Title: Too Much To Take (9/?)
Author: CatHeights
Pairing: C/P
Rating: PG-13 - R. 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.

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.

Dedicated to Haggis whose comments gave my muse the idea for the ending
of this part.

Outside of B'Elanna's quarters, Tom paused to catch his breath. He
leaned against the wall feeling utterly alone. Life had once again set him
adrift. He felt like sinking down to the floor and not moving, ever. Figuring
the Captain wouldn't be too fond of her chief pilot blocking the corridor for
hours, he forced himself to start walking. He wasn't looking forward to
being alone in his quarters. He knew his mind would keep returning to the
flashback he had experienced while talking to B'Elanna. He really didn't want
to ponder why the dream had returned. The corridors were empty as he walked,
increasing his feeling of isolation. He supposed he should be grateful that
no one was around who would want to stop and chat. A part of him, though,
would have welcomed the interruption.

Images and half-formed thoughts assaulted his mind. He was too tired
to make sense of most of what his weary brain produced. The nap he had
taken just a few hours ago seemed more like weeks. He longed to curl up
on his bed and sleep, but fear of the nightmare returning made him wary
of that desire. As he walked, bits of his conversation with B'Elanna kept
floating through his brain. He couldn't help wondering what they could
have done differently. Wasit him? He sighed, probably. He looked up
and noticed his surroundings; he was nowhere near his quarters. He had
,been wandering aimlessly.

He chuckled without humor once he recognized his location. He was
outside Chakotay's quarters. Maybe his wandering hadn't been so aimless after
all. He raised his hand to press the chime but stopped just short of actually
doing it. Hadn't he wasted enough of the man's time? Still, Chakotay had
said if he needed to talk, to stop by. He wasn't sure he wanted to talk
though; he just didn't want to be alone. This was ridiculous. He was here,
and Chakotay would want to know what happened. He might as well just ring.
He pressed the chime and waited.

"Come in," Chakotay said.

Tom was surprised at how comforting it was to hear the man's voice. As
he stepped into Chakotay's quarters, his loneliness receded from an
overwhelming pain to a dull ache.

"Tom," Chakotay said surprised. A huge smile crossed his face, and
Tom found himself smiling back. Coming here had been the right thing to do.

"You okay?" Chakotay asked.

Tom nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. We broke up." He figured he might has
well just blurt it out rather than having Chakotay question him.

Chakotay nodded waiting for Tom to continue. Instead, Tom's eye
caught sight of the Rubik's cube. He walked over and picked it up, turning it
in his hands. He grinned slightly. "So you gave in and decided to try it

"No, actually the Captain gave me hers. She said if I was going to
pick on her, I needed to try it myself," Chakotay said. He was still annoyed
with Kathryn. He knew she had been insinuating that he moved too slowly, and
the thought was driving him nuts. He had tried to ignore her words, but every
time he saw that damn cube they came back to him.

"Smart woman. You'll get hooked," Tom said still playing with the
puzzle. The cube had been sitting next to a double-layered glass frame that
contained a hoop decorated with beads and feathers. The object also had some
sort of web filling in the middle of it. Pointing to the frame, Tom said,
"That's interesting. What is it?"

Chakotay was watching Tom carefully as he responded. He noticed the
man's nervous turning of the cube. "It's a dreamcatcher. You're actually
supposed to hang it by a window or a door, not keep it behind a piece of

"Dreamcatcher, huh," Tom said with a faint chuckle. "I should probably
get one of those."

"Tom, what happened when you talked to B'Elanna?" Chakotay said. He
could tell Tom had something he wanted to talk about, and his being easily
distracted made Chakotay think that it had to be something disturbing.

Tom ignored Chakotay's question. "How does it work?"

Chakotay sighed. He had already learned that sometimes there was no
pushing Tom to talk until he was ready. "The catcher sifts through one's
dreams and visions. The web catches the good ideas keeping them with you
while letting the bad ones slip through."

"It sounds so simple," Tom said. He gave the cube one more turn and one
side became a solid blue.

When Chakotay said nothing, Tom looked up encountering the man's
questioning stare. "Nothing is ever simple," Tom said and walked over to the
couch. He sat down placing the cube on the table beside him and looked at his

Chakotay came over and sat down next to him. "Did B'Elanna take things

"No, actually she was very understanding. She had come to some of the
same conclusions herself. Funny, I think it's the first time in weeks that we
actually just sat down and talked. You know, talked without one of us yelling
or drifting out. No, I didn't even have to duck once. We were both in

"Which probably made it even harder in some ways."

Tom looked up meeting the man's warm brown eyes. He didn't need to
explain; Chakotay understood. "Yeah, it did."

"And what about your friendship? Are you still worried that it won't

"No, I'm sure it will. It seems to mean as much to B'Elanna as it does
to me. It's just strange that it's over."

"Is that what's bothering you, the strangeness?" Chakotay said hoping
to find the one question that would get Tom to open up.

"Partially," Tom said.

"What happened when you talked to B'Elanna?"

Tom sighed, closed his eyes and leaned back into the couch. "For a
moment while I was talking to her, I saw myself back in the shuttle with
B'Elanna ... with B'Elanna dead. I closed my eyes and when I opened them,
the images were gone, but it happened. I thought I had banished the
dreams. I was fine earlier. It should not have happened." As he talked he
kept clenching and unclenching his hands.

Chakotay moved closer to Tom. He put a hand gently on the man's
shoulder moving it in comforting circles. "Tom, you have had the same dream
for the past few days. It's been bothering you day and night. You can't
expect the images to just disappear. Give yourself some time."

Tom found Chakotay's words and touch soothing. He relaxed; unclenching
his hands and letting himself drift near the edge of sleep. Maybe Chakotay
was right, he was just expecting too much. Everything would be all right. He
felt calm and safe. He'd let himself stay here for a little while longer.
Surely, Chakotay wouldn't mind.

Chakotay watched Tom's features relax. He looked peaceful and oh so
beautiful at the moment. His head was tilted back on the couch, which left
his lips at the perfect angle to kiss. Chakotay didn't notice that his hand,
which had been on Tom's shoulder, was now moving back and forth from his
shoulder to the upper part of his chest. He wanted to give Tom a kiss that
would let him know that he wasn't alone and would never be again. His eyes
lingered hungrily on Tom's mouth as Kathryn's words came back to him.

"Yes, that would be the challenge facing someone interested in Tom, how
long to wait before making their move."

He wouldn't wait too long, this time. He remembered the pain he had
felt earlier when he had thought Tom was planning on getting back together
with B'Elanna. He couldn't lose Tom to someone else. Damn Kathryn. He
wouldn't make the mistake of taking too long. Ignoring the wisdom of caution,
Chakotay leaned in, gently placed a hand along the side of Tom's face and
kissed him. He felt a thrill of joy go through him as Tom, never opening his
eyes, returned the kiss. He had wanted this for so long.

On the edge of sleep, Tom found himself responding to one of the most
passionate and loving kisses he had ever experienced. He sighed with pleasure
as a tongue gently explored his mouth. He reached up and wrapped his hands
in silky hair as he leaned in to deepen the kiss. He wondered how one kiss
could seem to tell him so many things. He was loved, he was safe, he was
desired, and he was kissing Chakotay. Tom's eyes opened in shock. He
removed his hands from Chakotay's hair and pulled away. What was he doing?
He had just broken up with B'Elanna and now he was kissing Chakotay. He
pushed himself off the couch staggering away from the man. This wasn't right.

"Tom," Chakotay said reaching out a hand to him.

Tom ignored it, taking another step backwards. "I...I have to go. It's

Chakotay paled as he finally recognized his lapse of judgment. "Tom,
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I..."

Tom interrupted him. "It's okay. I just need to go. I have an early
shift tomorrow. Thanks, I...." His sentence trailed off. His shocked mind
could no longer come up with any more words. He needed to leave. He turned
and walked through the door, leaving Chakotay sitting on the couch calling
after him.

Chakotay stared at the spot where he had been kissing Tom minutes ago.
How could he have done such a thing? He knew Tom wasn't ready. He had
come here looking for a friend to listen, someone he trusted, and Chakotay
had abused that trust. Trust was something Tom gave with difficulty and
Chakotay feared he had just thrown away a coveted gift.

He stood up furious with himself. His eyes rested on the Rubik's cube.
Thinking of Kathryn and her unsolicited advice, he picked up the cube and
hurled it with all his might. It hit the frame containing the dreamcatcher
dead center knocking down the dense casing. The underlying layer of glass
shattered, pieces falling into the dreamcatcher's web. Undamaged, the upper
layer of glass now showcased the ruined mess beneath.

Spirits! How could he have done such thing, and what was he going to
do about it now?