Title: Too Much To Take (3/?)
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.
Feedback: I would love to hear your thoughts, e-mail me at
Archive: Protective!Chakotay Archive. If someone wants to archive the story
somewhere else, that's fine by me as long as you drop me an e-mail letting
me know where it will be archived.
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 haven't seen the episode you
may be a bit lost in the beginning.
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.
Thanks to Shawna for her comments, edits, and insights, and to Joe for being
that last set of eyes. I'm sending, I'm sending, really.

The sight of Tom yawning pulled Chakotay from his frustrating line of
thinking. He really needs to get some sleep, he thought. The ship's gossip
mill had been going wild about Tom having a fight with B'Elanna and then
breaking up with her. He had figured it was just another one of their many
fights. He didn't dare allow himself to hope that it was more. He felt
guilty even thinking about the possibility. Looking at Tom's exhausted face
though, he couldn't help wondering if this time it was more than just a normal
fight. His speculation turned to concern as he watched Tom try to pick up his
drink. His hands were shaking so badly that he needed to use both of them to
raise the glass to his lips.

When Tom had put his glass back on the table, Chakotay asked quietly,
"How long have you been having trouble sleeping?"

Tom looked away and answered evasively, "A few days. It's nothing.
I'll be fine in a day or two."

"Tom, you really don't look well. It might not hurt to go to sickbay."

"What, so I can become the Doc's photo essay guinea pig? No thanks.
I'll be fine," Tom said with a cocky grin. Inside though, he shuddered. It
was hard enough working his shift in sickbay these days without going there
voluntarily. He had too many unpleasant thoughts associated with sickbay at
the moment.

Chakotay recognized that cocky grin as the one that used to infuriate him.
Now, he realized the grin was simply a sign that Tom's defenses had slipped
into place. Damn, suggesting a trip to sickbay hadn't been the smartest

Chakotay grinned hoping to relax Tom. "It would be guaranteed to put you to
sleep. Don't worry, I'm just kidding. Maybe you don't need to go to sickbay,
but you really should go back to your quarters and try to get some sleep."

Tom relaxed as he realized Chakotay wasn't going to insist that he have the
doctor check him out. He wanted to argue with Chakotay about going back to
his quarters, but he realized the Commander was probably right. He was
feeling a bit dizzy and the last thing he needed was to faint and end up in
sickbay. He had been enjoying chatting with Chakotay, though. For the first
time in days, he had felt relaxed. All that awaited him in his quarters were
the nightmares. Still even if his mind couldn't rest, he should rest his
body. He sighed and capitulated. "I can't believe I'm admitting this, but
you're right. I probably should go back to my quarters," he said as he
shakily stood.

Chakotay stood also and said, "I'll walk with you."

"Chakotay that's not necessary. I'm not so tired that I've forgotten how to
find my quarters. I can make it there fine alone," Tom protested.

"I'm sure you can, but if I let you go alone, I'll just have to have the
computer check on you to reassure myself that you made it okay. So I might
as well just walk you there. You're not going to change my mind. You know
how stubborn I can be."

Tom shook his head, "Fine, but it really is unnecessary." He wasn't annoyed,
however. Actually, he kind of liked the concern. Over the years, he and
Chakotay had learned to trust each other even developing a friendship of
sorts. It was only within the last few months though that Tom had felt that
there was a possibility for the two of them to become closer friends. He was
surprised by how much he wanted Chakotay's friendship. At one point he had
thought that all he needed was the Commander's respect, but now he knew he
needed more. He didn't know why. Maybe it was because he had always
admired the man and secretly wished that he could be a bit like him. The
reasons didn't really matter. This growing friendship with Chakotay did.
At least there was one bright spot in his life.

As the two men exited Sandrine's, they passed Harry Kim who was entering the
holodeck program. "Good evening, Commander. Hi Tom, do you have a few
minutes free to talk," Harry asked taking advantage of having run into his
best friend.

Chakotay noticed Tom tense up at the sight of Harry. "Actually, now is not a
good time, Har. I have something to discuss with Chakotay. I'll give you a
call later, okay," he said already walking away.

"Okay," Harry said resigned. "I'll talk to you later." Which will be never
if Tom has his way, Harry thought.

Chakotay followed Tom out of the holodeck. He kept the silence for a few
minutes before asking mildly, "Did you and Harry have a fight?"

"No. I just didn't feel like talking that's all. I'm sorry I used you as an
excuse," Tom said glancing at Chakotay to see if the man was annoyed.

"Don't worry about it. You know if there was something you wanted to
discuss, I'm always willing to listen," Chakotay said hoping Tom would take
him up on his offer.

Tom was relieved Chakotay wasn't mad at him, but he wasn't sure he was ready
to talk to anyone about anything right now. "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind."

The two men walked in companionable silence the rest of the way to Tom's
quarters. When they arrived, Tom keyed in his access code and said, "Well,
I'm here safe and sound. Now you can rest, assured that I found my quarters."

Chakotay never one to give up easily said, "Do you want some company for a
little bit? Or were you planning on going to sleep right away?"

Tom smiled slightly at Chakotay's tenacity. He knew the Commander realized it
was very unlikely that Tom would go right to sleep. He really didn't want to
be alone at the moment, but he also wasn't sure he wanted to talk. He knew
Chakotay would try to get him to open up. He met Chakotay's eyes and saw
the depth of concern there. Maybe talking wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
At least Chakotay seemed concerned about him and not just about his
relationship with B'Elanna.

"I wouldn't mind at all. Come on in and make yourself comfortable," Tom said.
"Can I get you something to drink?" he asked as Chakotay sat on the couch.

"No, I'm fine," Chakotay replied delighted that Tom had invited him in. He
had expected more of an argument. He waited until Tom sat down next to him
before asking, "Do you want to talk about why you can't sleep? You don't have
to, but it might help."

"I knew you were going to say that," Tom said and grinned fleetingly. "I'm
having nightmares," he said in the same tone as one would say I had a slice of

"Since when and what about?" Chakotay said frowning.

Tom looked at Chakotay doubting for a moment whether he should confide in
the man. Chakotay recognizing the doubt in Tom's eyes said, "Tom, I'm your
friend. I just want to help."

Tom was surprised at how nice it was to hear Chakotay say he was a friend. He
swallowed the lump in his throat. "I've been having nightmares ever since we
recreated B'Elanna's near death experience four days ago."

While Chakotay had argued with B'Elanna about her crazy scheme because he
had thought she was risking her life needlessly, not once did he think about
how that crazy scheme might effect Tom. He had a feeling that no one else had
given Tom's feelings more than a passing thought either. "What are the
dreams about?" Chakotay asked.

Tom stood up and walked away from the couch. He stopped near the
observation port and glanced out at the stars before answering quietly,
"Caldik Prime and me killing B'Elanna."

It was shocking enough to hear Tom mention Caldik Prime, but hearing that he
was dreaming of killing B'Elanna was even more shocking to Chakotay. "Killing
B'Elanna, how? What happens in the dream?"

Tom continued speaking ignoring Chakotay's question. "It shouldn't be
surprising that I would be dreaming about having killed her. I mean, I almost
did. We nearly lost her, and I would have been partly responsible. I agreed
to help kill her, and if she had died, I would have helped to commit murder."

"Tom you are blowing things out of proportion. You weren't helping to kill
B'Elanna. You were trying to help her fulfill a spiritual need," Chakotay
said. Tom didn't answer, so Chakotay continued, "Is that what you and
B'Elanna had a fight over?"

Tom turned to look at Chakotay and said, "There wasn't any fight. I just told
B'Elanna I needed some space."


Tom turned back to looking at the stars. "Why? Because I relive my
nightmares every time I look at her. Because I'm not sure I can handle this
anymore. How many times am I supposed to stand by and watch her almost die?
Until she finally succeeds in finding that 'honorable' death? She would have
preferred to die rather than let a Cardassian hologram operate on her. It was
just a hologram for God's sake, not a real Cardassian. Rather than talk to me
about how she felt over the deaths of the Maquis, she ran dangerous holodeck
programs with the safeties off. Then, she not only wants to recreate a near
death experience, but she wants me to help her do it. Do you know what she
said when I offered to help her find another solution? She said, 'Next Time.'
I'm not sure I can take a fucking next time. I have enough deaths on my
conscience without B'Elanna being one of them." He pressed his head against
the port.

Chakotay winced guiltily when Tom mentioned the Cardassian holographic
doctor. An alien being had latched onto B'Elanna, compromising many of
her vital systems. Her only hope of survival had been for that holographic
doctor to operate, but B'Elanna has refused. Ignoring Tom's arguments,
he had taken the position that B'Elanna's wishes should be respected. If
she did not want to take advantage of ill-gained knowledge to save her
life, that was her right. He never stopped to consider what Tom was going
through, not through any of it, and apparently neither had B'Elanna. He
got up from the couch and walked over to Tom. He placed his hand on
Tom's back feeling the tight muscles and tremors. "I'm sorry," he said

Tom nodded. "And now the nightmares are back. I haven't had them for years.
I'm not used to them anymore."

Used to nightmares, Chakotay thought, how could anyone get used to
nightmares. "This is a nightmare you've had before?"

"Basically, although it's slightly different. I had it constantly right after
the accident and somewhat consistently while I was serving on your ship and in
prison. When we got stranded in the Delta Quadrant I had it off and on, but
then it stopped," Tom said his words somewhat muffled as he was still leaning
against the view port.

Chakotay wished for the thousandth time that he had taken more time to get
to know Tom in the Maquis. Well he couldn't change the past, but he could help
Tom now. "What's different about the nightmare this time?" Chakotay asked.

Tom didn't answer, so Chakotay questioned, "Is B'Elanna in the nightmare now?"

"Yes," Tom said. Chakotay could see Tom's shoulders shaking.

"Tom, what happens to B'Elanna in the nightmare?"

"I don't want to talk about it," Tom mumbled.


"Chakotay, I don't want to discuss the nightmare, all right," he said raising
his head.

"All right, we won't discuss it," Chakotay said soothingly rubbing his hand on
Tom's back. Tom's muscles were bunched with tension. He put his other hand
on Tom's back and gently started to massage his shoulders. At first Tom
tightened at his touch but then he relaxed into the massage.

"You're good at that," Tom said.

"I've been told that many times," Chakotay said jokingly hoping to relieve
some of the tension.

It seemed to work as Tom chuckled and said, "By anyone I know?" He sighed
as he felt Chakotay remove his hands from his back.

"Wouldn't you like to know," Chakotay replied teasingly. "Why don't you get
out of your uniform and into something you can sleep in? Then you can lay
down, and I'll work the rest of these kinks out of your back."

Tom turned to face him. "Chakotay that's not necessary. Thanks for
listening. I'll be fine. You don't need to stay here and baby-sit me."

"You are never going to get any sleep if you are as tense as you are right
now. So you can either get a massage from an expert like myself, or we can
head down to sickbay and get a muscle relaxant," Chakotay said. "Your

"You're an evil man Chakotay," Tom said frowning. "What choice? Be Doc's
guinea pig or give in to you."

"Go get changed Tom."

"I'm going, I'm going," Tom said as he walked into his sleeping area.
Chakotay chuckled glad Tom still had his sense of humor. His laughter ended
quickly though. Tom was far from all right. Chakotay wondered how bad the
nightmares must be if Tom refused to talk about them.

Tom came out of his sleeping area dressed in a white t-shirt and sweat pants.
"Changed per your orders. Happy, Commander?"

"No, smartass," Chakotay replied. "You're still standing."

Tom turned around muttering, "Geez, there is no pleasing you." He pulled
back his bed covers and lay down. Chakotay sat next to him and said, "Just

Tom sighed, "Okay," and let his eyes slip close as he felt Chakotay's hands
working the tightness out of his shoulders. He didn't really want to fall
asleep, but it couldn't hurt to relax for a little bit, could it? Chakotay's
hands reached the middle of Tom's back, and Tom released a brief sigh as he
felt the tightness ebb away.

Chakotay smiled at the sigh. He wondered if Tom even realized that he had
made a sound. He vaguely wished that he had asked Tom to remove his shirt.
He wanted so badly to run his hands along that smooth skin. He chastised
himself for such thoughts. He was supposed to be concerned with getting Tom
to relax and sleep, not thinking about satisfying his own desires. He
continued to work the stiffness out of Tom's muscles. His strokes became
slower and softer as he felt Tom relaxing. Tom's breathing had become deep
and even. Not until he was absolutely sure that Tom was asleep did he stop
the massage. He carefully got up off the bed, pulled the sheet over Tom, and
quietly left the sleeping area.