Series: From A - Z
Part: 18
Title: Rhythm
Author: Chuckles
Pairing: C/P
Series Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine!
Summary: Tom mounts a rescue attempt.

Tom stared at Harry in disbelief, his mind suddenly numb from the effect of
Harry's words. Chakotay couldn't be dead; it wasn't possible.

Numbness immediately turned into panic and Tom felt a sudden urge to run as
fast as he could, to get as far away as possible; he didn't want to be there
if what Harry had said was true. But as quickly as that feeling had come
over him it fled and he was galvanized into action. He grabbed the med-kit
away from Harry and closed the lid, then secured it to his back with the
carry straps.

"What are you doing, Tom? Aren't you gonna use the medical tricorder?" Harry
asked as he watched Tom's frantic actions.

"Fuck the tricorder!" Tom shouted as he picked up one of the lines they'd
brought with them. "Just get this line attached to that rock over there. And
hurry!" he commanded, pointing to a large rock that protruded about four
feet out of the ground.

Harry obeyed wordlessly as Tom attached the other end of the line to
himself. After ensuring everything was secure, Tom eased his way off the
ledge and determinedly, but carefully, began his descent.

He edged his way down, avoiding the path of the rockfall as much as possible
because of the trail of loose dirt and stones that it had left in its wake.
Despite his best efforts to avoid disturbing them though, as he reached
halfway a few small rocks suddenly slid from under his boot and bounced away
down the slope.

Tom watched with trepidation as they hit other rocks and sent them tumbling
too, one just missing Chakotay as it glanced off the boulder that he was
lodged behind. Dirt continued to slide for several minutes, showering the
Commander's prone form, before it finally slowed and became just a fine
trickle of dust.

Tom's heart was beating rapidly as he resumed his downward path, closing in
quickly now on his lover's position. The nearer he got the easier the
terrain became, but he suppressed his desire to sprint the last few feet,
going slowly instead to prevent the fall of any more stones.

Anxiously he made his way to Chakotay's side, reaching out for him as soon
as he was close enough. Chakotay lay on his front on a patch of soft ground,
his head and neck coated in dirt and fragments of rock which Tom quickly
brushed away. He touched Chakotay's neck and while the fingers of that hand
desperately searched for a pulse, Tom's other hand removed the med-kit and
opened it.

Tom fumbled blindly in the box, trying to locate the medical tricorder by
touch alone, as trembling fingers failed time and again to find Chakotay's
pulse point. A wave of panic surged through him and he momentarily shifted
his gaze from Chakotay, just long enough to spot the tricorder and pull it
from the box. With a mixture of relief that he'd found it and a fear of what
it would show, Tom switched the device on.

There was a heartbeat. It was faint, but steady and Tom silently thanked
every deity that might be listening that the first hurdle had been crossed.
He kept the lid on his optimism though, unwilling to celebrate until he'd
seen the extent of Chakotay's injuries.

As he passed the tricorder over his lover, Tom also checked his condition
visually. There were numerous cuts and abrasions scattered over Chakotay's
back and legs; a gash just below his left eye from which blood had run
across his nose and mouth, and a finger that was bent awkwardly and was
definitely broken. Tom was thankful that, despite his battered appearance,
Chakotay's injuries so far were fairly minor, and he prayed he would find
nothing worse once he was certain it was safe to turn Chakotay over.

Tom looked down at the readouts produced by the tricorder and what little
colour there was in his face drained rapidly away. The display was
fluctuating wildly; one moment showing Chakotay as completely uninjured, the
next that his condition was critical.

Tom swore loudly as he realised that something in the surroundings was
affecting the tricorder and, with another loud curse, he hurled the useless
item back into the med-kit. Clenching his fists, he took several deep
breaths as he willed himself to calm down, then once again returned his
attention to Chakotay.

Without the aid of the medical device he would have to catalogue Chakotay's
injuries by sight and touch, starting with another attempt at finding a
pulse. Tom urgently resumed his task, hoping against hope that the tricorder
had at least been accurate when it had registered a heartbeat. He steadied
his nerves and this time found what he was looking for within seconds; a
steady and comforting rhythm under his fingertips.

Tom closed his eyes briefly as he breathed a sigh of relief, then moved his
hands up to Chakotay's neck and cautiously began to check for signs of any
hidden injuries. Once he was satisfied that nothing was broken he repeated
the procedure on his lover's back and legs. As he reached the conclusion
that it was probably safe to turn Chakotay over, a sudden shout from Harry,
and the noise of falling rocks, caused him to look up sharply.

"Tom, the ledge is starting to crumble!" Harry yelled down at him. "You need
to get back up here now!"

"Get the other line to me, Harry," Tom called back. "I'll attach it to
Chakotay, then you'll have to keep it taut while I carry him."

"I've got the line here," Harry said, throwing it down. "Be quick, Tom,
there's a large rock up here that's already shifted a bit; it could fall any

"Okay," Tom shouted, grabbing the line. "I'll be as fast as I can, I just
have to turn Chakotay over and get him ready to be moved."

"Is he okay, then?" Harry asked as he kept a careful eye on the men below
and the unstable ledge that was crumbling away piece by piece.

"He's alive, Harry, but I don't know the full extent of his injuries yet,
there's something around here that's affecting the tricorders. I just hope
they work again once we're out of the area." Tom answered as he kept his
attention on Chakotay.

Carefully Tom rolled his still unconscious lover onto his back, wincing as
he noticed the multitude of dark bruises and lacerations that covered
Chakotay's chest and stomach.

He quickly performed the same examination that he'd done on Chakotay's back,
then carefully secured the second line and gently lifted the older man up.
As an increasing amount of dirt and small stones began to rain down, Tom
hoisted Chakotay over his shoulder and began his upward journey.

Harry watched the proceedings closely, ever alert to the danger presented by
the large rock that had again shifted position. Tom was making his way
towards him slowly, just approaching the steepest part of the climb, when,
with a loud rumble, the rock finally broke free and gravity prevailed.

"Tom, look out!" Harry shouted as it started to slide, gathering momentum
and taking with it a large quantity of smaller stones.

Tom looked up and saw the boulder heading his way. He flattened himself
against the slope, covering Chakotay's body with his own as the rock passed
within inches of their position. Sharp fragments of rock flew up and hit him
everywhere and he was thankful for the still-damp clothes that he wore.
Although he knew that he'd been cut in a few places, Tom realised that
without the clothes his injuries would have been greater.

When the worst had passed, Tom eased away from the slope and shifted
Chakotay into a more comfortable position. As he did, the older man groaned
and Tom manoeuvred him again until he could see Chakotay's face.

"Chakotay? Can you hear me?" Tom asked hopefully, but the only response he
got was another moan as Chakotay's face contorted with apparent pain.

With more dirt and detritus continuing to fall, Tom knew he couldn't delay
his ascent any longer; he would have to wait until he reached the top before
he could attempt to bring Chakotay around. With his mind made up and praying
that his lover wasn't suffering from internal injuries, Tom again
repositioned Chakotay and set off up the slope.

It was an awkward and tiring climb, made worse for Tom when he lost his
footing several times and it caused Chakotay to moan pitifully. The sounds
cut through Tom like a knife, but he knew he couldn't stop. If he did they
could both be killed in the next rockfall.

He continued upwards and by the time they finally reached the top and Harry
helped them onto the remains of the ledge, Tom was consumed with worry that
there might be something seriously wrong with his lover.

Gently, he laid Chakotay down on the blanket that Harry had placed on the
ground, then went to remove the med-kit. A sudden tremor ran through the
ledge though and he stopped, wrapping the blanket around Chakotay as he
realised they would have to move quickly.

"We've got to get out of here!" Harry yelled as the path started to
disintegrate in front of them, large chunks breaking away and crashing
noisily down the route that Tom had just climbed. "You grab the lines, Tom,
and I'll carry the Commander," he added, moving towards the older man.

"No!" Tom exclaimed, waving Harry away. "I've got him," and he carefully
lifted Chakotay up and started to move quickly away from the collapsing
ledge. After snatching up the lines and his backpack, Harry followed.

As they headed down the track that led back to their camp, it was obvious to
Harry that Tom was extremely tired but, at Tom's insistence, they walked
rapidly on until the sound of falling rocks could no longer be heard.

Reaching a small sandy patch, Tom gently placed Chakotay down, another small
sob escaping the older man's lips as his body touched the ground. Running
his fingers nervously through his hair, Tom studied his lover's pained face.

The gash under Chakotay's eye was bleeding freely and he was quite pale, his
occasional moans louder now. Tom decided to try scanning Chakotay again and,
with tears threatening to fall, he opened the med-kit and pulled out the

Harry watched as Tom switched the device on. "Is it working now?" he asked,
stepping forward to look over Tom's shoulder.

Tom didn't speak, he just shook his head as he stared at the still-useless
tricorder, then reached out to gently stroke Chakotay's hair.

"Do you think you should try bringing him round?" Harry asked as he bent
down next to Tom, taking note of the silent tears that were running down the
pilot's face.

"No, not yet," Tom answered quietly. "I'll regenerate the cut under his eye
but that's all for now. We're not far from camp, I'll wait until we get
there before I do anything else."

Harry nodded, then watched as Tom cleaned the blood from Chakotay's face
before taking the dermal regenerator from the med-kit and healing the wound.
As soon as Tom was finished and had packed everything away he carefully
lifted Chakotay up and they started out for camp.

The sun was higher in the sky now, shining brightly on the men as they made
their way back along the rough path. As they walked, Tom noticed Chakotay
beginning to stir, moaning softly and squirming slightly in Tom's grasp
before settling down once again.

Tom grimaced at Chakotay's soft sobs but his hopes for his lover's return to
consciousness were encouraged a little by the older man's small movements.
He continued on, following Harry until, with a sigh of relief, he found
himself standing outside of their tent.

With Harry's help, Tom carefully manoeuvred Chakotay inside and gently laid
him down. As he did, Tom felt a sudden wave of pain hit him and he knew that
it came from Chakotay. He blocked it for a moment as he realised he would
have to get Harry to leave, he couldn't allow the Ensign to witness anything
that might reveal the link that he and Chakotay shared.

"Harry, could you get the fire started again?" Tom asked. "I'll need some
warm water to clean Chakotay's wounds before I regenerate them."

"Yeah, sure Tom. I'll sort out some breakfast for us as well." Harry

"Thanks," Tom said quietly, then turned back to Chakotay as Harry left.

Taking Chakotay's hands in his, Tom reached out to his lover with his mind,
allowing the older man's pain to flow through him as he called out silently.

/ Chakotay, can you hear me now? We're back at the tent and I'm going to
assess your injuries again, then give you a painkiller, okay? /

Chakotay remained silent, the only response Tom received was an increase in
the level of pain that he was experiencing. Tom decided he needed to
administer an analgesic to Chakotay immediately and tried to temporarily
sever their link so that he could concentrate on loading a hypospray.

Despite Chakotay's weakened physical condition, his mental hold proved to be
very strong and Tom found that he was unable to break away. Instead, he
became aware of a new sensation; the unnerving feeling that he was floating
around inside Chakotay's body.

Tom could hear his lover's heart beating out a steady rhythm as a bright red
river of newly-oxygenated blood made a sudden appearance, flowing swiftly
around him before its rapid current captured him and swept him away on an
unexpected tour of Chakotay's arteries.

Tom was tossed around like a piece of driftwood, unwittingly carried along
with no idea of where he was or where he was going. The warm, rushing stream
surged on, taking him with it, until the motion began to make him feel
nauseous and he called out silently, entreating Chakotay to release his hold
over their link.

At first, nothing happened, but after a second impassioned plea Tom found
himself stationary again, the red river leaving no evidence that it had ever
been there. Tom peered around in the darkness that now enveloped him, his
gaze then drawn to bright flashes of brilliant white light that suddenly
began to burst above and in front of him.

The pain he felt increased with each flash and Tom tried hard to fight it.
As he concentrated on trying to stem the agonising flood, Tom's brain began
to release pain-relieving endorphins. After a few moments, he realised that
his body's natural response was not only helping him, it was also helping

Their bodies as well as their minds seemed to be existing as one for now and
Tom took advantage of that. He reached out and sent an urgent message to
Chakotay's brain, encouraging it to release more endorphins of its own.

As it responded to his instructions, the pain gradually began to subside and
Tom felt his lover's consciousness starting to surface. The flashes of light
faded away, disappearing completely as the pain eventually reached a
tolerable level and Tom once again became aware of his physical

In a state of near exhaustion, he gazed down at the still form of his lover
and tears began to form. Chakotay was staring back, his dark, tired eyes
trying hard to focus, as the faintest of smiles appeared on his pale and
bruised face.

Relief and an overwhelming feeling of love flooded through Tom and he bent
down to lightly brush his lips over Chakotay's. Then, as the control that
he'd worked so hard to maintain finally shattered, Tom gently wrapped his
arms around his lover and he began to cry.