also applies to the cabin. It feels cozy, like a private space for Billy, and Billy had wanted to share it with him.

Billy blushes. "Actually, um... I guess all of this is the surprise. I... wanted to take you on a date, and couldn't think of a place on the ship that felt appropriate. And I thought you might like the..." He looks around. "The... everything."

Tom thinks back to his 'dates' with B'Elanna. They'd gotten food in the mess hall, spent some evenings in front of the television in their quarters, attempted to make out in a small crawlspace -- Jeffries Tube? -- and B'Elanna had even gotten permission for them to take the Delta Flyer out for some quiet time together in space.

Tom really hadn't liked the last one, especially because she'd asked him to pilot, and he hadn't dared say no.

But all of them had felt like things he had to do. Obligations that B'Elanna seemed to appreciate and that seemed to hold meaning for her, but that Tom hadn't understood. B'Elanna had seemed to expect something from him each time, and had always seemed disappointed by the end.

The cabin felt different. It didn't feel like Billy had brought him here with any expectations. Rather, Billy had picked something he'd thought Tom would like, but that was also meaningful to Billy. Tom can already spot things that remind him of Billy around the space: a holographic projected map of a solar system on the wall, a thick book that Tom's sure covers alien life and biology on the couch, a chess set on the table...

"This is perfect," Tom says, and Billy blushes again.

"I'm... I'm glad."

"Do you want to play chess?" Tom asks, already moving toward the couch as he takes another sip of cocoa.

"I'd like that," Billy says, readily following him, and they sit together on the couch. Billy throws the blanket over the two of them, and Tom sneaks a look at the book's cover.

History of the Klingon Augment Virus.

He'd have to ask Billy about that one later.

He pulls Billy close against his side, sneaking in a gentle kiss as he does so. Tom's still not really used to kissing, and worries somehow that kissing Billy too much will wear out the feeling he gets from it.

But he really likes kissing Billy. Especially when the kisses taste like cocoa.

Billy smiles against him, curling up against Tom's side and closing his eyes. "This... isn't very conducive to chess," Billy says, even though he doesn't seem to mind.

Tom pulls the chessboard closer to them. "But it is conducive to a date," Tom says, loving the way Billy feels against him. He understands the appeal of a 'date' now. He moves a white pawn up two spaces. "Your move."

Billy opens his eyes, looks at him, and kisses him again.

The door chimes, and Billy stops laughing long enough to call out, "Come in!"

Tom isn't sure who he expects to see, but it's definitely not B'Elanna, standing in the doorway with a half a smile on her face. Billy immediately freezes, his face falling.

"Hi," Tom says, standing from the chair he's sitting in. "I... wasn't expecting to see you. Please, come in."

"I... I just remembered that Celes needed me to..." Billy says, scrambling to his feet. "I... sorry. Bye. I mean... nice to see you, Lieutenant. Sorry."

Tom knows it's a lie, but gives it to him anyway, and watches as Billy slips by B'Elanna in the doorway. He wishes Billy would stay for... whatever B'Elanna was here for, but he understands why he won't.

"Sorry to just drop by," B'Elanna says after a bit of silence. "We haven't really talked since... since I walked out on you."

Tom nods. He thinks they've said maybe two words to each other since then, and she hadn't been in the room when he'd packed up to move back in with Billy.

"It's not your fault," Tom says, feeling the need to be reassuring. "I'm sorry I couldn't... I'm sorry for everything."

She nods and clutches her belly, and Tom realizes he's being a bad host. He pulls a chair closer to the door and helps her into it. It feels familiar, almost -- a reminder of how things had been only a few days ago.

Only this time, it doesn't feel stifling.

She sits down in it heavily and looks around the room as Tom sits back down in his own chair, facing her. "Nice place," she comments.

"Oh. Yeah. It's... home, you know." He immediately feels guilty about his word choice, but she doesn't seem to mind.

"It suits you," she says. "Who you are now, anyway. It's very... modern."

"I never understood why I used to like that television," Tom says, running with the subject. "The holodeck is three-dimensional, and interactive. And if I wanted to watch something passively, there's the movie theatre program with a much larger screen."

"Right?!" B'Elanna says, nodding in agreement. "That stupid thing used to make you so happy, and I guess I got caught up in it too because of you, but I never understood it. And those shows!"

"I can't remember any of them now, and I'm sure that's not because of the weapon," he says, grinning, and B'Elanna laughs.

"Me neither! At least they were always fighting, even if it was with guns. I just..." she trails off, and seems to grow serious again. "Sorry. I... I just need to get to the point."

Tom nods, expecting that. "Shoot."

She seems to think for a bit. "I... have a favor to ask."

"If I can do it, I will," Tom says, and he means it. He really does still feel guilty about what happened between them, even though he knows deep down it isn't either of their faults.

"It's asking a lot," she says.

"Doesn't matter," Tom says.

"I'm going to be having... going to be having Tom's baby, soon. And I think it's pretty clear that things are over between us. You can't love me in the way I love you, and you and Billy..."

"Small ship," Tom says without thinking, and B'Elanna's lips twitch upward at it.

"Small ship," she agrees. "But I... I want you to be part of her life. Maybe not as her father, but as her... uncle. That feels appropriate."

"That seems more than fair," Tom says. "I... I think there's a lot of truth to what you said. The person I was died on that away mission. I'm not that man anymore, as I think we've all found out. But I'd like to remain in her life. And your life. I'd like us to remain friends."

B'Elanna nods, even though she still seems to be thinking. "How do you feel about 'Eugene'?" she asks, finally.

"For the baby?" Tom asks. He isn't sure how he feels about the name, but reminds himself that it's B'Elanna's choice, especially now.

"What? Oh, no," B'Elanna seems surprised by the question. "I mean... for you."

"Oh." It takes Tom a second to remember why the name sounded familiar. "That's my middle name, isn't it? I think I saw it when I was reading over some files recently."

B'Elanna nods. "I know it's not really fair of me to ask, but it... it would really help me, you know? I know it's just a name, but you're a different person now, and Tom..."

"Tom is dead," he finishes for her. The more he thinks about it, the more he likes the idea. "Eugene Paris. I honestly can't say I'm particularly attached to 'Tom', but after hearing Billy say it so many times..."

B'Elanna smiles at that. "I see how it is. I tell you a million times and it doesn't stick, but Billy Telfer says something once..."

"I'm sorry," he responds, automatically, before realizing it's a joke.

B'Elanna shakes her head, more subdued now. "Forget it. You... don't have to decide now, and I know it's a lot for me to ask of you..."

"It isn't though," he says, and he means it. "I don't remember anything from more than a couple months ago. I don't have any attachment to the name. And I agree that it would help... Actually, I think it would help both of us."

He already likes the feeling of detachment he gets from it. The idea that Tom Paris was a different man, and B'Elanna and Tom were different -- are different -- than B'Elanna and... him.

B'Elanna and Eugene.

And Eugene and Billy.

She nods. "Like I said, you don't have to decide now. I just thought I would... ask."

She starts to stand, and he's up in a flash, helping her out of the chair. "I'm... glad you came by. I missed you." He hadn't realized how true the words were until now. He does miss B'Elanna, especially now that it didn't feel like he was trying to force something between them.

She smiles at him. "I like what you said. About being friends. Let's have lunch sometime. As friends."

He nods, helping her to the door. "I'd like that."

Then she's gone, and he sits back down in the chair.

"Eugene Paris," he says out loud, liking the way it feels on his tongue.

He wonders what Billy would think.

"I never properly thanked you," Eugene says when he finally manages to get Celes alone. It wasn't that they hadn't seen each other -- after Eugene and Billy had gotten together, things had gone back to normal between the two of them -- but it had always been with Billy.

Eugene really hadn't minded. He really enjoys spending time with Billy, and never minds his company even when other people are involved.

Celes waves him off. "Oh, please. I didn't do anything."

"Well, then thanks for nothing," he says, and Celes laughs at that for some reason.

He wishes Billy was there. Billy would've explained why the statement was funny.

"I feel like I should thank you, too," she says, surprising him. "I know you feel like Billy's done a lot for you, but you've done a lot for him too. You didn't know Billy before."

"I didn't know anyone," he says, and she laughs again, even though he's just stating the truth.

"We've been friends for a long time," she says. "He was... well, he's always been friendly, but also hard to crack. We became friends through sheer persistence on my part, but Billy doesn't have a lot of friends." She seems to regret the last statement. "I don't mean to insult him."

"I don't think you did," Eugene says. Other than Celes, he isn't sure there there's really anyone he'd really call Billy's friend, even though Billy has many acquaintances and is friendly with most people on the ship, particularly in the sciences division. And Eugene had benefitted from that friendliness when Billy had gone around introducing him to everyone.

Supposedly many times.

She nods. "The point is... I like who he is with you. Originally, your condition forced him to open up a bit more, but that's stuck through to now. He's more comfortable with himself and more comfortable around others who aren't quite as introverted as him. Like Ensign Kim. And even Lieutenant Torres."

Eugene's surprised by the last part, but he keeps that to himself. "I'm... glad to hear that."

"Did you know Billy used to be a hypochondriac?" Celes asks with a grin.

"I... don't know that word," Eugene says.

Celes waves her hand dismissively. "It doesn't matter. He was just always a bit wound up, and sometimes a lot wound up, and I'd often have to talk him down. But after Captain Janeway... well, he got over it, kind of suddenly, and it was a good change for him. And you've been a similar sudden change for him too, for the better. So thank you."

"Oh." Eugene's pretty sure he doesn't deserve the credit for that. "I'm... glad you approve of us together."

"Always." Celes stops walking at a junction in the corridor and pats his back. "Well, I really should get these analyses to Seven." She starts heading down the hallway before turning back to him. "Let's hang out sometime. Just you and me."

"I'd like that," he says, after her.

He reminds himself to look up 'hypochondriac'.

"Mind if I join you?"

Eugene looks up from his food at Harry, standing on the other side of the table with his own tray. He gestures at the seat. "Please."

Harry nods and sits, pulling out his napkin but making no effort to start eating.

"I'm... sorry I haven't been a very good friend lately," Eugene starts. "I haven't reached out. We could... hit the holodeck together sometime."

"Don't worry about it," Harry says with a smile. "You've had a lot going on. But the holodeck could be fun. I think we'll probably need to find a new program that we both enjoy, though. Unless you're interested in giving Captain Proton another chance."

"Not particularly," Eugene says, automatically, still uncomfortable with the idea of a monochromatic environment. "I mean, if you want to..."

"We'll find something else," Harry says. "How are you and Billy doing? I hear you moved back in with him?"

Eugene's pretty sure that Harry knows by now -- he's pretty sure that everyone knows by now -- but he appreciates Harry playing dumb anyway.

"We're dating," he says, because as much as he appreciates Harry's effort, he doesn't really want to participate in the charade. "We're doing well."

"Ah," Harry says, even though Eugene can tell he isn't surprised. "I'm happy for you. Really."

"You're okay with this?" Eugene had really been worried given Harry had been his... had been Tom's best friend, and he assumes he'd been close with B'Elanna as well.

"You seem happier, these days," Harry says, finally picking up his fork. "If it makes you happy, that's all I care about."

"But B'Elanna..."

"B'Elanna seems happier too," Harry says, and Eugene is surprised by that. "Don't get me wrong... she's upset, and mourning. But I think she really does believe this is for the best."

"I'm going by 'Eugene' now," he says, figuring this was as good a time as any to share that change. He reminds himself to have a conversation with the Captain about it, as well.

Harry nods. "'Eugene', huh? It suits you."

"I'm... glad you think so."

"A bit cumbersome, though. It'd be like if we called you 'Thomas'." Harry shakes his head. "Sorry. It's nice."

"Um. Hey," a familiar voice says, and Eugene looks up to see Billy standing next to them, food tray in hand. "Sorry. That analysis took even longer than I thought it would. But since you're..."

"Join us," Harry says, gesturing at the empty seat next to Eugene. "I'm not sure we've formally met since you and Tom..." He stops himself. "Uh, since you and Eugene, uh... moved back in together."

Billy seems a bit reluctant, but accepts the invitation anyway. Eugene finds his leg under the table with his hand and squeezes, hoping it'll help.

"I was just saying that 'Eugene' felt a bit cumbersome as a name," Harry says, digging into his food. "But it's nice."

Billy nods. "Yeah. It's... nice."

"I'm open to an alternative," Eugene says. "What's something shorter?"

"'Gene'?" Billy suggests, and he wonders why he hadn't thought of that before.

Then again, he really had no idea of what common names were, so he supposes he shouldn't be too surprised.

"I like it," he says, trying it out on his tongue. "Gene."

"It's appropriate for a life science specialist, too," Harry says with a smile. "By the way, congrats on the field commission, Billy."

"Oh." Billy seems embarrassed at the recognition, but Gene remembers how proud Billy had been about the announcement. "Thank you. It was... unexpected."

"Ensign William Telfer," Gene says, feeling proud of him too. Billy swirls his fork around in his food and blushes.

"And well deserved," Harry says, pointing his fork at Billy for emphasis. "Maybe I'll actually make Lieutenant someday..."

"Mind if I join you?" Another voice asks, and Gene looks up to see B'Elanna standing a short distance away. "It's... really fine if not. I just..."

"Join us," Gene says, expecting to feel apprehensive, but instead finding that he's relieved that she doesn't mind the idea of eating with him and Billy. "The food's really good today."

Harry and B'Elanna share a look at that and laugh, for some reason, and Billy shakes his head, and Gene thinks he's probably the butt of some joke, but he can't find himself to care.

He knows now that everything's going to be okay.

There's No One Else

Chapter Notes

"It's a shame Mr. Paris didn't retain his piloting skills," The Doctor mutters as another tremor jostles the ship. "If we had him at the helm, I'm sure this would be a much smoother delivery. Why did she have to pick now of all times to take the ship through a Borg transwarp conduit?"

"Doctor!" B'Elanna barks, before letting out another yell.

"One more push, Lieutenant. She's almost there."

B'Elanna yells again, The Doctor grabs a tool from his medical cart, and he watches as he hands a baby to B'Elanna.

Tom and B'Elanna's baby, Gene reminds himself. As much as he'd gotten used to the idea of a past he couldn't remember, the reminder that there was a past where he'd fathered a child with her still catches him by surprise, some days.

Especially this day.

"Miral," B'Elanna coos, holding the baby against her chest. "Miral Torres. Hello."

"She's perfectly healthy, Lieutenant," The Doctor says. "I'll be right back with some supplements for her immune system."

The Doctor walks into his office, and B'Elanna looks over at Gene. Billy nudges him forward, and he reluctantly takes a step toward the biobed. It still feels like he's intruding on something private, even though B'Elanna had explicitly requested that he and Billy be present for the delivery.

"Miral, meet your Uncle Gene," B'Elanna says, smiling down at the newborn again. "She's got Tom's smile."

Gene nods, really appreciating now how much the name change had helped -- and still helps -- with separating out the two lives. Miral was Tom's baby. Miral had Tom's smile.

Miral was adorable.

"And your ridges," Gene says, reaching out for her before stopping himself. "I'm glad Tom talked you out of the alterations." Even if he can't remember the incident itself, he remembers how vulnerable B'Elanna had seemed when she'd told him, part of The Doctor's suggestions to help bring back his old memories.

B'Elanna nods, running a finger over Miral's forehead before holding her out in Gene's direction. "Do you want to hold her?"

"Can I?" he asks, even as he's already taking her into his arms. "Miral."

Miral makes a gurgley noise before settling down again, and he can feel his heart swell at it.

"Get over here, Telfer," B'Elanna says, even though her eyes are closed now, and it isn't long before Gene can feel Billy's hand on his back.

"She's beautiful," Billy says. "She really does have his smile."

"I'm glad you think so, since the two of are going to be babysitting her for me. Miral, meet your Uncle Billy."

"Uncle?!" Billy seems more honored than upset at the implication, even though he's clearly surprised. "But we're not..."

"The way you two look at each other? You'll be married in less than a year. I expect to be invited to the wedding, now that we're gonna be back at Earth soon." B'Elanna's eyes are still closed, but she's smiling now, and Gene can't help but smile with her.

"Miral," he says again, attention returning to the newborn as Billy gently runs a finger over her hair. "We're going to fill your life with love, Miral."

"Janeway to Paris."

Gene shifts the shirts he's holding to his other arm, tapping the commbadge on his chest. "Paris here."

"Please report to my ready room, Mr. Paris."

Gene swallows. "Yes, Captain."

He looks over at Billy, who finishes tucking a couple padds in his own bag before holding out his arms. "I can pack those for you."

"Thanks," Gene says, handing the shirts over before standing in front of the mirror and smoothing out his uniform. "I wonder what the Captain wants."

"Probably to congratulate you on Baby Miral. There's been a lot on her mind since the birth, with getting back to Earth and all."

That makes sense, and Gene nods. "I'll... be back as quickly as I can."

"You, mister, will stay as long as the Captain wants you to," Billy says with a smile. "If I finish my stuff, I'll pack your clothes for you, at least. I imagine you'll have opinions about your other items."

Gene doesn't really, but appreciates the consideration anyway. He gives Billy a quick kiss. "Thanks. I'm... gonna go."

He makes his way down familiar corridors, but can't think but everything already feels so different. People he doesn't recognize -- wearing unusual uniforms that he recognizes from his video calls with Admiral Paris -- are milling around now, chatting with people he does know or inspecting panels. Whenever he passes a window, he catches a sight of Earth, huge and bright filling the glass.

He supposes he appreciates the fact that they've finally made it here, but he finds it doesn't invoke nearly the same feelings in him that it seems to for the rest of the crew -- Billy included. Gene can't remember anything other than Voyager. Earth isn't really home.

He makes his way across the bridge -- now empty with the exception of more unusually-uniformed people under consoles, which feels unusual to him despite the fact that he's only seen the bridge once -- and hits the chime on the ready room door.


The doors slide open. He walks in and immediately freezes when the occupants turn toward him. There's Captain Janeway and...

"Admiral," he says, standing at attention.

"At ease," Admiral Paris says, smiling at him warmly. "Son."

"I'll let you two catch up," Janeway says, smiling and gently patting his shoulder before she disappears to the bridge, the doors swooshing shut behind her.

Gene swallows the lump in his throat. He'd been expecting this reunion, of course, just not quite now. He isn't sure whether that fact that it's on slightly more familiar turf -- but without Billy by his side -- makes it easier or harder. "It's... good to see you, Admiral. In person."

Paris nods. "I was talking with the Captain about logistics, and you came up. I know there's the formal reunion happening in a few hours, but I thought I'd grab you beforehand. Perks of being an Admiral."

Gene forces himself to smile. "Yes, sir."

Paris gestures to some seats by the window, and Gene dutifully sits himself down on them. He's sure he's making this a lot more awkward than it should be, but he also isn't sure what to say. Even though he and Admiral Paris had talked over the past few months, it had been one short three-minute conversation and letters that had given him time to respond. This was entirely different.

"I know this is all new to you, Eugene," Paris says. "And we'll have a lot of time to properly catch up. But I wanted to ask you what your plans were now that you're home."

Gene doesn't bother correcting him. "I'd assumed I would be moving back in with you for a while, sir. Har... Ensign Kim and The Captain have told me a bit about Tom's past. It doesn't sound like he had anywhere in particular to go home to. I... don't know what he would have done."

Regret seems to cross Paris' face, and he shakes his head. "Tom was a good kid. We may have disagreed on a lot of things, but he had a good head on his shoulders, and a good sense of right and wrong. He would have always been welcome home. You are always welcome home, too, Eugene."

"Thank you, Admiral."

"But I ask because I know you're involved with Ensign Telfer," Paris says, surprising Gene. "I didn't know whether the two of you had discussed any plans."

Gene shakes his head. They'd both been so busy the past few days preparing the ship for its trip home that there hadn't been time for anything else. Billy had told him how excited he'd been to see his family in person again, but Gene hadn't been able to relate. "No, sir."

Paris nods. "Well, I just wanted to make sure you knew that you had options." He seems to think for a moment. "Do you think B'Elanna would mind if I wanted to see my granddaughter?"

Oh. Right. "I don't know, sir," Gene says. "Last I knew she was in sickbay, recovering from the delivery. She may have been moved to..." He realizes he doesn't actually know what the Earth equivalent would be.

"Perhaps Starfleet Medical," Paris says, standing, and Gene follows suit. "Perhaps it's just as well. I'm sure The Captain has additional topics to discuss before the reunion."

Gene nods, standing awkwardly. He isn't sure whether that was supposed to have dismissed him.

"It's good to see you, son," Paris says, smiling at him again. "Really."

"I'll... see you at the reunion." Gene isn't sure why he's messing all of this up.

Paris nods. "Dismissed."

Billy had been efficient. Gene returns to a room full of packed bags -- including all of his clothing and seemingly all of Billy's stuff -- and his various other items set out on the bed.

Gene chalks it up to Billy's excitement (and impatience) at the thought of seeing his family again.

"How was The Captain?" Billy asks, looking rather giddy as he zips up a pack on his own bed.

"Fine," Gene says, feeling guilty at not sharing Billy's enthusiasm. He wonders if he should have talked to Seven about his apprehension. "What are your plans for... Earth?"

Billy shrugs as he zips up another bag. "Find an apartment. Get a research job, which admittedly might not be on Earth. But somewhere fixed, at least. I feel like I want to stay away from ship assignments for a while. It's been... too long, and Voyager was only supposed to be a few months. But maybe someday another ship."

Gene nods, understanding, even as the words make him feel worse. "Right. That makes sense."

Billy stops and looks up at Gene, concerned now. "Sorry. I... forgot that this is all new to you. I just got... caught up in my own excitement and didn't think about..."

Gene makes his way over to Billy, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him against his chest. "No. I'm glad you're excited. Really. I guess I'm just... having trouble figuring out what to do."

"Oh." Billy seems surprised at that. "I assumed that... sorry. I shouldn't have."

Gene pulls Billy slightly away from him so he can look at Billy's face. "What did you assume?"

Billy bites his lip. "I guess I'd been assuming that I'd be finding an apartment with you. But I understand if..."

"Yes," Gene says. "If that's what you want."

Billy seems to brighten up at that, then blushes. "I was just thinking about 'Uncle'. And I... I know this is presumptuous, but I really liked it. The idea that you and I are serious in that way. And I just assumed that, since we'd still be together here on the ship if we hadn't gotten home... we'd be together here on Earth, too. Or... wherever. But it isn't fair of me to make that decision for both of us." He kisses Gene, quickly. "Do you have any thoughts?"

Gene shakes his head. "Um... actually The Captain called me because Admiral Paris wanted to see me."

"Oh." Billy seems unsure how to react to that.

"He asked me what my plans were, and told me I was welcome home anytime. And I feel... I feel like I should, because he's my father. But I just... I don't remember any of this, and I don't remember him. He's just some stranger I've been talking with for the past few months. But it feels like the expected thing."

"The last time you did the expected thing, it didn't work out so well," Billy says, before looking guilty, and Gene knows he's referring to B'Elanna. "Sorry. I didn't..."

"It's okay." Gene kisses him again. "You're right."

Billy nods. "What... what do you want to do?"

Gene doesn't have to think about that one. "I want to find an apartment with you."

Billy seems to relax at that, pulling himself against Gene and burying his face in Gene's shoulder again. "I'd like that, too."

Gene knows what 'home' is now. Home is wherever Billy is.

"I love you," Gene says, closing his eyes, and he can feel Billy smile against his chest.

"I love you too, Gene."

There are times when Gene's lack of memories -- particularly of common human experiences and knowledge and things others take for granted -- gets in the way, such as when he tries to navigate the complex transit systems of Earth for the first time, or when Billy suggests dinner for their dating anniversary and Gene isn't sure what that means, or when he asks Billy if they need to be worried about pregnancy and Billy laughs and patiently explains biology to him.

And especially when Billy proposes during during a trip to Bajor to see Celes, and Gene has no idea what's happening until Billy actually asks him to marry him.

Gene counts his blessings every day that his husband is always patient with him, and in fact seems to take delight in filling gaps in his knowledge in a way that is never denigrating.

But there are times too when he almost thinks of it as a benefit. Miral -- in addition to Billy's sister's son -- gives him an opportunity to dive into books about life and the universe, and he often finds that he's learning as much from them as she presumably does. He thinks that their mutual wonder at the world actually helps them bond.

So he finds himself torn when an opportunity presents itself to return to Voyager, and to the Delta Quadrant, for a mission of exploration. B'Elanna immediately turns down the opportunity, not wanting to raise a child on a ship, with all the things that could go wrong and additional responsibilities she would take on there.

But it's not so easy for Gene.

"Voyager was your first home," Billy says when Gene talks to him about it, putting Gene's feelings into words in the way he always does.

He loves how much Billy has always understood him.

"Earth should be my home," Gene says, even though he knows Billy believes it as much as he does. "But you like exploring space."

Billy laughs, because they both already know how Billy feels about the opportunity. And Gene doesn't want to be the one holding Billy back.

"I like you more," Billy responds, and Gene blushes, and promptly carries him to the bedroom to show him just how mutual that feeling is.

In the end, they do go, together. Gene has always felt more at home on a ship, in a small community with structure and rules and schedules, and where he's really able to dive into his work. And the 'new Voyager', as he thinks of it, is no exception.

But ultimately, it doesn't really matter where he is. He knows who he is, now. He has a life that he's content with, and a man he's looking forward to spending it with.

Eugene Paris is happy.

Chapter End Notes

This is the end of this work, but not the end of this verse! I didn't feel quite done with this AU yet, so there's two more works coming: A set of shorter companion fics from Billy's perspective, and also my attempt at a more SciFi-plot-driven work.

Those will both be posted as the next parts in the new Chemistry series (because I guess I'm going with a theme of Kelly Clarkson's new album for this series), so keep an eye out for those!


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