Title:  Too Much to Take (15/?)
Author:  CatHeights
Pairing:  C/P
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, TPD. Anywhere else, just
ask first.
Spoiler Warning: Barge of the Dead; Extreme Risk; Nothing Human;
One Small Step
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.
If you're missing a part, you can find it on my website,
Dedicated to Britta whose stories I enjoyed long before I took
the jump and started writing C/P and who continues to write
stories that never fail to delight.  May real life be kinder to
you very soon.  Thanks to Shawna for cleaning this bit up :-)
End of Part 14:

Chakotay and Tom were forgotten as calculations and ideas flooded
through B'Elanna's mind.  Her brain racing through solutions,
Voyager's Chief Engineer walked into her domain.

And now...
Part 15

Chakotay had just decided to get something for his headache and
then go to bed when his door chimed.  He groaned, sitting back
down on the couch and closing his eyes.  With his luck, it was
probably Kathryn having decided she needed to talk to him about
his personal life interfering with his duty.   Just great.

"Come in," he said with a decided lack of enthusiasm.

As he heard the swooshing sound of the doors, he sighed and
forced his eyes open.  He stared in shock as Tom stepped into his
quarters. He was suddenly wide-awake.  "Tom."

"Am I interrupting something?" Tom said nervously.

"No, not at all," Chakotay hastily assured him.  He stayed seated
on the couch, irrationally afraid that if he made the slightest
movement, Tom would disappear.

Tom took two more steps into the room and then stopped, glancing
down.  Where to begin?   Damn, he should have thought about what
he was going to say before he got here.  He just really wanted to
see Chakotay.

After B'Elanna had left, his thoughts had been in a whirl, but
one emotion came through clearly--guilt. Guilt over the way he
had been treating Chakotay.  He clearly remembered the hurt look
on the Commander's face during the morning briefing, and it
bothered him, a lot.

"I'll be here," Chakotay had said to him, and he had been.   He
had helped Tom cut through the misery that had threatened to
engulf him.  His friendship had taken the edge off of a
loneliness that had been Tom's companion for far too long.  The
last person he would want to hurt was Chakotay.  He remembered
too well what that was like, even though it was years ago.  Tom
would never forget the look in Chakotay's eyes the first time he
had seen him on Voyager's bridge.  So many years had passed since
then, but Tom could still picture the Maquis Captain's anger and
hurt over what he had seen as a betrayal. Tom had worked hard to
erase that hurt, he didn't want to put another in those eyes.

B'Elanna's visit had removed any concerns he had about her being
angry, and as he sat in his quarters, recalling that look in the
Commander's brown eyes, he knew he needed to talk to the
man--tonight.  It was an easy conclusion to make, and without any
further thought, he had left his quarters and headed for

As he walked, he told himself, he was going to see the Commander
right away because he wanted to clear the air between them as
soon as possible. It had nothing to do with the dreams he had
been having of that kiss.  Nor could it have anything to do with
his wanting to hear the sound of Chakotay's voice.  Besides, if
he really did want to hear that voice, why couldn't he find
anything to say to start a conversation? Where to start?  How to
break this awkwardness?

"Tom, I'm so sorry," Chakotay said, solving Tom's dilemma.
Hearing the sadness in that voice he so wanted to hear, Tom
looked up.  His gaze met Chakotay's and the awkwardness
disappeared.  All he needed to do was to let Chakotay know that
it was okay, and then they could put this silliness behind them.

"Really, it's all right," Tom said as he walked over and sat next
to Chakotay on the couch.

As Tom sat down next to him, Chakotay felt as if a huge weight
had rolled off his chest.  A part of him had feared that Tom had
been appalled by the thought of him being interested, but if that
were the case, surely Tom wouldn't have sat down next to him so

Chakotay swallowed past the lump in his throat and said, "So,
does this mean you're not mad at me any more?"

"I was never mad at you.  I just didn't want to hurt B'Elanna,
and I didn't want to ruin your friendship with her.  I figured
you'd be better off if I stayed away," Tom said, his expression
both sad and serious.

Well, B'Elanna was right, Chakotay thought, he wasn't mad.  His
eyes widened as it belatedly dawned on him where B'Elanna must
have gone after she left his quarters.

Tom saw the realization in Chakotay's eyes and chuckled.  "Yeah,
you weren't the only one who got a visit from B'Elanna tonight.
Although, as she decided you had the information she wanted, I
think she was a little harder on you.  I wondered why the heck
you had told her what had happened, until she explained that she
purposely got you mad. Then I started picturing you and B'Elanna
glaring at each other, and the Captain wanting to kill us all.
I'm glad you parted friends."  He raised an eyebrow
questioningly. "She was right about that, wasn't she?"

Chakotay smile and held out both hands.  "Don't worry, there's no
ill will between us."   His smile faded.  "Tom, I'm sorry.  I
didn't mean to tell her, but she started to make me think that
she believed you had cheated on her, and I got so angry.  There
was no way I could let her think that."

Tom grinned.  "She set you up, huh, and you fell right for it."

Chakotay shook his head laughing.  "She did, and I should have
known better."

"Despite her methods, I think we owe her one for sorting this all

"I agree," Chakotay said still laughing, his eyes eagerly taking
in the smile on Tom's face.  It was nice to be here with him,
seeing him happy.   Still, something about what Tom had said
bothered him.

"I don't understand why you thought you would be responsible for
ruining my friendship with B'Elanna," Chakotay said trying to
catch Tom's eye.

Tom glanced away, shrugging.  "I just figured."  His voice
drifted off.

Chakotay knew exactly what Tom had probably figured, damn.  "None
of this is your fault, Tom.  It's mine.  My lack of judgement."

Tom stared at Chakotay for a while and then gave a soft chuckle.
"You know, B'Elanna said the same thing to me.  Not to blame
myself, that it was your fault."

Chakotay snorted.  "I can imagine, and I'm sure she used such
wonderful adjectives to describe my behavior.  However, I agree
with her. You had every right to be mad at me."

Tom smiled fondly.  "I guess I just don't see it that way.  There
was nothing to be mad at.  Things just got a bit complicated.
Harry kept trying to convince me that I should be mad too, and I
told him I couldn't make myself mad at you."  His smile
disappeared, and he glanced nervously at Chakotay.  "I told Harry
everything.  I needed someone to talk to."

"It's all right.  I'm glad Harry was there for you, and I kind of
figured you had told him.  His glares were a little obvious,"
Chakotay said smiling.

"Don't worry his bark is worse than his bite."

"You know I really don't want to find out if that's true,"
Chakotay said and Tom laughed, leaning back further into the
couch.  The Commander could feel himself making a mental picture
of that sight.

"I'll call him off. I promise."  Tom grinned.

"Thanks," Chakotay said before pausing to ask the question that
was worrying him.  "Are you all right?"

"Me?  I'm fine."

"No more dreams?"

"No, not really," Tom said evasively.  It had been on the tip of
his tongue to sass back with "except for the ones with you
naked." He wasn't quite ready for where a remark like that might

B'Elanna had told him that there was no need to rush into
anything, and right now he agreed with her.  It wasn't that he
needed time to think about things, but rather he wanted time not
to think.  He was tired of nights spent worrying over whether he
was fully at fault for his ruined relationship with B'Elanna or
about how close he'd come to repeating some of his past mistakes.

Right now, he didn't want to think through all of his feelings
for Chakotay.  He was almost sure, maybe even positive, about
what he felt, but he just wasn't ready to admit to those
feelings, not yet.  So many things had happened recently; it was
just too much. All he wanted was a bit of peace, to go one day
without feeling like life was crashing down around him.  He just
needed some time to feel like he had a grip on his life again
before he made any important decisions--like starting a new
relationship.  But how to explain all that to Chakotay?   How to
let him know that he wanted some space, but just temporarily?

"Not really isn't quite none.  Are you sure you're okay,"
Chakotay asked, breaking Tom from his thoughts.

"There's nothing to worry about.  I'm sleeping fine," Tom said
and took a deep breath.   "Thanks to you.  You helped me battle a
few demons, and I appreciate it."

"I'm glad I was able to help," Chakotay said sincerely.

Tom gave him a small smile and took another deep breath, "Right
now though, I need take care of things on my own.  I need some
space to decide what I want."

Chakotay's stomach clenched.  Here it comes.  "Okay, I can
understand that."

"I'm just not ready yet, to..." Tom chewed lightly on his bottom
lip, trying and failing to find the word he wanted.

"That's okay," Chakotay said, praying that Tom wasn't saying that
he didn't want to see him at all.  "Tom, when you say you need
space, do you mean you would prefer if for a while, except for on
duty, we didn't spend time together?"

Tom looked horrified.  He had been looking forward to hanging out
with Chakotay and not worrying about anything.   "God no.   I
just meant that I'm not ready to make any decisions right now.
Besides, I thought you had made it a goal to socialize at
Sandrine's.  To be a more accessible first officer."

A teasing grin crossed Tom's face as an idea came to mind.
"Unless that wasn't the real reason you were planning to hang out
at Sandrine's.  Did you have a motive besides the crew's well
being?"  He hadn't been able to resist that bit of teasing, and
the look on Chakotay's face made him glad he hadn't.  He was at
least partially right, and he enjoyed how that made him feel.

Chakotay tried to scowl at Tom, but it was hard, because he felt
like beaming.  Tom was attracted to him.  That one remark
banished his doubts.  Tom wasn't trying to salvage his feelings
and put him off lightly.  He meant exactly what he said; he
needed some space. It made perfect sense that Tom wouldn't want
to just go right into another relationship. All he had to do was
wait.  He could do that, particularly now that he knew the
attraction wasn't just one way.

"My motives are pure," Chakotay said, the scowl barely staying on
his face. He gave up and laughed.  Tom laughed with him, his blue
eyes sparkling.  Everything was fine, better than fine, Chakotay

As their laughter died down, Tom sighed and said, "I really
should get going." As he stood, his gaze fell on the table where
the Rubick's cube was currently sitting.  He turned to Chakotay,
puzzled. "What happened to your dreamcatcher?"

Chakotay, who had stood along with Tom, frowned and said, "It
wasn't working like it should, so I got rid of it."

Tom raised an eyebrow, but didn't question any further.  He had a
feeling it was something not to get into at the moment.

"Well, I see you still have the cube.   So, have you changed your
mind about it, yet?"

Chakotay frowned even more.  "No offense Tom, but I just don't
think it's my type of game."

Tom smiled enigmatically at him, and walked over to fetch the
cube.  He stared at it intently, turning it.

"What are you doing?" Chakotay asked.

"You'll see."

For a few moments, all that was heard was the clicking as Tom
turned the cube.  Finally, he looked up smiling and tossed the
cube lightly to Chakotay who reacted quickly, catching it easily.

Chakotay turned it over in his hands, seeing that each side was
now a solid color. Tom had solved the puzzle.  He chuckled.  "I'm

"Not as impressed as the Captain will be when you put that on her
desk," Tom said grinning widely.


"You don't mention that I solved it. You don't even mention that
you solved it.  You just stick it on her desk, and when she asks
you any questions about it, just smile.  It will drive her nuts.
Believe me."

"You're awful," Chakotay said laughing.  Although he had to admit
there was some appeal to the idea.  Kathryn had told him that if
he figured out the cube to let her know.  Of course Tom didn't
know anything about that conversation, and for that reason
Chakotay found Tom's suggestion even more humorous.  That cube
had taken on a new light.

"Well it's up to you, but I'd do it," Tom said a hint of
challenge in his voice.

"Who knows, I might," Chakotay said still chuckling.

"Let me know her reaction if you do.   Well I'm going to head
out. I'm sure I'll see you tomorrow.  'Night."

"Goodnight Tom."

Tom smiled and left.

Still holding the cube, Chakotay walked into his bedroom.
Grinning, he tossed it into the air and caught it.  The thing
just might end up on Kathryn's desk.  He placed it on his
nightstand, and started to get ready for bed, his headache long
since forgotten.