Title: Filled with Confusion (No Comfort Series)
Part: 10/?
Author: CatHeights
Pairing: C/P
Rating: R, angst,

Summary: Finding his life crashing down around him, Tom tries to figure out why this is happening and how he can regain control. 

In this A/U, Thirty Days never happened. Also several events in previous seasons are assumed not to have occurred, including the events in Blood Fever and Tom receiving any contact from his father.

Story Sequence: No Comfort To Be Found; Time Slipping Slowly; A Greater Pain; What Had He Missed; Spiraling Out of Control; Not this Time; Listen to Himself; Be Patient; Nightmares for Dreams 

Feedback: CatHeights@yahoo.com

Archive: BLTS, Cha_Club, ATPS, Paris Nights, TPD, anyone else please ask first.

Warning: This storyís subject matter is at times very disturbing. Severe angst and self-injury.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek Voyager, its characters, and the Voyager episodes referred to in this story. The story idea however is mine, but I am doing this just for fun, no money to be made.

If youĎre missing a part, you can find it on my website, http://www.geocities.com/catheights/

Filled with Confusion (Story 10 - No Comfort Series)

As he stared at the padd in his hand, it blurred until he could have sworn there were two. With a tired sigh, Chakotay placed the padd on his desk. He rubbed his eyes, and then sat quietly for a few moments, resting his head in hands. He should go back to his quarters and get some sleep. A laugh escaped from him at the thought, and its bitter sound made him wince. HeĎd have better luck sleeping in his office than in his quarters. Chakotay dragged his hands down his face, until they rested on his chin, supporting it. He should have left here more than an hour ago, but he just couldnít bring himself to head back to his quarters. The thought of spending another night with Tom sitting silently on the couch, only speaking in response to questions, made him feel ill. He wanted to scream at the younger man and shake him until he started responding in some way, but he was afraid. The image of Tom slumped and bleeding on his bathroom floor was burned into his mind, and it stopped him from demanding an explanation or even expressing his frustration. No matter how often he told himself it could not be the only contributing factor, a part of him still believed that it was his angry words that drove Tom to hurt himself. He wouldnĎt risk that again. He had thought that just being there for Tom and showing that he still cared would be enough. At first, it had seemed like he was right. On the day Tom was released from Sickbay, he had spent the night holding Tom in his arms, comforting him after having had a nightmare. He had been careful not to pressure Tom to talk. He asked once about the dream and stopped when the younger man seemed upset by the inquiry. He figured Tom would talk when he was ready and had been reassured when Tom had wanted him to stay.
The next morning Tom had been very quiet and a bit distant, but Chakotay had figured it was just an after effect of the dream. He fully expected the younger man to be more responsive later, but that hadnít happened. The days went by, and still Tom barely said anything to him.
If Tom had been treating everyone the same way, Chakotay would have been patient and told himself the younger man simply needed more time. That wasnít the case thoughóTom was only odd around him. His heart sunk every time he listened to Harry tell the Doctor that Tomís mood continued to improve. Kathryn had even stopped by for a visit, and said Tom had seemed much like his normal self, a little nervous, but otherwise fine. The only concerns any of them mentioned was that Tom still hadnít given an explanation for what had happened.
Just yesterday, Kathryn had said even if Tom wasnít offering a lot of answers, at least his mood had improved drastically, and he wasnít trying to shut out his friends. Chakotay had wanted to scream "except for me," but he had remained silent. Only once had he brought up that Tom seemed too quiet around him. The looks the others had exchanged at that comment kept him from mentioning it again. He knew they all thought Tom shouldnít be staying with him in the first place, so why add to their doubts.
He had been so sure Tom needed him. That first moment when Tom had awakened and smiled at him in sickbay, combined with his wanting him to stay after the nightmare had made him even more confident that he was right. Now though, he wondered if Tomís reaction in sickbay had simply been a moment of confusion, and if he would have asked anyone to stay after the nightmare. Maybe they all had been right. He should have kept his distance, waited until Tom was ready to deal with him. The experiences of the previous week seemed to indicate that not only did Tom not need him, but also that he felt awkward around him. A few days ago, Harry had suggested that they should give Tom some time alone each day. When the suggestion was accepted, Chakotay had felt anxious at the thought, but also a bit relieved. He was completely torn, one moment worrying if Tom was all right alone, and the next glad that he didnít have to spend as much time in the dreadful silence that lurked in his quarters. At the moment, he was leaning toward the less time spent with Tom the better, and he needed to get over that feeling.
He moved his hands to cover his face, took a deep breath, and then pressed his palms against the desk and pushed himself upright. Before he could change his mind, he quickly left his office. His stride firm and sure, he turned to walk down the corridor and bumped into Harry. Both men stumbled slightly, with Harry recovering first. He laughed and said, "Commander, are you all right?"
"Iím fine. Iím sorry Harry. I should have been paying more attention."
Harry frowned. "Are you sure youíre okay?"
"Fine," Chakotay said curtly. "Howís Tom?" It was the same question he always asked Harry, and he was sure once again he would hear how wonderful Tom was doing. Just like every other time, he knew he would feel a brief moment of happiness that Tom was okay, but that would quickly be followed by the pain and disappointment of having to hear these things second hand. It hurt to be cut out of Tomís life.
Harryís smile returned. "Great. Weíre working on a new holoprogram. I canít wait until we actually are ready to start programming it." "Sounds like fun," Chakotay said, his voice distant. He cleared his throat, glanced around to make sure no one was listening, and then continued, "Do you remember how you told me you asked Tom if he wanted to stay in your quarters, and he said no heíd prefer to stay in mine? What do you think he would say if you asked him now?" He watched as Harryís face reflected first surprise, followed quickly by suspicion. "Why?" "Just answer the question," Chakotay snapped, his dayís patience long since expended.
Harryís jaw tightened. "I think heíd answer the same way he did before. Why?" "Itís nothing," Chakotay said, as he noticed Ayala coming down the hall toward them. Both he and Harry nodded as the man passed.
Harry waited until Ayala had moved by them before saying, "Commander, do you have a few moments so we could discuss this in your office?" Damn, Chakotay thought. He should never have given Harry a reason to start wondering if something was going on. When it came to Tom, Harry never backed down. One would think he considered himself Tomís personal watchdog or self-appointed guardian angel. That thought wasnít fair, and he knew it. Harry was Tomís best friend, and he looked out for his friends, as they did for him.
Chakotay clenched his jaw, forcing away a yawn. "Of course," he said, and he and Harry headed into his office. He slipped into his chair, thinking tiredly that he should never have gotten out of it.
Harry sat across from him, leaning slightly forward. "Whatís wrong?" "Nothing," Chakotay said dismissively. "Iím just wondering if Tom might feel more comfortable somewhere else." "Why? Have you decided youíre tired of having him around?" Harryís voice had a hard edge to it.
That comment pulled Chakotay out of his lethargy. "Of course not." How dare the Ensign accuse him of something like that? Tom could stay forever if Chakotay could just believe that it was actually doing him some good.
"Then why are you thinking about tossing him out?"
Chakotay could feel his temper flaring. "I said no such thing. I suggest you stop putting words in my mouth." "Then tell me why." Chakotay lost the hold on his temper, and he snarled at Harry, "Because he wonít even fucking look at me, let alone talk to me." Harry looked at him, the distrust on his face changing into shock. "He doesnít talk to you? You mean about what happened?" "I mean about anything. If I get a two-word answer to a question, itís a good day. Itís obvious that he would prefer not to be around me," Chakotay said, disgust filling his voice. Harry was shaking his head. "No, youíre wrong. Something is not right about this. What the hell is Tom thinking?" He muttered as he stood and began to pace the room.
As quickly as it had come, the anger left Chakotay. He sagged in his seat and shrugged. "Donít ask me." Harry turned to face him. "When I asked Tom if he wanted to stay at my place, he told me it felt right to be staying in yours. He said he felt like you were giving him a second chance, and he wasnít going to turn his back on that." "Maybe he changed his mind," Chakotay said softly. "No way. He may not be acting like it, but I know Tom wants to be there and that he still cares about you. I donít doubt that in the least." Chakotay swallowed; he was surprised at how good it was to hear someone say that. Part of him still believed that Tom loved him, and it was a strong and persistent part, but it was being heavily battered by daily rejection.
Harry stopped pacing, and came over to sit across from Chakotay. "Iíve been getting the feeling that thereís something bothering Tom that heís not telling me. Iíve also been wondering why he hasnít said a word about leaving your quarters. Heís shown no interest in going to the holodecks. Anything. Iíve been hoping that our working on the holoprogram might make him eager to venture out, but so far, no luck." Chakotay nodded, too tired to speculate on Tomís behavior. He found himself studying his desk, looking at the gray sandwiched between the colored panels. He aimlessly tapped his fingers on the smooth surface.
"Chakotay."
Startled, he looked up to see Harry gazing at him with what looked like concern. For him? Why? "Yeah." "Why donít I ask Tom to spend a few days with me? Itíll give you a chance to relax and have your place to yourself," Harry said. Chakotay shook his head. "Thatís not necessary." "I may be out of line here, but I think it is. You should take some time off. Iím sure the Captain would authorize it." Chakotay smiled tiredly. "Iím sure she would too. Sheís made the offer." "See, itís not a bad idea," Harry said.
"No, but itís just not necessary."
Harry sighed. "Donít take this the wrong way, but you canít handle this alone, particularly with Tom behaving inconsistently. You have to give yourself a break. I spend time alone in my quarters or with BíElanna. I have some time to myself, and that keeps me from getting too frustrated when Tom wonít talk. Correct me if Iím wrong, Commander, but youíve been spending your time either buried in work or with Tom. You need to take some time to relax, or you are going to crack." Chakotay gazed at Harry in disbelief. Of course he could handle this. He started to contradict the Ensign, but stopped as he realized there was some truth to what Harry had said. He had been trying to handle it all alone. When he argued against Harry being the only one to stay with Tom, he had said no one should have to deal with this alone, and yet that was what he had been doing. He had known it was too much for one person to handle. Well except for me, Chakotay thought sarcastically. It would be too much for Harry, but not for someone like me. So if thatís the case, how come youíve handled things so poorly? Gotten to the point where you are trying to second-guess Tomís feelings. Maybe Harry was right, and he needed to be less hard on himself. Harry might be right, but he wasnít ready yet to admit it out loud. "I appreciate your concern, but Iím fine. Iím just tired. Those negotiations took a lot longer than I expected." He had spent the majority of the day trying to hash out a trade agreement with the Verbasians. The race argued the meaning of every word, as they believed debate to be the highest art and the greatest compliment they could offer to an intelligent race. By the time he had argued the last point in the agreement, his head was pounding furiously. At least he had lasted to the end, the Captain had to leave mid-way through. Red-faced, she had barely managed to calmly excuse herself.
"So that Verbasian negotiator didnít get any less wordy?" Harry asked.
"No, he got worse," Chakotay said as he stood up. "Listen I should get back to my quarters." "All right. Iím supposed to meet BíElanna. Sheís probably wondering where Iím at." "Youíve kept BíElanna waiting?" Chakotay asked, looking at him like heíd lost his mind.
Harry laughed as they exited the door. "Sheíll snap at me for a few moments, but then sheíll be fine." As they stepped into the hall, he added, "My offer still stands. If at anytime you need a break, let me know. Iíd be happy to have Tom stay at my place." "Thanks, Harry. Really, though things are okay. Iíll talk to you later," Chakotay said, and the two men went off in separate directions.
As he walked to his quarters, Chakotay noticed that he felt a bit calmer. He was no less exhausted, but at least he felt like he could face Tom. He had to admit talking to Harry had helped some. He realized in many ways he had been acting just like Tom, pushing away people who were only trying to help. He sighed as he approached his door. He really did need to get some sleep. Maybe tonight he wouldnít dream that Tom had died or find himself lying wide awake, listening for any sounds that might indicate that the man he still was in love with was in distress. Yes, maybe tonight, he would be so tired that he could actually just sleep. He could hope anyway. Taking a deep breath, he stepped into his quarters.
Tom was sitting on the couch when he entered, and the younger man looked up and gave him smile. "Hi. Long day, huh?" Chakotay stopped just inside the doorway, shocked. Normally when he came home, Tom mumbled a hello, never meeting his eyes, and quickly returned to reading a padd. Not once had he smiled. He pushed his bewilderment aside and forced himself to answer, "Yeah, you could definitely say that." "Have you eaten? If not I programmed the replicator to make some vegetable lasagna. We could have dinner together," Tom said. Chakotay felt like his mind was frozen. For more than a week now, he hadnít been able to get Tom to talk to him, and here he was asking him to sit down and have dinner. For a minute, he wondered if he had fallen asleep in his office and was actually dreaming. Then he noticed that Tom suddenly looked nervous. His gaze had slipped from Chakotayís face and was now studying the floor. Damn, how long had he been silent? Obviously long enough to disturb Tom.
He forced himself to smile and said, "Sorry, I think Iím half asleep. It was just one of those days. I actually havenít eaten." He tried to remember when he had eaten last and laughed. "Actually, I donít think Iíve eaten since breakfast." Tom was looking at him again, smiling. "Well if it was a busy day, knowing you, Iím not surprised you didnít eat. I figured as much." This time Chakotay felt the smile coming easily to his face. "Yeah, yeah. There just wasnít time. I actually would like to get out of this uniform. Iím going to get changed. Why donít you replicate the lasagna while I do?" Getting changed would give him a few minutes out of Tomís sight to gather his thoughts. "Sure," Tom said coming to his feet. Chakotay nodded at him and then headed into the bedroom.
Inside, he slowly took off his uniform. Out of habit, he put it away immediately, and absently pulled on some off-duty clothes. Tom was talking to him; he felt like sinking down on the bed in relief, but a sense of uneasiness still lurked in his mind. Why? What had changed? He felt like he should just ask Tom. He had always believed that it was better to face a problem head-on. Yet this time he was reluctant to come right out and say what was on his mind. What if it just made Tom go back to ignoring him? More than anything, he wanted to sit down with Tom, talk and have a pleasant dinner. He wanted one night where everything seemed almost normal. What was wrong with that? After all, he had promised he wouldnít push Tom. So why not save the questions for tomorrow, and tonight let Tom talk about whatever he wanted. Whatever topic Tom wanted to discuss was fine by him. Tom could set the pace, he thought as he walked back into the living area. Tom was just placing the lasagna on the table, and the smell of the food made Chakotayís stomach grumble. He was surprised; he hadnít had much of an appetite the past few days. He sat down at the table and said, "That smells delicious. I just realized Iím starving." Tom shook his head and rolled his eyes in mock exasperation as he sat down. "Of course youíre starving if you havenít eat since breakfast." He laughed and took a bite of the food. When he had swallowed, he said, "That tastes wonderful." "Iím sure anything would taste wonderful to you right now. Food always tastes better when youíre starving." Chakotay grinned and with a shrug, eagerly took another bite. The food wasnít the only thing pleasing. It was wonderful to hear that sarcastic teasing tone in Tomís voice. Tom ate a piece of lasagna, nodding his approval at its taste. "Harry told me we happened upon an extremely talkative species." "Argumentative would be a better description. The Verbasians, as theyíre called, truly love to debate. They spent an hour analyzing our greetings by comparing them to those of other species. Was our greeting efficient or eloquent? Did it contain any concepts that could be misunderstood by certain races? They talked about "hello" for over an hour," Chakotay said, still flabbergasted.
"How did the Captain handle that?"
Chakotay laughed. "She didnít. Halfway through the negotiations, she excused herself and didnít return. She apologized to me later, but she said one moment longer, and she would have been tempted to fire on them." Tom grinned. "I can just imagine. So did you complete the negotiations?" "Yes, and thankfully the Verbasian ship is again on its way. So, what did you do today?" "Harry and I are in the midst of creating another masterpiece. This holoprogram will top all of the others," Tom said looking smug.
"So do I get any hints?" Chakotay asked, inordinately please that Tom had actually given him a real answer to a question.
"Weíre recreating a small Irish village. Iím thinking of naming her Fair Haven. Iím not sharing any more details than that. I want to get your impressions when sheís done."
"I look forward to it," Chakotay said, meaning every word. "So, does this mean youíre retiring the Proton program?"
"Of course not," Tom said. "The Adventures of Captain Proton are far from over. You know, you should try one of the episodes sometime."
"Me? No way. Who would I play?"
Tom thought for a moment and then with a wicked grin said, "Chaotica."
"Isnít that the villain?"
"Yep. Think about it. You could see if you could outsmart Captain Proton." Chakotay leaned slight forward, "Tom, if I played Chaotica, Proton wouldnít stand a chance." "Really. I doubt it. Of course weíll never know, as you have no interest in playing, right?" Tom said. Chakotay forgot about his food. Right now all he wanted to do was kiss those lips that were turned up in a partial grin and pull Tom into his arms. He had missed this banter; missed Tom. They hadnít really talked in such a playful manner since the beginning of their relationship. He had to calm down; he was getting carried away. It was hard to think clearly when he was so tired and so relieved to have Tom acting normally. "Iím not taking the bait," Chakotay said, grinning. "Just think about. Itíd be fun. I promise," Tom said entreatingly.
"All right. Iíll think about it, but no promises," he said, knowing all the while that if Tom truly wanted him to play, he would.
"Thanks," Tom said with a smile.
They ate in silence for a few minutes, until Tom spoke, his voice a bit hesitant. "What explanationís been given for my being off duty?" Chakotay put down his fork. "The senior staff knows what happened, but the rest of the crew thinks you caught a virus that developed from some sort of allergic reaction." Tom nodded, gazing intently at his plate.
"Tom. Are you all right with that?"
Tom looked up and met Chakotayís eyes. "Yeah, Iím fine with that. The senior staff would need to know. Iím glad though the rest of the crew doesnít know. I donít want to have to explain things." His voice drifted off, and he gazed back down at his plate. Chakotay wished he could ask Tom to explain things, but now wasnít the time. He was glad Tom had at least felt comfortable enough to broach the subject of what the crew had been told about his absence.
"So, any interesting gossip going around the ship?" Tom asked, his voice steady again.
Chakotay filled Tom in on some of the more note worthy tidbits from the shipís gossip mill while the two of them finished their dinner. When they had cleared off the table, Tom said, "Well I think Iíll go do a little reading, if thatís okay?" "Of course," Chakotay said quickly. "I have to finish a few reports anyway." He was a bit disappointed though. He would have loved to spend more time talking to Tom. With a yawn, he sat down at his desk and called up his report on the Verbasian negotiations. He tried to force his eyes to focus, but found himself nodding off. His chin slipped downward, and the movement jolted him. He opened his eyes wide, staring at the screen. Again though, he dozed off. The next thing he knew someone was lightly shaking him.
"Chakotay. Come on. I think youíve done enough." He looked up to see Tomís blue eyes gazing at him in concern. "You need to get some rest," Tom said, his hand on Chakotayís shoulder.
Chakotay again wondered if he was dreaming. He pushed the thought from his bewildered mind, yawned and stretched. "Let me just finish this paragraph." "Okay. Iím going to head into the bathroom to get ready for bed myself. Donít fall back to sleep at the terminal." Chakotay grinned. "Yes sir." Tom laughed as he walked away. He paused though before walking into the bedroom. "Chakotay, youíre going to sleep in the bed tonight, right?" Chakotay looked up, startled. "If thatís what you want." It was all he could think of to say.
"It is," Tom said and then walked into the bedroom. Looking at the doorway where Tom had just stood, Chakotay felt a bit like he was navigating a minefield. Now what did that request mean? He had no idea. He took a few minutes to wrap up the paragraph he had been working on and logged off his terminal.
When he entered the bedroom, Tom was already curled up on the left side of the bed, his eyes closed. Chakotay went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. When he was done, he got undressed, keeping only his boxers on.
He climbed into bed and found himself staring at Tomís back. The younger man was curled up at the edge of the bed. It seemed to Chakotay as if he was trying to stay as far away as he could. Why then had he asked him to sleep in the bed? Was it just that Tom felt guilty over him sleeping on the couch? He didnít think so.
He swallowed as he looked at the pale smooth skin just within his reach. To hell with it, he thought, and moved closer to Tom. He lightly draped an arm around Tomís waist. He was ready to remove it the instant the younger man showed any sign of alarm, but instead of stiffening, Tom relaxed, moving back against Chakotay with a sigh.
As he tightened his arm around the other man, realization hit Chakotay. Tom had been afraid of rejection. That was why he had kept so much space between them in the bed. Was that also the reason for his previous silence? It seemed too simple of an answer, but it made sense.
He felt Tom start to move, and he slowly pulled his arm back. Tom turned to face him, placing a hand on his chest. Without thinking, Chakotay leaned down and kissed Tom gently. As he moved back from the kiss, he ran his hand lightly along the side of the younger manís face. Tom smiled at him and said, "Goodnight." "Goodnight. Sleep well," he said.
"I will," Tom said, still smiling. He called for the computer to turn off the lights, and then turned so once again his back was to Chakotay. This time, though, there was no distance between them.
Chakotay once again put his arm around Tomís waist. He closed his eyes, trying to push aside the questions and doubts that threatened to weigh down his mind, and instead concentrated on enjoying the feeling of holding Tom. He prayed that tomorrow Tom wouldnít push him away again. Prayed that this change wasnít just too sudden to last. Tomís body was warm against his, and the pillows felt extraordinarily soft. Chakotay welcomed sleep, as it came to take over a mind filled with confusion.

TBC