Title: Too Much To Take (6/?)
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.

Shawna, thanks for keeping this story moving along. You're the best!

Tom's stomach growled reminding him that he hadn't eaten anything
substantial in the last few days. He figured it was time to use a few
replicator rations. He walked over to the replicator and said, "Bowl of tomato
soup, Tom's version, small French roll, and a glass of water." Within seconds
the food and utensils appeared in the phase transition chamber. He took his
lunch over to the couch and sat down.

The soup tasted delicious. He smiled slightly thinking about how
difficult it used to be to get the replicator to produce a bowl of plain, hot
tomato soup. The computer was programmed with more than 14 varieties of
tomato soup. Before, when he requested plain tomato soup, the computer
played twenty questions with him asking with rice, with noodles, with
vegetables, etc. It had driven him nuts, but he had long ago solved the
problem by programming the replicator to recognize plain, hot tomato soup
as Tom's version. Food and frustration just shouldn't go together.

Once he finished his soup and bread, he took the empty bowl back to the
replicator. He placed the bowl in the transition chamber, tapped the control
panel, and watched as the bowl's molecular pattern dematerialized. He sat
back down and picked up his glass of water. Running his finger along the rim
of the glass, he frowned, annoyed with himself. Years ago, he had promised
himself that never again would he give his nightmares the power to bring his
world crashing down. He'd almost broken that promise.

He wondered if Chakotay hadn't been so persistent in his concern how
long it would have been before he had sought some type of escape from his
dreams. Would he have turned to alcohol or used his medical clearance to
replicate some type of narcotic? He wished he could say absolutely not, but
he couldn't, not if he wanted to be honest with himself. He had been down
that road before, and he recognized how close he had been to traveling the
same path once again. When Voyager had gotten stranded in the Delta
Quadrant and his life took a rare turn for the better, he pictured himself
leaving his past with all its demons behind. As time had gone by, it seemed
the evil grip of his past had not been able to hold on between quadrants.
He hadn't forgotten, no he could never do that, but confidence and loyalty
to Voyager had replaced his past feelings of inadequacy. He realized now
that his past was still with him. He had only temporarily buried it away. It
was still there waiting for the right set of circumstances to trigger every
horrible, vivid memory. He hadn't dealt with his past. He had just ignored
it. If he really wanted control over the nightmares, he had to face them.

His confiding in Chakotay had helped him move beyond the hell in which
he had again found himself. He could have spared himself so much torment if
he had just been willing to talk to someone. Why did he find that so hard to
do? It wasn't like right after the accident when he had been completely
alone. He had plenty of friends on Voyager. Harry would have listened to
him, but he hadn't even been able to bring himself to talk to his best friend.
Tom realized that he had never given Harry the chance to understand what he
was going through. He needed to stop pushing people away.

He placed the glass on the table and closed his eyes leaning back into
the couch. With his eyes closed, he remembered Chakotay's hand tilting his
chin. He felt his eyes being drawn to Chakotay's as the man urged, "Don't
shut me out." Ironically, he constantly complained that B'Elanna was always
shutting him out. She insisted on dealing with things on her own, never
giving him the chance to help her in her battles. Maybe that was the problem.
They were too much alike. They respected each other's space too much. He
needed someone who refused to let him slip behind his walls, just as Chakotay
had done the other night. He also wondered how much longer he could handle
being in a relationship with someone whose emotions were as volatile as
B'Elanna's. For so long he had yearned to find some type of inner peace. He
had hoped to find that peace with B'Elanna, but it hadn't happened. B'Elanna
was still struggling with her own demons, something she insisted on doing
alone, and it was tearing him apart. How could he stand by and do nothing
when he knew what it was like to feel so completely alone? The difference
seemed to be that while she wanted to face things alone, he had been forced
to. Maybe for her that was the right way to handle her problems, but for him
it had been a disaster.

B'Elanna's face flitted though his mind, and he sighed. She was so
beautiful and brave, one of his closest friends. She had helped him through
some rough times and she had seen beyond his joking exterior. So few had
taken the time to really get to know him. Memories flitted through his mind,
the Sakari caves, the Nyrian habitat, and B'Elanna in an environmental suit
admitting that she loved him. They had been through so much together. She
deserved an explanation for his behavior.

He knew how it hurt to be shut out, and yet that was what he was doing
to her. Harry was right all along. He needed to talk to B'Elanna. Well
actually Harry was only partially right. He did need to talk to B'Elanna, not
to repair their relationship, but to end it. He needed to end things now
before it was too late to salvage their friendship. He didn't want to loose
her friendship. Good, true friends were rare and experience had taught him to
always appreciate the blessing of a good friend.

He realized that the fear of loosing B'Elanna's friendship was what had
kept him from facing the reality that the relationship was over. He had let
things continue on, trying to banish his doubts and fears, rather than risk
that loss. It many ways he had let things get to this point. He had put
himself through this misery rather than face B'Elanna. No more, he owed it to
B'Elanna and to himself to face the truth, that love and the possibility of
forever had long since fled their relationship.

He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He wasn't wearing his
communicator. He stood up and entered his sleeping area to look for it. It
was on the end table beside his bed. He sat down on the bed and turned the
communicator over a few times in his hand before pressing it, "Paris to

"Torres, here. What can I do for you, Tom?" He could hear the hurt,
anger, and hope in her voice, but he doubted anyone else would. She had her
chief engineering tone in place. He knew she wouldn't let her staff catch a
glimpse of her emotions for fear it would become one more item on the rumor
mill. It was a small ship, so he knew his refusing to talk to B'Elanna
probably was at the top of the gossip list. He knew how much B'Elanna hated
to be the subject of gossip.

Guilt softened his tone as he said, "I was hoping you might have some
time free later tonight that I could stop by?"

Some of the anger seeped out of her voice upon hearing his tone. "You
can stop by. How about a little after 1900 in my quarters?"

"Perfect. I'll see you then. Paris out," he breathed a sigh of relief.
One small step toward taking control of his life again. He could do this.
It helped that he would be having dinner with Chakotay right before meeting
with B'Elanna. He doubted he would be able to eat much, but at least
Chakotay's presence would keep him from dwelling on actually breaking up with

He turned slightly on the bed and looked at his pillows. A yawn
escaped him. Yep, that bed was definitely looking inviting. Seeing no
reason to resist, he crawled back into bed, pulled the sheet up, and curling
one hand around the pillows, fell asleep.