Series:  Voyager
Pairing: C/P
Parts: 3/?
Rating: G

Disclaimer: Voyager and her crew don't belong to me. They never
did and they never will.  They belong to Paramount.

Archive: Sure, just let me know where.

I could have series previous parts:
1) I Could Have Surprised You.
2) I Could Have Chosen Arizona

Synopsis: Chakotay has to keep in mind that Tom has been taking
care of himself for a long time.

I Could Have Stood Closer
By Isabelle S. -


The alarmclock rang through Tom's bedroom tearing Chakotay out of
his slumber.  He did not need to ask the computer what time it
was to know that it was earlier than his usual rising time,
though he did it anyway.

'The time is 0530 hours," the computer replied.

He groaned.

"Go back to sleep, Chakotay.  I'll wake you up at seven," Tom
told him as he slowly rolled himself on his left side so he
could bring his feet to the floor.  With practiced arms, he
pushed himself into a sitting position.

"Angel, it's 5:30 in the morning, where are you going?"

"Warm up," came Tom's soft replied.

The simple statement was enough to wake Chakotay up as its full
meaning came crashing down on him.  Two hours and a half,
sometimes even more, was the time Tom needed each morning to
first RELEARN how to walk and then get ready for his day.

"Spirits," he breathed remorsefully.  "I'm so sorry, Angel.  I
never thought of that."

"It's okay, Chakotay," Tom excused retrieving a hypospray from
the bedside table and pressing it against his arm.  "Go back to

"Okay?  No, it's not O-KAY!" Chakotay said suddenly feeling angry
at the fact that Tom could be so forgiving.

He tossed the covers aside and got up.  He went around the bed
so that he could face Tom who was pushing himself upward helped
by a ramp installed by the side of the bed.   Tom sighed with
annoyance as he met Chakotay's gaze for a few seconds.

"Really," he insisted.  "It's okay."

"No, it's not," Chakotay contradicted him again.  He rubbed his
face with both hands as he searched for the right words to say,
reluctant to admit even to himself just what kind of jerk he
had been.  "I've been an inconsiderate idiot.  Damn it, I've been
a real monster."

Tom sighed heavily, unwilling to have that kind of confrontation
so early in the morning. "Don't overdramatize things, Chakotay.
We both did things that we regret.  It's not important anymore."

"Tom, you don't understand.  I love you and I never once in the
last five weeks tried to make your life easier.  I made it worse.
I never put into consideration the fact that you needed to get
so early in order to make it on time for Alpha shift.  I could
have at least put you on Beta shift."

"And what makes you think I would let you do that?" Tom
challenged, his voice rising. "I'm a senior officer and I intend
to work and be treated as one.  I'm no different from anybody
else, Chakotay.  So don't you dare start giving me special
treatments because we're together again.  Now, get out of my way.
I have things to do."

At loss for words, Chakotay had no other choice but to step
aside.  Tom leaned on the bulkhead.  Using it to support himself,
he limped passed Chakotay without even giving him a second
glance.  The older man knew better than to offer his help.  It
would not have been welcome at this time.  There were a few
things which Tom was unforgiving for: being underestimated and
treated as an invalid were definitely making the count.

Tom could take care of himself.  He had done so for the last five
weeks.  He had done it for years...


A year before.

As Chakotay exited Tom's bedroom, his uncle greeted him
approvingly.  Akando did not need to say anything to communicate
how pleased he was that his nephew had apologized and made
amends to their guest.

"Why is Tom so sick?" Chakotay whispered.

"He is suffering from a muscular degenerative disease known as
muscular sclerosis," the healer replied leading Chakotay away
from Tom's bedroom so that their voices would not carry over.
"It's a mutated form of multiple sclerosis.  It is very hard to
treat, practically incurable.  It attacks sporadically destroying
the myelin sheaths of nerves in the spinal cord and the brain.
In some cases, it also causes muscle breakdown to the point that
the major organs start to fail one after the other."

"Is it the case for Tom?" Chakotay wondered aware that the
younger man's muscles in the lower back were atrophied.

"I'm afraid so," Akando said sadly.  "Tom had a relapse over two
months ago.  His legs, lower back muscles, kidneys, lungs, and
nerves in the lumbar region were seriously affected.  He will
never make a full recovery, but he has already made a lot of
progress towards living independently again," Akando finished
on a lighter tone.

It seemed obvious that Tom had come a long way, it was also clear
that he still had a long way to go.  Chakotay found it odd that
Tom was not surrounded by his family in such a difficult time.
Surely, he could benefit from their support.

"Why didn't Tom's family accompanied him here?" he asked.  "The
political situation in the region is unstable, but still."

"Ever since the events following the accident at Caldik Prime,
which you are aware of, the relations between Tom and his family
are tense, especially with his father.  They do not know that he
is here.  Sandrine acts as an intermediary, passing along
messages between Tom and his mother."

"It's sad," Chakotay sighed.

"It is," Akando had to agree.  "Good night, Chakotay."

"Same to you, uncle."

When Chakotay got out of his room the following morning, he was
pleasantly surprised to hear Tom sing some kind of Irish folk
song.  He approached the bedroom and saw the younger man laying
on the bed, wearing only his shorts.  In the background, Chakotay
could hear a the bath being filed in the adjacent bathroom.

"... Well as the dance was over straight to the bed did go.
Was little did I ever think she'd pull my overthrow.
Robbed my gold watch and thirty ponds a pack of fags and fled,
And left me there stark naked alone upon the bed.
Now when I awoke in the morning..."

His song faded into a stifled chuckle as he saw Chakotay standing
by the door.

"You don't have to stop," he told Tom.

"You slept well?" Tom asked meeting his gaze.

"I did," he replied.  "If I had been a good boy, I would have
slept longer."

"No doubt about that," Tom agreed with a small grin.

"And you, you're okay?  You seemed a bit flushed," he wondered
with concern.

"I'm beat!," Tom told him.  "Your cousin tried to kill me."

"Now, look who's talking," Tala remarked as she come out of the
bathroom.  "If you weren't trying to do everything so fast,
physiotherapy wouldn't be such a pain."

"Slow or fast, I don't think it would matter," Tom mumbled.

Chakotay soon found out what Tom had meant by that statement
during the days, then the weeks, that followed.  Tom was making
great progress.  He was becoming less and less dependent on their
support.  He had started to venture into town, first with Tala or
Chakotay, and eventually alone, more frequently.

Then, when they thought Tom would be able to go beyond the
recovery point that was expected for him, one of those days when
he would barely be capable of getting out of bed would creep up
on him.  Each time it seemed like he was going one step forward
and two steps backwards.  But that was a temporary setback as
they never saw Tom give up.

The constant absence of his family was one of the major reasons
why Tom needed to be independent.  But more importantly was his
passion for flying.  Tom knew that it would only be possible for
him to fly again if he could make it out there on his own.
Although, what he did not know was that Chakotay was planning to
be present for him out there because somewhere along the way the
Native American had fell in love with the younger man.


The first half his shift was proving itself to be a long one for
Commander Chakotay.  Whatever he was doing, his thoughts were
always coming back to Tom and the argument they have had in the
morning.  When he had tried to apologize for his selfish outburst
of self-recriminations, Tom had made clear that he had no time
for that and he had suggested that Chakotay leave.

Damn the man stubbornest, Chakotay cursed for the umpteenth time.
Damn his own selfishness.

Then lunchtime came and Tom left the Bride for the Mess Hall with
Harry.  He smiled at Chakotay on his way out.  The commander
smiled back.  He could tell by Tom's implicit gesture that he had
been forgiven already.  Tom was also letting him know that he was
not dependent on him.  Chakotay had mixed feelings about that.

An unexplained energy surge running through many of Voyager's
systems kept the crew busy soon after lunch.  In less than an
hour, the surge had tempered with the plasma manifolds, the EPS
conduits, the navigational array, the internal sensors, the
replicators, and most problematic of all, the life support
system.  It was taking everyone's best efforts to repair the
damages as soon as possible or to stay ahead of it to prevent
further damages until B'Elanna was able to purge it two hours

"Good job, Lieutenant," Janeway congratulated Torres over the
comm system from the conference room.

"We still have a lot of work to do before being fully operational
again, Captain," Torres said from Engineering.

"Life support is our first priority", Chakotay pointed out.'

"Yeah, it's getting hard to breathe in here," Tom said in a raw

They all looked at him with concern.

"Tom, are you in any pain?" Janeway asked not bothering to first
ask him if he was all right since it was obvious that he was not.

"No, Ma'am.  I'm fine," Tom replied a little too quickly.

"He's lying," Chakotay stated as he stood up.  He came around the
table in three long strides and knelt at Tom's feet.  Janeway was
already by the young man's side.  She had put one hand on his
forehead to know if he was feverish.

"I'm not lying," Tom defended himself as he met Chakotay's gaze.
"I'm not in pain.  I'm numb."

"That doesn't make you fine, Tom." Janeway told him on a soft
tone.  " You have a fever.  I'm afraid it's sickbay for you, Mr.
Paris," she added with a sad smile.

Chakotay got up to his feet and helped Tom to do the same.  "Come
on Angel, I'll walk you there." He told Tom.

He disregarded Janeway's stare full of incredulity at the use of
Tom's nickname.  She had heard B'Elanna called Tom 'Angel' as she
had heard the Maquis engineer called Harry Kim 'Starfleet', but
for Chakotay to say it and to do so in public was certainly a
surprise for all of them.

As Chakotay helped Tom get up, the younger man lost his balance.

Dizzy?" the Commander asked as he hold Tom steady.

"Yeah," Tom replied above a whisper.

He allowed himself a few seconds of rest before telling Chakotay
that he was ready to go.  He put one foot in front of the other.
Then, he struggled to make another step but the effort proved to
be too much.  He took a deep breath as pain rushed through his
rigid body.

Chakotay and Janeway were there to catch him as he collapsed.
Carefully, the laid him on the floor.

"Tom! Can you hear me?" Chakotay asked trying to keep his panic
at bay.  "Come on Angel, talk to me."

Tom's eyes were half closed.  His mouth was slightly opened.

"He's barely breathing," Janeway noticed.

"We have to transport him to Sickbay," Chakotay said urgently.

"We don't know if the transporters are safe enough yet," Kim

"Harry's right.  It's too dangerous," the Captain agreed.  "We
have to do something here and now."

"I will get the medkit," Tuvok informed them.

"Hold on, Angel," Chakotay told Tom.  "We're here.  We'll take
care of you.  You're going to be fine."

"It hurts," Tom hissed.

"I know," said Chakotay.

"No... It REALLY hurts," Tom emphasized.


End Of Part 3


Thanks to Monica and Louise for beta reading.

The lyrics Tom sang was part of a song called: "Peter Street".
It's a traditional Newfoundland song which is interpreted very
nicely by a group named "The Fables".

Feedback is always appreciated. -