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I am become hollow - a ST: Voyager fic

Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager
Title: I am become hollow
Characters/Pairings: Paris/Kim, Paris/Torres
Full header info posted with Chapter One


“Is everybody ready?” I look back along the Jeffries tube at the people crouched behind me. After breaking out into the ship from Ayala’s quarters, we traveled most of the distance in Jeffries tubes so that we’d be less likely to run into anyone. Now we’re as close to sickbay as possible, so we have to brave the open corridors. But there’s an absolute time limit, and it may have run out. The first time Ayala goes to his quarters, our capture is simply a matter of time.

“Ready.” Harry answers immediately, his voice carrying a confidence that his expression doesn’t fully support. Nicoletti nods, face grim and determined. She flexes her hands on the iron rod from the center of Baxter’s barbell, ready for action. The other three acknowledge in turn, armed with whatever makeshift weapons we could find.

“Okay, here goes.” I open the access hatch and advance quickly into the corridor. Harry and Nicoletti are seconds behind, flanking me in standard defensive positions. Fortunately, the area is deserted. We proceed slowly, checking the cross-corridors, then signal the others to join us. Together our small band of rebels moves toward sickbay.

The halls are deathly still, and Harry’s whisper seems to ring out in the silence. “There aren’t very many Maquis. It must take all of them to man the critical systems.” I nod in agreement, not wanting to tempt fate by speaking. Fate hates me enough without drawing its attention. We make it to sickbay without incident, and I’m starting to breathe a little easier. Maybe Harry’s right this time. Maybe everything will be okay.

We enter sickbay and quickly confirm that we’re alone. I gesture Mandy over and softly say, “Take Baytart over to the biobed and keep him occupied. I’ll get the Doc working on our cure and then come treat him.” She nods, short brown hair falling down into her eyes, and turns to shepherd Baytart in that direction.

“Computer, activate emergency medical hologram.” The Doc doesn’t appear immediately. I frown, feeling that unwelcome tingle again.

After a short pause, the computer calmly informs me, “Computer access from this location requires security clearance.” I look at Harry, who shrugs. I try to formulate a response, but apparently I take too long. “Access denied.”

“They must have placed a security lockout on all unguarded areas.” Harry’s voice carries no trace of disappointment or defeat. He thinks for a moment, then grins at me. “We should be able to activate his program manually through the holographic emitters. It’ll just take a little longer.”

We remove the access panel for the sickbay emitters and start working. Chapman and Nicoletti guard the door while we carefully bypass the security circuits and activate the independent power source for the sickbay emitter grid. Now we just have to bring each emitter online to access the Doctor’s program.

I glance over at Ensign Baytart, wishing I could spare the time needed to treat him. But retaking the ship is our first priority and activating the Doc is our best hope for doing that. Harry’s good with holo-technology, but I know the intricacies and peculiarities of the sickbay system. Baytart can wait a few more minutes.

“Just a few more emitters, and we should be finished.” I’m not sure whether Harry’s trying to encourage me or just talking to himself, but either way, it makes me smile.

But before we can reconnect the last few circuits, there’s a noise behind us. I turn to see Chapman lying on his back, blood pouring from his nose. Kenneth Dalby stands over him, phaser rifle already turned on Nicoletti. Marta Dvorak comes in immediately behind him, helping him secure the room. Dalby waves the butt of his rifle menacingly, and Nicoletti slowly puts down her weapon. Although a metal bar is no match for a phaser rifle, I can see the reluctance in her surrender.

And last of all, B'Elanna comes through the door, carrying another rifle and heading straight for us. Harry and I reach for our weapons, but we’re surrounded by the inner workings of the holo-emitters, and it takes too long. She grabs them and tosses them to Dvorak, who adds them to the pile.

She stands over us with her gun, looking down at me with distaste. “When the computer told us that someone attempted an unauthorized access in sickbay, I had a feeling it was you.” It’s my B'Elanna: same sexy leather outfit she was wearing when fate threw us together again, same familiar scowl. But her features are twisted with a malevolent leer so foreign to me that I barely recognize her.

She motions me up with the weapon. I stand to face her, wondering if my B'Elanna’s still buried inside. “B'Ela, I…”

“Don’t call me that!” Her rage is instant and absolute. She raises the rifle to hit me, and I instinctively shrink back. “You don’t ever get to call me that again!”

For a moment, we stay like that, neither of us moving. Her poised in rage, ready to strike. Hatred flashes from her eyes, but I meet it with love, hoping I can still reach her somehow. We study each other, and I can see the faint beginning of a smile. Her hatred fades a little, replaced with doubt. I smile back at her, trying to convey all the love I feel for her in my expression.

Then her mouth slowly curls into a sneer, and her eyes fill with hatred again. “I don’t think so, Paris.” She smiles, a cruel, sadistic smile, and continues, loud enough for everyone to hear. “I won’t fall for your prison whore routine this time.”

This provokes a sharp intake of breath from Mandy, and a low chuckle from Dalby. But I can’t form any response at all. Just sit there in shocked disbelief. She laughs, pleased by my silence, and then begins to pace angrily back and forth. She gestures with the gun as she talks, keeping her attention focused on me, despite her agitation.

“I don’t know how I fell for it the first time. You and your disgusting games, turning everything into a seduction. You never cared about anyone or anything. Just did whatever you needed to survive.” She pauses to study me. “Or whoever.” Even Harry gasps at this.

I close my eyes, trying to tell myself that this is not my B'Elanna. That something has been done to her. And trying to ignore the shocked expressions of the others. They all know. Everything I’ve done here, every way I’ve tried to make up for it. All for nothing.

Then her lips are on mine, her tongue forcing its way into my mouth. The sweet taste of her fills me; the scent of her in my nostrils overwhelms me. I open my eyes, but there’s still hatred in her eyes. I pull back, not wanting to play into her sadistic game.

But she holds me tight, her Klingon strength fueled by her fury. Her nails dig into the back of my neck, and I can feel a thin trail of blood trickling down under my collar. Her other hand moves brutally across my body, pinching my nipples through the fabric of my uniform, squeezing my penis and rubbing the fabric roughly along the shaft. And all the time, her tongue thrusting deeply into my mouth in a punishing rhythm that matches the movement of her hand on my cock.

Damn it, no! I will not be part of her fucking display! But her kiss is made even sweeter by the knowledge that I may never feel her touch again. I can feel my traitorous body responding to her touch, my penis lengthening and swelling in her cruel grasp. My breath is faster now, an aroused pant that fills me with anger.

Anger at myself, for being too fucking weak to resist her. At everyone in the room, for being a witness to my shame and degradation. At B'Elanna, for doing this to me. At whatever or whoever made her like this. At Janeway, for bringing me on this mission. Chakotay and the rest of the Maquis. My father. The bastards in New Zealand. At the whole fucking universe, for singling me out in the first place.

I bite down on her tongue, and my mouth fills with the coppery taste of her blood. Finally she releases me, glaring with unfathomable contempt. She wipes her mouth deliberately, then spits the blood at me. Spattering across the floor, soaking into the red of my uniform, until it’s stained with the darker mark of her betrayal.

She turns away, deathly still this time. And when she speaks, her voice is cold and hollow, so empty that it chills me to the bone. “You won’t tune me out this time. I won’t let you. I’ll use your filthy whore body to make you listen to every word, just like you used it to lure me in the first place.”

I hang on to my fury, using it to keep me standing, even as everything else begins to crumble. She keeps talking, wave after wave of vile hatred washing over me, ripping me apart from the inside out. I’m a failure to Starfleet, a murderer. A liar, that even my own father is ashamed to acknowledge. A soulless mercenary, prostituting my skills to the highest bidder. A convict and a whore. A traitor to the Maquis, buying my way out of prison with their freedom.

And the only defense I have against the oncoming flood is my rage. The only thing that she can’t take from me. That they can never take from me. I cling to it desperately, letting the anger fill me and sustain me. Until finally, all I can see is crimson. All I can hear is the sound of blood rushing in my ears. My rage gives me the strength to stand tall and keeps her words from touching me.

When she finally realizes that I’m immune to her words, she loses control completely. She rushes at me, her fist connecting with my face again and again. Blood pours down from my nose and split lip, drenching both of us. But she can do nothing to touch the madness boiling inside of me. She knees me viciously in the groin, then brings it up hard into my stomach as I double over. I fall to the ground, unable to ignore the pain.

Harry moves to intervene, unable to watch any longer. I hold out a hand to stop him, and command, “No.” Everything grinds to a halt, paralyzed by the force of my rage. Harry stops motionless. Even B'Elanna stops her attack. Everyone waiting on me. Waiting to see if they’ve broken me.

My breath rings out, harsh and ragged, in the sudden silence. I keep my eyes focused on the ground until I have my breathing under control. Until I can ignore the pain. I slowly roll onto my knees, then push myself up until I’m standing with my head held high. I watch her calmly, knowing that nothing she does can touch me now. I spit out a mouthful of blood, watching it mix with hers on the floor. The only part of us that can ever connect again. I cross my arms over my chest, watching disinterestedly to see how the curse fulfills itself this time. She turns away in defeat. I watch her back for a moment, savoring my victory. I have won.

Only then, do I look around at the others. Harry’s eyes are filled with a heart-wrenching sympathy that I don’t deserve. Chapman is staring at me with something akin to awe, his mouth hanging open in amazement. Nicoletti is unbearably sad, her beautiful features a portrait of despair. Mandy is furious, the freckles standing out against her pale skin in angry contrast. She’s ready to launch herself at B'Elanna, held in place only by the leveled phaser in Dvorak’s hand.

And Marta Dvorak, the statuesque blonde that I chased so many times. She watches me with pity. Marta, the coldly impersonal woman who feels nothing. She guards Cabral and Baytart, eyes filled with compassion and pity. Feels sorry for me. Poor, wretched Paris. His secrets exposed, his love turned against him. His heart shattered to pieces, and his dreams ripped away.

No, damn it. I’m a Starfleet officer. The son of an admiral, even if he is a heartless bastard. Strong enough to live through more shit than she’s ever imagined. I will not be fucking pitied.

“Throw them all in the brig. Next to their captain.” B'Elanna gestures with her rifle, and Dvorak and Dalby move to comply. “Get them out of my sight.” Dvorak motions Baytart toward the door. I think frantically, trying to think of a way to regain my dignity. He obeys, not quite sure what’s happening. Baytart.

“Wait.” The three Maquis turn back, surprised to hear me speak again. “Baytart needs medical treatment.” They look at me dumbfounded, amazed that I still have the audacity to make demands. “We’re already in sickbay. Let me at least treat him before you throw us all in the brig.”

B'Elanna is the first to recover from her shock. “I don’t think so.” She studies me suspiciously, speaking from the depths of her paranoia. “You’ll try something. You’ll…”

“I can do it.” She whirls to face Dvorak, who takes a deep breath and then continues steadily. “I’ve had experience with field medicine on my homeworld. I can treat him.” She glances quickly at me, and this time there’s grudging respect in her expression.

“Fine.” Marta immediately treats him, before B'Elanna can change her mind. B'Elanna watches me thoughtfully, pondering the best way to deal with my resistance. Harry stands by my side, ready to stand with me through whatever punishment I’ve brought upon myself. Dvorak herds the other rebels together, preparing them for the trip to the brig. Dalby advances on Harry and me, eager for any show of resistance.

“Wait.” B'Elanna’s harsh command forces Dalby to a temporary halt. “Leave those two here.” He looks back at her, clearly expecting an explanation before he complies. Apparently, the chain of command is not absolute in the Maquis. “We don’t want them infecting the other prisoners with their rebellious natures. Let’s treat them like the diseases they are.”

Dalby grins and levels his phaser rifle at me, ready to exterminate us immediately. B'Elanna continues before he can act. “Put them in the surgical bay. We’ll keep them from contaminating anyone else.” He lowers the gun, looking disappointed, and gestures us back into the bay. We comply immediately, not wanting to give him an excuse to fire, but he shoves us anyway.

Harry stumbles, but I catch him before he can fall to the ground. Together we turn to watch as B'Elanna activates a level ten forcefield around the surgical bay. She transfers all computer control for sickbay to the bridge, and then orders the others to proceed. They file out the door until only B'Elanna remains, still watching me with disgust and contempt.

Finally, she turns to follow the others, looking around sickbay one last time. Her gaze falls on the equipment scattered in front of the holographic controls. She examines the mess, then leans in to pull a part from the depths of the machinery. I can’t see what she’s removed, but from the vindictive smile on her face, I know that it’s something crucial to its operation. “I don’t know what good you thought it would do to access the Doctor, but you won’t have the chance now.”

She tosses the object in the air as she moves to the door, catching it and smoothly pocketing it. She turns back to examine me one last time, framed by the light from the corridor. “Have fun, Tom. I hope you appreciate the symmetry of this.” She laughs bitterly, a blasphemous shadow of her normal exuberance. “Back where you belong, yet again. In a jail cell.”

And then, she is gone.

My anger evaporates, leaving me with nothing. I collapse into the corner, abandoning all attempts to hide my desolation. The last hint of crimson seeps away, and all is black. The only thing that mattered. My wife, my love, my happiness. Ripped away from me. And I’m alone again. The inky void of space, without even the distant stars to keep me company. There’s no solace here, no chance for redemption. Only emptiness and darkness. I see nothing. Feel nothing. All sensation and emotion fade away, until nothing remains. And finally, I’m at peace. There’s no danger, no loss. Nothing is real, and so nothing can harm me. Drifting through the blackness without pain, without fear.

And yet, I am not alone. I can hear the sound of another, lost here with me. I can feel a familiar presence nearby, reaching for me. Calling out, promising a way out of the blackness. I follow his voice, like a trail of breadcrumbs or a fading warp signature. Leading me out of the void.

I focus on the sound of his voice, forcing the blackness back until I can make out his face. And I realize he’s crying. Tears fall unchecked from his dark eyes, clinging to his lashes, staining our uniforms. There’s no shame, no embarrassment for his tears. He cries, unselfconscious and unashamed. For me. And for what I have been through. Anguish and sorrow, with no hint of blame. I study him, trying to understand. How can he cry for me, when I can’t even cry for myself? I feel nothing, yet he weeps.

I can hear his voice now, but the words mean nothing to me. I feel his touch on my skin, his lips on my own, but it has no reality. I feel his tears on my face, and let them become my own. He will be my sorrow, my despair. He will bear what I cannot. I reach out for him. To feel everything that has been stolen from me. My fingertips trace the trail of tears upon his cheek, following their silken wetness. As if by following their path, I can understand the emotions that called them forth.

Only then, do his words reach me. “You can’t give up. Don’t leave me, Tom.” He takes my hand from his cheek and gently pulls it to his lips. “It will be alright. Somehow.” I can feel him trembling as he kisses my fingers, words almost lost through his desperate kiss. “Please come back.”

I study his eyes, and can see loneliness and fear through the veil of tears. “I’m here.” I draw him into my arms, and he clings tightly to me. As if afraid that I’ll recede away from him forever. I bring my arms up around him, returning his embrace. And as I gently move my hands across his back, soothing away his fear and sadness, I begin to feel my own misery. The numbness slowly fades, leaving a raw pain too intense to process. Which, just as gradually, eases into a manageable ache.

At last, he quiets, raising his head to look at me. And there’s no need for words. His eyes shine with tenderness and compassion, and I want to feel that through him as well. I bring my lips to meet his. Focusing on his touch. The warmth, the softness, the silken caress as he responds. And slowly, I can feel the responses of my own body. Sensation returns, and it’s almost too much to bear. Everything is oversensitive, the nerves too tender, the emotions too close to the surface.

He draws back, sensing my discomfort, and his absence is terrible. Everything swirls together, inseparable and impossibly intense. Love and anguish, joy and loss, arousal and despair. Inexorably bound together. And it’s too much to bear alone. I pull him back to me, and this time he comes willingly, unable to ignore my need. I press my lips against his hungrily, and he returns it. His solidity reassures me, my anchor. And keeps me from disappearing under the rush of returning emotions. I translate them through him, pressing what I feel against his lips, into the sensation of my hands on his body. And he matches every action, answering my intensity with his own. The pressure builds between us, an overwhelming ache of confusion and need, until it becomes passion as well.

When I bring my hand up to his face again, I do it deliberately. I run my fingers across his cheek and down under his jaw, feeling the excited flutter of his heartbeat under my fingertips. And his racing pulse tells me that I’m not alone. I lower my mouth to the movement, feeling his pulse with my tongue, and feel it accelerate in response. At the same time, I move my hands down his chest. Slowly and deliberately this time, lingering over his nipples until I can feel them harden slightly under the fabric. Feel the slight vibration of his throat under my lips, as he takes in a short, ragged breath.

Then my hands are at his waist, and I pull his shirt up enough to touch that silken skin. And at the touch of my hands, cold against his bare skin, he stiffens slightly and lets out a small groan. I lift my head to study his face, but his eyes are closed. I hesitate, wondering if it’s too late to stop this. Knowing that I shouldn’t be doing this to my best friend. That I shouldn’t be taking advantage of him, using him the way I was used.

But then his eyes open, and they’re dark with arousal, pupils dilated so wide that they seem completely black. In one rough movement, he quickly pulls his shirt over his head and reaches for me. And I know. Completely and instantly, even as he’s pulling my own shirt off. This isn’t like that. It’s not out of necessity, or fear, or loneliness. Not even from some creeping feeling of sympathy and self-loathing. This is genuine: friendship, desire, and acceptance. And… love? But before I can be afraid, his naked chest is against mine, and there is only the feel of his skin. Our mouths meet again, hands frantically exploring, and almost immediately meet against an obstacle. His hand, against my painfully swollen penis, separated by an annoying layer of cloth.

He chuckles, voice low with arousal and almost strangled with frustration as he awkwardly struggles with the rest of my clothes. Although the sound makes me almost delirious with desire, I manage to help him, clumsily stripping off the rest of my uniform, and then turn my attention to him. Once we’re both naked, he stops, sitting back slightly to watch me. Slowly devouring every millimeter of my body with his eyes, as if it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. I start to feel uncomfortable, wondering what he could possibly see, but before I can doubt myself, he’s on top of me. His sudden weight pushing me onto my back, the length of his body stretched out against me. Gloriously smooth skin, as soft as B'Elanna’s, but with a weight and firmness that negates the similarity. And almost as tall as I am, so that every centimeter of my body can feel his flesh, heavy and solid against me. Another groan, as my hardened penis presses against his own. My eyes fly open to meet his amused gaze, and I realize that the groan was mine. He moves against me, and we groan together this time.

And as he moves, he begins to work his way down my body with his mouth. Slowly licking a trail of wetness down my neck, sucking at the nub of my collarbone, flicking his tongue across my nipple. Although he knows how to use his lips and tongue, there’s a hesitancy to his movements that tells me this is probably the first time he’s used these techniques on a man. I feel like I should say something, not certain whether to reassure him or stop him, but I can’t say anything. I can’t bring myself to encourage him. Not here, not imprisoned again.

But I can’t make myself stop him either. It’s never been about sex before, only about survival. Yet I can’t even pretend that I don’t want it. I’m rock hard, and not from some physical response that I can’t control. From genuine, unadulterated desire. I look down, watching him with faint surprise. This is my best friend, for gods’ sake. Jet black hair, falling softly across my skin, tickling me as he kisses his way across my stomach. Soft golden skin, smooth as satin against me. Strong hands tenderly caressing me, not holding me down. Velvet tongue, not sharp teeth. And he wants me. Not to hurt me, or control me. But to…

And then he reaches my penis, takes it into his mouth, and I lose all thought. There’s nothing but the feel of his mouth. I close my eyes, letting the sensations overwhelm me. The last trace of doubt quickly fades away. This couldn’t be about anything more complicated than desire. Of all the things I was subjected to in New Zealand, no one ever tried to do this to me. That was about taking pleasure, not giving or receiving it.

And then he softly whispers something, lips still around me. The sudden change in vibration pushes me over the edge. “Harry!?” And I come, foolishly shouting his name, not really sure if it’s from arousal or disbelief. My best friend, loyal and true from the very beginning. The center of my world, when everything else had fallen to pieces. The best man at my wedding, barely a week ago. And now he’s giving me a blow job, and whispering what I think could only have been ‘I love you’?

Nothing as simple as desire, for either of us. I pull him close and just hold him tight against me. I can’t bear to look in his eyes, not wanting to cause him pain with all the mixed emotions he would read there, but I don’t want him to think I’m pulling away. I won’t let him doubt himself.

I try to think of something I can say, but nothing seems to be enough. To let him know that I don’t regret it. That it won’t ruin our friendship. That I think I’m glad it happened, and maybe it should’ve happened sooner. When we had time to do something about it. But that if we find someway to get Voyager back to normal, I’m still B'Elanna’s husband, and this can never happen again. I can’t even bring myself to reciprocate, not after all the shit I’ve been through in the last two days. Not here, in a jail cell. But I do care for him, more than maybe anyone else in the world, maybe as much as B'Ela. Maybe even love him? But it’s too late to find out now.

I close my eyes, and we stay like that for a long time, arms wrapped around each other. Holding each other in silence, until at last the sterile chill of sickbay forces us back into our clothes. Once we’ve separated, he watches me warily, seeming a little afraid of me. I sigh, wishing I could take away all his doubts and reassure him that everything’s going to be okay. But to be honest, I don’t know how this changes things. How can I find the words to reassure him, when I’m not even sure what I’m feeling? Words are for defense, anyway. For distancing. And he deserves better than that.

So instead, I gesture him into my arms. Together we settle down to sleep, both drained from the physical and emotional strain of the day. In a few moments, I can feel him breathing deep and even in my arms. ‘The sleep of the innocent,’ I think, but the thought suddenly doesn’t seem so amusing. I force myself to lie quietly, not wanting to disturb him, and ignore the turbulent thoughts that make me want to pace restlessly, until at last exhaustion overtakes me.

Continue to Chapter Eight