Title: Too Much To Take (5/?)
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.
He came awake slowly, almost reluctantly. He was so comfortable with
his head cradled in soft pillows and his body wrapped in a warm sheet. Why
bother to move? He curled one arm under the pillow and started to drift back
to sleep. Annoyingly his mind kept telling him that something was unique
about this feeling. He tried not to think and just to enjoy the comforting
sense of warmth, but his ever-active mind was fighting its way back to
consciousness. When was the last time he had woken feeling so peaceful? It
seemed like a quite while. Why?

Damn, he thought, as he came fully awake. He pulled his arm out from
under the pillow and rolled onto his back groaning. The nightmare, Chakotay,
it all came back to him. He had completely lost it in front of Chakotay.
How was he going to face the man the next time he saw him? Even while he
winced in embarrassment, he remembered Chakotay telling him that he wasn't
alone. For some reason he believed Chakotay. Silly, wasn't it? Past
experience had taught him that security was an illusion. The reality was that
everyone was alone, and once in awhile, if you were lucky, you could forget
that truth. He was rarely lucky. Still, he was grateful to Chakotay for
calming him down enough to get some sleep last night. He just wished he
didn't blush every time he thought about Chakotay holding him as he cried.

He sighed and sat up. What time was it anyway? His alarm hadn't gone
off, so at least he hadn't slept through his shift on the bridge. As he felt
somewhat rested, he figured the alarm should be going off any minute. For the
first time in days, he actually had the urge to go back to sleep. The bed
looked so inviting and warm. Maybe there was time to catch a few more
minutes of sleep. The alarm would wake him. Of course, if he only had 15
minutes until he needed to be up, he really shouldn't go back to sleep. It
would just make getting up even worse.

He was just about to ask the computer for the time when he swore he
heard a sound outside of his sleeping quarters. It sounded like someone was
out there. Chakotay? The name jumped into his mind. No, it couldn't be, he
thought. Why would he still be here? He found himself on his feet and
heading toward his living area. As the doors slid open, the sight of Chakotay
reading on the couch greeted him. His jaw dropped. He had to be seeing

Chakotay looked up as Tom took a step into the room. A huge small
crossed his face. "How are you feeling?" He was delighted that Tom had
slept for so many hours without a reoccurrence of the nightmare.

Tom just stared at Chakotay dumbfounded. Embarrassment over his
behavior last night warred with pleasure over Chakotay's being concerned
enough to stay. Too many thoughts and emotions were flitting through his
brain and his still sleepy mind couldn't find a way through the blur to
formulate an answer.

Chakotay's smiled faded as he waited for Tom's response. Was he all
right? He put down his pad and moved to the edge of the couch ready to jump
up if he thought Tom needed him. "Tom, what's wrong?"

Chakotay's question partially brought Tom out of his daze. "What? Oh,
nothing's wrong. I'm just." He let the thought drift off as the question he
really wanted to ask came to mind. "Chakotay, did you, um, stay here the
whole night?"

Chakotay gave him a small smile. "Yes. I wanted to be sure you were

Tom ran a hand over his face as he tried to figure out why Chakotay's
being here both unsettled and pleased him. He ran his hand through his hair
causing part of it to stick up as a previous question came to mind. "What
time is it?"

"Almost 1300 hours," Chakotay said.

Tom's eyes widened as he realized he had missed his shift. Seeing Tom's
expression, Chakotay quickly added, "Relax. I rearranged the duty schedule to
give you the day off. I turned off your alarm. You needed to sleep, and I
thought you could use some time to unwind."

"You did?" Tom responded feeling like an idiot. He wished he were
fully awake.

"Yes, I did," Chakotay answered frowning. He was growing more and more
concerned by Tom's scattered answers. "Why don't you sit down and have
something to eat? You must be hungry," Chakotay said talking softly as if to
a wounded animal.

"Actually I think I'm going to shower first," Tom said as he made an
even bigger mess of his hair with his hands. "I'll be back in a few minutes,
okay." He looked at Chakotay still a bit confused.

"Okay, I'll be here," Chakotay said as Tom turned and headed toward the
sonic shower.

I'll be here. You're not alone. The phrases crashed through Tom's mind
like lightning. Chakotay's words had almost sounded like a promise to Tom
last night, and today Chakotay had kept that promise. He was still here, and
still Tom's friend. Tom's embarrassment dissipated. He realized there was
nothing to be embarrassed about and everything for which to be grateful. He
turned back to Chakotay, softly calling his name.

Chakotay looked up concern on his face, but all Tom said was "Thanks,"
and then he smiled, a smile that lit up his eyes, and for a brief moment
Chakotay got a glimpse of the real Tom Paris. He saw Tom without his
various masks, the Tom who would give his whole heart to a friend. This
smile was one Chakotay rarely saw on Tom and one that had never been
directed at him. He found himself returning that smile while he basked in its
warmth. Without another word Tom walked away, and Chakotay realized he
had been holding his breath. Damn, he wished he could take Tom into his
arms, smooth that tousled hair, and gaze into Tom's eyes as he smiled that
bedazzling smile. For the millionth time Chakotay reminded himself that Tom
was just a friend, and that was what Tom needed right now, a friend.

It took 15 minutes for Tom to return, and by that time Chakotay had
finally gotten his breathing back to normal. Tom was still dressed in sweat
pants and a t-shirt, but his hair was now in place, and he looked more alert.
Chakotay moved over on the couch and Tom sat next to him, angling himself
so that his back pressed against the corner of the couch and his legs sprayed
out in front of him. He crossed his arms and grinned at Chakotay. "Okay, I
think my brain is now functioning. Sorry, if I was out of it when I first got
up. I think I was still half asleep, and I was surprised to see you here.
You didn't have to stay, Chakotay."

"No, but I wanted to." And needed to, Chakotay added silently to

Tom grew serious. "Well, I appreciate it. Thanks for listening last
night and for being there later on." He resisted adding the words when I had
the nightmare. He knew those words would set Chakotay off on a serious
discussion, and he wanted some time to think things through on his own.

Chakotay met Tom's eyes. "Any time, and I mean that. How do you feel
now that you got some rest?"

"A lot better. More rational," Tom said with a small smirk. The smirk
faded as he yawned and then chuckled. "And strangely, I still feel like I
could use a nap."

"It probably would be a good idea for you to take it easy and get some
more rest today. First, though, I think you should eat something." Chakotay
was betting that Tom hadn't kept down much of what he had eaten in the past
few days. He wanted to make sure that at least today Tom did eat.

"Did you eat already?" Tom asked.

"Yes, about an hour ago. But that's okay, I'll hang out with you while
you eat," Chakotay said.

Tom shook his head smiling. Chakotay was being very protective. It was
kind of nice, but it was unnecessary. "Isn't this your day off?"

"Yes, but I didn't really have anything planned," Chakotay said

Tom looked at him unconvinced. Sitting up straight, he said, "So,
you're telling me that you didn't schedule any holodeck time for yourself on
your day off."

"Well, I did, but it doesn't matter."

"What program were you planning to run?"

"Boxing, but Tom it doesn't matter."

"When did you have the time scheduled?"

"It starts in about five minutes. But like I said, it's not important."

"Chakotay, go box," Tom said firmly. "I'm fine. You don't need to stay
here. All I'm planning on doing is catching up on some rest. I can do that
on my own. Go, enjoy the rest of your day."

"I can skip the boxing, really," Chakotay argued. Besides he doubted
he'd be able to concentrate enough to box. He'd prefer to be as close to Tom
as possible just to make sure he was indeed fine.

"No you can't, because, if you skip it, I'm going to feel guilty. Now,
I'll sleep much better knowing you're not sitting here all day going through
crew reports or the Doctor's latest manifesto. I'm all right." Chakotay
started to say something, but Tom held up his hand, "Don't worry, I will eat,
I promise. I'll eat something and then take a nap. That is the extent of my
plans. So will you just go and enjoy your day off?"

Chakotay sighed. "Okay, but if you need something, just comm me."

Tom chuckled, "Thanks, but I am fine. Come on, I'll help you pick up
your stuff." He helped Chakotay gather up some of his data pads and put them
inside the duffel bag along with the black sweat pants.

As Chakotay stood to go, Tom asked, "So did you have plans for dinner or
are you open to meeting me and we can brave whatever Neelix is serving

"Braving it together sounds good to me. 1800 hours in the mess hall?"
Chakotay said smiling. At least now he'd be able to check on Tom in a few
hours. He could stand a few hours.

"Perfect. I'll see you then. Make sure the safeties are on. If you
end up in sickbay, the Doc is sure to show you his photos," Tom said and
grinned wickedly.

Chakotay laughed. "Trust me the safeties will be on. Get some rest.
I'll see you later."

"Will do. Bye, Chakotay." Tom was still smiling as the doors shut. He
shook his head thinking fondly of Chakotay. The man was so stubborn, which
wasn't necessarily a bad thing.