The Darkness in Lies
Summary: J/P, J/T, angst, Alternate Universe, Rated R. Post-Voyager. The effect a house has on Tom and Kathryn.
Disclaimer: Paramount's, plain and simple.
Positive feedback is appreciated.
By Daffnie (email@example.com)
It was spring, and we had moved into an old, 21st century house together after our wedding. Near an endless forest it sat with a vegetable garden on the east side and a flower garden on the west, both abandoned, wilting, dying. It had a porch that needed painting and a wood-plank swing on a tree limb in the front lawn. The house was white with blue shutters, and I kept the windows open during the day to invite the wind to come and flow through. It had a deep, hidden story to tell, this house did, and I caught glimpses of it when I woke up and saw the shimmering dust swirl in the morning sunlight, when I smelled the musky scent of the aged wood that made up our home, and when I listened to the chatter of birds and the creaking of the steps leading to the second floor. There was more to the story added everyday...a new story, profound, silent, and black. And the old one haunted the house at night, hiding in dark corners and the closed eyes of we, the sleeping. It was this that I feared most.
A man and his wife used to live here. They were simple, dignified people whose children had all grown up, and who denied the luxuries of the 24th century. The woman cooked all their meals on an ancient electric stove, they stored their food in a refrigerator (food in which they got from those gardens I haven't kept up), and they spent their evenings reading novels the world had long forgotten and conversing about the day's business. They led quiet lives, making friends with almost anyone and everyone they met, and rarely did they not have smiles on their faces.
Both were found by a neighbor, beheaded and hacked up in a pool of blood on the living room floor. No one has lived in the house since then. It has been over thirty years, and now, we're the new, daring owners.
We were informed of what had happened on that gruesome day, and we tried to put it out of our thoughts. We tried to live as if nothing had transpired here. The murderer was sent to a rehabilitation colony in New Zealand, and so there was no chance of him returning to repeat similar killings. I felt safe.
But it bothered Tom. He wouldn't admit to it, but I knew he thought about it every spare moment he was in the house. He had nightmares he'd never talk about. In his sleep, he would scream for help and sweat would cover his body and he'd violently toss and turn and rip the sheets off the bed. I would have to turn on a light for him to finally stop thrashing.
This got so bad that I had to confront him with it. I asked him about it every day, and every day he would ignore me.
That is, until he got annoyed and demanded that I stop. I wouldn't. Then a drastic change occurred in him. He started drinking, more and more frequently as time went on. He would leave at night, and when he came back days later, he smelled of alcohol and cheap perfume, and he would threaten me in his drunkenness. Tom became abusive. At first, it was just verbally. He'd call me a whore, saying I was being loose with other men when we both knew that wasn't true. He'd call me a bitch, saying I had no reason to be nasty and pushy with him. But then it got worse; he started to push me, hit me, throw things at me. Tom broke all my vases, a few of my favorite crystal glasses, and much of the china in his rage. I feared my life could be in danger because it had gotten way out of hand, and he no longer possessed any sort of self control. I went to contact my mother to see if I could stay at her house until he cooled down a bit, but I soon found myself thrown against a wall. I felt a rib and my right arm shatter on impact. I screamed in agony and sank to the floor, grasping my side with my left hand. The side of my face was bruised, as was my hope...
I didn't go out in public for weeks while my injuries healed. I was being violated, but I was afraid to leave, fearing it would enrage him even more. There was no telling what he might have done if I ran off. He would probably hunt me down and beat me senseless...
I found myself in the hospital a few weeks later with a black eye, a deep gash in my head and by my ear, and a severe concussion. I lied to the doctors and said I fell down the steps, when the truth was Tom swung a fire poker at my head, and the impact made me land on the corner of the coffee table, almost breaking my jaw. I went right back home after the wounds were regenerated because I tried to convince myself he still loved me and would stop the abuse. Not surprisingly, he didn't.
But I still tried to talk to him sensibly. He continued to deny any such things ever happened, but I knew better than to believe him. I witnessed them when they occurred. I saw the lie in his eyes, and I told him it was useless to say he didn't know what I was talking about. I said he should get therapy.
He blew up at me.
"What the hell do you think I am?" he screamed. "Don't you think I'd know if I was having nightmares or not?"
I stood back and winced at his tone.
"These have been haunting you almost every night for over a year now. I've seen the affect they've had on you."
He stared at me. My heart pounded.
"All right. Fine. I'll just give in so you'll leave me the hell alone, but I don't need any therapy. Those shrinks are full of shit."
"Tom, please don't talk like that."
"Damn it, I'm so sick of people telling me what I should or shouldn't do, and you're becoming one of those people, Kathryn."
He approached me, and I backed up.
"Don't do this," I pleaded. My voice shook.
He grabbed my wrists. I struggled to free myself, but he just held on tighter.
"Let go of me!" I watched as his expression went from angry to bitterly vehement. Now, instead of a lie, I saw pure rage flaming in his eyes.
He stared me like that for a few seconds, trying to intimidate me and doing a good job of it. Then he harshly shoved me away. I stumbled to the ground.
"Pushing me to my limits isn't a wise thing to do, Kathryn," he hissed. "You don't know what I'm capable of."
B'Elanna came to visit us the next day. I greeted her at the front door, and she seemed happy to see me after so long. I didn't exactly share the same excitement. I was terrified of her coming over...none of my friends or former crewmates had seen me in over a year. I purposely kept it that way, but now... Now, with B'Elanna here, it would be rude to turn her away. I asked her to come in and have a seat in the living room while I lamely excused myself to change my clothes, saying I was cold. B'Elanna looked at me strangely, but she didn't utter a word of objection or curiosity. Thankfully, it was in the middle of April, and the temperature permitted me to make such an excuse without it sounding outlandish.
So I quickly went up to my bedroom and changed into a long sleeve shirt and pants from my sun dress. Once I was satisfied that the bruises on my arms and legs were covered, I allowed myself to go back downstairs and sat across from her on the couch.
She stared at me, and I saw the question in her eyes. I was hoping desperately that she wouldn't ask, but I knew that would be wanting too much.
"So how are you doing?" she inquired quietly, calmly.
She paused, looking at me in disbelief, but then she simply asked, "How's Tom?"
"He's still adjusting to the move," I said, trying to keep my words to a minimum. "He also got a new job working as a piloting instructor...outside of Starfleet, of course." Tom was dishonorably discharged once we got Voyager home.
She glanced around the living room. Her gaze wandered from the china cabinet in the corner, to the phonograph in another, to the vintage paintings we had on the antique white walls.
"Those must have been hard to come by."
"Everything. How on Earth did you manage to get your hands on the paintings...and that phonograph? Those things are ancient."
"They're all from the 19th century. Tom has a friend whose aunt died, and he didn't know what do to with the stuff he received as an heir. He gave it to us because he knew we had to furnish and decorate this house. Gave us the chair you're sitting on and this couch, too."
"How long have you been living here now?"
"Let's see... About a year and three months, I believe."
"Do you like it?"
"For the most part."
"It seems like a major step down from what you were used to. Going from a lavish apartment in San Francisco to an old house in Indiana seems like you don't care about what kind of conditions you'll be faced with. Does this house even have a cooling system?"
"No, but it has heat."
Damn it, that was the wrong thing to say. And she caught my slip up.
"If you're so cold, why don't you just turn it on?"
"I...want to conserve energy."
I hung my head. I didn't want to look into her eyes because I knew what was coming.
"I saw those bruises on your arms," she said, nearly at a whisper.
I continued to stare at my hands.
"Care to tell me how they happened?"
I shook my head.
"Okay, then. I'll give you what I think happened." Thank God Tom was at work so he didn't hear this. "He's been beating you, hasn't he? He treats you like you're his play thing, and you're scared to do anything about it because that would mean you'd be risking your marriage or getting abused even more. Well, I'll tell you this, Kathryn. It's not worth it to have broken bones and a broken heart just so you'll keep him happy. You don't have to take that kind of shit from him. You can fight back."
I finally looked at her.
"But I love Tom. I can't just leave him like that."
"Sure you can. And why shouldn't you? All he's doing is slowly killing you and your self esteem. He degrades you, doesn't he?"
"Then leave! Don't let him fuck with you. You're worth more than that."
"Where would I go? He'd find me and this'll all start from the beginning again."
"You are welcomed to come live with me. Get away from this place. I'll keep you protected."
"I couldn't ask that from you."
"You don't have to. I'm offering it."
"You would honestly put your own life at risk to do this for me?"
"Hey, what are friends for?"
"B'Elanna..." I said, overwhelmed. "Thank you. You don't know how much this means to me."
"You're welcome. Now, go get your stuff packed. We'll have to leave today...and quickly. When will Tom be home?"
"Around 1900 hours."
"Good, then we have time. But just in case, you might want to hurry if for some reason he gets here early."
"Okay. Help me pack?"
We went up the stairs to the bedroom, and I threw some suitcases and duffel bags out from the closet onto the bed.
"Most of my clothes are in the tall dresser over by the window. I'll get what's left in the closet."
B'Elanna nodded and threw open the drawers. She quickly but neatly placed my belongings into one suitcase, and then another.
"How about your jewelry and brushes? Things like that?"
"Grab them, too."
When we finally had everything packed up, I had an idea. I grabbed some of Tom's most treasured items (like his archaic collection of baseball cards), went downstairs, and put them in the replicator to be recycled. Then, I replicated a pair of scissors and cut all the wires. I knew he could just have everything replaced, but it was the message I wanted to send that counted.
B'Elanna urged me to hurry, and we threw all the luggage into her hover car waiting outside. She went into the driver's seat while I jumped in the passenger's side.
"Where do you live, anyway?" I asked.
"In Nice, France, but we'll have to move into a new place. We'll go to my apartment, get my stuff, and see when the next transport to Luna is. From there, we can go to Risa or Bajor or where ever we can find a friend who can give a place to live."
After collecting most of B'Elanna's possessions, we headed to the nearest public transporter station. Thankfully, we only had to wait an hour until the next transport to Luna was made.
Once there, we were offered a ride from a good samaritan to haul all of our stuff to the house of a friend of B'Elanna's.
She rang the buzzer at the front door as I brought the rest of the luggage to the porch. The door slid open to reveal a beautiful woman with auburn hair who looked strangely familiar.
"B'Elanna!" she exclaimed. "It's so good to see you!"
They hugged, then Torres stepped back.
"Well, these aren't exactly the best times to be seeing each other again. I know it's been a long time since we've talked, but do you mind if we stay here a while?"
"Is that what brings you by? Don't you have anywhere else to live? I thought you had a place in Nice."
"I did, but something came up. I'll tell you more about it later. May we come in?"
"Of course. You and Kathryn are always welcomed here."
She knew my name?
"Excuse me, Miss, but do I know you? You look familiar..."
"Don't you recognize me? It's me, Naomi."
I laughed weakly. "I'm not a captain anymore. I gave up on Starfleet years ago when it lost its appeal. But it's good to reacquaint myself with you. And if you don't mind me asking...what happened to your forehead spikes?"
"I'll tell you all about it once you've settled yourselves here. Please, come in. I'll help you with your stuff."
"Thank you," I said.
After we had brought everything indoors, we had a seat in the living room. I was on the couch next to B'Elanna, and Naomi asked us if we wanted anything to drink. We both declined, so she sat down in a chair across from us.
"So for what reason did you two come here? You seem all worn out...like you just went from hell and back."
I smiled. "Well, you could say that."
I was still wearing my long sleeve shirt and pants, but it fit in better with the environment this time. After Luna was terraformed, the temperature was either really cold or really hot depending on where you were in accordance to the equator (since the moon had no tilt in its axis), if it was day or night, and whether it was in front of or behind the Earth. At that time, it was day, but Naomi lived several hundred miles from the equator so the temperature was that of Indiana in early winter...the only difference was that there was no snow since there was very little surface water on the moon.
"We came here for protection, but we won't be staying long. We can't."
"Protection from what?"
"Didn't you marry Tom Paris?"
"So you're running away? Why?"
"He became abusive," B'Elanna said. I was relieved...I didn't want to have to say that myself. It was difficult for me to accept my situation. I was running away from my home, risking everything, risking my life, with the only thing I had a definite future in was to begin a new existence. Thankfully, I had B'Elanna with me.
"He beat you?" Naomi asked with obvious astonishment.
I nodded and showed her my bruises.
"That doesn't seem like Tom."
"I know it doesn't. That's why I didn't want to leave him at first... I thought it was only a temporary thing, I thought he would change when he realized what he was doing to me. But apparently, he never saw the wrong in his actions, and he loved drinking more than he loved me. It took over him. I don't know who he is anymore. The Tom we knew is gone. Probably forever."
Naomi shook her head in disbelief. "Well, I'm glad I can offer you a place to stay. Anytime you need a retreat, you can come here. For as long as you need."
"Thank you, Naomi," I said. "You are doing us a huge favor."
Everyone was silent for a minute or so until I remembered what I had asked her earlier.
"So, why don't you have your spikes anymore? Forgive me if you don't want to talk about it, but I'm curious."
"Oh, it's fine with me. I don't mind talking about it. It started with when my father had an affair with another woman on Ktaria. He gave up waiting for word that Voyager had been found, so he assumed my mother would never be returning home. She was so heart broken and angry when she found out, and it made me sad to see her like that. I was angry at my father, too. So I had the spikes removed so I didn't have to be reminded of him anymore. I considered having all of my Ktarian genes replaced, but I decided against it. Genetic engineering terrifies me."
"Where is your mother now?"
"She's on Vulcan studying The Disciplines. Last time I talked with her, she was living with Tuvok. I don't share her enthusiasm for Vulcan studies or meditations, but if it makes her happy, then I'm all for it. Besides, I think she does it so she can forget about my father."
"I'm glad she's able to move on," I commented.
"And I'm glad you're doing the same, Kathryn. It must take a lot of courage to up and leave like you did. What convinced you to go?"
"B'Elanna did. She came over to talk to me, and I realized living there wasn't worth the pain. She offered for me to come live with her, but we have to find a new place. Tom will be looking for me."
"Do you know of any friends who might know where we could find a place to live?" B'Elanna asked.
"Well, I know of somewhere you could go. It's not exactly the most luxurious place to stay, but it should do."
"Great. Where is it?" I wondered.
"You mean a ship?" I asked. "I never considered that."
"Yeah, it'd be perfect for you. You could always be in a different place, you'd be hard to track, and you could go where ever you want."
"What kind of ship is it?"
"It's just something I got from a Ferengi dealer a few years ago. An old Maquis ship. I haven't used it a whole lot, so I wouldn't miss it very much. You're welcomed to take it. Otherwise, it would stay in orbit most of the time. At least you'd be able to do something with the ship."
"What did you use it for?"
"Oh, I went and visited my mother on Vulcan a few times. But I can get a transport to there from just about anywhere, so there's no need to worry about that," she said indifferently. "Are you sure you don't want anything to eat or drink?"
"We're fine, thanks," I said, hoping it was true for B'Elanna, too. When she didn't object, I added, "Anyway, how soon can we see the ship?"
"Whenever you'd like. You can go now if that's what you want."
"Good," Naomi said. "Now, about your personal belongings...you might want to get rid of those. Recycle them or something. They'll take up way too much space, and you can replicate anything you need, anyway. Besides, all they'll do is remind you of why you're here. Have a fresh start. You deserve it."
I went with B'Elanna and Naomi to take a look around our new ship, the Nova. Naomi gave us the grand tour, taking the time to point out all even the smallest of details. It had all the essentials; a small bridge, engine room, replicators, transporter and warp 8 capabilites, and two reasonably sized cabins. It also had some not-so-necessary bonuses such as personal lavatories and a recently installed weapons system that paralleled that of a Klingon warbird's. Naomi said she had it put in so she could defend herself if the need arose, and I had a feeling we might need it if Tom ever crossed our path.
Naomi was beamed back down to her house, leaving us to become further acquainted with our home.
"This ship's a beauty, isn't she?" Torres asked as we both walked into one of the cabins. I nodded, and then she said with a smile, "I call this room."
"That's fine with me."
"Now all it needs is a little décor here and there. I think I'll hang a bat'leth on the wall."