No Easy Answers by Ronda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom shrugged and looked away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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