Tides of the Heart
Part Six: Aristarchus
I have done some damn stupid things in my life, and somehow the worst of them have always been when I have tried to do something right. Once, when I was thirteen and the gel paks first began to fail on Voyager, I decided that I would come up with an alternative. With the supreme arrogance of a teenager, I was positive that I could find a solution where the Adults had failed.
I based my alternative on my own Borg nanites, since the gel paks were, after all, a mix of bio-engineering and technology, much like the microscopic machines that live in my bloodstream.
It never even occurred to me to wonder why, if it was that simple, Mother had never tried it herself.
I rigged up an isolation chamber in the Science Lab and because I said it was going to be my entry for the children's Annual Science Competition, no one found my insistence on secrecy to be suspicious.
It worked. I extracted nanites from my own bloodstream and managed to create a solid communication relay from one terminal to another without the need for circuitry or wires and only the tinniest expenditure of energy. Instead of demonstrating my success to my Mother, who would no doubt have pointed out that I was working in such a closed environment that I hadn't considered the many other factors involved in Voyager's design, I decided I would save the ship single-handedly.
Since our main problem then, as now, was energy, I decided that the first demonstration should be the way my new invention could make the replicators work with a fraction of the normal energy drain. I took a hypo of my reprogrammed nanites and injected them directly into the gel paks in the Jeffries Tube between decks seven and nine. Then I sat back and waited for the adulation.
It was two years before Mother let me in the Science Lab again without supervision. It took nearly that long to remove the nanites. They bred almost faster than they could be removed and for the best part of eighteen months, every time someone put an order for coffee into a replicator, they got a serving of Tomato Soup.
Uncle Tom was the only person who thought it was funny. Then again, he *likes* tomato soup.
If it hadn't been for his intervention, I think B'Elanna would have disemboweled me and hung my intestines up in Engineering as a warning to all would-be do-gooders to keep the hell out of things they don't fully understand.
This morning I tried to manipulate two people that I love more than life itself into facing the obvious fact that they both need each other and instead I only drove them even further apart. I honestly didn't think that was even possible.
So maybe I should have butted out and minded my own business, instead of doing what I have just done.
But it's too late. What's done is done and I'm just praying that *this* time, I've done the right thing.
The thing is, I know I'm young, and pretty naive about love. Growing up in the sheltered confines of a Starship, with a Borg for a mother, I have been protected from a lot of the realities of human relationships. Menily and I never played games with each other. We decided to date at 16, married at 18, had a child at twenty and have never even thought about anybody else romantically. In my own marriage I have little experience of complex situations and grief, I grant you.
But there is another side to the coin too.
I have seen more deaths than any man my age who lives in safe Federation Space rather than on a battered Starship years from any safe port. I have experienced more danger and more loss. I have looked in the face of death myself more times than I can count.
So in some ways, I am far older than my years.
I'm not sure what age I first became aware of my own mortality. It just slowly crept up on me every time Voyager was assaulted by hostile forces.
With each sounding of the red alert I grew up a little, until the sound no longer brought me childish excitement but instead instilled dread in my heart. Then the loss of Tayven, and then my Mother, have taught me that life is precious and short and we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of self-pity.
That's what Father and Uncle Tom are wallowing in. Self-Pity. I'm not disparaging their pain, or pretending that the last twenty years haven't been a tragedy, but what is the point of keeping old wounds open like this?
I'm not suggesting that they can just shrug and forget what has happened, but surely they can try a fresh start. It's not as though Uncle Tom needs worry that Father will ever leave him again, and Father *knows* that Uncle Tom has always loved him. Sure they will probably fight and scream and yell at each other like alley cats until they get all the pain out of their systems, but the love will be enough to see them through in the end.
How many people would mourn a love for twenty years? How many people are capable of still feeling that much intensity of emotion after all this time? Doesn't their pain prove, just by itself, that they are destined to be together?
I don't care about the general opinion. Just because everyone, except Captain Tuvok and I, believe that my Father and Uncle Tom hate each other, it doesn't mean that it is true.
It is impossible to grow up on a Starship without learning a love of space, even if your Mother isn't the Astrometrics Officer. What intrigued me most of all though was the fact that people had ever managed to leave their home planets and take that first, terrifying step into the unknown.
Back on the unimaginatively named planet Earth, fifteen centuries before the first man-made craft finally broke through the atmosphere to land on its sole satellite known as the moon, a man named Aristarchus once dared to put forward the idea that all the planets of that solar system, including the Earth itself, revolved around the Sun.
Everyone laughed at him. He was luckier than some people who shared his beliefs in later centuries because by the time of Galileo, science had been supplanted by religion and superstition so no one cared about facts any more anyway.
The reason no one believed Aristarchus though, wasn't because of blind religious insistence that "God" made the Earth so therefore the planets revolved around *it*. They didn't believe him simply because he never bothered to do the mathematics to prove his theory.
That's why the measurement of distance in the solar system is known by humans as the Copernican System. Because although Copernicus didn't come up with the idea, he was the first person to do what was necessary to *prove* the theory.
That's why what I did this morning was so stupid. I had a theory that Father and Uncle Tom, if forced together, would finally admit to each other that they need each other. I didn't bother to do the mathematics. I just threw them at each other and inevitably they just both charged off in different directions without even *trying* to talk.
I should have known better. They have both managed to avoid each other for twenty years on a Starship so small that you can visit every meter of it in less than a day.
So I have come up with a new plan. One which will *force* them to talk. It's pretty low, I admit, but I've tried talking to them separately and I've tried putting them together voluntarily, and neither works.
They don't believe that they are as helplessly caught in each other's gravity as twin planets. I don't care what they believe. I'm going to prove it to them.
At least I don't have the added problem of religion to overcome. At least I don't think so, but with Father, you can't be too sure.
My Father has never asked me to partake in his beliefs. He says that they were force-fed to him as a youngster and that they cannot be taken lightly, so rather than teach me as a child and insist that I pay respect to them, he instead promised me that when I was an adult, if I still chose to learn, then he would be happy to introduce me to my Spirit Guide.
I never did get around to asking him, and he never mentioned the subject again.
Now I regret that because I really wish I could get inside his head and understand what is making him so damned stubborn. Maybe it's a tribal thing.
As for Uncle Tom, I understand his fear completely. That's why I know that the move *has* to come from my Father. I'm not saying it's *his* fault, exactly, only that he is the one who left, so he has to be the one who goes back.
And if he doesn't do it NOW, it's going to be too late.
After I fucked everything up today by going too far and instead of satisfying myself with getting them in the same room, tried to be clever by making them actually sit side by side, Uncle Tom went to see Captain Tuvok and said that if we don't drop him off at the next habitable planet he is going to help himself to the Delta Flyer and leave by himself.
Shit. What did I think I was doing? Did I expect them to end up holding hands and making up, or even making out?
Yeah, to be honest, I kind of hoped they would.
I mean they love each other, they obviously have the hots for each other, and the way I see it, the only way either of them are ever going to heal is if they just put everything behind them and start where they left off.
I don't care if that sounds unrealistic. It's the truth and I'm going to prove it.
It's the spirit of Voyager.
You suffer, you lose people, you grieve, you move on, you make do and you never, ever, give up hope of a happy ending.
It's the mantra I grew up on and if I have to stuff it down their throats until it chokes them, I am going to make my Fathers believe it too.
If I have to believe in the dream that we will someday reach the Alpha Quadrant, and that it will be a good thing (which considering the fact that one of my Fathers is a wanted terrorist and the other is a prisoner on parole, is not always an easy idea to swallow), then my Fathers can try and believe in themselves.
If you could only have seen them this morning, you would understand.
Two strong, good, brave men, falling to pieces just because they were seated a few inches apart from each other. Both of their faces filled with so much pain and distress that it ripped my own heart apart to witness them.
Believe it or not, most of the crew *still* think that they hate each other. That my Father left the room because he couldn't spend another minute sat next to the man who has been heard to say on so many occasions that he hates my Father too. The fact that Father returned to the room in time for Harriet's naming ceremony, but only after Uncle Tom had left, seems to prove their theory right.
What no-one knows though, is that it was Uncle Tom himself that insisted he returned.
He didn't speak to Father himself, unfortunately. That would have been too easy. He spoke to me, after I had raced out after my distraught Father. Uncle Tom followed me into the corridor, said he was returning to his quarters and that I should find my Father, explain that he had left, and that Father should fulfill his duty to his Grand daughter.
Oddly enough, when I found Father, he wasn't as distressed as I thought he would be, and I began to realise that he hadn't left the room because he couldn't bear being with Uncle Tom, but because Uncle Tom was so distressed at *his* presence.
I always knew that Uncle Tom loved Father and that's why he was still alone, and I had guessed that my Father never stopped loving Uncle Tom either, but I wasn't *sure* how much.
Now I know that they both *really* love each other.
So they may as well stop fighting it.
Come to think of it, I had better check their vitals again, just in case they *are* fighting.
There's not a lot of room in a turbolift, so they could be doing each other a fair amount of damage, I guess.
Captain Tuvok is pretty angry with me, but not so much that he has forced me to give him the over-ride codes. He's more disgusted that I couldn't think up something more original. I think. But it's a Starship, there aren't *that* many completely confined spaces to trap them inside. Tuvok is more annoyed with me for using the red alert to herd them inside.
The only reason I'm not in the brig is because I jerry-rigged the computer so that the alert only sounded on deck six, at midnight, when I knew the only people who would be there would be Uncle Tom beating the crap out of his holographic piano, and Father lurking outside with his ear to the door.
Hey, I love them. Of course I know what's been going on.
So, anyway, only *they* heard the red alert, and Father was already inside the turbolift, trying to close the door that, oddly enough, wouldn't shut, when Uncle Tom leapt inside after him.
Before either of them had a chance to react, I closed the doors, cancelled the alert, took over the controls of the lift, blocked outwards transmissions from their comm badges and then I called Father, told him what I had done, said they weren't getting out until they had at least talked to each other, and then cut him off before he could finish telling me what he was planning to do to me when he got out.
Sometimes I find it "efficient" to be the son of a Borg.
Continued in Appassionato
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