Author‘s note: Back in December, I was laying in bed with a muscle contusion in the lower back and I had nothing better to do than to think about Tommy boy (a pleasant way to pass the time, as I‘m sure you‘ll all agree). When you live on your own, little things like getting out of bed, lowing yourself in the bathtub, and putting on your socks become quite a pain let me tell you!
It‘s thoughts of my mother, lisette, Jean-Francois, and Diane, who all have to live with different kinds of muscle dysfunctions everyday, that motivated me to write this story. I don‘t wish to re-write the ‚Neoplasm Universe‘, but the idea of giving Tom muscular sclerosis was quite appealing. And, what could be better than to make it a C/P, since for me C/P means: Comfort/Pain (gr).
This is for my Maman who wish she could move to Arizona upon each rainy day.
Synopsis: Chakotay remembers his first encounters with Tom.
I Could Have Chosen Arizona
By Isabelle S firstname.lastname@example.org
With one last look at Tom‘s closed door, Chakotay slowly walked away. How could he had let his anger get the better of him so quickly? He had aggravated the situation, which had been the last thing he had wanted to do. Now, Tom was likely to be feeling worse and he was even more miserable.
Tom had boarded Voyager in the hope of helping him somehow. Chakotay could hardly believe that the pilot could have been so naive. Naivety had never been a trait that he had attributed to him before, the man had been through too much to be. But, Tom had stated that he would have done anything for Chakotay. God knew that stupid things had been done in the name of love in the past.
That simple thought stopped Chakotay dead in his tracks.
Tom loved him. He had, and still would have, sacrificed his life for him and his cause. It had been no secret that Tom had not come to Dorven IV to join the Maquis, but had done so for the dry weather...
A year before.
Chakotay entered the restaurant that his father‘s brother and his family were tending on Dorvan IV. It was mid-afternoon and the place was deserted. He caught a glimpse of his cousin, Tala, helping a young man, who seemed to have problems with his legs, walk up the stairs that were leading to the bedrooms on the second floor.
"Marseille‘s humidity was starting to get to me, so I had to leave. I could have chosen Arizona, but it was a little too close to home," he heard the young man tell her. "I won‘t impose on you all very long. After a week of this dry weather, two at the most, I should be a lot better."
Chakotay snorted. This guy was around here for the weather? Dorven IV might not have been as dry as Vulcan, but he could think of better vacation spots-Arizona for instance.
"You‘re not imposing, Tom," Tala assured him. "Sandrine‘s friends are our friends. We‘re glad to have you among us. Papa will be able to help you get better, too. He‘s a good healer. He knows tricks and herbal remedies that do far greater good than any drug your doctors have been giving you."
Tala was right, Chakotay silently agreed. Akando, her father, was an excellent healer that would make any Starfleet doctor pale in comparison.
Chakotay sat at a table and put himself to work. He was to leave early the following morning for an important mission and he had to be well prepared.
He saw the blond young man again upon his returned, three days later. Tom, as he was called, was sitting at a table with Tala, a stack of PADDs in front of them. Finally, Chakotay was able to have a good look at him.
Tom was a much too thin, but still very handsome, blond man with aristocratic features. He had a soft smile that appeared genuine and beautiful bleu eyes that were unfortunately clouded with sadness and tiredness.
Chakotay had the feeling that he had seen Tom‘s face before, but he could not remember where.
"Chakotay," Tala greeted him. "Please come, I don‘t think you had the chance to meet Tom. He‘s staying with us for awhile. Tom, this is my beloved cousin, Chakotay."
As he came closer, Tom extended his hand which Chakotay shocked in returned. Tom had a firm grip, however Chakotay could still feel weakness in the long elegant fingers. The man had been very sick not so long ago, he could easily tell.
"Nice to meet you, Sir, " Tom stated politely.
"Like wise," the big Native American replied. "But, please, don‘t sir me. You can call me Chakotay," he added as he sat down at the table with them.
"Tom has many talents," Tala confessed to her cousin. "His a musician, he plays the guitar. He fixed the computer. His an excellent barkeeper and, as you can see," she said referring to the stack of PADDs on the table. "He can also do inventories."
"I must say that Sandrine taught me well," Tom said blushing.
"I‘m sure that he has many more surprises in his hat," Tala continued teasingly. "However, Tom has only been with us for three days and slept in Papa‘s comfy chair most of the time."
Tom blushed further as he laughed along. His sadness had been chassed away from his handsome face for a short moment.
"What brought you here?" Chakotay asked. He already knew part of the answer, but they were not aware of that. Knowing why Tom had decided to come to Dorvan IV in such a time of instability might help him figure out who the man was.
"The weather and the promise of a miracle," Tom replied, sending a mischievous smile to Akando who was coming toward them with two cups of tea.
The elder man placed a cup in front of Chakotay and held on to the second one as he sat down with them at the table.
"I do not know if I can give you a miracle, Angel," he told Tom. "But, something tells me that, as stubborn as you are, you will probably be able to do your own miracle."
Tom smiled slightly embarrassed again. It was making him look even younger and sweeter.
"Tala said that you fixed the computer," Chakotay remarked. "Are you a computer analyst?"
"No," Tom answered, the sadness coming back into his blue eyes.
"I‘m-was a pilot."
"Once the miracle as come," Tala stated confidently. "You‘ll be able to pilot again."
Tom sighed. "That‘s another miracle entirely," he told them with some resignation.
Tom was a pilot, or at least, had been a pilot, Chakotay thought about. He was sure that he had not seen the man around the DMZ, working for a Maquis cell, previously. Also, Tom had mentioned on his first day that he had been in Marseille prior to his arrival. So, he might have seen him on Earth. Maybe Tom had been in Starfleet before his illness-or accident...
Images that he had seen on news reports flashed through his mind and he remembered the man.
Thomas Eugene Paris was his full name. He was the son of an imminent Starfleet Admiral. He had been responsible for an accident that had killed three fellow Starfleet officers. Paris had first lied about the caused of the accident, then he had admitted that it had been his fault. He had been court-martialed and finally dismissed from the Fleet.
Chakotay could hardly believe this man was under their roof.
Surely, his uncle, aunt, and cousin were not aware of his past. Chakotay could feel his anger rise inside him. He could not stand men like Paris who had been given everything on a silver plate and then managed to recklessly throw it all away, killing innocent people along the way, when other hard working men and women were barely getting by.
"I‘m sorry to interrupt," he heard his aunt Wyome‘s voice, whom he had not noticed the arrival. "Tom, Sandrine is on the comm channel. She has news of your mother and sisters for you."
"Finally," he said, his smile coming back.
Akando stood up and helped Tom do the same. As Paris limped away, supported by the older woman, they heard him say:
"Wyome, You never told me how you met Sandrine. I must admit that I have difficulty picturing the two of you in the same room—not that you aren‘t all friendly people."
"You see Angel, someone we care about showed up at Sandrine‘s door a bit like you did. We have been in constant communication with her ever since," Wyome told him softly.
"Let me guess, that‘s how you started your reclamation project for lost souls?" he joked as if it was the ending of a story.
They heard Wyome laugh as they disappeared in the backroom. Once they were out of earshot, Chakotay cleared his throat.
"Uncle," he began seriously.
"Yes, Chakotay?" the older man asked as his smile faded away.
"Do you know who this man really is?"
"You mean Tom?" Akando clarified incredulously.
Chakotay did not miss the questioning look Tala gave him.
"His real name is Thomas Eugene Paris," he went on. "Did you know that he killed three people when he was in Starfleet?"
"It was an accident, Chakotay," Tala was quick to pointed out.
"So, you know," he remarked. "Are you also aware that he lied about it?"
"But, he told the truth afterwards," his cousin argued, her voice rising. "That‘s what‘s important."
"Tala is right, Chakotay," Akando stated.
"I can‘t believe that you‘re letting a killer and liar in your house," Chakotay expressed his distrust. "Don‘t you realize the risk you‘re taking, especially with everything that‘s going on around here because of the war? You even showed him your books."
"Tom is good man, Chakotay," Tala defended, hurt by his attitude.
"Tala, keep your voice down," her father warned. "Tom does not need to hear this conversation."
"What‘s going on, here?" demanded Wyome sternly as she came back in the main room.
"Chakotay is expressing his concerns about Tom staying with us," her husband explained calmly.
"He called him a killer and a liar, which is totally untrue," Tala related accusingly.
"Tala," Chakotay addressed her. "Men like Paris don‘t have any respect for the rules. They think that they can do anything free of consequences, and when things go wrong, they can always hide behind their family names. They are reckless and don‘t hesitate to take chances with other people‘s lives. There are threats for those around them, and obviously to themselves as well," he finished referring to the accident Tom had caused, which had not only killed three of his colleagues, but that Chakotay suspected had almost cost Paris the usage of his legs, and probably his life, too.
"You don‘t have any idea of what you‘re talking about," his cousin condemned. "How can you be so judgmental?"
"I must agree with Tala, Chakotay," Akando told him. "You are passing a harsh judgment upon someone that you barely know. That, based on his past and not on his current actions. This on your part surprises me greatly. Your father would be extremely disappointed by your attitude, as we are."
"Uncle," he tried again. They had to understand what a threat Paris could be to them.
"Chakotay, I will hear no more," the senior man interrupted him. "Tom is welcome in this house. He is a friend and he is to be treated as one. If you cannot do that, you will have to leave."
"No!" they heard Tom interjected from behind them. He was standing in the entrance of the room, holding on to the door frame in order to steady himself. "No, I‘m the one who will leave. You have to stay together. I‘ll go pack my things. I‘ll be gone in the hour," he informed them as he started making his way toward the staircase.
"You shall do none of it," Akando objected, walking up to him. "Chakotay is the one who has some thinking do. A talk with his animal guide would be much called for at this time."
"No. You don‘t understand. You have to stay together," Tom insisted. "You have a beautiful family and I don‘t want to come between you. God knows, I destroyed enough families as it is."
Akando put a companionate hand on Paris‘ shoulder. "Angel, this will not break our family, I assure you. Chakotay will be welcome back once he has appraised the sources of his beliefs."
"Sir, I appreciate, but can‘t accept this," Tom asserted.
"You are much too stubborn, Angel," Akando remarked not for the first time. "Let me put it this way: You are in no condition to travel again so soon. So you are stuck here," the healer pointed out. "Now, it is late and you need your rest, young man."
As he closed the argument, Akando led Paris up the staircase.
Uncomfortable under Tala‘s accusing stare and the one of disappointment Wyome was sending him, Chakotay existed the room without saying another word. He badly needed air.
Much later that night, he came back to the restaurant. He had took a long and aimless walk through the deserted land. Tom sadness had came along to haunt him. To his dismay, he had not found peace of mind. How could he have after hurting someone so badly? How could he had forgotten the pilot‘s profound sadness and resignation just by putting a name to his face?
Early in life, Tom was knowing far greater pain than most people did in their life time. It had been wrong-no, it had been cruel-on Chakotay‘s part to suppose that Tom had acted without consideration to his teammates and that he could have had rely on his family name for protection when he did not even knew the full story.
First thing in the morning, he would have to apologize to Tom.
He quietly went upstairs. As he was about to enter his room, he noticed light under the door of the guestroom. Was it possible that Paris was still awake at this time? He slowly walked to the door and pushed it further open.
Tom was seated in a wheel chair by the window. A quilt was covering his legs. His arms were resting on his lapses. Chakotay noticed for the first time the medical bracelet that Tom was wearing around his right wrist. It meant that the younger man‘s conditioned had to be constantly monitored. It led him to wonder just how serious Tom‘s health problems were, besides the obvious locomotion ones.
Chakotay cleared his throat as he walked in. Tom gave him a sideways look, but remained silent. It was dark and Chakotay had not been able to see Paris‘ face before he had turned it back toward the window.
"You couldn‘t sleep?" he asked on a soft tone.
"I did for a while," Paris replied flatly.
"Tom, what I said earlier was uncalled for. I had no right to judge you as I did."
"No, you had no right," Tom said bitterly. "I‘m not like one of those people you described, Mr. Chakotay. I admit that made very bad judgement calls, but I tried to mitigate my mistakes. I worked hard at the Academy to prove that I wasn‘t there due to my father‘s influence and I never hid behind the family name. I will not let you, or anyone else, take that away from me."
"Nor should you," Chakotay agreed.
He came closer in order to face Tom and was sadden to see a trail of tears running down his pale cheeks. He cursed himself for the pain he had inflicted. He knelt by Tom‘s side.
"I‘m deeply sorry, Tom. I know it‘s a lot to ask, but please accept my most sincere apologies," he whispered.
Tom swallowed, then nodded his acceptance.
Could it be that simple? Could someone forgive you so easily?
It seemed that he had much to learn from this man.
"I shall never be so quick to judge anyone, as I did you, ever again," he promised Tom. "I‘m sorry that I had to hurt you to learn my lesson."
Tom sent him a septic look.
"Do you need help to go back to bed?" Chakotay asked after a moment of silence.
It took Tom a few seconds before nodding. Chakotay stood up and rolled the wheel chair by the bedside. He removed the quilt, which he dropped on the floor, then put a hand behind the other man‘s back to help him up. Tom fell on him as he fought to keep his balance and Chakotay tighten his embrace. Tom‘s body was so bony and fragile, he feared he would break something.
When Tom felt ready, Chakotay slowly lowered him on the mattress. He tossed the bed sheets further aside before guiding Tom in a laying position. He finally pulled back the bed sheets and covered him with the quilt.
"Are you comfortable?" he asked.
"Yeah," Tom simply answered.
"Good night, Tom."
Chakotay made his way around the bed and exited the bedroom. As he closed the door behind him, he was greeted by his uncle who gave him an approving smile.
Chakotay entered in his quarters, not remembering having walked all the way from Tom‘s cabin.
His was heart heavy.
I shall never be so quick to judge anyone, as I did you, ever again, echoed in his mind.
It had been the first promise that he had made to Tom and the first that he had broken.
He brought his hands to his face as he fought his pain.
Without knowing Tom personally, he had openly called him a liar. Tom, on the other hand, knew him well now and had all the rights to called him a liar.
You said that... Tom had tried to say.
"I said that I would not be so quick to judge again," Chakotay stated at loud.
You said that...
"I said that I would always love you," he remembered.
Chakotay turned around, exited his quarters, and literally ran to Tom‘s. He overrode the lieutenant‘s door code and rushed inside.
He found Tom seated on the side of his bed. His tear stained face looked up at him in a mix of surprise and dismay. Chakotay knelt at Tom‘s feet and took his hands.
"You‘re right, Angel," he told him. "I‘m a liar. I promised you that I would never be too quick to judge anyone ever again, especially you. But Tom, I never lied to you when I said that I would always love you."
Tom swallowed the lump in his throat. "Why couldn‘t you give me the benefit of the doubt?"
Chakotay sighed heavily. "I don‘t know, Angel. What I know is that I love you and that being without you is tearing me apart."
Tom briefly looked at him with sadness and resignation in his red-rim blue eyes.
"My father was fond of saying that things were not happening without a good reason." He brushed Tom‘s tears away. "I‘m glad that you did not choose Arizona," he confessed as he gently pulled Tom into his loving embrace.
"I love you too, Chakotay," Tom whispered in his hear.
End Of Part 2
next part:"I could have stood closer"
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