Title:  Too Much To Take (1/?)
Author:   CatHeights
Pairing:   C/P, some P/T
Rating:  R, death, disturbing dream images, angst (lots of it), m/m.  This is a slash story.  If reading about a relationship between two men disturbs you, read no further.

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Feedback:   I would love to hear your thoughts, e-mail me at CatHeights@yahoo.com
Archive:  Protective!Chakotay Archive.  If someone wants to archive the story somewhere else, thatís fine by me as long as you drop me an e-mail letting me know where it will be archived.

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Spoiler Warning:  Barge of the Dead; Extreme Risk; Nothing Human.  This story is sort of a coda to Barge of the Dead, so if you havenít seen the episode you may be a bit lost in the beginning.

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

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Deb and Shawna thanks to both of you for reading through this for my inevitable word switches.  Deb your insight is inspiring.

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            Tom felt like his life had become a never-ending nightmare.  They were losing her.   How could he have agreed to be part of this?   He had helped to kill his lover.   While one part of his mind raced in agony, the other part followed the Doctorís direction trying to stave off what seemed to be BíElannaís inevitable death.  He increased the cortical stimulation to 70 millijoules, whispering a barely audible "please."

      Perhaps something heard his plea because BíElanna bolted upright, mumbling, "Mother?"  Exhaling in relief, his hands shaking violently, he moved toward BíElanna needing to touch her to reassure himself that she was indeed alive. Before he could take her into his arms though, she hugged the Captain.   As she clung to the Captain, the cold knot that had been buried in his chest started to ache.  He laid a hand on BíElannaís back still feeling the need to touch her.  How could he have lived with having killed BíElanna?   Panic started to fill him and he trembled, but he forced himself to stay calm.    He removed his hand from BíElannaís back, but she never
noticed.   She had Captain Janeway to comfort her.

      Some part of him realized the Doctor was telling BíElanna that she needed to get some rest.  He noticed the tear stains on her face.  He had not noticed her tears before.  He vaguely wondered why.  The painful clarity of a few moments ago had dissipated and he felt like everything was suddenly at a distance.  I just need to get out of sickbay and get back to my quarters, he told himself.  He wanted to be alone.  Yes, heíd be fine if he was alone. He realized his mind must have wandered when he felt a hand clasp his.  He looked down to see BíElanna smiling up at him.   "Iíll see you later," she said.   He forced himself to smile, and leaned down to place a small kiss on her forehead.   Sighing, she closed her eyes.

      As he moved way from the biobed, he stumbled slightly.  He felt the steadying grip of the Captain on his arm. "Easy, Tom," she said.   "Are you all right?"  Her eyes gazed at him with concern, but he couldnít accept that concern.  How could she let him try to kill his lover?

      "Iím fine Captain," he replied.

      "You look exhausted.  Why donít you go back to your quarters and get some rest?  BíElanna probably wonít be awake for hours," the Captain said softly.

      Relief flooded through him.  "Okay.  I think I could use some sleep," he said.  "Iíll see you later."

      "Sleep well," the Captain said.

      "Good work, Mr. Paris," the Doctor added as Tom made his way out of sickbay.

      He hurried through the corridors barely acknowledging the greetings of crewmembers he passed.  He needed to be alone.  When the doors to his quarters slid close, he let the tremors finally twist through his body.  He slid onto the couch, pulling his knees up to his chest as the images assaulted him.

      BíElanna lying on a biobed not responding to the cortical stimulator
      BíElanna lying motionless in a shuttle
      BíElanna with an alien attached to her chest refusing to let Crell Moset treat her.
      BíElanna in a holodeck with the safeties off test flying the Delta Flyer

      The images cycled through his mind again and again.   He had no sense of how long the torment lasted, only that when it was over his throat felt raw and his body ached.  He uncurled himself and stumbled to the bed.  He was exhausted.  He needed to sleep.  Once he had gotten some sleep he would be able to sort things through.  Not bothering to take off his uniform, he huddled on the bed.  His exhausted body shut down, but his mind did not pulling him back into memories he had buried long ago.   It was an old dream with a new more violent aspect. The dreams had been so rare the last few years that their return left him defenseless.  Tomís screams filled the cabin as the smell of blood and burning flesh filled his nostrils.

      He was trapped, a shuttle fragment pinning his leg to what was left of the pilotís chair.  Agony shot through him as he tried to move.   He managed to get a shaky hand to his face to wipe at the blood that was pouring into his eyes.  "Susan, Charlie, Meg, are you all right," he croaked. No one answered.   Bracing himself against the pain, he turned toward Susan who was in the copilotís seat.

      His eyes locked onto her gray eyes, which no longer held any life.  She was right next to him, closer than she should have been.   Her long red hair was almost within armís reach.  The strands so caked with blood that they appeared maroon in the emergency lighting.  He started to scream as he realized it was only her head next to him; her body still strapped into the copilotís seat.  He screamed until his voice went.  No one told him to stop.  No one answered his cries.  He couldnít see Charlie or Meg from where he was, but he could smell burning flesh. Dear god, he was in hell.

      Suddenly the pain in his leg disappeared.  He blinked realizing he was standing instead of being pinned to his seat and that he held a bloody batíleth.  He realized the blood on the batíleth was fresh and that it was dripping on something, a head.  Only instead of seeing Susanís vacant gray eyes, he gazed down to see BíElannaís decapitated head sprayed at his feet, blood clotted into the ridges of her forehead.

      Tom bolted upright in bed, the sounds of his own screams waking him.  The image of BíElannaís bloodied head stuck in his mind.   His screams faded to a whimper and he began to gag.  He stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom, barely reaching the toilet before he started to vomit.  Not having eaten much that day, he mostly dry heaved.  Finally the gagging stopped and he eased himself against the bathroom wall clutching his stomach, gasping for breath.  His eyes closed and a tear fell from beneath one eyelid.  His chest ached violently as if he had vomited up his heart.  He couldnít do this anymore, dear god, he just couldnít do this anymore.   It had to end,
he realized.  He leaned his head against his knees and sobbed.  Eventually his sobs ceased.  Exhausted he curled up on the bathroom floor and fell asleep.

TBC