Title: Too Much To Take (10/?)
Author: CatHeights
Pairing: C/P, J, T
Rating: PG-13. This is a slash story. If reading about a relationship
between two men disturbs you, read no further.

Feedback: I would love to hear your thoughts, e-mail me at

Archive: Protective!Chakotay, ATPS. Anywhere else, just ask first.

Spoiler Warning: Barge of the Dead; Extreme Risk; Nothing Human.

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.

Dedicated to everyone on the Protective!Chakotay list for encouraging me to
keep writing, and bugging me for the next part -:)

Kathryn wondered just how many of her senior staff truly had their
thoughts focused on this morning's briefing. Even Seven seemed to be
sneaking glances to catch reactions. While Tuvok appeared to be his normal
disinterested self, she would bet that he was taking in every reaction as much
as anyone else. Actually, the only person who seemed completely oblivious to
the tension was B'Elanna. Kathryn thought it odd that her Chief Engineer
appeared the least affected by the recent personnel tensions. She was, as
normal, totally engrossed in Engineering. The ship had taken on some
much-needed replacement parts at Altus, and B'Elanna was overseeing their
installation as well as resolving some conflicts with Voyager's bioneural

Upon entering the briefing room, B'Elanna had taken her normal seat
beside Tom, which had surprised Kathryn. Apparently there were no hard
feelings between the two, as Tom gave B'Elanna a small smile that was returned
when she took her seat. One would think that if anyone would be having
problems getting along it would be the couple that had recently broken up, but
on Voyager nothing every happened as one expected. No instead of Tom and
B'Elanna's breakup being the top gossip item, everyone was trying to figure
out what had happened between Tom and Chakotay.

When both men were present on the bridge, it was a very silent
shift. Tom didn't crack a single joke, and he answered all questions briefly
and professionally. Besides his strange behavior on the bridge, everyone was
also commenting on how Tom now avoided Sandrine's. Even odder was that
Chakotay could often be found in Sandrine's, sitting alone as if waiting for

And one couldn't forget Harry, Kathryn thought. She couldn't help
noticing the more than occasional hostile looks he shot at the Commander.
Obviously Tom had told Harry something. Between Tom's stoic silence and
Harry's obvious support of his friend, the gossip was sure Chakotay must have
done something really rotten, but no one could find out exactly what.
Neither Tom, Harry, nor Chakotay were talking.

She really hoped she wouldn't have to interfere. She guessed she
should be grateful that at least Chakotay no longer seemed annoyed with her.
Three days ago, she had thought he wanted to bite off her head. She almost
called him on it, but then noticed Tom's cold behavior. She had taken a
careful look at Chakotay and noted that he appeared exhausted and that he kept
glancing wistfully at Tom. He tried to hide the glances, but she missed none
of them.

Something obviously had happened, and she had a bad feeling that she
was in some way partially responsible. Had someone overheard her
conversation in the mess hall with Chakotay and told Tom? She hoped not, and
right now she really didn't want to know if that was the case. She was hoping
the two would solve their problems on their own, but she had a feeling that
was very unlikely.

As Tuvok finished up his security report, and B'Elanna started
discussing the status of the replacement part installations, Kathryn turned
her thoughts to Tom. Maybe she should try talking to the pilot. Chakotay
probably wouldn't talk to her, but she might have some luck with Tom.

She took one glance at Tom and almost laughed. Who was she kidding,
thinking Tom would be easier to get to talk than Chakotay? She had never
seen him look more interested in everyone's reports. While he was always good
at looking attentive, he normally didn't look so completely absorbed with each
person's report. Today he was the perfect picture of a model Starfleet
officer. His back was straight as he sat, and his whole being was focused on
what B'Elanna was saying. She wondered what thoughts he was trying to keep at
bay. Looking at a face that gave away nothing, Kathryn knew trying to get
Tom to tell her what was going on with him and Chakotay would be a complete
waste of time. Mentally sighing, she turned her attention to B'Elanna's

Tom was trying his best to stay focused on his former lover's words,
but it was hard. It had been much easier to listen to Tuvok. There was
nothing in the Vulcan's calm, even tone to start Tom's imagination running.
However, as always, B'Elanna spoke with passion about her work. The
inflections as she spoke were so familiar to him. He could hear her
frustration and pride coming through as she talked about the difficulties with
the repairs. Her voice made him feel wishful and after recent events, guilty.

Plus, it hadn't helped that when Tuvok had finished speaking, Tom
had accidentally met Chakotay's eyes. He had moved his gaze quickly to
B'Elanna, but not before he noticed the pain in those eyes. His silence was
hurting the Commander. He knew it, but he couldn't think of any other way to
handle the situation.

Somehow he had managed to screw things up again. Harry kept
telling him that none of what had transpired was his fault, but he couldn't
get rid of the feeling that he must have encouraged Chakotay in some manner.
When finally he had broken down and told Harry what had happened, he had been
surprised at how angry his friend had become at Chakotay. Harry seemed to
think that the Commander had taken advantage of his emotional distress. At
another time, Tom probably would have found Harry's anger humorous. He made
it sound like Tom was this poor little innocent that Chakotay had attempted to

He would have laughed the whole thing off if it weren't for the one
thing he hadn't told Harry. He had talked about the nightmares, breaking up
with B'Elanna, Chakotay helping him and then the kiss, but he never told Harry
how he felt about Chakotay. He couldn't say that out loud to anyone,
especially now. He also didn't tell Harry about the new dreams. He didn't
know which dream was worse. The one where B'Elanna's decapitated head accused
him of having never cared for her, or the one in which he found himself having
not stopped Chakotay's kiss. From the first he woke screaming, and while
waking from the second wasn't terrifying, it left him with a yearning he
couldn't satisfy and an increased feeling of guilt.

Chakotay had tried to talk to him several times, but Tom evaded him.
He didn't dare stay too close or his eyes would drift to those lips and his
mind would encourage him to resume that kiss and find out where it might lead.
He couldn't give into that desire. It was wrong and B'Elanna would hate
him. That of course was the main problem--B'Elanna. What would she think if
she found out, that not even an hour after they had broken up, he was kissing
Chakotay? She would be hurt and rightfully so. He wouldn't do that to her.
He looked at the beautiful woman speaking intently at his side, and felt a
twinge of loss. It still hurt to think about what they had lost, what had
slipped away as their lives moved on. The sudden realization of his
attraction to Chakotay only served to make the pain of that loss even sharper,
as it now was coupled with guilt.

He wondered when the attraction had started. How many times in the
last few months had he chosen to spend an hour here or there with Chakotay
rather than with B'Elanna. Going back through his memory, he found it had
been often, particularly in the last few weeks. Had he unconsciously been
putting distance between himself and B'Elanna because he was attracted to
someone else? He hoped not, but now the doubt was raised. How would B'Elanna
see things? He was convinced that she would be furious at both him and
Chakotay. Chakotay and B'Elanna had been friends for so long, and Tom
refused to be the reason their friendship ended.

No, he couldn't laugh at Harry's anger toward Chakotay because the
Commander didn't deserve that anger. All he had done was try to help Tom out
and look at the mess it had gotten him into. He wished Harry would stop with
the glares. Tom knew the Commander felt bad. If he could have figured out a
way to make things easier on Chakotay he would have, but there was nothing he
could do.

Besides, he figured the distance he was creating between the two of
them in the end would be beneficial to Chakotay. It would keep him from being
tainted by the mess Tom always created of his life. As long as he kept up his
neutral mask, things would be fine. Chakotay would eventually forget about
him--he ignored the wince of pain that thought brought. B'Elanna would never
know what happened and all would be fine. Once again he focused his thoughts
completely on the meeting. He could do this.

Chakotay didn't even pretend he was fully listening to B'Elanna. He
had read her reports, and he knew the status of the repairs. Still, he
didn't want the Captain to decide she needed to talk to him, so for the most
part he kept his eyes focused on B'Elanna. Occasionally, he did glance over
at Tom trying to catch the younger man's eye. Before B'Elanna had started
speaking, their eyes had met, but Tom hadn't even reacted. He simply glanced
over Chakotay, as if he were a stranger, before turning his full attention to
B'Elanna. That had hurt. He kept trying to figure out what Tom was thinking,
but the man was completely closed off.

The cold front he was getting made him sick to his stomach. Maybe
Tom wasn't even attracted to him. Was it all one-sided? Rather than being
confused and betrayed, was Tom offended? He had to know. He had to talk to
Tom. He kept going from worry over whether he had made things worse for Tom
to fear that the pilot found his behavior offensive. He needed to know what
was going on in the younger man's mind. He resolved to try talking to Tom
one more time. He had nothing to loose, he decided as B'Elanna wrapped up her

"So, all parts should be successfully installed within the next 48
hours," B'Elanna finished looking mildly pleased. After, all that was 24
hours sooner than expected.

"Good work, B'Elanna," the Captain said. "Tell your staff that
they've done an excellent job with this one."

B'Elanna nodded and returned the congratulatory smile Tom gave her.

"Does anyone else have anything we need to discuss?" Kathryn asked.
She was relieved when no one spoke up. "Well then, let's get back to work."

Kathryn smiled as she watched B'Elanna bolt out of the briefing
room. It was obvious she was eager to get back to her engines. She saw that
as Tom started to leave, Chakotay tried to stop him for a moment. However,
before he could reach Tom, Harry blocked his path. Tom slipped out the door,
and after glaring at the Commander, Harry followed him. Chakotay paused but
then followed the two out. Neelix was the last to leave and she saw him
shaking his head as he left.

The doors slid close, and at last she was alone. It was days like
these when she really wished that Voyager had a ship's counselor. She
chuckled. If they had a counselor Tom and Chakotay would have been that
person's problem.

Coffee, she definitely needed coffee. A huge cup, and then she
could face another shift with Tom being silent and formal, and Chakotay
looking like someone had stole his puppy. Yes, it looked like another
tension filled shift lay ahead. Thank god for caffeine.