Tom woke up. He looked around and knew he was in sick bay. He sat up.
He saw the movement in the office and the Doctor came up to him.
"Lieutenant Paris, how are you feeling?"
"Fine, I guess." Tom looked around. "Why am I here?"
"What's the last thing you remember, Tom?"
"I remember..." Tom shuddered as he did remember. "Never mind." Tom
lay back down on the bio bed. "How long am I here?"
"I have devised a treatment program for you. If you take your
medication, you can leave."
"No anklets to make sure I don't go anywhere I don't need to be?"
Tom started laughing. "You put the transponder back in, didn't you?"
The silence told him the answer. "Fine, Doc. What do I have to do?"
"Mr. Paris, if I had any other choice in the matter I would have taken
"Just tell me what fucking drugs you want me to pump into myself, so I
can continue my journey through living hell!"
"Lieutenant, attitudes like that will do nothing to help you recover. I
would suggest a more positive..."
Tom tuned him out. He'd been here, done this. He nodded at all the
appropriate places, and answered the questions correctly and none of it
fucking mattered. They would keep him alive whether he liked it or not.
Chakotay leaned back in his chair and sighed. These days he didn't have
to worry about reports, he didn't have to worry about rosters, or
rotations. He had fourteen counseling sessions, and all of them were
the same. They didn't trust Janeway, they felt betrayed, violated, and
Chakotay found he wanted to do nothing more than scream. *They* felt
violated? *They* felt betrayed? What about Tom? What about himself?
They wanted to know violated? Try having a mind meld forced on you.
Try finding out a man blamed you for his life being shit, and rightfully
so. Try having people look at you for leadership and strength, when you
had none left to give. Try having what looked like the beginnings of a
good relationship locked away in your own mind! Try having a clamp put
in your fucking head until you were ready to fucking kill someone!
His chime sounded. Chakotay reigned his temper in and composed his face
to calm neutrality. "Come."
"Am I disturbing you, Commander?"
"No, Captain, not at all," Chakotay said, as he rose to his feet. "How
can I help you?"
Chakotay engaged the security lock and started his training program.
Without pause he laced on his gloves and started hitting the punching
bag. He let his mind wander as he poured out his anger and frustrations
into the exercise. He saw the look on his crew's face as they turned to
him for guidance. The look on Tom's face as he tried to kill himself.
He saw the look on Kathryn's face when he had pointed a phaser at her.
He saw everything. Blow after blow into the lifeless bag, imagining it
was Tuvok. Chakotay allowed his rage to flood his system, because it
was the only way for him to purge the demons in his own mind.
Over and over he beat the bag, watching the last few months play through
his mind. Now that he knew what was going on it was as plain as the
nose on his face. Everything, he remembered everything but the four
days with Tom and the trip back to the ship. He could see the vid of he
and Tom, but it wasn't real. It was like vid of you when you were
drunk; you were there, but nothing. He didn't remember anything
clearly, only bits and pieces, and most of that was twisted by Tuvok.
Pictures of Tuvok, pressing his finger to Chakotay's face. The way he
had steeled himself against the onslaught, the wall he had put up in his
mind. How the images in the shuttle had blurred as the struggle between
them became intense, painful. He remembered the spike of pain as Tuvok
shattered his wall and drove into his mind like a barbed arrow, setting
itself in the soft place of his memories. How his body had arched to
*My mind to your mind.*
No, he had thought, weakly batting at Tuvok's invasion.
Over and over he drove his hands into the punching bag, body shots,
meant to destroy ribs and internal organs.
Waking up, face first in the mud with his pants around his knees.
Watching Tom being forced to service Harry while Tuvok messed with his
mind. Watching Tuvok and Tom...
Chakotay screamed the pain in his heart. He could remember parts of it,
he could feel parts of it, but he knew there was more.
"DAMN YOU TO HELL, TUVOK!"
Tom sat in his quarters staring at nothing, thinking of nothing, doing
nothing. His dinner sat on the table, untouched. His living area was
as neat as a pin, while his bedroom looked like a disaster zone. Tom
was still flying Voyager, but it didn't matter. He had a transponder in
his arm. Soon the Doctor would know he wasn't eating, he would know he
wasn't sleeping, and he would be taken off the helm, because he wasn't
fit to fly. But it didn't matter. Nothing really mattered.
That was the one problem with forcing someone to live. The drugs could
remove the passions that made Tom want to kill himself, but they also
removed his passions to live.
They were watching him, Tom thought vaguely as he glanced around his
room. They were using surveillance on him. He wouldn't be surprised if
he was being monitored on the helm so he didn't kill them. He was
flying himself back to prison, back to the nut house, and no seemed to
mind. Tom didn't mind. Nothing bothered Tom. He took his hypos like
he was supposed to, he showed up for duty when and where he was supposed
to, and none of it mattered.
Chakotay walked on to the bridge. He paused as he saw Tom numbly
sitting at the helm. He glanced at the chrono. Tom was ten minutes
early for shift. Chakotay took his seat behind him, and began to review
the previous shift's reports. He didn't look up often, because he
didn't want to see B'Elanna trying to not look at Tom. He didn't want
to see Kathryn's tired face, or Tom blankly staring ahead. He just read
They were chasing him. Harry, Tuvok and Becker, but they looked more
like demons, pointy ears, glowing eyes, blood dripping from their
mouths, huge, hard dicks, screaming obscenities at him, threatening
him. Tom, naked and alone, scrambled up the slope, trying to get away.
Branches bit into his skin, rocks bruised and ripped his knees up. Then
he misstepped and started to slide off the side of the cliff.
"CHAKOTAY!" He screamed as his hands closed around the roots, holding
him above the rocky ravine below. He held on, trying to dig his toes
into the dirt.
"Save me, Chak, please save me." He whispered, as he held on
desperately to the roots. Then a dark hand closed over his wrist.
"I have you, Tom."
Tom almost cried as he saw Chak's face at the top of the cliff.
"Chak!" he choked out.
"Come on, Tom. Climb up. I won't let you fall. Trust me, Tom,"
Chakotay said, as Tom climbed up. He fell against Chakotay, expecting
to be held, comforted; instead he was shoved away. And when he looked
up, he stared up into the faces of Harry, Becker and Tuvok. Tom
screamed as Tuvok's fingers touched his face, and Harry's impossibly big
cock ripped into him.
He woke up screaming again.
Chakotay sat in front of the view screen, rewatching the vids they had
taken of Tuvok and Harry on the surface. Harry had turned into a very
snide person. Tuvok had taken their exile with some grace. He had
taken the lead and as far as Chakotay could tell, they would survive.
Tuvok's leadership ability would see them through. In fact his calm
message sent to Voyager had angered Chakotay greatly.
"Voyager may continue on her course home, but your crew will never be
whole. The Maquis will ultimately be thrown in jail and Kathryn
Janeway's has ended her career by betraying the true loyalists to Star
He decided beaming Tuvok and Harry down to the planet had been to easy a
punishment for them.
They found a small planet with fresh food and a small civilization, but
there was more than enough room for them to take some shore leave
without disturbing or even contacting the inhabitants. Everyone took
time off on the planet. The last few weeks had been stressful.
Chakotay sat on the edge of a cliff, his medicine bundle open in front
of him, the wind whispering to him. It had been the first time he had
been able to reach any level of peace since he had viewed the tapes of
the away mission. A large bird screamed and it echoed into his
He wanted to be that bird. He wanted to be able to fly away from the
pain and destruction that was his life. He sighed and let his mind ride
the wind, ride back in time to a better time. He was home...home on
Dorvan. His brothers were with him, their laughter ringing through his
ears. His mother smiling at her family as they shared a quiet day.
Peace and joy flooded through his system as he stared at his family.
Then it changed and there were crater marks in the ground, bodies lay
everywhere. Chakotay stared at the destruction. He stood there in his
Star Fleet uniform, a padd in his hand regretfully informing him of his
father's death and his home world's destruction.
"Chakotay," a quiet voice said. He spun around and saw his mother. His
own mother, her dark eyes calling to him. Then he saw his Spirit Guide
superimpose its face over his mother's.
"What do I do?"
His mother shrugged and walked towards him. "I don't know, my son."
"Then why are you here? Where have you been?"
"I have been here."
"Mother," Chakotay cried, falling to his knees. "I don't know what to
do. It's gone."
She looked around, and shook her head. "It isn't gone, it's just been
damaged. Given time, it will heal."
Chakotay looked around, and instead of Dorvan, he was on the bridge of
Voyager. It was as if he was a ghost, because even he was there, or at
least a spirit version of himself sitting in his chair. Beside him,
Kathryn was curled up in her chair, crying. Tom on his knees, begging
Chakotay, pleading with him, but he just sat there staring blankly
ahead. Tuvok and Harry standing outside the view screen laughing, the
crew jumping and cringing at every single move.
"How do I heal this, Mother? How do I heal all of this pain?"
"How do you heal any wound, my son?" She and the wolf separated and
then dissipated with the next high wind.
Chakotay blinked, watching the bird wheel on the thermals. He wiped the
tears sliding down his cheeks away.
He was back on Voyager, in his quarters. They would be leaving orbit
soon. He was putting his medicine bundle away when there was a hail.
"Uh, Commander, we have a problem," Greg said.
"And that would be?"
Chakotay stood up straight. What had Tom done this time? "Report,
"He ditched his com badge on the planet, Commander. We have no idea
where he is."
"Shit," Chakotay said to himself. "Run the scans for his DNA in a
standard search grid until you find him."
"We tried that, Chakotay, but he's taken off into those mountains.
We've scanned about five grids and we can't find him. I think he went
"Okay, Greg, keep at it, and I'll get with the Captain."
"Kathryn, we either have to launch a ground search for him, or..."
"There is no other option, Chakotay. We will find Tom Paris. He may be
"Kathryn, he may have done this on purpose."
"What do you mean 'may have'? Of course, he has. He didn't just drop
his com badge by accident. He isn't stupid."
"Perhaps the EMH could shed some more light on the situation. He has
been counseling Tom," Chakotay said, knowing as well as Kathryn did that
Tom had run and didn't want to be found.
The EMH's report was devastating to both of them. It had never occurred
to Chakotay to check on Tom's progress with the EMH, but from what the
hologram said, he never should have left the two of them alone. The EMH
had Tom on a list of drugs longer than his arm: sedatives to sleep,
stimulants to work, dream suppressants, anti-depressants, anti-alcohol
medicine. It was a cacophony of drugs.
"Captain, if Lieutenant Paris is missing, I would suggest you use the
transponder to locate him. I told you letting him off Voyager was a
"And I told you he wasn't a prisoner on this ship." Chakotay watched
Kathryn's eyes grow large. "Transponder?" Kathryn asked. "I ordered
"Well, Captain, considering the Lieutenant attempted to kill himself,
surveillance was prudent."
"Has your logic subroutine slipped?" Chakotay demanded. "You put him
back under surveillance?"
"Of course, Commander. You know, as well as I do, that any member of
StarFleet that has been listed as a danger to themselves is placed under
"What's the frequency?"
They had found Tom. With the information from the EMH, they had tracked
him down to a cave in the mountains.
"Kathryn, let me go get him," Chakotay asked.
"You? You're probably the reason he's run."
"Maybe, but maybe I can help."
"How? Tom may not be thinking right, but he won't accept your pity,
"I have no intention of pitying him, Kathryn, or screaming or anything
else, except offering him my hand. I may not love him, but I do care.
I stand a better chance of getting him back than anyone else on board
Kathryn put her head in her hands and sighed. Chakotay reached out and
put his hand on her shoulder. "Bring him back, Chakotay. Please bring
Chakotay entered the cave.
"Tom?" he called. He heard water dripping. "Tom!"
Chakotay moved deeper into the cave. There was nothing here. He
flashed his light around the cave. Nothing. He hit his com badge.
"Did you find him, Chakotay?"
"No, he isn't here. What are the readings on his transponder?"
"Three meters to the South, Commander," Seven said.
Chakotay shined the light to that area. He almost got ill. There was a
large pool of blood and a tricorder on the ground.
"Kathryn, he's removed the transponder."
"How do you know?"
Chakotay started to follow the trail of blood. Tom had found a path
leading deeper into the cave.
"Voyager, I've found his trail. I'm going to follow it."
"Acknowledged, Commander," Kathryn's voice said.
For several hours, Chakotay wound his way deeper into the caverns;
climbing over rocks, wiggling through spaces so tight, he felt
claustrophobic, listening to his own ragged breathing and occasional
muffled curse echo back from the darkness, mocking his efforts. He was
getting worried about Tom. He was bleeding steadily. Chakotay had
found the odd, bloody hand print or smudge on the walls, but they were
getting more frequent. Tom was getting weaker, stumbling more; it
weighed heavily on his conscience.
Then he came across a place where Tom had fallen down. The dirt was
disturbed and there were handprints on the low surfaces. Tom was in
trouble and it gnawed at him. He had to find Tom.
Finally he saw a dim light ahead of him. Chakotay turned his own light
off and made his way quickly towards the opening. He could see trees
and green grass outside the opening, but after being in the darkness for
so long, even the dim brightness of the evening sun blinded him as he
stepped out of the cage.
When he could see, he looked down and found the trail of blood. His
comm badge beeped.
"Commander, you're getting close to one of the settlements," Kathryn
"Well, this is the way Tom went. I'll avoid contact, but if Tom's in
there, I have to get him out."
He continued down the path as it got closer and closer to sunset.
Chakotay noticed it was getting cooler. He wanted to stop and rest, but
he had to keep moving.
*Spirits, how could Tom have gotten this far bleeding as badly as he
He came over a small rise and heard water running ahead of him. He
could smell water and mud, and it made him thirsty. It also filled him
with hope. If he was thirsty, Tom had to be thirsty, too. All he could
hope for that was Tom had stopped to rest.
A cold wind blew, and Chakotay looked up at the trees, watching them
bend in the wind, clouds were building in the sky, and Chakotay
shivered. He hurried down the path, something was screaming at him to
hurry. He had to find Tom.
He rounded a bend in the path and came to a dead stop. Tom was laid out
under a tree, his arm was bandaged and a young woman knelt beside him.
The river was behind them and a small fire was burning nearby. The
woman had a hand on Tom's forehead.
When he called out, the woman looked up and Chakotay saw eyes like he
had never seen before. Her eye's blazed, almost glowed red. Something
from his past, childhood stories of witches and demons rose up in him.
For a moment, visions of people dancing around bonfires at midnight
flashed before his eyes.
"Get away from him," he ordered, pulling his phaser out of his belt.
The woman watched him closely, but didn't move away from Tom. Chakotay
walked forward using his size and determination to intimidate her. She
pulled back and rose up on her knees. Her hand went to the knife at her
belt, as Chakotay came to a halt about three paces from them.
"Tom? Can you hear me?"
He was lying on his back. His uniform was covered in blood, but the
sleeve was missing and his arm was clean. He couldn't see the wound
where Tom had removed the transponder, but he could tell from the size
of the bandage and the bloodstain on it that it was a sizable wound and
was still bleeding heavily.
Chakotay looked at the woman carefully. She hadn't moved, but her eyes
were now glowing in the dusk. He aimed his phaser at her. He didn't
want to have to hurt her, but he would to get Tom out of here and back
to Voyager where the wound could be tended. He hadn't brought a medkit
"I said: 'get away from him'," Chakotay ordered, gesturing with the
phaser to dispel any doubts. The woman hissed at him angrily and spoke
several words that it took the translator a moment to interpret.
"I know that." Chakotay hit his comm badge. If there were any time to
cut their losses and run, this was it. Kathryn would scream about
showing their technology to a lesser culture, but she could just go chew
durasteel. He had to get Tom and himself out of here. "Chakotay to
Voyager." His face twitched when his comm badge didn't respond.
The woman's face remained neutral, but Chakotay could have sworn he saw
her lips quirk into a smile. He tried again, but there was no response
to his hails.
"What have you done to him?"
"Tended his wounds," came the snide response from the woman. "See for
yourself." She stood up and moved away from Tom to the fire.
Chakotay put his phaser up and knelt beside Tom. His pulse seemed good,
his breathing was deep, but he was pale. Chakotay peeked under the
bandage and saw a jagged wound. What he wouldn't give for a
"It should be closed."
Chakotay jumped slightly and looked back to see the woman squatting by
the pot, looking at them. Their gazes locked, but Chakotay found he
couldn't meet her flaming glare. Reluctantly, he turned back to Tom.
"I'll take him where he can get help."
"If you move him and make the wound start bleeding again, you will kill
him. Or is that what you want to do? Finish the job you started."
"I don't want to kill him. I want to take him home."
"Your home is far away."
"How do you know that?"
"I know many things," she said, as she turned back to the fire.
Chakotay looked around frustrated. She was right. Tom was too weak to
move and it was a good distance back to where he had been able to
contact Voyager; then again, it was also getting dark and from the looks
of it, there was a storm brewing. To expose him to the elements could
weaken him even more. There was no guarantee he wasn't in shock now.
The combination of the two could kill him.
"And why do you care whether he lives or dies?" she asked, as she came
around Chakotay with a shallow bowl in her hands.
"Of course, I care. He's a part of our... How do you know what I was
She smiled as she lifted Tom's head and held the bowl to his lips.
Chakotay grabbed her arm before she poured any of it into his mouth.
"What is that?"
"Broth," she said, staring up into his face. "Made with vegetables.
He's lost blood. He needs liquids to help him heal."
"How do you know...he's sensitive to foods," Chakotay struggled to
explain. What might be healing to her may well kill Tom.
"Then he should be dead. I've been giving it to him since I found him."
Chakotay recoiled as she answered his thoughts instead of his words. He
pulled his phaser again. The woman sighed in exasperation and put the
bowl down and looked at him disgustedly. For a moment, Chakotay was
lost in the flickering fire of her eyes.
"Fool," she hissed. *The same way I can do this.* The voice was hers,
the inflection was hers, but she never said a word and Chakotay heard
every word inside his own head. Chakotay moved back, putting his hand
to his forehead. That hadn't hurt, but it sure was uncomfortable. It
felt like someone was force feeding his brain something. He blinked,
and then the sensation was gone.
"You're a telepath."
"Very good," she replied, verbally.
Then he felt a flutter in his mind, almost like someone touching his
thoughts. On instinct alone, he shoved her away.
"Get out of my head."
He reached down to gather Tom in his arms. They were leaving.
"He doesn't want to go with you. Besides, he's too weak to travel. Move
him and you will take a corpse back to your ship."
"I'll take that chance," Chakotay said, as he gathered Tom to his
chest. Chakotay was surprised at how light he was. He must have lost
ten kilos since the planet.
"Move him and he will die!" She stood up, and stepped into the middle
of the path holding a stick in her hands. "He doesn't want to go with
you. He came here to die. He even called on your Spirits, Chakotay."
Her eyes were burning, and a clap of thunder sounded overhead.
"How do you know who I am? How do you know my name?" Then it hit him.
She had read Tom's mind. Another clap of thunder and the sky brightened
for a moment. "Are you saying it's better to stay here in a storm?"
"There won't be any rain here. It will pass over this place."
Chakotay looked around for better shelter, and up at the sky. He didn't
believe there wouldn't be any rain, but his only choice was to carry Tom
out. And he had the sneaking suspicion he was going to have to hurt
this woman to do it. But she was a telepath and had invaded Tom's mind,
just like Tuvok had.
"I did not. I found out why he was here."
"Don't think so loud." Then she relaxed her stance. "Let him rest for
the night. By tomorrow he should be strong enough to travel. Then you
can take him back." Chakotay shifted his grip on Tom, and looked at the
woman. Her eyes weren't nearly as bright now, and he realized they
changed with her moods. He looked down at Tom, the sunset lighting his
face. He was weak. Chakotay could stay up and keep a watch over him,
and then in the morning, take him back. She was right, a night wouldn't
He gently laid him back on the ground, and looked at the woman as she
relaxed and stepped out of the path.
"Can I feed him now?" she asked snidely.
"I will," Chakotay said. He reached over and picked up the bowl. He
sniffed at it, but it smelt like vegetable broth. He stuck a finger in
it and tasted it. It tasted good. He waited for a few minutes. He
tried not to look at woman who was watching him with amused impatience.
"I can get you some too, if you're hungry."
"If you know so much about us, then you know our systems may not be
"Which is why neither of you are dead," she said. "Believe it or not,
Chakotay. I don't want to hurt either of you."
"Since you've obviously stolen information from Tom, why don't you tell
me your name and we can be on even terms."
"Rahea, and I didn't steal it. He was broadcasting your name all over
the place when I got here."
"Among our people, taking information from someone's mind
is...impolite," Chakotay said, thinking it was more like rape than
"Considering what he's been through, I can understand why you are so
upset about it."
"And are you answering my words or my thoughts?"
"Both," she said offering him a bowl of soup. "It won't hurt you."
Chakotay sighed and took a sip. It tasted good. He quickly finished
the bowl, and set it aside.
It was dark now. The storm had passed over. He considered walking back
up to the cave to contact Voyager, but for some reason decided against
it. He didn't want to leave Tom here alone with Rahea. Despite her
apparent worry for Tom's well-being, Chakotay did not trust her as far
as he could throw the tree he was leaning against.
They sat there in the darkness for quite some time. Chakotay found
himself relaxing, as he listened to the calming sounds of the river,
watching the moonlight dance of its surface. His mind wandered back to
Dorvan when he would do just go to the river to swim with his family.
"You miss your family very much, don't you?" Rahea asked.
"I told you to stay out of my head."
"The one with the pointy ears told you that," Rahea said. A picture of
Tuvok flashed in his mind.
"Told me what?" Chakotay asked pausing.
"Told you not to let anyone else into your mind." She threw a rock into
the river. "I can show you what he did, but you have to trust me."
"Why should I trust you?"
"Why shouldn't you trust me. I haven't hurt you or him." Rahea laughed
a sardonic laugh. "No, you did that. You hurt him so badly he came
here to die."
Chakotay froze. Her words cut so deep. He hadn't meant to hurt Tom.
He couldn't help it if Tuvok had locked his memory away.
Chakotay looked down at Tom and saw him for the first time. Tom was
thin. His cheeks were hollow and there were huge bags under his eyes.
He hated the thought that Tom had gone to such lengths to kill himself.
He wanted to dig his fingers into his own mind and rip the information
free. He didn't want Tom to suffer because of him.
"Then let me help you," Rahea said quietly.
Chakotay almost got mad.
"Look, I can't help it that I can hear your thoughts, but I can help you
both." She turned to him. "I can even do it where you will see what
I'm doing. I don't want to hurt either of you."
"How?" Chakotay asked.
She looked at him for a moment, and then at Tom. She moved over to him
and checked him quickly. With a small nod, she threw a few more sticks
on the fire and then sat down near Chakotay, crossing her legs.
"You have to trust me, Chakotay," she said, as she settled herself.
Then their eyes met for a moment. When Chakotay relaxed and sat up
slightly, he noticed her eyes were warm and inviting. He heard a howl
in the darkness. "You call them Spirit Walks. You haven't been able to
see your spirit lately. It is weighing heavily on you. Whoever this
one was with the pointy ears was, he was a very cruel person. He took
"How do you know about my Spirit Walks?"
"The bird called to you, and led you to your plane, but your pain is
great..." Her voice was low, hypnotic. "Think of your walk today,
Warrior. Think of sitting on the ledge, and your mate calling to you."
Suddenly, Chakotay was back on the cliff, but she stood beside him. The
bird screamed and floated.