Title:  Too Much To Take (13/?)
Author:  CatHeights
Pairing:  C, T (C/P implied)
Rating:   PG-13 this part.  This is a slash story.  If reading
about a relationship between two men disturbs you, read no
Feedback:  CatHeights@yahoo.com
Archive:  Cha_Club, ATPS, Paris Nights. Anywhere else, just ask
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.
End of Part 12:

With a sinking feeling, Tom wondered exactly what sort of gossip
was spreading through the ship.  He had a feeling that when he
found out, he was going to be far from thrilled.

And now...

Part 13

He had blown it.  Pushed Tom back into B'Elanna's arms.  How
could he have been so stupid?  Why was it that when it came to
Tom, he always seemed to make the wrong choice?  From the first
day he had met Tom, something about the man always seemed to
unsettle his composure--he reacted instead of thinking.  Damn,
how could he have done this?

Chakotay sat down on his couch, sighing heavily.  He just wanted
the world and everything in it to disappear.  He knew that it
wasn't his day for wishes to be granted, as the chime to his door
signaled, letting him know that world was still very much there.
For a brief moment, he thought of telling whomever it was to just
go away.   Then duty reasserted itself.  He was the First
Officer; it wouldn't do for him to be yelling at people to leave
him alone.

He took a deep breath and got off the couch as the chime beeped
again.  Maybe if he answered the door rather than saying come in,
the person would get the point that they were disturbing him.

The door slid open and he found B'Elanna standing on the other
side.  He was a bit disconcerted, but he recovered quickly,
"B'Elanna is this important?  It's actually not a good time."

"Tough," she said pushing at him lightly so that he stumbled back
and she was able to move past him.

The door slid close as he stared at her warily.   He had seen
B'Elanna in a mood like this before, except normally he was the
one trying to diffuse her temper, not the cause of it.  What had
she found out?

"I saw you in the mess hall, but you didn't hang around long
enough to even stop by and say 'hi,'" she said, her arms crossed
and her whole manner confrontational.

"Sorry, I had things to do.  I just wanted to grab something to
eat and get back to work," Chakotay said not backing down from
her attack.

"You left without grabbing anything."

"I changed my mind.  I wasn't hungry.  What's with the
interrogation, Torres?"  He wasn't going to play games with her.
If she wanted to accuse him of something, then she should damn
well do it.

B'Elanna wouldn't pull punches with Chakotay. She didn't have to.
 She knew how to get answers out of him, the same way he got them
out of her--by hitting him with the simple unvarnished truth.

Her eyes full of challenge locked on to his, "You're in love with

He felt like she had nailed him in the stomach, knocking the
breath right out of him.  He had expected her to know something,
but he just hadn't expected her to know the full truth and state
it straight out.   He recovered quickly, realizing that however
this argument between him and B'Elanna ended, he needed to make
sure that she was angry with him and not Tom.

He opened his mouth to tell her she was being ridiculous, but she
cut him off.

"Don't even bother Chakotay.  You can deny it all you want, but I
won't believe you.  I know it's true."

It was time to change the topic.  He needed her off this line of
questioning.  "I know you and Tom have been having problems and
that you've just gotten back together, but just because your
having problems with your romance, doesn't give you the right to
come here making ridiculous accusations."

Arms still crossed, her brown eyes unreadable, B'Elanna said,
"Tom and I are not back together.  We're just friends."

Chakotay felt relief flood through him. Tom hadn't gone back to
B'Elanna.  He had only let down his guard for a minute, but it
had been too long.  He cursed himself for being so careless.  He
had just given B'Elanna more ammunition.

She uncrossed her arms and walked over to the couch, perching on
its arm.  Her mouth twisted into a feral half grin.  "You've
never made the mistake of thinking I was stupid.  Don't start
now.  I saw the look in your eyes when you came into the mess
hall and saw Tom and I together, and I know you're relieved right
now to know that things are still over between the two of us.
Stop wasting both of our time denying the truth. Besides, your
being in love with Tom really isn't the issue."  The smile left
her face and she glared at him.

Chakotay said nothing; he simply glared back at her.  Not giving
an inch.

"What did you do Chakotay?  I know that when Tom needed someone
to talk to, he went to you not Harry.  So why is he not talking
to you now?  He's been avoiding the mess hall when he knows
you'll be there.  The only reason he was there tonight was that I
dragged him.  Tell me what you did."

Chakotay looked at her disgustedly.  "I don't think it's any of
your business."

That brought B'Elanna back to her feet.  "Not my business.  When
there are rumors running around this ship that Tom is angry
because he found out that you and I slept together while I was
dating him, I would disagree."

Chakotay looked stunned and angry.  "What?  Who is saying such

"I would guess a fair amount of the crew, but I heard if from Sue
Nicoletti and Megan Delaney."

"I'm sure that no one actually believes that, B'Elanna.  It's not
worth getting upset over," Chakotay said trying to calm down.
Maybe that was all this was about, B'Elanna being angry over the
gossip that was going around.  She was never thrilled to be the
subject of the rumor mill.

"I don't care who believes it, because the people I'm concerned
about won't believe that it's true. Besides, you and I both know
that the real question is what is going on between you and Tom."
Her eyes blazed at him.

He closed the distance between them.  "B'Elanna, you can't tell
me you're thinking that Tom was cheating on you with me."

She remained silent--encouraging him to believe that she was
thinking exactly that.

His eyes sparked dangerously.  "I can't believe you would think
that.  He would never do such a thing."  He moved away from her
as if being too close to her was offensive.  "You want to know
what happened?  I'll tell you.  Tom came to see me after you
broke up.  He was upset over the breakup and bothered by images
he was still seeing from his dreams.  Did he tell you about the

"He told me," she said in a clipped tone.

"I'm glad, then you can understand why he would be upset.  So, I
talked to him, he closed his eyes, and I kissed him.  I KISSED
HIM.  He didn't do anything.  In fact, he let it go no further,
and tore out my quarters.  I haven't talked to him since. You can
blame me--I was at fault, not Tom.   Does that answer your

B'Elanna looked down at the floor, silently shaking her head for
a moment.  She raised her head and made a sound that was a cross
between a chuckle and a snort of disgust.  "Kahless, what an
idiot you are, Chakotay."

Anger coursing through him, he struggled to bite back a reply.
He didn't want to say anything that would cause her to go
storming out of here and possibly to Tom's quarters.

B'Elanna silently walked across the room.  Gazing out the view
port, she started speaking quietly.  "How long do you think
you've been in love with him?  Probably since our days in the
Maquis.   Ah, maybe you weren't in love with him then, but the
attraction was there.  I remember the looks now; I'd forgotten.
So, you finally decided to admit it. Took you long enough."

She turned around, a sneer contrasting the quiet tone of her
voice. "You waited all this time.  So why blow it like this?  Did
you think he would forget about me that quickly?  Is that how
little you thought of our relationship?  He proved you wrong.
You should have waited.  Then again, you always seem to react
badly where Tom is concerned."  Her voice started to rise as she
again locked eyes with him.  "If you care so much about him, why
didn't you wait?   Surely he had enough things to handle right
now, without you adding one more.  Or didn't you think about

The sharp tone of her voice grated on Chakotay, fraying the
tenuous hold he had on his temper.  "Are you accusing me of not
thinking about Tom's feelings?  You're the last person who should
be doing that.  When have you ever thought about how Tom would
feel?  You've always done what you wanted, revealed what you
wanted, and just expected Tom to accept that.  You're the one
responsible for his nightmares. Or have you chosen to forget that
for the moment?"  His eyes drilled into B'Elanna's.

Silence filled the room for a few moments as B'Elanna gazed at
Chakotay, her face suddenly blank.  She walked back over to the
couch, leaning against it once again before speaking, her voice
even.  "I haven't forgotten.  That's part of the reason that I'm
here."  Her lips quirked in a half-grin, which quickly faded.

Before Chakotay could ask what she meant by that last remark, she
continued, "I'll admit that my insistence on handling things
alone has hurt Tom way too many times.  Do you think that I don't
realize that this was part of the problem in our relationship?  I
know it.  Let me tell you though, as many times as I chose to
deal with things myself, so has Tom.  In many ways we are very
different, but when it comes to dealing with personal problems we
are very much alike-we do it alone.  That similarity is one of
the things that drew us together.  It was so nice to have someone
willing to listen when you needed them, but not pushing at you
when you just didn't want to talk about it.  It worked well for a
while, but you know in the end, I think it's the reason things
didn't work out.  The more we handled things on our own, the
fewer things we experienced together, and we drifted apart."

She paused for a moment and Chakotay swore he saw a flicker of
hurt in her brown eyes, but it was quickly controlled before she
continued speaking.  "Despite what you think, I am not fully
responsible for things not working out."  Her voice had a hard
edge to it.  "And I won't take all the blame.  It was both of our
faults.  Tom knows that.  I know that.  So, I'm surely not going
to let you lay all the blame on me.   Besides, I thought you knew
me better than that."

Her words diminished most of his anger as he realized what she
said was true; it wasn't all her fault and he knew that.   He had
known it when he made the accusations and insinuations.  Chakotay
knew that even blaming Tom's current nightmare on B'Elanna was
unfair.   She was right; Tom's insistence on handling things
alone was partly to blame too.

"I think things have gotten a bit out of hand here," he said, his
voice holding the hint of an apology.   "I don't really think
you're to blame, B'Elanna.  And you're right I shouldn't be
making judgments on your relationship.   I just didn't appreciate
your telling me that I didn't care about Tom's feelings.  I never
wanted to hurt him."

"Nor did I, but sometimes it happens," B'Elanna said.

"Yes it does," he said.

She met his eyes; relieved to see he understood and that his
anger had dissipated.  She really didn't want to fight with
Chakotay.   She needed to get him angry to force the truth out of
him, but now she needed him to listen.

Glancing up at the ceiling, her arms crossed, she said, "Ever
since Tom and I broke up, I've spent a lot of time thinking about
his nightmares. How I could have made things easier on him."

B'Elanna moved her gaze back to him, and Chakotay saw a glint of
defiance in her eyes.

"I know you don't believe that my experiences on the Barge of the
Dead were real.  I doubt Tom does either. But, Chakotay, to me
they were real. They weren't just something my subconscious
created.  Going back changed me--for the better.  I can't regret
that.  It was something I needed to do," she said.

"I understand.  Some of the most important journeys happen within
us.  I won't pretend to understand what you experienced, but I do
understand your needing to do it."

B'Elanna nodded, glad that he did truly understand.  For so many
years, he'd be the one who had offered her guidance, shook sense
into her when she needed it, and most of all believed in her
abilities.  Engineering was hers because Chakotay believed in
her.  She was about to return the favor.

"What I do regret is having Tom in Sickbay with me when we
recreated the near death experience.  I should have insisted that
he not be there.  He would have been furious with me, but he
would have been better off.  How many nights have I woken to find
Tom tossing and turning?  I should have known that this might
bother him enough to haunt his dreams."

She looked up to see a surprised expression on Chakotay's face.
"Something wrong?"  she asked.

"Does Tom often have bad dreams?"  Chakotay asked quietly.

"Often enough.  Not like the ones he's been having recently.
Usually he doesn't wake from them, and when I've asked him about
them, he claims not to remember them.  Did he tell you he
normally doesn't have bad dreams?"

"Not exactly, but he did say he hadn't had nightmares like these
for a long time."

She smiled at Chakotay sadly.  "Might be true, but believe me
Tom's sleep isn't often restful."  She looked reflective as she
said, "I remember one night, before we started dating, Tom and I
had been up talking and he fell asleep on my couch.  He started
mumbling in his sleep and I had smiled at first, thinking about
how I would tell him later that he had been calling out the
Captain's name or something.  Then the mumbling became words and
he began tossing back and forth, as if struggling with someone.
It took me a while, but eventually I got him to wake up.  I
pulled him into my arms, and for a long time we sat there, me
holding him close, and then slowly I got him to talk about the
dream.  He opened up to me, and I got a chance to see what was
hidden behind those barriers he's erected over the years.  I
liked being behind his walls, so much that at the time it scared

She saw recognition in Chakotay's eyes and continued speaking
gently, "I see you know what I'm talking about.  Chakotay, I'm
not trying to diminish the importance of Tom's confiding in you.
He doesn't let many people behind his walls.  It's just that you
have to realize that you got behind those walls because you
caught Tom at a weak moment, and trust me he doesn't have many of
those.  Of course you also got him to talk because he trusts you,
but no matter how much Tom trusts someone, for the most part, he
can't or won't talk about things that bother him.  The past
belongs in the past, in his eyes, and there is no sense dredging
it up, you just bury it deeper.  Sometimes the more you push, the
more likely he is to shut you out."

Chakotay nodded, not sure where she was going with this
conversation.  He had to be misunderstanding because it almost
sounded like she was giving him relationship advice.  The
headache pounding at his temples was making it hard to think.

"You've got to give Tom some space.  Give him some time to adjust
to our relationship ending and then see if he's interested."

Chakotay's jaw dropped; she was giving him advice on Tom.
"B'Elanna are you..." He had no idea how to phrase his question.

She smirked at his obvious confusion.  "Encouraging you to
eventually pursue Tom, yes I am, but I'm telling you to wait a
bit before you do.  He'll come around."

Chakotay wasn't too sure about that.

She could see the doubt on his face.  "Don't worry, Tom will
forgive you, if he's even mad.  Most likely he's just confused
and shutting you out.  I think he cares for you too. He's too
often been concerned about what you think.  You just need to give
him some time."

"You're not still angry with me?" Chakotay asked still a bit
confused.  Instead of trying to deck him, B'Elanna was actually
making him feel better about his chances with Tom.

"I was never angry, well except maybe when you made the comments
about things being my fault.  I needed to know what was going
on," she said with a small smile.

Chakotay smiled back, "So you got me mad so that I would tell

"Something like that.  It worked didn't it?  After all, I learned
from the master."

"So, this is payback for all the times I've yelled at you," he
said and chuckled.

Still smiling, she stopped leaning against the couch and stood up
straight. "I should be going. I have some things to take care

He looked her in the eyes and said simply, "Thanks."

"You're welcome," she said and headed for the door.  Just before
she reached it she turned around, remembering something.
"Actually Chakotay, there's something you could do for me."

He looked wary but receptive. "What is it?"

"Sue Nicoletti and Megan Delaney don't seem to know what to do
with their time.  I was thinking that they might benefit from
some cross training.  Maybe in security or the mess hall.
Everyone on the crew should be challenged," she said looking as
if this was a normal request.

A small grin quirked at Chakotay's lips.  "Lieutenant, I think
that is an excellent suggestion.  I'll rework some of the duty
shifts to incorporate their new assignments.  Shall I make a note
that it is at your request."

B'Elanna's grin matched Chakotay's.  "Oh definitely. Let them
know it is at my request.   'Night."

"Good Night, B'Elanna," Chakotay said.  He watched as the door
slid close and then sat down on the couch.  Leaning back, he
closed his eyes.  He was glad B'Elanna knew what had happened and
that he no longer had to worry about her finding out.  Even
though she seemed sure that Tom would talk to him, he had his
doubts.  He'd give Tom space; he had no other choice.