Previous Part << >> Next Episode
27th - 31st May 2015
1st & 2nd June 2015
Her eyes appeared to be staring directly at him. The face frozen in a traumatised gaze. A sickening bruise covered her from cheek to her eye, the area around the eye bruised and swollen. A few strands of blonde hair had fallen in front of her, the rest dishevelled on the bed.
This time he couldn't shake the image away. No matter how much he squeezed his eyes shut or told his head to move, the image remained as if it was ingrained into it.
"James!" a voice just managed to penetrate. It was all it took to crack the aura of horror he was trapped in. One blink ended it. The face he had been seeing was gone, another took its place. At least this one wasn't looking at him. Her eyes were shut, the head facing towards the ceiling. Any injuries she may have had weren't visible.
It took him a few minutes to realise he was shaking horribly, and he couldn't tame it no matter how hard he tried.
"He locked me out of my own program. I can't get through the force field," he heard the Doctor say.
Then he heard footsteps approach behind him. "You don't want to do this. If it works you'll forever have the memories of what happened to the girl. If it doesn't, you could lose your mind. It's not worth it."
James took a step backwards. For the first time since he started he was able to turn his head away. As soon as he did everything clouding his thoughts started to clear up, as if a fog was lifting or being burned through by the warm sun. He barely remembered walking there, what he was thinking, what he was feeling. Now that it was clear he realised how ridiculous his plan will have appeared to everyone, and how much he would have worried them.
One moment of weakness was all it took to make him do something stupid. He was mad at himself, he thought he knew better now. "I'm sorry," was all James could manage to say as he turned around. The first thing he saw was his younger sister staring at him, concerned for what he may do.
The Doctor let out a relieved sigh as a single tap from him lowered the forcefield.
"It's okay, everyone understands," Lena said. "You didn't...?"
The Doctor hurried over to his patient, still holding his tricorder. "No, I was monitoring both of them the whole time. No sign of telepathy."
Lena approached as well, only she stopped in front of James and put a hand on his arm. "I told Jessie some rubbish about you going for some food. I forgot there's a replicator in your office. It's up to you what you tell her, I just thought you should know though."
James nodded gratefully, "thanks anyway."
"Maybe it's a good idea after all. A break I mean," Lena said.
"That's..." James stalled for a second. Lena looked worried he was about to argue with her. "A good idea."
Lena smiled out of relief. "We'll figure this out together. Me, you, Craig, Jess. Don't have a breakdown on us, okay?"
Ten minutes ago James would have brushed that off, like with everything else. Now though he understood why she, Jessie and even Craig were worried. It was obvious, how could he dismiss it so easily? He felt like he had a lot of grovelling to do.
"What are you having?" he asked.
"You're going to need more than two hands, I'll come with you," Lena smiled.
A short while later Craig had joined the three of them in the Security Office, looking dazed and exhausted. The sight of the food spread out on the small coffee table perked him up temporarily. "I'll come back later," he said.
"No," James said to stop him. "There's plenty."
Craig smiled, but not out of relief, he was happy to be included and grateful for a break. He crouched down next to the table to sit on the floor. While reaching for a half of a sandwich he said, "I couldn't narrow down the suspect list."
"It's okay. We haven't gotten anywhere either," Jessie said.
"I was thinking though that you may be right," Craig said directly towards James. He looked on in surprise. "The father didn't do it. It doesn't fit with what we know, doesn't explain the weird DNA since we already found his. He admitted the slap..."
Lena nodded. "Also, he was in Engineering at the time, wasn't he?"
Craig clicked his left fingers while his mouth was full. He quickly swallowed. "The big one I ignored. I just wanted the case wrapped up, the bad guy caught, so I could stop worrying about it."
"I get that," James said.
"The so called man thought a hair flick from a teenager was a cue to follow her around. We're looking for a spoilt brat, not a depressed dad," Jessie muttered just as she picked up a scotch egg.
Lena scoffed while she finished off a sausage roll. Craig smirked at her as a few crumbs escaped as a result. "Remind me to put me and Kiara up for a hair cut."
"How is she?" Craig asked.
"Shaken. I thought it would be better if she was away from it all, so I got Naomi and Bryan to invite her to the Holodeck. I want to help and she doesn't need to be here," Lena replied.
Jessie smiled, "they haven't hung out together since she left, right? Good idea."
"Really? Her and Naomi were close. I guess a lot's been going on," Lena mumbled. "Did I do the right thing? I don't want her to think I'm getting rid of her."
"Yeah you did. You're helping her friend out too. She'll appreciate that," Craig said.
Jessie reached over to take the PADD Craig had brought in with him. "I wonder why the DNA would get like that. Maybe we should focus on it."
Craig glanced at her thoughtfully. "Yeah, it's weird, not something we've seen before."
Lena turned her head towards James as the other two continued talking. "Why is it not the same?" she asked him. She got a half hearted hmm from him. "You said that before you ran off to Sickbay."
"Oh," James said, suddenly uncomfortable. "Just that Perla survived and we could ask her. That's all." The stare he received told him she didn't believe any of that. He let out a tired sigh. "Debbie... she, they said it was... The struggle killed her. But here, the struggle saved her from something worse."
"Hmm. He saw that he had gone too far then, you think?" Lena said. "Should've known that before he even knocked on the door, I say."
"Maybe. Or maybe he didn't want to be caught," James said quietly.
Lena lowered her head so all she could see was her lap and the sofa. "You and Craig have been up for twelve hours, working on this non stop." She looked up to catch his eye. "Maybe come back to it tomorrow."
James felt a little worried about doing that. He shook his head. "What if he tries again in that time?"
"You mean a new victim? No, doesn't fit with what we know. The word's out, everyone knows it could be dangerous right now. He won't," Lena said.
"She's right," Craig interrupted. "My brain's fried. Tomorrow morning after some sleep we'll have clearer heads. As long as our teams on duty are vigilant and everyone sticks together..."
"All right, you win," James said quickly, his hands raising up as if he was surrendering too.
Jessie smiled towards him, "history in the making everyone. James backs down. Somebody take a picture."
"Nah. First he needs to look like it. Pouting and arms folded in a huff," Lena giggled.
"So, I do an impression of you?" James teased her back.
Craig was taking a drink at the time, he nearly spat it out. Jessie was free to just laugh. Lena meanwhile looked a little too shocked to actually be.
"Me? You're the biggest sulker. All moan and no play makes James a very dull boy," she said.
James pointed at her face, "there, there's the lip."
Lena gave him a warning glare, all the while keeping her lips firmly shut. The other two giggled quietly to themselves. James gestured to her arm which was gradually moving up to rest against her stomach. She didn't notice until her other arm was moving over to cross it. Instead it swung forward to snatch the uneaten sandwich James was holding.
"You two are as bad as each other," Craig dared to say in between laughs.
Before James and Lena could possibly turn on him, Jessie came to his rescue. "Yes, that's why they have us to keep them sane, and sometimes bump their heads together to get them to pack it in."
"No, we're just playing around," Lena said with a light smirk. She briefly passed a narrowed eye look at her brother, which he mirrored back. "He's the one that can't take a joke sometimes."
"No, you just make it far too easy for me to rile you up," James sniggered.
"I'm not riled. What does that even mean?" Lena pretended to protest. "Jerk." The sandwich she stole went to her mouth, but it disappeared at the last second. She looked over just in time to see it eaten. With a gasp she reached over to give him a playful shove. Since it was her, it almost pushed him off the sofa.
Craig glanced towards Jessie who was still smirking, all the while still munching on a few crisps. "What you described was more parenty than er... wife and or friendy."
Jessie nodded, her smirk faded away, "you're not wrong. Don't chew with your mouth full." Craig laughed at the serious face she put on when she said that. It didn't last, a smirk escaped from it which turned into laughter.
Tom paced in front of his desk while Harry on the computer screen watched. The Lieutenant was deep in thought, his clenched fist rested under his chin. Harry waited patiently for him to stop.
"Is it..." Tom mused aloud. He stopped to point at the computer, "a spade."
Harry smirked. "Not even close."
"Then its got to be the heart, ten," Tom sighed sadly. He didn't dare look to check while Harry brought something from out of sight. Tom squinted a peek as a card appeared, covering up most of the screen. He groaned in disgust afterwards. "Oh man. I forgot about those damn Jokers."
"That's twenty for me, and..." Harry said, dragging out the and longer than normal while the Joker was put aside. Another card took the previous one's place. Tom snapped his fingers, a gloating look was already on his face. Then he had another look, he realised quickly that he misread it. Before it moved away he quickly tried to put on a neutral face. "Well?" Harry said.
"Hmm. Hit me," Tom said as plainly as he could.
Harry's eyes sparkled mischievously. "Sure." Another card took over. Tom tried not to groan as his gamble didn't pay off, he didn't want Harry to hear that either. "Ok fine. Call it, if you dare."
Harry chuckled. "If you insist." Tom waited anxiously, all he could hope for was that Harry was bluffing as well and they were both bust. Harry showed him the Joker from before, a nine and to his horror that elusive Ace he wanted. "Twenty one," was the sing song response he was expecting. Harry then looked at the four cards that were his, he couldn't help but laugh. "A Queen, a three, seven and a two. Congrats."
"Oh shut up, that Ace was mine," Tom grunted.
"Aren't you glad we introduced the suit rule?" Harry gloated. "Though I doubt I'd be daft enough to ask for another card after getting a double ten."
"No, hearts are half value," Tom argued.
"Oh is that why you bet after the seven of hearts?" Harry laughed. Tom was about to object but he then remembered he was right after all. He had to laugh at himself. "Diamonds are half."
"Wrong again. They're neutral. Don't worry, I'll write down your new rules next time," Harry teased.
Chakotay walked into the background, immediately getting a good laugh out of what he was seeing. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realise that you were spending time with your girlfriend. I'll see myself out."
Harry's face turned bright red. He quickly disappeared from the screen for a moment. Tom then saw him running into the background.
"Tira can't visit because of the lock down," he heard Harry protest, which was followed by Chakotay laughing some more. "She doesn't like cards. I mean, you didn't knock."
"Oh Harry. I thought I was the one being dumb," Tom groaned into his hand.
Chakotay appeared back on the screen but closer this time. "I hate to interrupt your strip poker... no actually I don't." Tom rolled his eyes. "But I thought you'd want to know that someone tried to beam through the Enterprise shields an hour ago."
That got Tom's attention. "Oh? Who?"
"Don't get too excited. I think he'd be the one beaten into a coma if he was the culprit," Chakotay replied.
"Witty. I assume that took you a good fifty nine minutes to come up with that gem," another familiar voice groaned.
Tom's good mood melted away. "Damien. Leave him to me." He then looked confused while Chakotay stared at him blankly. "Wait, he succeeded?"
"No. I just do a damn fine impression," Chakotay muttered as he disappeared off screen again.
Damien's voice snorted in disgust. "As if anyone could copy my greatness."
Harry walked back into Tom's sight while looking backwards. "I'm a genius. Everyone sucks but me. Oooh rabbits are cute. Mwahahaha. Drown me in yoghurts. How's that?"
Tom snorted but managed to stop himself from laughing right away. Harry smirked back at him.
"Oh Captain Mum... Janeway, I've finished cleaning your toilet for you. Want me to work it over with my own toothbrush? Wait, not now, I'm pretending to be Ensign Badass today, I'll screw things up my way. Oh Tom, you're so hot, lets make out," Damien said. Every sentence made Harry's blush get even redder. "Oooh cleaning the floors is so fun, can I get a promotion now? Holy crap a phaser, now I'm in Badass mode again. Eew a woman, get it away! No Chakotay, stop spanking me, I'm saving myself for Tom..."
"Ookay!" Tom quickly interrupted. He could only hear Chakotay laughing in the background. "Harry wins."
"Oh I don't know. Damien should at least get points for commitment," Chakotay's voice said.
Damien scoffed, "of course!"
Tom sighed, he could feel his own cheeks burning like Harry's. "Long winded points maybe. Leave him with me."
"But it's my office, we can't leave him here, he may do something," Harry protested. Chakotay's arm appeared on the screen to drag him away.
Damien walked onto the screen moments later. He looked deep in thought. "Now it feels like I should. It's only polite," he muttered.
"I'm just gonna get straight to the point," Tom said. "Did you attack a young girl last night?"
"Oh please. Like I'd do anything so... so boring," Damien grunted.
Tom's eyebrow twitched a little, "boring?"
"Girl gets bonked on the head? Please." Damien actually yawned to emphasise his point. "I'm much better than that."
"So why are you sneaking onto the Enterprise?" Tom questioned.
Damien chuckled deviously in his direction. "You couldn't begin to understand my subtle nuances that go into cooking up such schemes. If you did you'd quiver at my unadulterated horror."
"What?" Tom said.
"See," Damien sneered.
Tom shook his head, "no, I'm saying what cos that was a load of garbage with a few adjectives chucked in to look clever."
"Oh I suppose clever words would throw you off. You've been in Fifth Voyager for nearly fifteen years," Damien sniggered.
Tom's eyes shifted to one side then to the other. "So have you. Which explains the awful English."
"Yes, it does," Damien nodded.
"Oh never mind. You're just wasting time," Tom groaned.
"Seriously. You should be used to it by now," Damien said with a smirk.
Tom sighed into both of his hands. When he moved them he noticed Damien eyeing up the office like he was planning on decorating it. "I know you meant that as a fourth wall joke, but that made more sense when it was about you. Which is saying something."
"My rabbit statue would look great there with my poster," Damien muttered while staring at the back wall. He turned his head to scowl at him. "You're still here?"
"How come no one has put you in a coma?" Tom asked seriously.
Damien smiled, "perhaps because I'm the only smart one on this ship. Anyone dumb enough to attack someone like that isn't going to be as gifted as me."
Tom scoffed and was about to roll his eyes when a thought popped into his head. "Wait. They've eluded us so far, so where did you get dumb from? And don't say cos we're stupid too."
"I wasn't going to," Damien said, of course Tom didn't believe him. "I was going to say that I don't give a crap and I hope that whoever it is keeps up the good work." He turned his back on the Lieutenant, leaving him to silently berate himself for even bothering. "I suppose that's where the old fish tank was. I could put a rabbit hutch there instead."
Tom's hand slammed down on the computer to switch him off. He wasn't mad, the villain had given him an idea anyway. He hurried straight out the door.
Within the darkness all that could be seen were subtle shadows dancing from the left to the right, then they would appear on the left to do it again. All that they could hear was the sound of their own haggard breathing and the gentle humming of the electricity running under the floor.
A bright light flashed around the edges. It dimmed, the remaining light shone just in front of them. Shadows intruded what little light there was. Feet shaped. They stopped directly ahead.
"Where are you this time?" a man's voice groaned, frustrated.
Everything blurred, the light and the dark no longer were separate. The light was blinding, but it was the spinning ceiling that disoriented them.
Something struck their face. Not once, not twice, but so many times that they lost count. Each blow numbed the pain of the last, the new one more excruciating than before.
"Daddy?" a girl's voice trembled.
A shadow approached amongst the blur. It seemed to get darker as it did, until it was all they could see. It had a face.
It was Yutan's face. The view shook. He was shouting but no sound was coming from him. His eyes were wide and desperate.
One more shake and the face faded away, only to be replaced by a different one. This face appeared dark and unforgiving. Eyes filled with so much anger, cheeks were a brilliant red. His hair almost as dark as his eyes. Unlike the last face, he appeared to be crouching down instead of standing on even ground.
"It's your fault!" a different voice screamed. The lips didn't move to match it, and yet it came from the figure in front. "You've done nothing but bring us pain," the voice spoke as the face moved away like it was standing up. The shadow had a different form. It towered over them. Its leg raised and swung towards them.
"Dad, please. Please don't be mad," two voices spoke at once. One was the girl. The other belonged to a much younger child.
"You did this," the second man's voice said coldly.
They turned to run, the scenery ahead a deep imposing black. They were being chased.
"What are you doing?" the girl's voice stuttered out of nowhere.
Hands grabbed them by the waist. They fell.
"I just wanted," Yutan's voice stuttered.
Pain coursed through every part of their body. Through the darkness, they could make out something moving, closer and closer. Arms flew up to shield themselves.
"A son," the other man's voice snarled.
In unison Yutan's voice whispered, "my daughter."
The shadow leaned over, the face hidden within the darkness pushed up against theirs.
Flashes of images; a fist flying towards them, a foot hovering over the chest, a shadowed face obscured further by vicious tremors. Yutan's face emerged from the dark, his face shrouded by guilt.
As suddenly as he appeared, he was gone. A familiar room surrounded them. Their arms still shielded themselves. They could only just make out a figure in the corner. Something large flew towards them, rectangular, huge. The room got darker as it approached. They cringed and waited for it to land.
Before it could, a different room span around them. The last thing before the dark came again was rows of books. More flashes of images flooded their mind. Trees, a dark path drenched by rain, a metal bridge. It was dark once again.
The young girl's voice screamed in terror. A figure was approaching.
The other man's face appeared briefly in a flash, and then it became obscured by the darkness. Only it was still there, with only the outline visible.
"I didn't want to have to do this," a distorted voice said as the second man approached from nowhere.
Another image appeared. Trees swayed in the wind and rain, through a trembling gaze. The rain poured. In between brief gusts of wind, the only sounds were frightened sobs. The scenery disappeared in a thick fog, which immediately dissipated to show a destroyed quarters with books lying everywhere. A shadowed figure ran for the door.
"You made me."
The trees were back. Still shaking, the view moved to the right, showing a concrete path. The same shadowed figure ran down, away from them.
"Dad," the small child's voice cried in fear.
A small trickle of blood reached a book lying nearby.
"Help me," the girl's voice whispered.
Another face took over their view. Their familiar dark brown eyes stared deep into their soul, judging every part of them.
There was nothing but black. There was no movement to be seen, no sound to be heard.
"See this son, you did this," the second man's voice said. "I hope you live with this for a long time."
He forced his eyes open as far as they could only to be assaulted by further darkness, just not as crippling. He soon found himself trembling severely, his heart thumping so hard and fast he thought it would burst out of his chest. He was already sitting, bolt upright. His forehead drenched in sweat. Not just his forehead; his face, neck and even his hair as well.
His hands shakily lifted up in front of him. For a second he swore he saw something on them, dark and wet. The images he saw were still stuck in his head. He couldn't get rid of them.
Then he realised something else. His head thumped almost as hard as his heart. It felt like somebody had pushed a large knife through his temple, so large that it went straight through. His eyes even hurt as well. They were watering.
In the corner of his eye, he saw movement. He knew what it was but he still jumped as if he was in danger. He looked anyway. The person next to him was just rolling over in her sleep. He wondered how he managed not to disturb her so far.
James shook his head, instantly regretting it. Every bit of movement seemed to push at the pain in his head, as if his brain was wounded and moving with him, smacking into his skull.
He couldn't stay there any longer. He ran straight for the exit, barefoot and still in the clothes he slept in.
The Doctor was so deeply engrossed in his work at his desk, he missed the figure walk quickly by his office, only stopping for the console in the way. It was only the sound of it bleeping on contact that got his attention. Fearing the worst he leapt out of his chair to confront whoever was doing it.
He wasn't sure whether to be relieved or not when he discovered who it was.
"What are you doing now? You really should be getting some rest," he scolded.
The figure's head turned towards him. He wasn't expecting the wide eyed look of terror planted on his face, it startled him. He immediately noticed the subject was struggling to keep to normal breaths, he had also been sweating erratically. Whatever happened to him, it was obvious he needed his help first.
"You said there was no link," he heard while he picked up a nearby tricorder.
"What? You mean...? No there wasn't," the Doctor said, momentarily confused. He carefully approached the intruder, all the while opening the tricorder and raising the scanning device.
James stared at the only occupied biobed. He was shaking now. "Then what did I see?"
The Doctor was close enough to scan him. He thought it was best to start from the top, so he did. Seemingly he did not care about it, he let him. At this point the Doctor assumed that was why he was really here.
"Start from the beginning. What happened?" he asked.
Strangely that question appeared to calm him down. At the very least he stopped trembling. He shook his head slowly. "I went to bed. Everything was normal. I was fine."
Before he could explain any further the tricorder beeped at the Doctor furiously, he stared intensely at it. Worry soon grew. "Go on."
"It made no sense. I saw things, it was like a vision but..." James answered, but doing so was making him anxious again. "It was jumbled."
"From what you told me quite recently, that is common," the Doctor said calmly despite the readings he was getting. He didn't want to vocalise them just yet.
James appeared to be annoyed with himself, his fingers clenched against the console. "The images usually are but they have things in common, they're about the same thing. This was..." he stared ahead at nothing that the Doctor could see. "Multiple things, going on at once," he mumbled.
"Like what?" the Doctor asked.
James looked to him. At least his eyes were a little more normal than before. They were still wide and from what the Doctor could see, pained. "Like... I think the best way to describe it is a vision getting distracted by... er..." he groaned in frustration, a hand flew to his temple. "A memory."
"I see. So do they share a commonality at all?" the Doctor questioned.
James reflected some of the anger he was feeling towards him, his eyes focused on the tricorder. "You found something. Tell me. Please."
The Doctor sighed as he briefly looked down at the results. "How do I explain this?"
"Simply I guess," James sighed while cringing into his hand. "My head feels like someone's grabbing at it."
"Whatever part of the brain that allows you to use telepathy, it's... spiked," the Doctor said.
"Spiked?" James interrupted.
"You wanted simple. Not only that but it looks like its sending pulses to another part of your brain. I... it's..." the Doctor answered. James stared at him with a mixture of confusion and he assumed was agony. "I need to run some tests. Even I'm stumped as to how and why. Perhaps I somehow missed something that triggered it when you attempted to form a link with..."
James shook his head lightly to avoid further pain. "No, I didn't even start it. I wanted to but I couldn't focus. I still don't understand the problem."
"Neither do I to an extent. It's clear that whatever's done this has given you a massive dose of adrenaline. I can give you something to help you calm down, that should alleviate the other symptoms," the Doctor said.
James gave him a very brief nod. The Doctor walked over to the medicine tray to pick up a hypospray. Once he walked back over to him he noticed him staring at the other patient again. Even though he had permission he used that opportunity to inject the contents of the hypospray into his neck.
"They weren't even mine," James mumbled.
The Doctor frowned, "what wasn't?"
"At least, I don't remember them," James continued like he didn't ask anything. Then he noticed the Doctor staring quizzically at him. "The memories. Until now I didn't even remember them. Some could be, but the rest... I don't know."
"Once your body no longer feels like it's under attack, your mind should become clearer," the Doctor said.
"Except for the spike pulsing part," James said in the lightest tone he could.
The Doctor recognised he was trying to make himself feel better, he gave him an assuring nod. "Lie down. I'll run some tests," he said.
With the lights off, as well as most of the computers anybody walking into the lab would think no one was there. B'Elanna knew better. She walked further in while looking to her right, then to her left. That was where she spotted her husband, leaning on the lone computer station that was on. It barely generated any light so if she hadn't seen him she likely wouldn't have noticed immediately.
"Tom. You've been here for hours."
Tom smiled, usually it was him saying that to her. "I thought I had a lead."
"I know you care, but it's not your job. Why didn't you give your idea to Craig or James?" B'Elanna questioned.
"I was gonna if I got a head start on it," Tom said with a sigh at the end.
B'Elanna moved over to join him, all the while glancing at whatever he was doing. At first it just looked like a list of names. "I take it, it didn't work," she said as she watched him instead. He tapped two panels and something changed in the corner of her eye. Once she looked back one of the names was highlighted, information appeared underneath. She was still none of the wiser. "Weren't they doing something like this already?"
"Not exactly," Tom sighed again. With that out he straightened himself up to give his slightly aching back a rest. "Damien made me think that there are two types of criminals. The ones that brag and the ones that hide. Obviously this guy is a hider."
B'Elanna thought she understood so she looked at the list again. The crewmember he highlighted didn't seem to stand out in anyway. "You think that if a member of the crew did this, he'd cover his tracks."
"Generally on this ship if you try to keep a low profile, it does the opposite," Tom said mid yawn. "Draws attention. Oh, such and such didn't come to work today. Why? Lets find out. Such and such has been very quiet today. Or maybe the opposite, such and such offered to do extra hours. He doesn't usually, that's weird."
B'Elanna gave him a warm smile, then a nod. "I see. You're looking for anybody who's changed their routine."
Tom smirked at her despite his tired eyes. "Know anyone?"
B'Elanna laughed quietly, "perhaps." He mouthed a yeah to himself as he turned back to the computer. "I'm going to assume you haven't found anyone yet."
"So far everyone who was due a shift showed up, no one but our Security chiefs have volunteered extra hours. No reports of strange behaviour," Tom replied. "Well unless you count everyone's reaction to the crime. If I did everyone's a suspect, except Damien."
"So far?" B'Elanna said in an encouraging voice. Tom looked over to catch a smile. "Let me help you."
"One of us should be home to look after the kids," he said.
"If that's a hint then it's not necessary. I didn't just leave them on their own," B'Elanna said. Tom appeared very curious. "For one a Security pair were nearby, I asked them to keep an eye on our quarters for five minutes. I'm sure they won't mind another few hours." Tom blinked a few times, staring blankly. She ended up laughing at his face. "We can work on this at home. There's no need for you to do this here either."
"I know," Tom shrugged. The thought of home made him yawn again. "I didn't want to disturb anyone and I don't know what else to look for after I'm done. It's not worth wasting two people's time."
B'Elanna turned to the computer screen, she studied it for a few seconds. "Anybody off yesterday?"
"You mean supposed to be off?" Tom asked. "I guess so. I wouldn't know what to do with that though."
"Not yet no, but you might have new data to compare with in a couple of hours," B'Elanna answered.
Tom felt his eyes widen as much as they possibly could, which wasn't that much different to before. "Couple of... Is it really that time?" B'Elanna nodded. "Wow. Okay. I guess it can't hurt to take a few hour break."
"We're all going to need to have clear heads for this one. It's really easy to get too involved in cases like this," B'Elanna said warmly.
"What?" James blurted out.
The Doctor tried to ease his nerves by resting back in his chair, but he ended up leaning forward to crouch over the desk instead. He pointed at the information on the computer. To James it looked even more confusing than the DNA sequences Craig had to look at earlier.
"See here, this is a regular Human brain." He pointed at a different one. "This is yours. I've studied both you and Lena when your telepathic abilities surfaced, and I discovered that this..." Another point but to James he may as well have pointed at the ceiling for all that it mattered. "Is likely where they come from, so to speak."
"Come from?" James questioned blankly.
The Doctor shrugged casually, "you asked for simple."
James was in too much pain so he bit his tongue for the moment. "How does that explain, anything?"
"Ah. Here," the Doctor again pointed. He noticed James' frustration at that. "Would a diagram be more helpful?"
"No, I believe you. Just explain," James replied impatiently.
The Doctor was a little disappointed for some reason, he let out a sigh. "Okay. Your original task was to connect to the victim to uncover her memories. It seems that's what you did..." James was about to interrupt, the Doctor was determined not to let him. "But as I tried to warn you the patient is in a coma for a reason, her brain is damaged. Also as she's a different species to you there was always the risk of incompatibility too."
James managed to interrupt this time, "I didn't make the link. You backed me up there."
"Yes, but as I said before, Human telepathy is unheard of and as such, I'm still studying it. Perhaps I missed it," the Doctor said. Again he was about to interrupt "You reached in for her memories but as her brain was quite literally alien and damaged, it seems that yours may have overcompensated or maybe it related to her..."
"Wait," James said, overlapping him at the last few words. The Doctor stopped. "Are you saying I made things up to fill in gaps?"
"No. I'm saying that in trying to bring out a coma patient's memories, you inadvertently awoken your own. That's why the images were so jumbled," the Doctor said. He noticed James' eyebrow raise as if he was hinting at something. "They may have filled in the gaps, yes. There's no way to know."
"You said related," James said.
The Doctor nodded, "yes." He noticed the colour was draining from his cheeks, his eyes were also becoming distant. "What?"
"Does that mean that the father..." James stuttered quietly. He looked at him directly in a way that made the hologram a little nervous.
"You still haven't shared what happened," the Doctor pointed out.
James' head turned to the left, though his attention looked like it was miles away. "It's as you'd expect. She was beaten, she tried to hide, defend herself. I saw her father a lot."
"I see," the Doctor said. It didn't tell him anything new though. "What about you?"
James shook his head, the rest of his body seemed to do the same but lightly. He appeared to try to settle it before trying to answer. "I don't know. It was jumbled, remember?"
"Not so jumbled that you didn't recognise memories that weren't hers," the Doctor reminded him as gently as he could.
Despite that James was a little annoyed, "I also said I didn't remember having them myself."
The Doctor pressed on regardless, "but you knew they were likely yours. Why?"
James sighed to calm down, all it did was get rid of the shakes for the time being. "The last time I checked there were no trees on Voyager."
"No trees," the Doctor said while deep in thought.
"My father," James said reluctantly and very quietly. The Doctor quickly turned his attention back on him. He noticed James fidget quite a bit before he spoke. "I heard him, saw his face a few times."
"But those moments weren't familiar?" the Doctor said.
"No. As I said, a jumbled mess. I'd hear a girl's voice beg but see my dad at the same time," James answered almost in a whisper.
The Doctor was more than a bit curious, he turned his attention to the computer. It was quiet for a while as he worked on something James didn't understand. He took the time to think about the images some more. Now he was a tiny bit calmer he had the feeling something was missing, something important. That was pushed back in his head when one particular image came rushing back.
One more shake and the face faded away, only to be replaced by a different one. This face appeared dark and unforgiving. Eyes filled with so much anger, cheeks were a brilliant red. His hair almost as dark as his eyes.
His hands. They lunged forward not towards his face, but his throat. The hatred on the man's face bore into him as something tightened around his neck. He had to get away. His first instinct was to pull backwards.
The Doctor heard a loud clatter to the side of him, like something hard hit the wall. His head darted up to check what happened. He saw that James was on his feet now, the chair he had been using was now deeply imbedded in the wall. He was about to ask what happened when he saw James trembling severely, with his hands covering his throat, his eyes extremely wide with fear.
"What happened?" the Doctor asked while he hurried over to his side. He didn't get an answer, nothing changed. One hand carefully touched his arm while the other opened a tricorder. James' body jerked violently away from him when he did. The Doctor was unnerved by the look of fear that was directed at him. "James? It's okay."
"Doc..." he mumbled, he looked down at the hands at his now aching neck. He brought them away to stare at them. All the while the Doctor scanned him again.
"What did you see?" the Doctor asked.
James shook his head, "it felt real. What's happening to me?"
The Doctor sighed as he closed the tricorder. "The telepathic activity in your brain has spiked again. That's all that's changed."
"No. Telepathy doesn't do this. I was there, my dad was..." James stammered. He backed away slightly. "He was here, he tried to..." His right hand was at his throat again, which still ached. The Doctor finally noticed that and decided to scan it. "Did anything happen?"
"Apart from attacking my chair, no," the Doctor answered, gesturing his head towards the discarded seat. He hoped he'd see the funny side of his remark, distract him for a few seconds. He knew it was a long shot though. "There's nothing wrong with your throat. Is there any particular reason..."
James lowered his hand, "no, forget it." He folded his arms tightly, hoping that would stop some of his body from shaking anymore. It didn't help that his heart was thumping furiously again, he thought that the Doctor would probably hear it. "You said that the memories I've unlocked could be related to the victim's. Right?"
"Yes but now's not the time to be worrying about that. I think you should go home and get some rest," the Doctor said as he walked towards the main part of Sickbay. "I've got something that may help calm you further."
James' head shook, "no, no. It means something. I'll be right back." Before the Doctor could argue he ran out of the office and straight out of Sickbay. The Doctor was just left, half way towards the medicine tray, with an open jawed shocked expression on his face.
Two guards sat in front of the console, each of them slouched back in their chairs looking a little too comfortable. On the nearby screen was a picture of a Scrabble board, already with a lot of words planted on it. One of the guards tapped in something casually, which generated a new word onto the board. The other guard darted forward, instantly annoyed with it.
"No, no. That's not a word," he argued.
The other guard laughed towards him. "Yes it is, and you lose. I used your word, Z usage, slap bang on a red block. I'm already fifty points ahead. Tough luck."
"There's no Z in realise," the first guard groaned.
The second guard continued to laugh. "You really need to learn English, dude."
"You complained when I used a U on colour, we dipped on it, I won. You can't just go to American when you feel like it," the first guard said irritably.
"Real-eye-zzz, god," the second guard complained. He rolled his eyes, "you take the fun out of everything."
"I'm surprised you didn't leave out the last E," the first guard retorted with a smirk.
"Why would I, it was on the red block," the second guard snickered, wiping the smirk off the first guard's face. "Just admit it. You only wanted your way cos your words have more letters in it. We use Z, deal with it."
"I dealt with it when you forgot the U and E at the end of dialogue. It was you who complained about my spelling in the first place. Here," the first guard snapped. He reached forward to tap the screen. The other guard's word disappeared. The words English UK flashed on the screen. The second guard reached forward to undo it, not before the computer spat out an error for Player 2. "Oh look at that, you cheated."
"Nuh uh, you're gonna pay for that!" the second guard snapped. The two's hands clashed as they both attempted to fix the game to their liking.
"Try it and you're a dead man, Carlson," the first guard growled back.
They both missed the doors opening behind them. The figure who opened them walked in and stood staring at them. After a few seconds of pathetic hand slapping he uttered the words, "get out."
"Okay, okay, you can have it in English English," the second guard panicked before running for the door. Of course he had to run around the figure, and he made sure to give him an extremely wide berth.
The first guard's eyes were wide, his head shook erratically. He caught sight of the new arrival's angry eyes that were luckily not directed at him, but their only prisoner. It still freaked him out enough to run as well.
Once they were both gone the prisoner looked up to see what the bigger fuss was all about. He was surprised to find James staring at him from just behind the forcefield. Yutan felt a cold shudder travel through his body. It felt like he was staring straight through him, not at him. He didn't seem to blink either. His expression was stiff, almost frozen on the spot. He thought he was for a moment, until his hand moved to tap the panel next to the forcefield.
"What are you doing?" Yutan stuttered.
He didn't get an answer, at least not a vocal one anymore. James didn't break his stare towards him while his hand moved. Yutan was more than a little worried by now. He attempted to step back but there was nowhere for him to go. It wouldn't even give him a second breathing time.
The forcefield was down. Yutan had only two choices and neither of them were good. He could try to reason with him and hope for the best. Or make a break for it, which wouldn't be easy with the very little room he had. Luckily James wasn't in a hurry to do whatever he was going to do. He hadn't moved yet. Yutan thought he must be waiting for him to do something, likely his second choice. That decided it for him, he remained where he was.
"Whatever you've found now. It's wrong," Yutan said, immediately realising that wouldn't pacify him at all. The opposite in fact. "Please, you're a good person right? You risked your life for our people and you didn't have to. Rescuing refugees isn't in the Slayer job description."
Nothing changed, and right now Yutan wished that anything would happen at this point. The uncertainty was nerve wracking. He had no idea what he was dealing with, he only knew of his kind through legends he didn't even believe in before.
Yutan was just thinking of something new to say when James finally lunged for him. It happened so quickly, he barely had time to yelp. He hit the wall so hard it made the entire room spin. All of the air was slammed out of his lungs. It was painful to try to breathe it back in. The whole of his back ached, the pain spread to one of his legs. Any movement made it all the more worse.
Not that he could go very far. One of his attacker's hands had grabbed the front of his shirt so roughly it had scratched the skin as well. The other hand slammed into the wall right next to his head. He felt the wall tremble, he heard it vibrate through his entire body. His eyes dared to glide over to look, to his dismay the hand could no longer be seen. All he could see was the arm surrounded by torn metal. Yutan knew he definitely had to be more careful now that he knew.
"Please, I..." he found himself begging without even thinking it.
"You. You did it. She trusted you, you betrayed her," James said in a cold whisper. Yutan was wishing he was being silent again, it was far less creepy. Then the words hit him. His head shook.
"No. I mean I made a mistake yes, but not that. I'd never..." Yutan stuttered.
He saw it coming, not that it helped. The hand holding him straightened out and swung towards his face. His neck clicked and it stung horribly as his head was jerked violently to one side from the blow. His cheek and eye burned so much he couldn't open the eye again, tears managed to squeeze their way out of it.
"Was that your mistake?" James snapped, his voice was shaking. His hand swung at him again, this time it was clenched as it swiped across Yutan's face. He heard his jaw crack on impact, this hit made him lose his balance. "Or was it that?" He couldn't stop it, he stumbled sideways to the floor. His hand flew up to check where he was struck, but before he could that same arm was grabbed, and he was pulled up into a painful sitting position still with his arm stretched. From the strength of it he was surprised that it was still attached.
His attacker crouched down which gave his arm the tiniest bit of relief. The relief didn't last. He was forcibly turned and slammed sideways back into the wall. That was nothing compared to the screaming pain his arm was in as it twisted during this. He didn't have time to worry about it, there was a face within centimetres of his own, staring at him with such fury.
"What else did you do to her? What did she do that made you hate her so?" the whisper was back, only now that they were so close it may as well have been shouted. "You liked to mess around, did her existing get in the way? Was she not what you had in mind? Well?" his voice was raising, it made Yutan cringe. "Answer me!" that one was a shout, it rang in his ears.
"No," Yutan cried out. "I loved my daughter."
"Loved her?" that was said with a bitter laugh mixed in. "She ruined your life, didn't she?"
If that was said to him in any other circumstances he would show how much he was offended, but not this time. Doing so would get him killed. "Quite the opposite. She saved me." There was no reaction, something he was grateful for now. "I hate myself too. That slap... I'd help the Softmicron over and over again if it meant I could undo it." He noticed a flicker in the other man's posture, as he was holding him against the wall he felt it too. "I was scared of losing her, she's all I have. I didn't see what she was doing as a cry for attention, I saw it as her disappearing from my life. I reacted, I didn't think."
"You beat her over and over again," James said angrily.
"No!" Yutan tried to stop him. He was pulled forward and then slammed back into the wall for it. Everything span around him, his head felt suddenly heavier.
"She couldn't fight back, she trusted you. She was helpless!" James shouted at him. Yutan tried to shake his head, it just made him physically sick. He held still, hoping it would pass. He wanted to say something, but everytime he tried he felt his throat close up.
"All she wanted from you was it to stop," James stuttered. He shook his head and thankfully climbed up to his feet. The room was still spinning to Yutan, so he wasn't completely sure of that. "You didn't have to respect or love her. You don't even have to like me."
Yutan was thinking about how to respond in between painful breaths. Then he realised something odd about what he said. "Me?" was all he could say.
"You just had to stop," he heard James' voice crack.
His arm wouldn't move, all he could feel from it was pain. He told himself that it meant it was still attached at least. His other arm reached around to get a hold of it, then gently rest it across his lap. In the edge of his eye sight he noticed James just standing there, doing nothing. It hurt to do it but Yutan lifted his head. He felt a sudden rush of nausea, his throat tightened. He didn't dare move his head again.
"Why? I didn't do anything wrong," he heard James say so quietly he assumed he was thinking it, and his mouth mimed it.
Yutan could only watch and endure the pain that had been inflicted on him. The sense of dread and panic had long since faded, and so had the angry Slayer that had attacked him. If he didn't know any better, he would have thought that he had left and was replaced by a frightened child. As if on cue he heard the telltale signs of tears which were quickly pushed aside with a throat clear. Yutan attempted to bring his head up a little slower than last time. Now that he could see him better, he felt that his earlier impression was dead on.
The man before him now was completely different. His wide eyed look was no longer creepy and dangerous, they showed fear and vulnerability. Instead of that unnatural stillness he displayed earlier, he was shaking erratically. Yutan could see him mouthing words to himself which he couldn't make out.
Yutan was overwhelmed with sympathy which he didn't understand at all. Only a few minutes ago he had been beating him, Yutan feared for his life. He was clearly unhinged and could snap again like that at any time. What he had been saying though was nagging at him. He couldn't just leave it.
"You, weren't talking about my daughter were you?" he said slowly. As he expected he didn't get an answer, nothing changed. "You thought I abused my little girl. That I beat her and left. That her own father could hate her. Did that..." another wave of nausea put him off, this one made him a little dizzy. He took in a deep breath and out again. It kept that at bay for the time being. "Is that what happened to you?"
He didn't answer that either. However the muttering stopped. Yutan took that as an answer anyway. The sympathy for his attacker was rushing back, this time he couldn't stop it.
"I'm not your father, she's not you," he said firmly. "This isn't the same thing, at all."
"Isn't the same thing," he heard James whisper. His eyes had glazed over. He had heard that before. His eyes gravitated towards Yutan sitting on the floor, with the cracked wall supporting his back. Seeing his face brought it all back, the images he had seen, his face and voice. The anger was slowly building up again. "You hit her, she was crying, you ran."
"Help me," the girl's voice whispered.
"Yes, that is true," Yutan said shakily and full of regret.
James looked him in the eyes. They each noticed tears in the other's. "She begged for you to help her."
The sentence hit Yutan harder than James had so far, it made him gasp and his tears broke free. "I can just picture her. That brute hurting her while she cries for me. If I had not run away, maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I would have left just before as normal, but heard her and helped. I failed her."
He cried into his good hand, the thought of what he had said weighed heavily on his shoulders. James stared at him with a similar feeling building in his chest, he walked forward to kneel down in front of him. He expected him to flinch at least, maybe try to get away. James doubted he noticed he was there.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I know, that doesn't make up for it but..."
Yutan looked at him again. He gave him a slight nod. "I deserved it. It's fine."
"No," James disagreed, although some unknown part of him didn't. He tried his best to push that aside. "We... you couldn't have stopped it. You couldn't have known. I saw your face, my dad's face and I thought the worst. But I forgot there was another..."
Yutan wasn't sure what to make of that. He thought he understood what his problem was but everytime he said something, his current theory would go out the window. "What are you talking about?"
"One of... a Slayer's abilities is telepathy. I..." James said slowly. "I don't know how. I just did."
"What?" Yutan whispered.
"I just assumed that because my dad did that, you did," James continued, his attention seemed to drift away. "Someone else there. There was someone else there."
Yutan didn't even think about it, his good arm reached forward to grab his arm. "Who!?" he snapped.
The brief anger didn't last any longer than that. As soon as he grabbed his arm, James' eyes widened in a panic. He clambered backwards until the wall got in the way. He took in many sharp breaths, he was even trembling. Yutan stared after him, his own eyes wide in shock at his response.
"What's wrong with you?" he had to ask.
James looked at him. The panic he felt whittled away, he couldn't even tell himself why he did. He just shook his head. "I... don't know. Ever since the vision, I... I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know!?" a voice he didn't expect shouted at him.
James' head darted up at the source. Now standing in front, and towering over him, was a face he never thought he'd see again. That same dark face that haunted his dreams earlier. The same one that lunged for his throat.
"Dad?" he stuttered.
All he could focus on was the man's penetrating stare of anger and resentment. He didn't notice that the background had changed as well. They were no longer in the brig, but in a darkened bedroom. A window was behind him with the curtains hastily shut, allowing light from outside to narrowly squeeze through the crack in the middle.
The man snorted in disgust. He crouched down. James tried to get further back, but the wall continued to try and stop him.
"You trying to run away again?" the man said. His intense eyes drilled into his own. "Is that the kind of man you are? A coward. I didn't ruin my life to put up with a snivelling little waste of skin like you."
"No, I... I didn't mean to..." James heard himself say. He wasn't thinking it. The comment angered the man further.
"You..." he growled. His hand swung towards him so fast he didn't have time to avoid it. His cheek stung, he felt his eyes welling up and the fear in his chest about to burst. The view in front of him trembled violently. The slap didn't calm the other man down in the slightest, he seemed madder. "Little..." he swung again.
James heard himself scream and whimper as the hits kept coming. His arms flew up to cover his face but that didn't deter him. They only flew elsewhere. They got harder, the hand or hands were now clenched into fists. He felt them land all over his body. He heard the man shout at him through it all. Only one sentence was heard through all the pain and fear.
"It's your fault!"
He felt his arms shake, the hits had stopped too. James opened his eyes. He didn't even remember closing them. His arms were still in the way. He shakily moved one of them so he could see why. The man he feared so much was no longer there. Instead Yutan was sitting right in front of him with his hand on his other arm.
"Does this happen everytime you have a vision?" he asked in dismay.
James answered by timidly shaking his head. No, this was not normal, it wasn't like any of the ones he had before. He knew that from the moment he awoke from it.
The Doctor was once again locked in an intense gaze with his computer, he didn't notice his latest guest rush in and over to his desk. She stared at him expectantly for almost a minute, he still didn't notice her.
"Doc!" Jessie shouted at him, startling him once again.
"Oh Jessie. There's no need for that. You could give someone a heart attack doing things like that," he said.
Jessie stared at him blankly, then she shook her head. "I could program a heart for you and walk back in again."
The Doctor frowned at her so hard his forehead was covered in creases. "There's no need for that."
Jessie folded her arms, she focused one of her more deadly glares towards the hologram. "You woke me up, telling me about some emergency. I noticed James wasn't with me so..." Her hands gestured forward and both of her eyebrows shot up. "He's not here so I'm either wrong or he's escaped from you again."
The Doctor sighed, "the latter. It's still no reason to be so irritable with me."
"When you sit there ignoring me after scaring me like that, yes there is," Jessie grumbled.
"Oh," the Doctor said, finally understanding. "Maybe you should sit down."
"Just tell me what's going on," Jessie said irritably.
The Doctor leaned back in his chair while pulling a worried face. "How long have you got?"
Jessie groaned, she eventually sat down in the opposite seat. "I've got until breakfast. Three curious kids and a second morning in a row with a missing father. Also my babysitter probably wants to know as well, and if we take too long... You do the maths."
"Okay, okay," the Doctor mumbled. "Did he tell you about his attempt to retrieve memories from the victim?" Jessie's whiter face gave him his answer. Before another shouting match could begin he thought he should continue quickly. "Lena and I talked him out of it before he could begin, but it seems that it worked anyway. I'm still working on the how's."
"He's... he's seen the memories of a girl being beaten?" Jessie stammered.
The Doctor thought about dodging the question or lying but that wasn't the worst of it, and he didn't want to keep digging himself into a deeper hole. "Yes. However that's not all. He explained that the vision they showed themselves in, was mixed in with other images. Other memories."
"Like what?" Jessie asked, her voice low and dangerous.
"His own. Repressed memories I suspect as he claims they were new to him at the time," the Doctor answered. He noticed Jessie's eyes become a little shifty, her mouth moved as if she was mumbling. "The scan I did is very interesting. Whatever allows his brain to use telepathy seems to be connected closely to the pathways linked to memory. When he received the girl's, it appears the pathway was fired up and similar images from his own memory became intermixed with hers. It's fascinating."
"Fascinating?" Jessie said through near gritted teeth. The Doctor didn't notice the danger signs right away. "Interesting? Is that all you have to say about this whole thing?" The now raised voice gave him a clue he should be careful. "This kid was beaten almost to death. James not only saw the memories of that but he got repressed ones of his own, likely related to what happened to her? Fascinating is all you can spit out!?"
The Doctor began to stutter, fearing for his matrix, "yes, er no. I understand the implications of what I'm explaining to you. I just..."
"I'm sure you don't," Jessie muttered.
"Actually I do. I do have access to the crew's medical history after all," the Doctor said.
Jessie's eyes flashed with rage towards him. "What?" she whispered with menace.
"Uh... why is that such a surprise, or an outrage for that matter?" the Doctor asked. "I've always been well aware of the abuse he endured as a child, and I was certain you knew I did."
Jessie's resulting sigh sounded like a growl as she briefly looked over her shoulder. "If you know what James likely saw in his vision, then what's with the attitude?"
"I think it's important to remain calm. Someone should at least," the Doctor answered.
"Okay fine. Why did he run away? Why did you call me saying it was an emergency? Those things generally lead to not staying calm," Jessie questioned.
"I said it was urgent," the Doctor blurted out, and as he expected he got a glare for it. "I haven't figured out how to stabilise the neural pathways. He's still getting a misfire of memories. Or at least he did once while he was here."
Jessie leapt to her feet, her eyes widened. "What? And you let him run off!"
"You know as well as I do there's no such thing as letting James do anything. It's inevitable, like a sun rise," the Doctor muttered.
"Hilarious," Jessie growled. "I'll go find him." She turned to leave.
"Wait," the Doctor quickly said, stopping her. "I didn't call you here to do that. You need to know something before you confront him."
"There's more?" Jessie snapped.
The Doctor allowed himself a quick sigh. It didn't help at all. "Well two things yes. Firstly, when he experienced that memory he reacted as if it was happening."
Jessie walked over slowly to sit back down, her gaze seemed elsewhere. Finally her hand covered her face, he heard her groan into it. "God. That second thing better be the cure."
"No," the Doctor said, fearing the worst.
He expected Jessie to glare at him, but she just looked confused. "How can you not have a cure? It's obvious to me what the problem is and I'm not a walking computer."
He needed a better word than offended for what he was feeling after that. The Doctor tried to hide it. "Please, if it's obvious. Tell me," he obviously couldn't hide it.
"Duh, the chip Seska forced on him," Jessie groaned, rolling her eyes.
The earlier offense rolled off him, he ended up chuckling. He ignored Jessie's glare for the time being. "No, you misunderstand. This is completely different."
"No. Apart from how it happened, it's exactly the same," Jessie said.
"Should I explain it again?" the Doctor asked sincerely, but to Jessie he sounded patronising.
Jessie's eyes narrowed, "no, let me. Repressed memories resurfacing. Those memories happen while he's awake. They seem real to him and he reacts in kind. Hmm, I think we've done this before." The Doctor shook his head to her annoyance. "I can't believe you missed it. It does explain your attitude though."
"Secondly; I suggested that the memories he saw were related to the victim's. I assume from his reaction and the running off that he thinks the father was responsible. That got me thinking..." the Doctor explained.
"Oh, cos you haven't thought of it you gloss right over my idea. Fine," Jessie grumbled.
The Doctor decided to pretend he didn't hear her. "... That perhaps there was a deeper meaning to the vision."
"Like James did?" Jessie said, again rolling her eyes. "Do you have an original thought in your matrix?"
"No, I said deeper meaning. If the point was to just say your dad is like my dad, then there wouldn't be anything else. It also wouldn't be presented in such a jumbled fashion, disorienting him. I mean why didn't he see what happened directly; in the right order, the correct people and actions. Why the games?"
Jessie's anger fizzled away while she thought about it. Her head shook a little. "I guess, but she is a coma patient. Maybe she couldn't."
"Perhaps, but it still doesn't explain the tree imagery he described. Or the shadowed figure he kept seeing," the Doctor said. Jessie looked at him intently, he figured he finally had her on his side. "Since he saw his father in the vision, I thought I'd start with the files related to him."
"The shadowed guy was probably the attacker. She probably didn't know him, or see him," Jessie said. The Doctor shook his head. "How on earth are you going to find the answer in medical files from nearly thirty years ago?"
"It's a long shot I know, but... this is why I called you," the Doctor mumbled. He turned the computer around to show Jessie a screen full of text. "The only data I could find during the whole abuse was a collection of highly secured personal logs and one incident report from the school. That's it." Jessie's uncomfortable downward glance told him she expected that. It was the cue to continue. "The logs were written by a Doctor John Stuart, a psychiatrist of all things. I found from his file that he later married James' stepmother."
"Yes, it was one big mess. It doesn't help James or Perla," Jessie mumbled uncomfortably. The Doctor sensed her bad mood was coming back too.
"Through some digging I discovered Stuart lost his licence and as such was fired for this incident. He was tried as an accessory," the Doctor said in dismay. "He intentionally wiped the abuse under a rug, and worse still he pushed himself into the family. That's more than a mess."
"Doc, don't you think this is going too far? This has nothing to do with... anything!" Jessie snapped.
"Yes, I just have a low opinion of doctors who not only ignore the oath but abuse it for their own end," the Doctor muttered. He tried to shake his own anger off. "I only discovered that as I needed to read the logs he wrote to do the investigation. I think you need to read the first one."
Jessie stared at him with her mouth hanging open, her eyes silently judging him. She didn't stay silent for long. "No, I really don't. What the hell will that do!?"
"If I were you, I'd want to know this too," the Doctor said ominously. Jessie's stare didn't change. "If James is re-living some of this then it's important to know, so you can deal with him."
"No," Jessie said sternly as she rose to her feet again. "Months ago James had to go back into my past, before meeting him, and was witness to some traumatising stuff I wanted to forget. Even still he went out of his way to avoid learning things about me, stuff I never could tell even him. He respected that my past was too painful to share, and I'll do the same for him."
The Doctor dragged the computer over to face him again. "Stuart was to visit the Taylor house after a neighbour sent in a tip."
"No, shut up," Jessie growled. She reached over to shove the computer off the desk. The Doctor winced as he heard the screen crack when it hit the floor.
"The family had recently lost their daughter, two months earlier. The neighbour hadn't seen the mother, Susy, since then. Stuart thought he was to give some grief counselling, nothing more."
"Why are you doing this? I'm leaving!" Jessie shouted at him. She started to walk away.
The Doctor continued anyway, just in case. "Inside he found Susy Taylor sitting catatonic in her living room. No sign of the husband or the son." He noticed Jessie flinch and stop for a second. She was about to walk away again. "Not long after he tried to counsel her out of her state, he heard something from another room. He thought it would be either of the two. He went to investigate."
"You're sick, keep it to yourself," Jessie grumbled just as she reached the main door.
The Doctor had to be quick. He launched himself out of his chair to follow her. "The sound came from a kitchen cupboard, one of many left open. This one had been broken." Jessie was in the corridor by the time he got to that part, he stood near the doorway, unable to move further. "Inside he found a child." Jessie was about to touch the panel for the turbolift. "Covered in bruises, blood. Malnourished."
Jessie froze on the spot, her body started to shake. What he was saying had given her a picture of it in her mind. It made her sick.
"Stuart noticed he was holding something, food more than likely. He tried his best to coax the child out, but he was terrified of him. He eventually tried to pull him out, gently," the Doctor continued.
Jessie swung around to face him. The Doctor noticed tears were rolling down her cheeks. "Stop it. Just stop!"
"The child ran from him. When he went after him he heard him calling for his mother," the Doctor said. Jessie approached with what he assumed was vengeance on her mind. "Stuart found him trying to rouse his mother, only she didn't change. Stuart regrets that the sight made him so angry he forgot everything; his training, his oath. He told this poor woman while gesturing to the child, that he'd be taken away now if she didn't respond. To his surprise it did work."
"How does this help anyone? Doc, just..." Jessie stuttered.
"The mother begged him not to take the child away, despite his need for treatment. Stuart knew what was happening and yet he still agreed to treat him at the house," the Doctor said, disgust was in his voice. "The father returned. He warned them that if Stuart reported him that he'd make sure he'd lose his job. His job. That was Stuart's only motivation."
Jessie shook her head, her hand rushed up to wipe a few of the tears away. More kept coming though. "No. He'd have to leave to report it. Peter would have done something to him while he was gone. He probably didn't want to chance it."
"From his scans James suffered punches, maybe objects thrown at him, kicks..." the Doctor said. Jessie cringed, her eyes squeezed shut. "Every day for those two months. What Stuart did or didn't do would make no difference. He would have been attacked anyway. At least if he had reported it then that would have been only one more time. No, it took him starting school, over a year and a half later, for a proper report and medical to be added to his file. The man who ended up being his step father just stopped by every few days to treat his injuries, then went back to his day job afterwards."
"John was a good man. I think you're misreading it," Jessie said, closer to a whisper.
"His log said and I quote, if I do this, I could lose everything. Nothing will change. I have no choice," the Doctor said. "You can see it for yourself."
"No," Jessie cried, her hand covered her mouth. "James said he was like a father to him. It killed him when he turned on him a few years ago. How on earth will he take this?" Her head flew up to stare angrily at the hologram. "I can't keep this from him but I certainly can't tell him. Why, why did you tell me!?"
The Doctor looked on in sympathy, he didn't want to tell her but he had to. "I don't know how to treat him. It's likely he will go through this again. He needs you."
"Oh for god's sake!" Jessie growled. "Check the damn chip next time he's in Sickbay. I'll go tell him myself."
"It's not the chip," the Doctor said as calmly as he could. "The victim saw something in James that she could relate to. Her father didn't beat her, so it wasn't that. The logs could give me a clue as to what she found familiar." He ignored the scoff he got from Jessie, she was still crying as well. "That will lead us to her attacker."
"So after all that, the log you read has nothing to do with anything?" Jessie said.
"There was a detail in it that you must have missed. Though I suppose you may not know how it relates to the victim, so that makes sense. James or Craig may not have shared it with you," the Doctor said reluctantly.
The tears had stopped, but she was still shaking. Jessie stared at the Doctor intensely. "And what is that?"
"The Brig to er... Sickbay is it?" Yutan's voice rang over the comm.
The Doctor and Jessie both looked confused. The Doctor tapped his commbadge. "Yutan. How did you get a hold of a commbadge?"
"I'm with the Security Chief. Um... the Slayer one," Yutan's voice said.
Jessie gasped, "what, is he okay?"
"I don't think so," Yutan's voice said quietly. Jessie and the Doctor heard a quiet mumbling going on in the background. Jessie tensed up at the sound of it, the voice was familiar. "He keeps hallucinating. I think he needs help, quickly."
The Doctor was about to step through the Sickbay door when he remembered he couldn't. He hurried over to collect his emitter. Once he returned he noticed Jessie was way ahead of him, already at the turbolift.
"Wait for me!"
Fortunately she listened to him, but he doubted it had anything to do with him.
The smell wafting up from the cup in his hands was so strong, Craig thought that he wouldn't even need to drink it to stay awake. As soon as he reached the console he made an attempt anyway. The bitter taste hit him hard, it made him shudder.
"Ugh, how did Janeway drink this?" he said while putting it down.
The big screen was soon activated, the consoles in front of it woke up as well.
"Okay, lets..." he stalled for a long yawn. Once it was over he was mad at himself. "Really?" The cup was raised again. A few shudders later he attempted to start his work again. "Okay computer. Download the DNA scans from the Doctor's terminal."
The computer beeped in recognition. Seconds later the strange scan the Doctor showed him earlier appeared on the big screen. Craig thought it looked even worse than he remembered. Many more like it appeared in different windows, most of which overlapped the older ones.
"Okay. Nice and simple. Computer, search the database for anything that matches these scans," Craig said. "Logs, medical files, incident reports. Anything." The amount of noise the computer made afterwards made him doubt it worked and that he'd get an error message. Since he didn't get one he assumed it was searching after all.
"No problem," he said with a smile. Another yawn was coming, so he went to grab his coffee again. The computer beeping stopped him before he could sip it.
"No results found," the computer reported.
Craig cringed slightly, his shoulders slumped in disappointment. "I thought that'd be too easy. All right." With his spare hand he tapped on the console, bringing up a small touch screen keyboard. Quickly he typed in some words, which appeared in a list above the letters.
Assault. Teenager. Strange DNA. His head shook at that one. Inconclusive DNA test. "Not enough," he muttered. Garbled. Mismatched. Not possible. Broken. Glitched. Warped.
He ran out of ideas. It was a long enough list he thought. For now. "Computer, search for..." Another word popped into his head. He didn't want to even type it, but he had to. It took him twice as long to write out the four letter word than it did to do the whole list. "Computer search the database for any Security cases that contain any of these words."
The computer made the affirmative beeps again. Craig sipped on his bitter drink while he waited. The big screen had opened up a new window, a list was slowly growing on it.
The doors opened behind him, he briefly looked behind him to see who it was. All he got was a brief blurry figure. Whoever it was appeared to be walking toward him already.
"You have a nice swanky office on the Enterprise to take advantage of, you know," Tom's voice said.
Craig didn't let that stop him from sipping on his drink. Now that it wasn't as hot it seemed to be even more bitter somehow. "Astrometrics has a nicer screen."
Tom laughed as he stood by his side. "Yeah, bigger you mean. I get square eyes looking at the little computers for too long."
"Is this the excuse we're going with?" Craig asked him in a bemused tone. "I thought it would be more fourth wall-y somehow."
Tom smirked, his attention went to the list the computer was building. "It's certainly good for exposition. What is this?"
"A last resort I guess," Craig replied honestly. "That weird DNA the Doc found. I thought it may have happened before. If it did, they may know why."
"Oh good idea," Tom said. "My own search has come up with nothing. Whoever did this is either not a crewmember or they're a sociopath going about their lives as if nothing happened."
Craig pulled a face at him, but that was mostly because of the coffee in his mouth. Once it was gone it did fade a little. "Or they're lying somewhere with their leg on the neck, has three noses, and purple sparkly skin... cos that's what I imagine when I see these DNA results."
"Really? I thought just a blob of goo," Tom smirked.
"Search completed," the computer interrupted.
Craig and Tom glanced back at the screen, Craig's disappointment from before was back. That slow building list now had two hundred and three entries in it. "Looks like I'm gonna have to narrow it down a bit."
Tom leaned over to peek at the words he had entered into the search. He briefly looked up at the screen. "Lets open one and see why it came up."
Craig nodded. The list was also on the screen by his fingers, so he tapped on one randomly. "Assault, check. Broken... leg. Yep," Craig muttered.
"Oops. Maybe we can alter the search to exclude certain words," Tom suggested.
"Or it has to have any of the DNA entries, get rid of broken," Craig added on. "How do I..."
Tom reached over to do that for him. The list disappeared and then started to load again. While they waited Tom sneakily took Craig's drink to take a sip. Craig noticed by the time he was drinking it. "Oh, did you get that from Janeway's database or something?"
"No," Craig answered but he didn't sound sure.
"Search completed," the computer said.
This time the list they ended up with only had two entries. The two men looked relieved. Tom smiled at him, "shall we start from the top?"
"Why not?" Craig smiled back. He tapped the first one on the list and then looked up, expecting it to appear on the big screen. All they both got was an Access Denied message. Both smiles were wiped from their faces. "What the hell?"
"Lets try the other one," Tom tried to sound optimistic. He reached over to the second one. They got the same message for that one too. "Well, who saw that one coming?"
Two Security officers stood by the door, each keeping a close eye on the original patient's biobed. Yutan stood next to it, holding his daughter's hand tightly to his chest. The Doctor gave him a nod before walking away for him. His next destination was the only other occupied biobed, who's patient was merely sitting on it.
"Is that really necessary?" Jessie asked, gesturing to the guards.
"He still admitted to attacking her before that happened," the Doctor said.
Jessie passed him a cold stare briefly. She got rid of it before looking to James, who she noticed was staring towards the ground. "James?" she said softly.
"Is he okay?" he asked in a mumble.
The Doctor sighed and nodded. "Yes. He did have a concussion, which is child's play for me at this point."
"Even though he's an Erayan," Jessie said plainly.
"The symptoms and treatment are the same," the Doctor said just as plainly.
James slowly looked up to glance between them. "What's going on?"
"Oh, I was just surprised that the Doc still knows how to do his job. There must be room for the nosey wannabe detective subroutine, in between the singing like a prat and being rude ones, huh?" Jessie replied in a harsh tone.
"Yes, I had lots of room after I deleted the put up with Jessie complaining one," the Doctor said with a patronising smile on his face.
Jessie glared at him, he just continued to smile back. James looked between them a few times before giving up and looking back at the floor.
"I'm sorry," Jessie said, directed towards James. "The Doctor pissing me off shouldn't be getting in the way. How are you feeling now?"
"Headache's gone, I feel a bit calmer," James replied.
The Doctor's smile became a little nicer than the one he had before. "Yes, as usual I have to give you a stronger dose than anyone else."
"I'm sorry?" James said, his eyebrow raised. Jessie just shook her head.
"If you want to apologise for something, apologise for running out of here before I could do it," the Doctor said.
"No, I'm just sorry for what I did to Yutan. I dunno what came over me," James said.
Jessie smiled sympathetically. "It's okay, I think he understood you weren't well. It's obviously one of the symptoms of what's going on," she said, directing a told you so look at the Doctor.
"It's not the chip," he grunted.
James frowned at the Doctor. "The chip? Now that you mention it, it sure sounds it."
"It's not," the Doctor groaned. "Now, I recommend you remain in Sickbay until I can cure you permanently. I'll need to administer further doses to keep you like this." He walked away before anyone could argue.
Jessie scoffed and turned to James again. "He said it was activated the last time because he treated a head injury, not noticing it was there. I think he just forgot about it, accidentally activated it and he doesn't wanna admit it."
James smiled weakly, "yeah, maybe after the fight with the warlock."
Jessie reached forward to grab one of his hands. "I'll have to relieve the babysitter, but I'll come back once the kids are at nursery. Half an hour at most."
"Don't worry Jess, the kids are more important than me. Take your time," James said.
"I won't be that long," Jessie said.
James shook his head, "it's okay, I'm fine. As long as I don't think about it and the Doc remembers the drugs, I'm fine."
The doors opened. Craig hurried through them. The Doctor was the first to spot him, he walked quickly over to stand in front of him.
"Oh hey Doc, I'm just here to ask James something. Found anything?" Craig said.
The Doctor shook his head, "I'm afraid he's not well. You'll have to continue the case on your own."
"Oh," Craig looked worried. "Ok, er... tell him if he's up to it I may need his experti..."
"No, no. He's definitely not up to killing anything. What about Lena?" the Doctor said quickly.
Craig blinked a few times. "I said expertise. You know, hacking."
By this time James and Jessie had noticed him and were looking over.
"I'll tell him, but he's not allowed out until I say so," the Doctor said.
Jessie walked over with a curious look on her face. "Why do you need him so badly?"
"Sorry Jess, I just need some possibly related files unclassified, you know," Craig said, feeling a little guilty. "It's fine. Maybe Chakotay still has clearance. Tom's still trying, you never know. Excuse me." He rushed out faster than he came in.
"Classified files?" James said. The Doctor and Jessie glanced in his direction, the Doctor had a stern look on his face while doing so. "Maybe I could use your computer Doc..."
Jessie's eyebrow flickered up as the Doctor stuttered nervously, "ohno, I'm running a few things of my own on it. I'll need it... once it's fixed." Jessie looked a little nervous after he said that.
"Er, okay?" James said, his own eyebrow raised. "I could use the console I suppose, I just assumed that was the one that was being used."
"It is. It's running various DNA tests," the Doctor sighed.
Jessie rolled her eyes, then she turned back to James. "The reason the Doc's being evasive and weird is because he's been snooping on your personnel file."
"Really?" the Doctor groaned.
"Why?" James asked. Jessie was surprised he wasn't mad, at all. She tried to ignore it for now.
"It's hardly snooping when I have a patient having flashbacks and reacting to them. I need to know what to expect," the Doctor said.
Jessie stared at him with a disgusted expression that was only ever used when Annika was around. She glanced briefly at James to see if he was reacting the same. Her jaw dropped when she noticed he was just nodding like he agreed.
"Classified files don't just need a password, they need visual and audio proof from the person who owns the password," he said. "It was much easier to mess around with the system itself than try to trick it."
"Great, but you're still not leaving," the Doctor said.
Jessie rolled her eyes in his direction, then looked back at James. "I assume you have a point that shouldn't be rudely interrupted?"
"Um, yeah. I have a little program I made for things like this. It was definitely handy when mum put a Captain's only password on the replicator database," James said, smirking a little. "Took only a few seconds to delete the coffee."
Jessie smiled, then laughed at the memory. "Oh yeah. Those two days were funny."
James cleared his throat nervously, "yeah, I only did that once."
Jessie looked at him suspiciously, but she was still smiling while doing so. The Doctor meanwhile sighed, "that's nice but there's no way you can do that here."
"I know. I can tell Jessie where it is though," James said. He gestured his hand for her to get closer. He noticed the Doctor's eyebrow raise. "I don't want anyone else using it."
Jessie leaned in close so he could whisper a few words into her ear. She nodded. "Okay. It's easy for me to use, right?"
"Oh yeah, you just tell it to link to whatever you're trying to get into. Once it does that, you should be able to type in any old password," James answered.
"Okay, once I've done that I'll come right back here," Jessie said while nodding. She gave his cheek a kiss before she pulled away. "Take it easy. Okay?" He gave her an assuring nod and smile. It helped give her the push she needed to leave him alone with the Doctor.
Both of them watched her hurry out the door. The Doctor immediately gestured for him to lie down, which was met with a blank stare. "Fine," he groaned. James stared after him as he walked away, his eyes only narrowing when his back was on him.
Tom groaned in frustration as his latest password threw out another denied error. Not only that but it once again told him he had to wait five minutes before trying again.
"We're so close," Craig sighed.
"I know. I'm only the Commander of this ship, I don't have the clearance real Captains do," Tom groaned. He rubbed his hands across his face, hoping that would wake him up or calm him down. "I have one left. It's the one I was given to bypass the Security system we used at the beginning of the mission. I doubt it'll help us unlock highly classified victim reports."
Craig slowly looked back at the list they couldn't get access to. "I wonder why." Tom only grunted in response. "Why would any files detailing an attack or murder be classified to even Security officers?"
"I dunno. Usually it's high profile cases, or something that presents a larger risk to Starfleet," Tom groaned. "I'd usually be able to see those though. I have a feeling this is for Admiral eyes only."
"Right," Craig nodded, then he frowned. "Wait, what? We're talking about two assault cases. Unless there's an awful cover up involving a psychotic Admiral, or alien diplomat I guess, then we know the real reason this is classified."
Tom and him shared a knowing look. Tom weakly smiled. "Sounds like we're on the same page here." The computer beeped at him. "Oh, last chance time." He leaned over the console to try to press on one of the files. Once again it asked for clearance. He typed an overly long password into it.
"Specify name, rank and authorisation code," the computer responded.
Tom looked hopeful, Craig however was just confused. "You already put in a code," he whispered.
"Tom Paris, Lieutenant Commander. Gamma 742," Tom said.
They waited with their breaths held. Finally the computer responded positively. The two men sighed in relief. "Limited access authorised," it said, killing their relief almost instantly.
"Better than nothing I guess," Tom smiled at Craig. "That one was just for the anti-demonic boarding procedure. I wasn't to use it for anything else. Interesting how it has more jurisdiction than my own command codes."
"Hmm yeah," Craig said with suspicion tainting his voice.
The pair looked towards the big screen as one of the files they had tried to access was opening. They were a little disappointed at how little information there was. It took them just under a minute to read it all.
"Gee, look at that. It was a while ago," Tom said.
"2338, over forty years," Craig sighed. "None of this information tells us why it came up on our search."
Tom decided to read it all again to make sure. "It says the DNA tests on the victim were inconclusive." Craig looked a little embarrassed, he reached for his now cold coffee to finish it off. "It took them another nine months to get a lead. It would be nice if they told us how, we can't afford to wait that long."
Craig spotted something under the part that Tom would have just read. He tapped on the same part displayed on the station. Tom was about to object when a new window opened with the header Arrest Conditions. Most of the text appeared to be missing, as if it was deleted purposively to hide certain points. The two quickly scanned through it.
Tom started to read it aloud as he neared the end, he didn't even know he was doing it. "It has been decided that the prisoner should be allocated immediately from the high security cells to the psyche ward, as soon as she is able. Further analysis to be completed on a tri-monthly basis. Oh god."
Craig felt disgusted after reading all of that. "What about the last part?"
The doors opened. Jessie walked through them, immediately noticing the data on the screen.
Tom nodded. "Yeah, all of it is messed up. And that's the stuff that isn't classified. It's certainly not what I expected. It doesn't sound demony or Game Cube-y at all."
"So you got it open?" Jessie questioned as she approached, startling the two men.
"We did, kind of," Craig replied. Jessie stood beside him, staring quizzically in his direction. "It's limited. A lot of it is hidden."
Jessie looked up to read what they had just read, her face got more and more disgusted the further she went. "Hang on. The attacker here was an eighteen year old pregnant girl?"
Tom cringed, "um, that's not the worst part."
"Uh huh. Claims memory loss during the incident, examiners thinks she's nuts," Jessie mumbled as she read. "She gave birth in the prison's medical bay?"
Craig pressed one panel to turn that window off. The earlier one was brought back into focus. "The kid was put up for adoption while mummy was sent to a loony bin. Nobody won in this case."
Jessie briefly glanced at him, then Tom. The latter noticed the colour in her cheeks started to fade, her eyes glazed over. "Jess?" he said in concern.
She shook her head, "I'm fine. I'll just set up the hack James gave me. That should let us get everything." Tom watched her walk over to the far side of the station they stood at.
"Okay, I've been creeped out enough with this one. Lets have a quick look at the other," Craig said.
"No kidding. What possesses a teenaged girl to attack a twelve year old boy, like that? It's... eugh, forget it," Tom muttered. He gestured for Craig to hurry it up.
Craig quickly got rid of the file completely to bring up the list. He and Tom missed Jessie look back over her shoulder, her eyes widened. Craig tapped the second file and waited for it to open. When it did he and Tom were disappointed to find this one had even less information than the previous one.
"Is that it?" Tom groaned. "Fourteen year old girl attacked..." he winced, regretting his complaint. "And murdered. Suspects; none. A date. That's it?"
"This one won't be as much help to us," Craig said.
"Maybe it will if Jess can get in," Tom sighed. He read it again, "if they didn't catch him or her, I suppose it doesn't help. Maybe we should concentrate on the one that was solved." One detail got his attention. "Wait. The dates. They're not even close."
Craig looked as well. "2352, July 2nd. No kidding."
Jessie swung around in a blind panic, her face was a deadly shade of white now. "What did you say?"
Craig and Tom both jumped at her outburst and turned to her. Craig stammered a little, "uh, the date of the murder."
"No, what date...?" Jessie stuttered but she didn't wait for the answer. She looked up at the big screen to see for herself.
"Jessie?" Tom said carefully, then he noticed her shaking. "What's the matter?"
"The... the program just needs to be told where to... um, go, work rather..." Jessie stuttered, her hand meekly pointed at where she worked. "I gotta go." Before the two could argue, Jessie ran for the door.
Tom and Craig stared at each other. "What was that about?" Tom asked.
The door chime rang over and over, sometimes mercilessly and without pause. The occupant of the room continued to ignore it, or treat it as mere background noise. It didn't work so well, whoever was ringing wasn't giving up anytime soon. One command turned the music he was listening to up a few levels, and again until it was drowned out completely. He closed his eyes and hoped they'd get the hint.
Darkness had taken over the room. He had even managed to get the dim lights on the windows off. Once again his eyelids vibrated as they tried to close, which he didn't want. They tried again. He climbed up onto his feet to throw some more cold water in his face.
No sleep. Not now, not ever.
Before he could reach the bathroom door, the one leading to the corridor burst open. The light from the corridor burned his eyes, his first instinct was to squint. Thankfully the light didn't stay there for long. The door shut after somebody waltsed through them. Whoever it was, was just a blur to him what with the sudden light and the darkness cloaking them.
"What is this?" a familiar voice said shakily. It filled him with dread. She was the last person he wanted to talk to. "Why are you moping around in the dark?"
"Please Jessie. Not now," he said as forcibly as he could, but it just sounded self pitying.
He heard a brief sigh, her shadow moved forward. "You didn't report to duty today."
"It's my day off," he muttered while continuing for the bathroom. He braced himself for the small light he left on in there. It still stung his vision.
"That was yesterday," Jessie said.
Once his hands were full he brought them forward towards his face. The icy cool water splashed his face, aching it for a short moment. It did the trick for the time being, his eyes were far more alert. He noticed the music volume had been lowered, so he heard footsteps approach.
"This isn't like you," Jessie quietly said.
He wanted her gone. He wanted to be alone. Knowing Jessie, he knew it wouldn't be easy to do. "What, not being well? I should be alone."
"The Doctor's a bit grumpier lately but he'll still treat you," Jessie said.
The faint light was starting to make his eyes heavy again. He turned around to go back into the dark living room. However Jessie was standing in the door frame. She seemed a little shocked once they were facing each other.
"Jess, don't you have better things to do? I just need some rest. That's all I need," he said.
Jessie had trouble shaking off the image of him. He had no idea what he looked like himself, he didn't dare look into the mirror. Since he hadn't slept he assumed he looked how he felt. All the more reason to get the both of them back into the dark room. He tried to push his way through, half expecting her to stand her ground as she normally would. Instead she did move at the last second.
"Your face," she said once he was back into his hiding place.
He saw an opportunity to reassure her and to get her to leave. He tried his best to use his normal carefree voice to speak, "yes, it's still ruggedly handsome. A bit weird that you'd comment on it though."
Jessie remained at the door so he could still see her well enough. She didn't look fooled, she looked annoyed. "Did somebody attack you?"
The ache in his face shot back suddenly, his hand slowly reached up to touch it. His fingers brushed the broken line of skin, it stung at him to stop. His hand started to shake. "Leave. Please."
He saw her bite her bottom lip as she stepped forward. The door behind her closed, making the room completely dark again. It was only for a moment. It opened again. He assumed she didn't mean to let it do that and had moved back to her previous spot. "No. Before I... make up my own mind, or hear it from somewhere else..." her voice trembled viciously. "I want to hear it from you."
"I don't know what you mean," was his only reply.
"I only had a horrible feeling before. Circumstantial evidence that made me think of you," Jessie said sharply. Once those two sentences were out her composure seemed to fail her again, she trembled. "Then I saw your face. What happened?"
The silence was painful for the two of them. Jessie felt anger brewing at the surface, the only thing stopping it was that feeling of dread she felt in Astrometrics. The darkness and not being able to see who she was talking to wasn't helping.
"I don't know," he mumbled.
Jessie frowned, her eyebrow raised. "What do you mean you don't know?"
Tears threatened to fall. He instinctively blinked to stop them. All it did though was make his eyelids heavier. "I don't remember," his voice broke. It was little more than a whisper when he spoke again, "I went to bed some night, and when I awoke..." A gasp escaped him as his whole body threatened to break down. "I awoke in a nightmare."
Jessie stepped forward, cloaking them in the darkness once again. He could just make out her outline walk a little closer. "Tell me."
He looked at her with fear in his eyes, not that she could see it. "I can't," he managed to say in the middle of a sorrowful cry. "I don't remember. Why can't I remember?"
Jessie could just make out his figure in the dark as well, she could see him standing there grasping at his head. She heard him trying desperately not to cry. "We'll figure this out. Okay? You shouldn't be here on your own."
"You don't get it. What I've done. You wouldn't want to be around me," she heard him say in a calmer tone.
"I won't know until you explain it," Jessie said. She noticed his shadow move a little to the side. A sigh and sniffle told her he was still struggling. "I want to understand."
"Right. So you can help me?" he stuttered. Jessie sensed a little hesitation in his tone. "You can't help me."
"Maybe I can. I know what it's like, to..." she said.
To her surprise he laughed briefly, it wasn't nicely either. "Of course you do."
She flinched at the rude tone of voice he used. "What does that mean?"
"You know what everything's like. I'm starting to think you like being a busy body," he said, his voice strangely neutral despite what he said.
Jessie looked backward towards the main door, then back to the shadow ahead of her. "You just want me to leave. I'm not going to. What happened when you woke up?"
This time the silence was more unnerving than painful. She could see his form move around in the dark. She briefly looked at the door again, this time though she took a step towards it discreetly.
"The girl, Perla. What happened?" she asked.
She heard a sharpened inhale, he stopped pacing then. "Perla?" She saw him move on the spot, in the dark she had no idea what he was doing. "Oh god," he groaned, his voice overwhelmed by tears she thought. "She was hurt. Lying there. Not moving," his voice stuttering. "I ran away. I'm a coward."
The dread Jessie was feeling earlier took over completely, she subconsciously side stepped towards the door again. After a few of those she noticed it and forced herself to stop. "It's all right. I want to help. Just let me, please."
"You can't," his voice muttered. She thought it was her imagination. His words were definitely tainted by grief, and yet there was a subtle sound of anger within it.
"Why not?" Jessie asked.
As soon as she said that something pushed her backwards into the wall. She heard the impact before she felt it; a thud loud enough to make nearby objects vibrate. The pain followed, spreading from the middle of her back to her front. She involuntarily gasped at it, the pain of doing that on its own took her breath away. A heavy weight pressed against her chest and then her right arm. Laboured breath directly in front of her told her exactly what happened. It left her frozen, unsure of why and what to do.
"You're my sister," he snarled at her. Even in the dark she swore she saw a sneer on his face. It hurt her more than anything he had done before. "It's really too bad."
Before Jessie could respond she was pulled roughly forward, then she was falling. She hit the ground hard on her side. This time though she didn't feel any pain from it. Everything was a blur. All she could think about were the last few words he spoke to her, repeating over and over again. She imagined his face as he said it. It made her shudder with revulsion. Doing so brought a little of the pain back to her. Not only that but the sound of footsteps casually approaching her.
"You'd be perfect otherwise. You have stones, I like that," his voice said. It was close, too close. Jessie tried to drag herself away from it but she felt hands grab a hold of one of her arms and the small of her back. She kicked backwards, hoping to hit his leg. Eventually she did, it made him lose his grip for a moment. It gave her time to scramble onto her hands and knees.
It wasn't enough time to stand up again though. An arm flew in front of her neck, he pulled it and her closer to him. Another hand immediately clasped over her mouth. She struggled in the grip, her voice muffled through the hand.
"Shh, shh, shh!" he whispered mockingly. "If you hadn't come here to try to rescue me again..." Before he could finish she nipped one of his fingers with her teeth. The hand instinctively moved away. The arm didn't, she still attempted to pull away though. He responded by angrily throwing her to the floor again. "You see, right there. That's your problem! That's why we're doing this."
Jessie pulled herself into a sitting position before attempting to get up. It didn't matter though. He was already crouching in front of her, blocking her escape.
"Since you were here first, you once again solved it before the others," he said in a patronising voice. "Typical Jessie. Sticking her nose in, playing at the hero. What's wrong, a little bored at home?"
"Stop it," Jessie growled at him. She could see the smirk he did afterwards. "You're not him. So don't pretend you know me."
He laughed in her face, then had the cheek to lean in even closer so they were nose to nose. She recoiled in disgust. "How wrong you are. This is me."
"But why? You care about everybody. You're so lighthearted, carefree. This isn't in your nature," Jessie stuttered.
The laugh she got made her cringe. "Isn't that a little suspicious? Considering all the family you've ever known had a secret agenda, a little drama to add to your life. Weren't you a little wary of the oh so charming big bro that wouldn't hurt a fly?"
Keep talking, she thought. You're only making it easier.
"You know, I'm a little mad that you're making me do this," he said. By his tone Jessie sensed he really believed he was being forced. "Everything was nice and neat. You're the reason for it too. It's a shame, but..." He was interrupted by a nasty back hand. It knocked him off his balance, one of his hands had to press against the floor to get it back. She wasn't done though, her knee flung up to strike at his ribs. It pushed him all the way to the floor.
Now was the time to get away from him. She scrambled to her feet while ignoring all of the pain she was in. She was right at the door when a hand slammed on the door panel beside it, locking her in. As she had been about to break into a run, she almost slammed into the metal doors. She was once again grabbed, this time by both arms and flung onto the ground face first.
His body leaned in close, too close. She could feel his breath at the back of her neck. He still had a hold of her arms, one seemed to loosen while the other yanked her upwards. That hand roughly rolled her over to face him.
"I... I can't let this come out. You understand," he said coldly.
She had the perfect comeback in mind, he was in a good position for another kick. Only before she could do any of these things he grabbed at her throat with both hands. It took her by surprise, by the time she thought to fight back her body was too weak to respond.
He was close enough for her to just make out a smile on his face. Everything else around him started to blur, it was even managing to get darker somehow. "I can't wait to see how the Slayer reacts to this. Should be good for a laugh." Even his voice blurred, it echoed over the top of the music he had left playing.
"Why wait?" another voice said faintly amongst the noise.
The tight sensation around her neck loosened, she was able to breath again. She could still feel hands on her throat. Her vision was slowly clearing up. That was when she noticed the room was no longer dark, light was coming from somewhere. There was a dark chuckle from in front of her.
"Do you really want to do that? Can't risk having another sob-athon in front of the missus, right?"
There was something next to his head. Jessie could see it clearly now. It had a sharp edge and was made of metal. The point was poking into the side of his forehead, one tiny nudge and it'd penetrate the skin. The new light made it difficult, but still she forced her eyes to follow the blade to the handle. She had no idea why, she knew who was holding it.
"Come on James," he said, as if on cue. "You owe me, remember? I saved your life."
"Yeah," the other voice said. The blade moved away slightly, rotating as it did, showing off its width. It swung back the way it came twice as fast. Jessie quickly closed her eyes and tried to yell at him to stop, but nothing came out of her mouth. There was a loud bang, it sounded like a body hitting the floor.
Jessie opened her eyes reluctantly, fearing the worst. By the time she did somebody new was kneeling beside her, an arm gently moved over her shoulders. A body lay on his side in front of her. She quickly looked him over. Apart from a slight scratch on his temple, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him. The area around it looked a little red, that was it. Her head turned to her right to look at her rescuer.
"It's okay. I barely bumped him with the blunt part," James said quietly.
"How... how did you know?" she could only stutter.
He briefly bowed his head, "Tom called me. Are you okay?"
That was a good question and a bad one at the same time. She had no answer for him.
The whole room stood or sat around quietly, each silently wondering what to say. Tom wasn't one to keep the silence but the best he could do was blab out a few um's and well's. He was thankful for the door opening after a few minutes of that. Craig entered through them.
"I've moved our warlock wannabes into the Enterprise brig. He's in ours," he said. "Any reason why?"
Tom shook his head, "quicker access to treatment with... whatever the hell he has. I mean, what is going on?" He looked around at everyone curiously. All but the Doctor returned his stares with blank ones. He focused on Jessie as she was still being fussed over by the tutting hologram. "You figured it out. I was joking about the master detective thing."
"What?" she could only say.
Craig cleared his throat nervously. "The files we were looking at tipped her off. I looked at them again and I have no idea why."
James had been focusing on Jessie when he said that, he then looked towards him instead. "Did the program work?"
"Er I dunno yet. It's still running," Craig replied nervously. "We managed to get some limited access, that's what she saw or heard."
Tom was more than curious. "None of it screamed Nathan. What made..."
Jessie shuddered, her eyes shut. "No, no. Stop. It's not him."
Craig and Tom looked at each other, confused. "But he attacked you, James knocked him out," Tom stammered.
Jessie sighed impatiently. The Doctor did as well for different reasons. "He may look like him but that is not Nathan. Something else is going on."
"Yeah but something tipped you off, what..." Tom said. James directed a glare towards him, shutting him up immediately. "Okay, we'll be over here," he said, gesturing to the office. He shuffled away. Craig assumed he meant him, so he followed.
"Ah good. I was one minute away from throwing them out myself," the Doctor remarked irritably.
James stared at him briefly. The EMH only noticed it when James' attention returned to Jessie. The hologram reacted to this stare as if he had said something rude.
"You saw him... that was not him," Jessie said directly to James, in a hushed voice. He only nodded. It was an agreement but it still sparked outrage from her as if he didn't. "He... he was upset, moping around in his quarters. He said things. Then he changed. It wasn't instant, he'd go back and forth. It wasn't until he attacked me that..."
"What you're suggesting isn't possible. Apart from a head wound and a few slight bumps, he was normal. Just a bit fatigued," the Doctor said.
James again looked at him. This time though the Doctor noticed it sooner, and was able to see the wariness in his eyes. "How did you have time to find that out?"
The Doctor scoffed to show his offense. "It's standard procedure to tend to any prisoners you deal with."
"Surely Jessie needed your attention first. He was unconscious, he wasn't going anywhere," James said.
"Yes but I had no way of knowing if your means of making a man unconscious had done any lasting damage," the Doctor said irritably.
It was Jessie's turn to stare at him, she gave him a frown. "It was a reasonable question. We came straight here. What's your problem?"
The Doctor sighed while he finished off treating her arm. "Perhaps I am tired of all the violence. It never ends on this ship." He walked away, shaking his head.
Jessie slowly turned her head towards James. She tried to look him in the eye but she couldn't, she felt like she didn't deserve to. "I'm sorry."
He was more than surprised at that, he shook his head, bemused at it. "What on earth for?"
"It just keeps coming. One thing after another," Jessie mumbled her answer. Before she knew it she was staring down at her lap, the head on her shoulders felt much heavier now.
James reached for one of her hands. "How is that your fault?"
Jessie shook her head timidly, the smirk forming on her face was directed inwardly. "My depression, the pregnancy. Time travel, paradoxes. Warlocks trying to kill us. My mother's reaction to you. Now my brother." The last sentence made her voice crack. "My brother," she said through tears.
James' other arm wrapped around her shoulders, he stepped forward as far as he could. She didn't feel like she deserved it but he held her close anyway, her head nestled into his chest while she cried. One of his hands reached up to stroke her hair.
"What kind of moronic, self absorbed idiot would blame you for any of those things?" he asked softly. "You'd scold me if I had said that, why should you get away with it?" She laughed briefly through a gap in the tears, but they still kept coming. "You were the victim in all of those, so... I don't get it. So why are you saying sorry?"
Jessie thought of many ways to answer that, each one sounded more stupid than the last. There was only one way to do it, and she couldn't, not yet. She still had to do it, somehow, no one else could. That particular thought made her panic, she pulled away to look into his face. "You're not going to be the one to talk to Nathan, are you?"
He flinched at the question, his eyes darted elsewhere. That told her the answer before he even said it. "He attacked you. I want to know why."
I know why, she thought to herself. She squeezed the hand still holding one of hers with her other one, her eyes pleaded with his. "James, you can't. You're not well, you felt awful for what you did to Yutan cos of it. This will be worse."
"Yeah but we know him, he's family. I can't ask Craig to do it," James said.
"That's exactly why you should ask him. You're too close to this. Please," Jessie begged him. James looked at her with great concern, she rarely spoke to him like this. The times she did were a matter of life and death, usually death. This felt worse though, far worse. There was a nagging feeling in her gut that if she let go of him, something horrible would happen.
James slowly looked over to the office where Tom and Craig stood. They appeared to be talking quickly at each other, Craig had a panicked look on his face while he did it. "I'll talk to him," he said, before turning his head back towards Jessie. "It's okay, we'll get through this." She nodded but the feeling she had didn't fade, it grew bigger.
Meanwhile Tom had gestured his hands in front of him to hint that Craig should stop talking. They looked to Craig like a surrender pose more than anything else, so he didn't. "Hold on," Tom said it more vocally this time.
"Tom, this is serious," Craig stuttered.
Tom sighed irritably, "you're talking way too fast. Slow down, start again."
Craig's eyes looked over to James and Jessie in the main part of Sickbay, then returned back to Tom. "You just don't want to believe it." Tom shook his head irritably. "Those files do have a commonality, don't you see it?"
"No, no I don't," Tom groaned. "You've just dropped not one but multiple tonnes of bricks on me. I don't even know where to start."
"The first attack was forty four years ago. Nine months later the culprit is caught checking into a hospital. She gave birth to a boy in the prison's medical facility," Craig said, his voice turned into a whisper near the end. "The kid is not sent to the father, and instead is immediately adopted. I thought that was weird so I checked. Guess who the father was?"
Tom pulled a face that was both disgusted and very worried. "The kid she attacked?" Craig's widened eyes and furious nod answered him. "Okay, I still don't see how this relates to Nathan, and since you and Jessie got there long before me, I'm a little worried."
"He's the baby, Tom," Craig hissed while checking on the pair in Sickbay. Tom's jaw dropped, he feared it would fall out completely. "That will be why Jessie thought of him."
"Yeah but..." Tom protested once he could close his mouth again.
"So now you see what the two files have in common? This is huge," Craig stuttered.
Tom felt the blood drain from his cheeks, making his whole face tingle with dread. His chest thumped furiously. For once there was nothing he could say.
"Must you talk about this in my office? It has nothing to do with any of my patients," the Doctor complained. His voice made the pair jump out of their skin. He looked at them impatiently, like they were sitting in his chair or getting in the way of a treatment. They hadn't yet recovered so they didn't register it. He huffed and walked around his desk to sit in the chair.
Tom was the first to recover. He eyed the hologram with an annoyed look of his own. "Why don't we compare any DNA samples you may have gotten from Jessie, see if they match our first victim."
The Doctor chuckled at him as if he was a random crewmember telling him how to use a hypospray. Tom looked offended and a little suspicious. "You don't think I thought of that already? No, of course they're not a match."
"Of course, not?" Craig said with an identical expression to Tom's. Before the Doctor could respond to that a thought popped into Craig's head. "It was your idea to take him off the suspects list. Is there something you want to tell us?"
Tom looked on with interest, while the Doctor glanced between the two calmly. "I didn't want to bring it up yet as I wasn't fully sure, but yes there is," he answered.
"Well?" Tom said with more impatience than he intended.
The Doctor sighed, his eyes glided over towards the main part of Sickbay where James and Jessie were. When they returned he noticed only Tom had followed his gaze, Craig's gaze remained fixed on him. "You have your suspect, I have mine. On one side we have somebody who was born from a horrific assault on a twelve year old, lost his best friend in similar circumstances, who's gentle and optimistic. On the other you have a child abuse victim with severe anger issues, repeated violent offenses including murder and..."
Craig briefly laughed, cutting him off. Both Tom and the Doctor focused their attention on him while he tried to maintain his composure. Seeing their worried and worst of all, serious faces helped him out. The look of dismay replaced his previous one. "Wait, you're serious? Are you freaking kidding me!"
"Deadly serious it seems," Tom stuttered. "Why did Nathan attack Jessie then?"
"That's the only problem with this scenario?" Craig said, his voice showed his mortification. "It makes no sense. I can't even believe you're entertaining this idea."
"The attacker got in undetected, the evidence was destroyed just in case. Whoever did the attack threw the girl around like she was nothing. The telepathy incident; there was no link, yet he had a reaction anyway. It wouldn't be the first time he faked a telepathy incident to hide his crimes," the Doctor said. Craig shook his head and started pacing backwards and forward. "The reaction to the crime; disgust at it, or a guilty conscience? As for Jessie... well, the room was in darkness. Who can say who really attacked her? Only two men were in the room with her and one is unconscious."
"This is crazy," Craig spat at him. He looked at Tom and was shocked to see him acting as if he believed him. The look of horror on Tom's face was obvious to him. "No, really? You've known James for eleven years, me personally for nine. He's been my friend for most of those years. Yeah he is violent sometimes, but 99% of the time it's to protect people he cares about. He's the last guy who would violently beat a teenaged girl half to death, let alone try to... god. What's the matter with everyone?"
"What?" Jessie stuttered from the doorway.
Everyone cringed at her voice. Not one of them dared to even look at her. Even though he was doing the defending, Craig felt the worst about it.
"I wondered what all the yelling was about, and it's this?" Jessie said in disgust. "After all these years... this is what you think of us. Him a ruthless murderer and attempted rapist, and me the lying scumbag who protects him... or maybe a battered wife too afraid to speak out?"
"No. We don't think that," Tom said nervously.
"Your reaction says otherwise," Jessie said to him, with a little fire in her eyes. It grew as she focused on the Doctor. "This explains your attitude towards him, and even me lately I suppose. Maybe have the stones to say it to our faces next time."
"Jessie..." Craig tried to calm her down.
"It's okay Craig. I heard," Jessie said in his direction, the anger dissipated as she did. It came back full force once she looked away from him and eyed the Doctor and Tom. "If either of you really knew what James has been through, you wouldn't accuse him of this. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You know what... go to hell." She didn't wait for a response, she stormed out of the office.
"Excuse me. I don't think I can listen to more of this either," Craig said. He walked out as well. He was surprised to find Jessie not far in front of him, he nearly walked into her. She was staring towards the biobed she sat on earlier with a look of horror on her face. "What's the matter?"
"James. He was here," Jessie stuttered.
Craig walked over towards the biobed slowly. He didn't have to reach it to see a discarded commbadge lying on it. "Nathan?"
"No. He trusted you with it," Jessie shook her head, her head gestured towards the Ready Room. "I heard, he must have too. He's ill, this is the last thing he needed to hear."
"You weren't with us for long, he couldn't have gotten far," Craig said in a hopeful voice.
The pair headed for the door, just passing Tom as he stood at the office doorway. He gave the Doctor a nod before hurrying out after them. "Wait!"
"Yeah right," Jessie grumbled. She continued running down the corridor, but Craig stopped to partly turn towards him.
"If he knew, if he thought we were onto him, he'd make it hard for us," Tom whispered.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Craig snapped.
Tom glanced at the Sickbay doors and back again. "Someone had to believe him. It's much more believable if one of us didn't."
Craig's anger faded, "you mean...?"
Tom nodded and smiled. "I'll deal with the Doc. We have our suspect locked up. It's only damage control that's left now."
"Right," Craig said with a little relief in his voice. He hurried after Jessie, who was long gone into a turbolift by now.
TO BE CONTINUED
Previous Part << >> Next Part