I inherited a serious case of lyricitus while writing this part, the lines are from Savage Gardenís album Affirmation (Hold me, gunning down romance, crash and burn and you can still be free)

Hey if we can't find a way out of these problems
Then maybe we donít need this
Standing face to face
Enemies at war we build defenses
And secret hiding places

Tom walked down the corridor on the way to his shift. Dark floor, dark walls, dark ceiling, dark mood. It had been five days since the argument in Sandrineís. Three days of absolute fucking hell. It wasnít just the fact that Chakotay basically hated him, which lord knows was enough, it was the crew too. Sure there were the nice few, the ones who told him heíd be back with Chakotay in no time. But there was a hell of a lot of the bastards. ĎYouíre not good enough for our Commander, Paris.í Yeah, well he was TOMíS Commander for a while. ĎHad a loverís tiff, Paris?í Thatís all it is idiot, a fight, weíll make up. Right? ĎBet heís realized his mistake and dumped you.í WellÖShit. What if thatís exactly what Chakotayís done? 

Tom shook his head and concentrated on walking in a straight line- a surprisingly difficult task when youíve had six hours sleep in the past five days. He must look like death warmed up. Eyes open just as much as was needed, hair in its own world, shoulders sagged and legs moving almost as slow as his brain. 

It was the dreams. They were fucking back with a vengeance. Sequels were always worse than their predecessors. They had him waking up screaming himself hoarse with his heart desperately trying to force its way out of his chest. And no Chakotay to hold him through them. 

He could live without sleep.

Tom entered the turbo lift and spent a few minutes trying to remember where he worked. "Bridge!" he said with a little more triumph than he wanted to show.

One stop on the way up. Tom looked at the brown haired woman whoíd entered and was staring at him. She was familiar. Asking his brain who she was Tom found the only response he could get was Ďsleep first, think laterí. Fucking traitorous brain. 

"Lieutenant, I donít think you should work today. Go back to your quarters and get some rest."

CAPTAIN JANEWAY! Oh yes, brain online! NowÖthink about the question. Come on, itís just like a hangover, think through the fuzzinessÖ

"No. Iím fine." 

Kathryn looked at Paris, shocked at the incredibly slow response time. He looked like hell. With his pale face, blank expression and absent eyes he looked like a walking specter. She knew all about his trouble, with the crew AND Chakotay. The Lieutenant definitely looked worse for it, he must be in love with her first officer. OF COURSE HE IS her mind told her. Sheíd seen the looks across her bridge, the smiles, the discreet caresses of Chakotayís fingers when he bent over the Conn. Sheíd noticed Chakotayís time has been diverted from her to Tom, that they laughed, talked and joked with each other. That they were in love. 

But Tom sure looked worse off from this than Chakotay.

She put on her Ďcaring but still Captainí voice, "Tom, we donít need a pilot whoíll fall asleep at the helm. Chakotay can pilot." 

She cringed. Talk about tactless. She could deal easily with the most powerful species in the Delta Quadrant, but sheíd just hurt her own pilot with three small words, "IímÖ"

"Itís okay Captain. Chakotayís a good pilot. But Iíll be f-"

"Do I have to make it an order Lieutenant?"

"No maíam." 

She watched him walk out of the turbo lift, "Get some rest Tom." He smiled, incredibly weakly though, a mere lamp light compared to his usual sunshine smile. She returned the smile with a stronger, more reassuring, one of her own and resolved to speak to Chakotay, "Bridge."

Well SHIT. Tom sighed and looked around. Deck five. He wasnít going to bed. Sleep meant those fucking dreams and he WASNíT revisiting that world. It just made him incredibly desperate for Chakotayís warm, tender, protective embrace. Even MORE desperate.

And feelings of aggression are the absence of the love drug in your veins
Love and other socially acceptable emotions are morphine
Love come quickly

Tom began to wander in the general direction of the Mess Hall and was surprised when he made it there without getting completely lost more than twice- brain must be accepting the fact it would just have to do without sleep. He slid into a chair that was way too comfy and switched it for a hard backed upright one. Gratefully accepting some coffee, Tom sat there sipping at it and forcing himself awake by counting the number of stars. But he didnít seem to be able to remember the next number after nine and resigned to thinking nostalgically about Chakotay.

Chakotay strode down the corridor, scowling. Scowling at Tom for not sleeping. Scowling at Kathryn having to point that fact out at him and suggesting he Ďdo something about it because ĎI am NOT having you both mopsing about for the rest of the tripí. Scowling at himself for not noticing his lover was ill. Scowling at his own fucking attitude that had pushed Tom away from him. 

He entered the mess hall and saw several humans, one Vulcan, a Talaxian and a ghost. SHIT. Tom looked like hell. Chakotay watched Tomís eyes sliding slowly closed and bolted over there catching the pilot before he dropped to the floor. 

Tom opened his eyes to find Chakotay, who was holding his upper body, sliding him gently off the chair so Tom was lying over him. "Cha?" Tom managed to ask softly. 

"I think we need to talk honey. Shit Tom, what have you done to yourself?"

Chakotay watched Tomís eyes, they were barely registering his presence. Tom showed no reluctance to being wrapped up in his arms, but Chakotay realized that was because he probably didnít even know what day it was. He could feel Tom let his head sag into Chakotayís chest and him gathering strength to speak, "Iím just a little sleepy."

"Sleepy? Tom youíre DEAD. You canít do this to yourself."

"I donít know what youíre talking about."

Chakotay noticed Neelix had kindly evacuated himself and the few people in the mess, so him and Tom were alone. He sighed at Tom, "Do you have any idea where you are?"

"Iím in my quarters, going to bed. I was just about to drop off when you came in." Tom said quietly, his eyes looking like they were struggling against the urge to sleep. 

"Tom, youíre in the Mess Hall." Said softly. 

"Thatís what I said." Tom paused, taking a while to think remotely straight, "I thought you hated me?" he said calmly.

"I could NEVER hate you, hon. How about I take you back to your quarters, then you can get some sleep." He said, finding his hand running soothingly up and down Tomís arm. 

"No. Canít sleep. Please, please donít make me."

There was a sickening desperation in Tomís voice that made Chakotayís heart lurch and his stomach cringe at the same time. Shit. Heíd done this. Heíd turned his beloved pilot into this- this scared, tired, desperate wreck. Chakotay felt guilt the size of Voyager land and dock on his shoulders. He pulled his arms tighter around Tom and whispered, "Iíd stay with you." This didnít seem to register with Tom, so Chakotay calmly elaborated, "If I stayed with you, would you get some sleep?"

"If youíd stay." Tom said softly.

"Okay." Chakotay quickly barked out an order to have them both transported back to Tomís quarters. The moment he materialized there he carried Tom to his bed and the pilot down, pulling the covers around him. Tom started trembling gently and Chakotay kicked off his shoes and climbed right in next to him, calming the pilot with his embrace.

A tortured soul, a wound unhealing
No regrets or promises
The past is gone
But you can still be free
If time will set you free

Tomís eyes began to drift gradually closed as Chakotay gently soothed him into placidity. He kissed Tomís head delicately and waited as the pilot relented completely to sleep. Chakotay then slipped out of bed quietly and perched on a chair at the edge of Tomís bed, watching Tom frown and huddle up tightly, lonely without Chakotayís presence. Chakotay looked at Tomís face, it was confused and the man looked vulnerable. Chakotay wished he was in there next to Tom, but knew that Tom wouldnít be happy if he woke up to the assumption Chakotay had taken advantage of him. That in itself was bad enough, but it would be worse considering it wasnít true. In truth Chakotay was just as lonely as the sleeping man curled up in that bed. 

Five minutes into Chakotayís stakeout Tom began to shake considerably, his whole body convulsing. Chakotay got up and crouched beside Tom, taking the manís cold, shaking hand and placing it between his own. Chakotay caressed Tomís hand, warming it, easing the quivering. He saw Tomís face relax softly into sleep, lines of worry and insomnia disappearing, forming back into the Tom Paris he knew. 

As Tom stopped shaking Chakotay grabbed a spare blanket and wrapped it around Tom, tucking it into the manís sides, making sure he was fully covered. Tom stirred in his sleep and snuggled down under the blankets, pulling them tightly around himself. His lips parted slightly to breathe the words, "Love you Cha."

Chakotay smiled at the worn out pilot and kissed his forehead, whispering his love back to Tom who, he knew, was probably oblivious to every word. Chakotay turned and walked quietly out of Tomís quarters. 

Why was he leaving? Because there was no way Tom would feel the same when he woke up. Heíd look like heíd taken advantage of a man who was ill and probably willing to submit to anything heíd asked if it would help him get better. No. He couldnít risk damaging his and Tomís relationship anymore than he already had.

Love I beg you
Lift me up into that privileged point of view
The world of two 

"Cha?" Tom woke up and turned on his side, "Chakotay?" 

Tom sat up and checked his systems. Everything was on red alert. He was fucking tired, he felt like one big knot (well that could be because he was used to Chakotayís massages whenever he needed) and Chakotay was nowhere to be found. 

Shit.

Was it guilt? Was that the only reason Chakotay had taken care of him last night? Did he think that helping Tom to sleep was the way to lift the dead weight off his shoulders? 

Well Tom had a thing or two to say about THAT.

He wasnít going to be just another plaything for anyone. He was going to make Chakotay feel a hell of a lot guiltier. 

What was Chakotay even thinking? Gods heíd promised he didnít hate Tom, swore heíd stay with him. But since when did anyone ever make good on their promises to Tom Paris? Shit, Tom was sick of not being a person to anyone. Sick to death of thinking he was in love with someone, just to have them turn around and walk away. 

And now it was Chakotay. Leaving him. History repeating. Tom scolded himself for believing Chakotay was different from the rest of those fuckers. 

Tom stood up and pulled a sweater on over his creased uniform, anger building him as his body continually struggled against his every step. He paused and looked at his bedside cabinet, the drawers temping him. He reached into the drawer, grabbed the object and stuffed it into his pocket. It wasnít as if he was going to do it, just have it there to make him feel safe. Something to cling on to. 

"Computer; location of Commander Chakotay?"

"Commander Chakotay is in holodeck one."

Celebrating? Yeah, well, bad move Commander. Sandrineís was Tomís territory. Tom stood and stormed to the door, having to grab the wall once or twice to steady himself.

When you feel all alone and the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please, to tame your wild, wild heart

Chakotay looked into his beer. Yuck. Okay, so he didnít mind a drink now and again, but this was disgusting. Maybe it was just because the taste was mixing with all the bitterness inside him and making it double strength. He hadnít even had enough to drown out his sorrows. 

He glanced up when the whole of Sandrineís went silent. Okay, it was only relatively few people, just gamma shift. But they still gave a pretty good effect when they shut up.

Oh shit.

Tom had just walked in looking like hell and twice as pissed off.

Shit, Chakotay had hoped the sleep would have done him some good, hoped heíd be down for at least another ten hours yet. Heíd thought Tom would Comm. him when he woke up, but it didnít seem Tom had the wariness to do that. 

Tom stormed over to Chakotay and slammed his fists down on the table making the drinks wobble dangerously and Chakotay jump to his feet. "What the HELL do you think youíre playing at Chakotay?"

"Tom, calm down. Letís talk about this quietly." Chakotay said, even though he knew if they spoke in whispers, the whole of Sandrineís would be listening in. He needed to get Tom out of here.

"You want to TALK? You want to TALK QUIETLY? Fuck that Chakotay. You could have talked before. Why the hell did you leave me, what theÖ"

Chakotay watched as his transport executed. He and Tom materialized in an observation lounge and he immediately barked out a privacy lock. "Tom, honey, just let me talk."

"Donít you Ďhoneyí me. Iíll piss and moan as much as I want!"

"Fine. But youíre not going anywhere until you let me talk." Chakotay watched as Tom relented slightly, his face softening, allowing him to speak.

"Just sit down and let me talk to you. You look shattered anyway, sitting down isnít going to damage your case." Chakotay pleaded.

"Alright." Tom sat down, making sure it was on a single-seater. 

Chakotay sat down opposite him, only perching on the edge of the couch, "Tom, the only reason I left you was because I thought youíd blame me for taking advantage of you when you woke up."

"Why would I do that?"

"I thought youíd accuse me of taking advantage of your condition. You seemed so out of it, I think even Tuvok agreeing to snuggle up with you would have been fine by you. I didnít think you would think along the same lines when you woke up. I mean, you didnít give me a chance to apologize for the time before."

"You didnít have to apologize for that, you were only trying to take care of me."

"Thatís true, I was only taking care of you. But it was no reason for me to dismiss you when you objected, I should have given you some space." Chakotay sighed, "Tom I still love you, and Iíd love to be with you again if youíd have me."

Tom stood up and walked over to the window, keeping his back to Chakotay.

Chakotay closed his eyes in defeat; Tom wasnít going to have him. He stood, taking Tomís silence as a cue to leave. 

Tom whirled around, "Where are you going?"

Before Chakotay could start talking, he saw tears on Tomís face, tears that hadnít been there before. He frowned, "I thought you didnít want me. Thought thatís why you turned away."

"No." Tom moved slightly closer, "I was justÖoverwhelmed. Iíd got it so fixed inside that you hated me, saying that you loved me kind of tipped me over." They lapsed into a brief, but awkward, silence, "Oh shit, Chakotay, I want you to hold me again."

Chakotay let a smile creep across his face and he practically flew over to Tom, holding him tightly in an emotional embrace. He buried his face in Tomís hair, what felt like an age of emptiness filling itself with Tom.

Tom felt fresh tears running down his face, as he let himself be held in Chakotay arms. He ran his arms over Chakotayís back, reassuring himself that this was real. Suddenly realizing this relationship was actually LOVE shocked Tom into clinging onto Chakotay even tighter. This was a co-dependent, loving, tender, caring relationship. There was no dominance, no condemnation for good intentions gone bad. Just comfort from total chaos, infatuation where there had only been indifference, affection from aversion. A love sprung from hate. Love wasnít just a word anymore. Love was this- him and Chakotay. OhÖshit. This was new. 

"Chakotay? I love you, and not like I said before. I know what it means this time, and itís a colossal thing. And I think itís amazing. I love you. Please, please tell me you feel the same."

"Oh I do Tom. You canít imagine how I feel about you." Chakotay sat Tom down on the couch.

Tom lay down in Chakotayís lap, looking up at him, "I think I can. Itís probably just what Iím feeling."

"Itís pretty amazing isnít it? A couple of months ago we were just Commander and Lieutenant, now, well- now THIS." Chakotay noticed Tomís eyes drooping closed, and his poorly disguising a yawn. Chakotay smiled and queried gently, "Sleepy?" 

"Mmm." Tom nodded.

Chakotay reached over the back of the couch for the blanket that was always kept there and pulled it down over Tom, making sure the whole of him was covered. He took Tomís hand and threaded his fingers through it, laying the adjoined pair on top of the blanket.

Tom looked at their united hands, Chakotayís bronzed fingers mixed with his own long pale digits. He gave a contented sigh and let sleep overcome him, spending the first night in a while without fear of the dream period. Because this time he knew there would be only one man plaguing his thoughts. And he didnít mind that at all. Not one bit. 

Let me be the one you call
If you jump, Iíll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash, then crash and burn
Youíre not alone

The END