Series: Voyager
Pairing: C/P
Parts: 1/?
Rating: G
Synopsis: Set at the beginning of the first season. Chakotay wish to make peace with Tom.

I Could Have Surprised You
By Isabelle S

It had been five weeks since the Maquis crew had joined Voyager‘s and began their long trip toward home. Despite all the efforts made by both sides to make life bearable onboard the Starfleet ship, the mistrust between both crews were still very tangible. They had been in for a rough start. Now, they could only hope that the hard feelings would eventually be set aside as the crew became whole and settled into a routine, that as much as the life in the Delta Quadrant allowed it.

It had been five weeks during which Commander Chakotay had to face Lieutenant Tom Paris everyday. It hurt. It hurt in more ways than one. He was furious at Paris. That had been evident from the moment he had set eyes on him on bridge of the enemy vessel. Paris had stood straight, defiantly and arrogantly, and yet...

The former Maquis Captain was angry at the betrayal. Not only had Paris let him down, he had accepted to help Starfleet to capture them. How could he had done such a despicable thing after Chakotay had given him more that his trust? How could He had been so blind?

He was also furious at Paris for the man‘s disregard for his own well being.

As much as Chakotay was trying to ignore his feelings of concern for the man, he was finding himself even more distraught by Tom‘s condition. Yes, for awhile there had been no Paris, Commander, or Lieutenant standing between them. There had been only Tom and Chakotay.

He had been forced to admit that he would never be able to wish any harm to his former lover no matter what. It was not who he was and Tom simply did not deserve that on top of everything else. Why had the pilot turned on him and agreed to lead a Starfleet ship on their trail were burning questions that were tormenting Chakotay everyday and that only Tom could answer.

Chakotay had always thought of himself as a pragmatic, never dwelling over an issue for any long length of time before confronting it. Facing Tom, however, was proving to be much more difficult. Under the guidance of his animal guide and a push from good friend, he had come to accept that the confrontation was inevitable. Furthermore, he had realized that it would have to happen soon, not only to help the reconciliation process between Starfleet officers and Maquis, but also to keep Tom from self-destruction. Chakotay knew it was coming. He could see the emotional pain and the overwhelming loneliness in Tom‘s livid eyes. He could also see the growing physical pain in the stiff body that was barely supported by shaky long legs that were threatening to break at any rushed movement.

He had not been the only one to witness Tom‘s health deteriorating. B‘Elanna had been concerned by it as well. It had surprised him that the half-Klingon had forgiven Tom so quickly. True, she had been very protective of him during their days the Maquis. But, like Chakotay, she had been furious to find out that he had been helping Starfleet to track them down. One day however, she had simply put the past behind and reclaimed her friendship with the pilot. The night before, she had come to him. She had pledged her friend‘s case with dedication, stating that despite Tom‘s faults, that he was still a good man and that he needed their help more than ever. Tom needed him more than anyone else. If Chakotay was unable to forgive him, she feared he would give up.

If Tom was to loose that incredible survival will that had kept him going for so long, if he was to stop fighting and let his muscle sclerosis take over his upper body, and most of all his hands, it would be the end. None of B‘Elanna, Harry, Kes, or Janeway, who had all grown closer to him during the past few weeks, would ever be able prevent the inevitable.

Chakotay was the one who had to do something. He was the one who had to try to clear the air between them. Tom would not have the strength to do so himself. The resentment of both crews and the constant physical pain were enough to destroy anyone‘s will.

Chakotay stood in front of Tom‘s door for a few seconds, delaying the confrontation a little while longer. He drew in a deep breath in order to compose himself. He could not walk in Tom‘s quarters with his raw conflicting emotions laying on the surface of his skin as they were. It would make matters worst. He was better to walk away now than to let that happen. He had loved Tom too much, not so long ago, to add to the man‘s suffering.

There was not point in lying to himself any more. He was still in love with his blond angle. Spirits, why? he sighed with bitterness.

He ran the chime and at Tom‘s invitation walked in. The first thing that caught his attention was the soft jazzy music in the background. As his gaze quickly scanned around the living room, Chakotay realized that the music was the only element that was personalizing the place whatsoever. In fact, the quarters barely looked as if they had been lived in for five weeks.

Tom was sitting on the long black chair in the corner, holding a PADD that he had been working on. His back was resting against a big pillow and a blanket was covering his legs. Chakotay wonder if Tom had taken into the habit of sleeping on the chair instead of the bed. It would not have surprised him.

"Commander," he acknowledged as he would do a stranger.

Tom tossed the blanket aside and brought his feet to the floor. Chakotay did not expect him to stand up, doing so would have put in evidence the discomfort he was feeling in his legs and lower back. Tom had never been one to play the victim and wanting pity. As he had thought, the blond man remained seated as he met the Commander‘s dark eyes once again.

"Tom," he began on a neutral tone. "We need to talk."

Tom stared back at him with cold blue eyes. "*You* need to talk."

"Fine. I need to talk," he granted. Tom was waiting for him to continue. At least, the man was willing to listen. It was a good sign. Maybe, Tom needed to talk too, but was not ready to admit it yet. "We need to clear the air between the two of us, if not for personal reasons, than for professional ones."

Tom stayed silent, not giving in anything.

"I‘d like to know why," Chakotay finally stated after a few minutes of awkward silence. "Why did you betrayed us, Tom?"

Paris looked away. "I had my reasons," he said quietly.

"What reasons?!" Chakotay asked again, feeling his anger rising up in his tone already. "Tuvok had reasons. But, you. You had nothing to gain. Or, had you?"

Tom was keeping his mouth shut, but Chakotay could tell by the way he was bitting his lower lip that he was getting angry as well.

"What were they, damn it?! What could they offer that we couldn‘t? Tell me because I don‘t get it. Did they promised you a lesser sentence? Free medical care? Was it your way to prove to your father that you were still a loyal little Starfleet brat by turning in the enemy?"

That last remark about his father stung Tom so hard that he pushed himself upright. Chakotay winced as Tom did.

"Don‘t you ever mentioned him again! The bastard can rot in hell and so can you. You‘re all a bunch of liars anyway."

"Liar? I never lied to you, Tom. I always told you were we stood. We‘re the ones who were counting on you. How could you let us down?"

"Hell, I was counting on you, too. You should have checked your sources before sending us into a trap," Tom spatted back resentfully. "Prison was not my first choice for a vacation spot. If I had wanted a vacation I would have chosen Arizona, not Auckland..."

"Than, why did you betrayed us?" the former Maquis asked again.

"God, Chakotay, I gave up everything for your cause. For you. I would have done anything for you. Anything. All I wanted was to be with you again. But, by staying behind, I would never had been able to help you. By coming along, it was my way to even the odds."

Chakotay stared at him, not willing to believe what he was hearing. "By leading them to us?"

"Or, leading them away," Tom pointed out.

"Spirits," Chakotay breathed, robbing his face with one hand.

"How could you be so naive?"

"I could have surprised you," the younger man told him, with hurt feelings.

"Tom, be realistic! You wound never had stood a chance with a Starfleet crew watching your every move."

"Well, they never suspect the cripples," Tom argued.

Chakotay swallow hard at the comment. He did not like hearing Tom referring to his condition that way.

"I could have surprised you," he said again.

"Tom," Chakotay tried on a reasoning tone.

"Don‘t," Paris interrupted him. "You‘ll never understand. Or... Or I won‘t. I believed in you. I thought it meant the same for you. You said that.... You said... But I guess it was just another lie. Well, hear me Chakotay, I will never let you lie to me again. I will never let any of you lie to me again. So, GET OUT!"



Chakotay had no other choice than to back away and leave. As the door closed behind him, he fought the urge to swing his fist into it.

God! What a mess!

Read next part:" I Could Have Chosen Arizona"

End of Part 1
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Copyrights @ May 2000